Stone veneer offers a cheaper and less weighty alternative to the real thing
Stone veneer promises the look and feel of solid rock, minus the bulk. And today's offerings are svelter than ever—some are less than 2 inches thick. With something that manageable (or with its cast-stone equivalent, made of portland cement mixed with lightweight pumice and mineral oxides), it's easier than ever to add character to a fireplace surround or make a foundation wall look like it's part of the landscape. There is one place where veneer is heavier than its full-size cousins, and that's on your wallet, but the added expense is more than balanced out by lower installation costs. You may not even need a mason; some of these ultra-thin examples are suitable for do-it-yourselfers. And at as little as 12 ounces per stone, you can sling these rocks for hours.
These quarried stones secretly hide a flat back, but look like round river rocks when they're mortared onto a wall. Approx. $10-$12 per square foot; Natural Stone Veneers International.
This sand-colored cast stone mounts on standards you screw right into the wall sheathing. The irregular edges have a hand-chiseled look.
Approx. $8-$9 per square foot; Castia Stone.
Enhancing a wall couldn't be simpler than with these skinny strips of natural ledge stone. In a modern interior, the dry-stacked look adds warmth.
Approx. $8-$10 per square foot; Natural Stone Veneer International.
1 : Use stone that's indigenous to the local area whenever possible. It'll help your home blend in with its surroundings.
2 : Because it's got a slim profile, veneer can be applied with just thinset mortar right on top of traditional or stuccoed concrete and even wood sheathing, as long as a moisture barrier and galvanized metal lath are installed first.
3 : Avoid using pieces that are triangular or "dogleg" shaped, meaning they bend at a sharp angle. Such shapes are not usually found in nature and can make a wall look structurally unstable.
4 : As the mortar dries, compress and clean each joint, making sure not to leave tool marks and not to cut too far into the joints.
5 : If you opt for veneer that isn't thin-sawn, be sure to install a masonry ledge at the bottom of your wall and embed metal ties in the mortar about every square foot for proper support.