At first glance, it's not easy to spot the impostor in the pictures above. (Hint: Look at the one on the left.) But there are a few key differences between cast stone and its natural-born relative. Artificial stone is less expensive, significantly lighter, and quicker to install. But one good bump can reveal its weakness and spoil the facade. To be safe, keep a few extra pieces of veneer handy in the basement. Natural stone is simply that—rock that has been cut into a veneer ¾
inch to 1¼
inches thick and has all the shading, color, and flaws that come with eons of geologic pressure. It's more durable and more versatile, but it also costs more to purchase and takes longer to install.
Boston Blend Ashlar (left), $20 per square foot; stoneyard.com. Santa Cruz Coastal Ledge (right), $6-$8 per square foot; eldoradostone.com