The Next Step in Stone

Manufactured stone is used on entryways, as accent walls and even to create the illusion of an old stone building. Whether it’s meant to complement a home’s exterior or create a focal point inside a home, where manufactured stone is applied to a house is limited only by one’s imagination.

The manufactured stone product category remains in the early stages of growth, and its use continues to increase in both new construction and remodeling projects. Reports suggest that another $500 million could be added over the next three years to this already $1 billion category.

Exterior Accents

On the exterior of a home, manufactured stone is being used on entryways, around doors, under porches, on columns, as wainscoting and even on some smaller applications like a foundation cover around the perimeter of a home.

“What we’ve found is there isn’t any particular style of home that is using manufactured stone,” says David Barrett, president of United Stone Veneer by Plygem. “We have a stone profile that fits just about any style home that you build. Whether it’s a Craftsman or old-world look or even a traditional Cape Cod, we have a stone profile that fits those needs.”

Manufactured stone covers the gamut of home styles, from a contemporary home with products that are clean-lined and smooth, to a more rustic style stone for the farmhouse look. Manufacturers offer stone veneers in all shapes, sizes and colors. Depending on the size of the project, stone profiles could be blended together to create something truly unique.

“We have a stone that emulates a New York Brownstone so if you live in the city and have that style of home, you can pick that stone for your project,” says Ramsay Hawfield, director of product development, Eldorado Stone.

“Plus, manufactured stone products fit all sorts of home price ranges. We’ve seen it on $150,000 homes and $7 million homes.”

Manufactured stone is used in outdoor living spaces more and more each day. As homeowners create outdoor spaces with living rooms, hearths, kitchens and patios, manufactured stone is being used to accent outdoor fireplaces, or even stoning-in high-end grills to create an outdoor kitchen island.

Interior Motifs

“We’re starting to see the product used more on interior projects,” Barrett says. “The standard used to be putting stone around a fireplace. Now we’re starting to see kitchens designed with stone, staircases, indoor column work and some accent walls.”

Designers are creating nontraditional uses of manufactured stone and specifying more of it inside a home. This includes backsplashes in kitchens instead of tile, behind the stove, and around the wall that frames a refrigerator. Besides kitchens, manufactured stone can also be found in family rooms, as an accent in great rooms, in wine cellars and in bathroom applications.

“I would say that right now, the most popular places (for manufactured stone) inside the home are kitchen and family room accents,” says Kelly Warren, product manager, StoneCraft, part of the Tapco Building Products Group.

“That’s what we’ve seen really take off over the last 12 to 18 months.”

To aid designers with interior imagination, Eldorado Stone has created its Gemstone wall concept. This was conceived to show designers and architects what can be done inside with manufactured stone. The Gemstone wall concept takes a blank wall and shows three simple ideas of what can be done to make it more purposeful and a focal point.

One of these walls is focused on a dining/entertaining area that includes wine storage (see photos above). Another area is designed to create a spa environment in the bathroom, while a third Gemstone wall focuses on picture hanging. To make it simpler, designers can go to Eldorado’s website and download a PDF that provides the steps needed to create the space, such as framing needs, the different stones used in the project or recommendations on other stones that could be used.

“The trend a few years ago was to paint one wall a deep vibrant color,” StoneCraft’s Warren adds, “Now we are finding people using manufactured stone for those interior accent walls.”

Regional Recipes

What consumers are asking for varies across the country and is dependent on the types of stone native to an area. For instance, in some parts of the Midwest, stone is muted and not vibrantly colored. Its shape tends to be geometric, creating a kind of squared-off limestone look. In northern parts of the Midwest, however, where cabin retreats are the norm, there is a river rock look which reflects a rounded stone simulating the type of stone found in a riverbed.

In the South and Southwest many designs use a ledge stone in several different varieties. It depends on what is indigenous to an area and what people see as natural stone. From the Carolinas south, a more rough-faced, geometric-looking ledge stone is used and typically is drystacked with no mortar.

In Pennsylvania or Ohio limestone is typical, but fieldstone with larger cut profiles and more vibrancy in color are becoming popular because native stone shares this look in those areas. Moving farther into the Northeast, more fieldstone products are used with a mortar application because of the severe freeze/thaw cycles.

Power of Imagination

“From an aesthetic standpoint manufactured stone has come a long way to a point where it’s now hard to tell the difference between a manufactured stone veneer and a real stone,” Barrett explains. “We’ve seen reports that show the rate of return on investment has been as much as 200 percent on product and labor combined.”

As with most building products, a few limitations exist for manufactured stone. For instance, it is not designed for load-bearing applications such as a paver, on a sidewalk or driveway. It also shouldn’t be submerged in water such as in a pond or pool, or below grade. Height restrictions are based on the structure and the substrate that generally are regulated by the local building code.

Some consider one of the best benefits of manufactured stone to be the ability to install it without a mason. This alone has prompted a few builders to add it to their slate of offerings, in turn making many homeowners happy.

“A lot of designers find that when they want to achieve a stone look, manufactured stone is a great way to create that aesthetic, but not completely blow out the budget, because it has a much lower installed cost than natural stone,” Warren adds.

ARTICLE RESOURCES

  • Eldorado Stone For more info, please indicate #20 in E-Inquiry
  • StoneCraft Industries For more info, please indicate #21 in E-Inquiry
  • United Stone Veneer by PlyGem For more info, please indicate #22 in E-Inquiry

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

  • Anchor Wall For more info, please indicate #23 in E-Inquiry
  • Boulder Creek Stone Products For more info, please indicate #24 in E-Inquiry
  • Centurian Stone For more info, please indicate #25 in E-Inquiry
  • Dutch Quality Stone For more info, please indicate #26 in E-Inquiry
  • Keystone Retaining Wall For more info, please indicate #27 in E-Inquiry
  • NextStone For more info, please indicate #28 in E-Inquiry
  • Nichiha For more info, please indicate #29 in E-Inquiry

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