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What Is Cultured Stone?

What Is Cultured Stone?

Cultured stone, manufactured stone, stone veneer – so many options for your home, but what’s the difference among them?  Read on to find out…

Stone can be a beautiful way to upgrade your fireplace or home’s exterior.  But, if you’ve ever shopped for stone, you know that there are many options on the market.  It can be confusing to understand the terminology associated with the stone industry.  So, here is a quick guide:

Cultured stone

Cultured Stone by Owens Corning

The term “cultured stone” or “manufactured stone” refers to “stone” that is made in a factory.  Typically, it is molded into many different shapes using concrete.  The concrete shapes are then stained with various hues to achieve the most natural look possible.  “Cultured Stone” is actually a brand name of one popular manufactured stone made by Owens Corning.

“Stone veneer” or “thin-cut stone,” on the other hand, is stone that has been mined from the earth, then cut into uniform shapes and thicknesses for use on fireplaces and walls.  The stone is sorted based on color, so homeowners can order the specific color blend that will work best in their home.  Stones can range from slate or granite to limestone or marble, giving you a variety of colors and styles to choose from.

Realstone Systems

Real stone panels by Realstone Systems

While it may seem that real stone would always be preferable to “fake” stone, you may want to take a second look at manufactured stone.  One reason to consider is is the weight of real stone.  Even when it is cut into a thinner veneer, stone can be very heavy.  This can become a major issue if you want to add it to the front of your fireplace.  Unless your floor is reinforced properly to accommodate the extra weight, manufactured stone may be a better option.  This is especially a problem with standard-cut stone; it is much thicker than stone veneer and manufactured stone.

Another reason to use manufactured stone is cost.  Quite often (but not always) real stone is more expensive than manufactured stone.  If you plan to cover a large area with stone, the cost savings can add up to a significant dollar amount.  The stunning home below was designed by a cousin of mine for his parents, and it was built on a lake in Northern Wisconsin.  Installing real stone over such a large expanse may have been cost-prohibitive; manufactured stone (Eldorado Stone in this case) fit the bill beautifully. (Designed by Tom Jones of TRJ Architects)

Eldorado Stone

Manufactured stone by Eldorado Stone

For the most realistic look, many architects and designers recommend choosing a manufactured stone that is installed in individual stones instead of panels containing several stones glued together.  Many manufactured stones have become so realistic, even when installed in panels, that you may not be able to tell the difference between them and real stone once they are installed.  Before moving ahead on any stone installation project, be sure to check with the manufacturer and installer to learn about any potential issues that could arise due to the freeze/thaw cycle in your area, mortar requirements and maintenance.

Whether you like the look of narrow, rugged ledgestones or you prefer the rounded look of fieldstone, you will find both a real stone and a manufactured stone to fit your needs.  Choose the look you like best and go for it!

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