Installing Manufactured Stone Veneer

Manufactured stone veneer can be used to greatly enhance the look and feel of a project. These hand crafted thin veneer stones are cast from natural stone in a process that captures the natural elegance and beauty of genuine stone. In this article we will be discussing some basic step-by-step installation procedures that can help with your next stone veneer project.

Determining Type of Substrate: There are several types of substrates that manufactured stone veneer can be applied to if the surface is properly prepared. The most commonly used are plywood, cement board and CMU. Varies substrates require different preparation processes. It is important to use the right preparation techniques and tools for each project. (Note: Review the stone manufacturers detailed installation instructions before installation any project)

Applying Weather Resistant Barrier: It is recommended that you install two separate layers of WRB in shingle fashion, starting at the bottom of the wall. The upper layers of WRB should overlap the top of the lower layers by a minimum of two inches. The WRB should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. (Note: This step may not be required for some installations. Please review your stone manufacturers detailed installation instructions.) Recommended Material: #15 felt or Grade D paper

Applying Galvanized Metal Lath: Lath should be installed horizontally with the cups up, and should overlap a minimum of one inch on the horizontal and vertical seams. Around inside and outside corners, lath should be attached every six inches allowing a 16 inch overlap around corners. Recommended Material: 2.5 lb. or 3.4 lb. self-furring corrosion resistant lath

Applying Scratch Coat: Apply a nominal ½” thick layer of mortar over the lath, ensure the lath is completely covered with mortar to allow for scoring of the surface. The mortar should be applied with sufficient pressure and thickness to fully embed the lath. Once the mortar is thumb-print hard, scratch the surface horizontally with a notched trowel or scarifier to create a scratch coat. Recommended Tools: Notched trowel or scarifier

Snapping Chalk Lines: After the scratch coat dries (usually 48 hours) and before the stone is applied, chalk lines are snapped across the wall for the purpose of proper horizontal alignment of stone. The chalk lines are necessary in keeping the courses of stone straight and level during installation, which provides for a beautiful and professional result. Recommended Tools: Chalk Line

Mortar Coverage (Back of Stone): Cover the entire back of the stone with approximately ½” of mortar. This will ensure a proper adhesion between the stone and the scratch coated wall surface. Please follow the manufactures recommendations regarding mortar mixture formulas. (Note: Weather conditions can affect the adhesion of mortar to the scratch coat. Please review the stone manufacturers detailed installation instructions for different weather environments.) Recommended Material: Polymer modified Type-S mortar / Recommended Tools: Trowel

Installing the First Course: When installing the first course, start at the bottom corner of a wall installing one or two corner stones first. Corner pieces have a long and a short return, these returns should alternate in opposite directions on the wall’s corner staying within the 8″ chalk lines. Continue the project by installing flats off of these corner pieces. Work the stones into the wall with a side to side motion to create a bond. Each additional course that is installed will always begin with a cornerstone.

Cutting Stones to Fit: Manufactured stone veneer is easily shaped or cut as desired. This enables you to fit stones quickly into place, insuring a natural looking wall with tight mortar joints. (Note: Always wear safety glasses while cutting stone veneer.) Recommended Tools: Makita 4.5″ handheld disc grinder with diamond blade, or nippers.

Grouting the joints: If grouting is required, use a grout bag to fill in the joints. Try to avoid smearing grout on the face of the stone. If grout does come in contact with the face of the stone, use a clean damp sponge to remove the residue.(note: make sure sponge is clean to avoid smearing grout elsewhere) Once the grout is thumb print hard, use a metal joint tool or wood stick to finish joints. Use a whisk broom to sweep away any left over debris. Recommended Tools: Metal joint tool or wood stick

Grout Color and Style: The color of the grout joint has a dramatic impact on the final appearance of the installation. From varying depth raked joints to full brushed joints, there are several grouting techniques that also impact the final appearance.

Legacy in Stone

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta known as the Knights of St. John, or the Knights of Malta, is the oldest order of chivalry in existence, dating back to the eleventh century. The Knights of St. John came to Malta in 1530 after accepting the offer made to them by Charles V. They brought with them an international body of men from Catholic Europe with a strong tradition in government, accompanied by a sound source of income and a wealth of experience in architecture. For a large number of years Malta flourished under the rule of the Knights of St. John and it is on the Maltese islands that the Knights have left their most notable legacy reflected in the beautiful architecture of the palaces in Valletta and in Birgu, and Forts of St. Angelo, St. Elmo, Ricasoli, Manoel and Tigne; and a number of churches, most notably St. John’s Conventual Church. Two of Miranda Publishers’ books Legacy in Stone and Sovereign Palaces give a pictorial review of the heritage left by the Knights of St. John.

Malta is a veritable treasure-house of architectural interest. The Maltese have, since the beginning, always been incessant builders, but there is a special period in Malta’s history that has particularly left its mark on its architectural wealth. During their first years in Malta, the Knights of St John strengthened the existing meagre fortifications and built new ones in expectation of an attack from the Turks. A year after the Great Siege in 1565, from which the Order with the help of the Maltese emerged victorious, the first stone of Valletta was laid. The Order employed the best architects from Malta and other European countries and for more than two and a half centuries of continuous building and re-building, they succeeded in giving Valletta its unique character. In the early 17th century, the building movement moved out into the country, and here again the Knights vied with one another to build churches, country-houses and magnificent villas with exquisite laid-out gardens. The architectural legacy the Knights left in Malta remains an everlasting monument to the artistic acumen of the noblest chivalric Order of all times. This comprehensive photographic study celebrates the rich honey colour of the soft yet resilient limestone that distinguishes local architecture, and reveals the Baroque splendours of the period. It also documents the finest and best preserved fortifications in Europe.

Cultured Stone Versus Natural Stone Fireplaces – Pros and Cons

Looking to boost the beauty and value of your home with a stone fireplace? Think about it: stone is as sturdy and as classic as the best investments come. If you are mulling over the stone to use in your new construction project, check which do you think will fit into the style, weather and feel of your home; it’s either going to be in natural stone or cultured stone.

Natural stone is the investment per excellence; it is pricier, weightier, and a testier work of art to handle compared to cultured stone. Your options for this category tend to be limited, too. Granite, Marble, and Limestone are the typical options.

Cultured stone products can however be designed to “match” the stone surface type you are going after, are typically more striking and durable than real stone products for fireplace projects. Imagine also the pleasant bonus of lesser costs. The look of cultured stone is composed of stone aggregates, dyes and lightweight cement. It is said that most sellers of cultured stones offer a half-a-century guarantee against wear and tear.

With respect to natural stone, let’s take a closer look at a perfect representative: natural limestone. A sedimentary rock made of calcium carbonate, the appearance and quality of the limestone is influenced by factors such as the quantity of calcium carbonate in the limestone and the amount of fossil contained in the final product of natural limestone.

Now, zero-clearance fireplaces are more affordable to construct compared to classic masonry block built fireplaces. With zero-clearance fireplaces, the iron fireplace frame is boarded up with plywood. The relatively light weight of cultured stone allows veneers to be placed on these wood surfaces. The stone veneers are held securely in place by a metal lath attached to the wood surface, then by a thin application of mortar

As we have stated, the cost of applying thin faux stone veneers is much lower than real stone given the weight and shape differences. Real stone requires laborious craftsmanship, as is normal for every natural limestone work. It is so much so that the total value will warrant the master worker’s signature to be affixed somewhere on the finished stonework. Another thing about natural limestone fireplaces, in particular, is that the costs for each work will always be according to your own skilled taste and preferences.

An important reason for getting faux stone for your home is that its availability in regular shapes and sizes means you can achieve a variety of stone fireplace designs. As a matter of fact, part of the process when selecting cultured stone is designing the fireplace.

Nevertheless, a reason for thinking twice about faux stone veneers is that it can take in moisture; furthermore, when it is chipped, when chipped, the surface has a mark that is glaring. Consequently they be demanding in terms of care and maintenance. Watch out also, and be careful about falling on to recurring and redundant patterns in your design which ought to look natural.

Thus, quo vadis, faux stone or natural traditional stone? A lot will actually depend on how you and your master craftsman work together to achieve the result. Faux stone veneers look and feel like real stone, and enables stunning stone fireplaces to be built at a fraction of the cost of traditional stone.

French Formal Gardens Employ Cast Stone Fountains

France is famous for its romantic cast stone fountains, but it’s also rich in gardens that reflect its cultural taste, as those tastes have been from the Middle Ages to the present. What better way to breathe in the essence of the French than to wander outdoors in designed spaces where you can smell and touch the living displays, sit by a refreshing cast stone fountain and move freely and absorb at your own pace?

French gardens, particularly the French formal garden can engage all five senses. In the 16th Century, French courtiers built their chateau gardens along the Loire Valley fertile riverbanks. The homes were essentially small turreted castles that reeked of charm. Many of these same chateaux and their formal French gardens with cast stone fountains are open to the public today so that the owners may qualify for government tax breaks and grants.

The French Gardens and Cast Stone Fountains Were an Inspiration for Other Countries

Italian artists who traveled through Europe were inspired by French gardens and their cast stone fountains where architecture took pride of place over nature. Very strict geometric perspectives were used to show buildings to their best advantage. The French formal gardens at Versailles, designed by Andre Le Notre, were inspired by the sun-symbol chosen by King Louis XIV, the main axes corresponding to the points of the compass. Flowerbeds edged with trimmed box hedges were planted. Garden specialist Gabrielle van Zuylen sees the influence of Versailles at Blenheim Palace in England, in St. Petersburg (Russia), at La Granja near Segovia (Spain) and in Caserta near Naples (Italy). Le Notre’s radiating garden paths even served as inspiration for the town plan of Washington D. C. The cast stone fountains appeared in many of these palaces and estates.

French Formal Gardens Represent Extreme Formality

The most favored style for great house gardens in Europe during much of this period derived from the influence of the French designer Andre’ Le Notre, creator of the gardens at Versailles. The French style represented an extreme of formality, with box-edged parterres (elaborate and geometrical beds) typically placed near the residence to provide an arranged view. The cast stone fountain usually was set in the center as the focal point of where it all came together. Trees were grouped in neat plantations or in bold lines along avenues, with terraces and statuary carefully placed to emphasize the architectural symmetry of the grand manner. The widespread adoption of this style among the European nobility and gentry reflected the potency of French cultural influence at the time. It was also related, on a practical basis, to the limited availability of planting materials, especially those offering autumn and winter display.

The change to a more natural style of gardening came about when, in the latter part of the 18th century, the opinion arose among leading gardeners, particularly those of the English gentry, that the French formal garden manner brought with it a certain monotony. The increasing importation of foreign plants also brought with it opportunities for a large-scale transformation.

The Allee in a French Formal Garden

The allee (accent is placed over the second e) feature of the French formal garden was both a promenade and an extension of the view. It either ended in a terminal feature, such as a garden temple, a cast stone fountain or extended into apparent infinity at the horizon.

The allee normally passed through a planted boscage (a small wood); in the 17th century the boscage was square-trimmed at the sides and on top; later the sides were trained so high that the free-branching trees within the wood were invisible. As architectural gardening became unfashionable in the 18th century, the trimming of trees ceased, and the straight allee gave way to the meandering walk past the cast stone fountain.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the French formal garden came to be seen as too artificial and gave way to the English landscaped park style. Lovers of poetry and painting forsook straight lines in favor of “natural” landscapes composed of hills, woods, ponds and waterfalls but still, the cast stone fountain remained. The Romantics liked their paintings to include ruins and mausoleums. The garden became a theatre set, expressing the aspirations of 18th-century man in search of knowledge.

The French do insist that their plant life be well behaved. Tidiness is mandatory. Orderliness is essential. Just step into the French formal garden and stroll past the cast stone fountain to enjoy the Gallic appreciation of nuance, opulence and romance.