If you are looking to install masonry stonework on the interior or exterior of your home, you will find this information useful in making your decision on what type of building material to use.

How Manufactured Stone Is Made

Manufactured stone is molded concrete that is artificially colored with paint to resemble real stone. This product was introduced mid-century as a lighter version of the only alternative at the time, which was traditional 4-inch thick full bed masonry stone. Full bed stone was the only option for stone building materials before the commercial stone saw was invented. With the introduction of stone cutting technology, stone could then be cut to approximately 1″ thick, thus creating thin stone veneers.

The Stone Veneer Revolution

In the past, stone work meant the utilization of 4″ thick natural stone installed with traditional masonry methods. Real stone had it’s limitations as it was heavy and difficult to transport. In the construction process, the sheer weight of stone required large footings and thicker walls. Today, the process of sawing natural rock has revolutionized the way stone construction takes place. With this innovation, quarries were able to scale up, producing a larger quantity of thinner veneers. Through economies of scale, this drove prices down to about the equivalent of manufactured stone.

How This Impacts Your Choice of Building Materials Today

Manufactured stone is a light thin veneer composed of concrete which is relatively easy to install. However, you will still have problems with unnatural color and an unrealistically consistent texture. Because there are usually only a few molds, patterns repeat frequently within the stonework which become quite obvious. The repetitious nature of the stone pattern gives away the man-made origins of the material. On the other hand, contemporary manufacturing produces a more believable coloring pallet in higher-end veneers, but this eliminates the cost savings benefit over natural rock. The durability and maintenance of manufactured stone will always be at a disadvantage when comparing it to natural stone building materials. Regardless of quality of the manufactured material, concrete and paint will deteriorate over time due to the wear of natural elements. Natural stone has proved its endurance over time, civilizations have been using stone as their building material of choice for thousands of years.

Pros and Cons of Manufactured versus Natural Stone

  • Both manufactured and natural stone veneers are price comparative
  • Installation cost is slightly lower for manufactured stone, due to its repetitive methods of installation
  • Manufactured stone typically has more color options because it can be dyed on demand in the mold
  • Both manufactured and natural stone are readily available
  • Real stone requires an experienced mason, but looks much better when trimmed. Manufactured stone has a thin layer of paint over the concrete material, which can be exposed when working the material during installation.

Why Natural Stone Is Usually the Better Choice

So, at the end of the day, should you pick real or man-made stone? Manufactured stone is made out of cement, which is more porous than natural rock. The thin “stones” are adhered directly to the wall. Even if the manufactured product is installed correctly it will deteriorate over time. Modern natural rock veneer is cut thin and is installed as easily as manufactured veneer. Natural stone is authentic and genuine and provides a great deal of color in color and consistency. It is easy for you to install and won’t absorb and retain a water because of it’s dense composition. It costs the same as the previously cheaper manufactured materials, taking price out of the equation. Because of its authentic nature, superior presentation and durability, natural rock veneers are the overall best choice for your indoor, outdoor and landscaping projects. Here is a quick summary.

Conclusion: Use Natural K2 Stone Whenever Possible

Manufactured Stone (Cons)

  • Color will fade and or discolor over time in an unattractive way
  • Hard to clean because of it’s inability to withstand pressure washing or manual scrubbing
  • Manufactured stone is composed of harmful man made chemicals
  • Deterioration over time, poor durability to natural elements such as wind, water and sunlight
  • Develops unattractive efflorescence (whitish crystalline deposits, sometimes referred to as “whiskers”)

Natural Stone (Pros)

  • More durable than manufactured stone because its less porous
  • Lower maintenance costs since it can be pressure washed
  • Color does not fade but ages in a natural, attractive manner
  • No efflorescence
  • Exceptional unmatched color vibrancy that will actually look better over time
  • It does not contain harmful man made chemicals
  • Provides you with the authenticity of real stone
  • Natural stone will add real long term value to your home
Hopefully, this helps you make your final choice for your next building project. If you have any questions please contact a K2 Stone representative, we would be happy to answer any of your questions.