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What You Should Know About Natural Thin Stone Veneer
By Dean Marsico, Plymouth Quarries
All photos courtesy of Plymouth Quarries.
If you are in the construction business, I’m sure you are always asking yourself how you can take what you do and make it better—whether it’s installation, developing new products and techniques, or finding more efficient ways to get the job done. We have to keep up with the times, and time seems to be moving quickly. Natural thin stone veneer is not new to the market, but it has been growing at a very rapid pace. If you are in the stone industry, you know about all the uses and applications of natural thin stone veneer. If you’re not in the industry or the construction field, then there is probably a lot you don’t know. For those of you who are not familiar with natural thin stone veneer, here is a quick introduction.
Natural thin stone veneer is real stone cut to approximately one inch thickness, weighing no more than fifteen pounds per square foot. This is important because it enables your contractor the ability to install stone without building a block or concrete base that has to support the weight of a full bed stone. Full bed veneers are stones that range from four to six inches and are used in any vertical application. They can weigh up to fifty-five pounds per square foot, which is a lot of weight to support. This is one of the reasons why natural thin stone veneer has become so popular. Another great thing about natural thin stone veneer is most products have corner pieces, which means if the job is done right it should look just like a full bed veneer.
The options of color and cut have increased dramatically with the growth of the business and with more players coming into the marketplace. The cut is very important in your design, so let’s break it down.
Round: These are natural shaped round and ovals that have a balance of size. They’re great for that old farm look or for oceanside communities. Farm walls or country fireplaces are a very desirable look, especially in the northeast and mountain areas.
Square and Rectangular: This cut enables you to get an excellent ratio of size which is a plus for larger applications. It’s a great choice for a classic “old world” look.
Rectangular: This is rustic or a finely cut shape; a very universal cut that can be used in most applications large and small. It has a balance of size but not as dramatic as the square and rectangular.
Ledge Cut: Ledge cuts are smaller in width two to four inches and have varying lengths. If used alone they can create a “stacked” look and are an excellent choice for contemporary designs.
Mosaic Cut: This is a cut with points and angular shapes that have a mix of large, medium, and small sizes. Mosaic is another great option for larger areas where you can show the contrast of the shapes and size.
One last point on cut: you don’t have to be married to just one. Some of the best stone work has a mix of all cuts, so if you are bold in your design, mix it up!
Let’s talk about application. To make it simple, I use this rule: “Masonry on Masonry.” Natural thin stone veneer cannot be applied to wood, drywall, or any other surface that is not masonry. It must have some kind of moisture barrier, unless being applied to a solid concrete surface. The mortar mix you use to set the stone is also very important. There are a lot of great products on the market that are made for thin stone installation. Some are premixed mortars with everything you need in the mix. There are also different types of fortifiers on the market that are used to mix in the mortar to give them a stronger bond and more flex for changes in temperature and moisture. Most natural thin stone veneer suppliers will have all this information in their brochures and on their websites. The more you educate yourself on the stone, cuts, and installation the better off you will be. When you hire your contractor you will have enough information to ask the right questions, get the look you want, and save you and your contractor a lot of leg work.
When you incorporate stone in any type of construction, whether it’s commercial, residential, inside, or outside, nothing can compare to real natural stone. Rustic, high end, contemporary, or something in between, natural stone is a must for any design and natural thin stone veneer can make any job happen.