Stone veneer or Natural stone veneer – The good, the bad & the correct choice

Stone veneer or Natural stone veneer – The good, the bad & the correct choice

Whether you’ve been looking at different cladding options for home renovations, or to use for your new house, no doubt you would’ve come across the terms stone veneer & natural stone veneer. But what are stone veneers, & how do they differ from natural stone veer? What are the advantages in using each, & which is the option that you should go ahead with? Today, let’s explore more on each of these options.

What are stone veneers?

For connoisseurs of natural stone, stone veneers offer the look & feel of natural stone cost effectively. Manufactured stone veneers, also known as cultured stone or faux stone, is almost as beautiful as natural stone, but it a manmade material which is designed to look similar to the look of natural stone. With the level of different shapes, sizes & colour gradients, even for the more trained eye, it may be difficult to determine the difference between stone veneers & natural stone veneers without closer inspection.

How stone veneers are made?

Stone veneers are usually made out of Portland cement, lightweight natural aggregates & iron oxide pigment to add colours. Stone veneers have a longer history than we may imagine. The first stone veneer, manufactured in the late 19th century, was made of natural stone, by slicing natural stone into thick-cut stone slabs. Cement became a part of its composition in the 1950’s, however, while cement gives the stone veneer stability, unlike thick-cut natural stone, it doesn’t add to the structural feasibility. The latest process for stone veneers would be to use moulds taken from natural stone, using a process which captured the most intricate details from the original stone surface. Faux stone can even replicate the unique & rough texture of natural stone.

Pros of using stone veneers?

One of the main advantages in using stone veneers is due to the versatile finishes that are available to select from. Whether you want a rough/rugged texture, or an elegant/high-end colour, there’s no limit on the design possibilities that are available with stone veneers, especially since the designs can be made to replicate actual natural stone veneer surfaces.

Another fact is the cost factor. Generally, natural stone veneers are relatively more expensive that stone veneers. There are also stone veneers which are DIY products, so that means that you can save up on the labour cost as well, all while offering a similar look & feel to natural stone veneers, at a relatively lesser cost.

Stone veneers could also be eco-friendly as a cladding option. As an example, there are few stone veneer manufacturers who maximize the percentage of recycled raw materials while not affecting the quality of the stone, all with no toxic emissions release & the excess water is treated & reused.

Ease of installation is another reason why stone veneers are also more popular, since it’s light-weight & easier to transport & work with. For the skilled, it can also be a DIY project, with use of few basic tools & use of an installation handbook.
But it’s not all green pastures when deciding to go ahead with stone veneers, so let’s look at the downside of using stone veneers, shall we?

Cons of using stone veneers

The most obvious con of using stone veneers as opposed to natural stone veneers is the durability. Since cultures stone is a man-made product from a concrete mixture, it is more likely to break or chip, while results in that section being replaced to preserve the look of the surface. Repairing the stone veneers once chipped will be an additional cost, while also may or may not give the same original look it had.
Another point to consider is that the colouring in cultured stone may not always go all the way through the stone, so a chip or a cut edge could show through as plain concrete. While natural stone veneers may also chip, the signs of wear & tear are far less obvious, & cut edges are the same colours throughout.

One of the most important points to ponder would be the installation process for cultured stone. The reason for this is, improperly installed manufactured stone will look extremely unnatural. Also, it’s important to note that cultured stone doesn’t have the density to support weights, so applications should be carefully considered. For those who want to do a DIY project from cultured stone, it’s important to note that if it’s not properly water-proofed, there’s a high likelihood of erosion caused by water damage, both to the substrate & the manufactured stone.

Natural stone veneers as an alternative to stone veneers

So, now that we’ve understood the pros & cons of stone veneers/manufactured stone, let’s look at an alternative for stone veneers, namely natural stone veneers.

What are natural stone veneers?

Natural stone veneers are sustainably extracted with a minimum carbon footprint from 100% natural metamorphic rock. It results in a thin layer of stone which is attached to a backing, which is most commonly fiberglass, but could also be fabric or translucent.
This backing, with the thinness of the stone layer (1.5 mm to 2.0 mm) gives not only tremendous durability, but also ensures a light-weight & easy to install stone veneer. The stone surface provides natural water & heat resistant, which means that it can be installed both indoors & outdoors.

Natural stone veneers can be installed on top of any substrate, including glass, tiles, cement, wood, brick & render. From floors to walls & ceilings, applications are only limited by your creativity, with the most common applications being splashbacks, feature walls, fireplaces, bathrooms, bedrooms, & furniture. For anyone who’s interest in DIY products, you can be sure that this is the best stone product that you can install on your own, with a few household tools & easily available adhesives & sealants.

Pros of using natural stone veneers

1. Durability
The stone surface speaks for itself. Since the surface of the veneer is natural stone, it’s durable & resistant to extreme weather conditions, whether scorching hot or freezing cold. This is the main reason that it can be installed outdoors. Unlike so many other cladding options, the stone surface is also resistant to scratching & chipping, & with the proper installation & maintenance, it’s bound to last a lifetime.

2. Ease of installation
Unlike most cladding options, flexible stone veneers are extremely light-weight, only being around 1.5 kilos per standard sheet. That, combined with the thinness, contributes to ease of installation, to the point where the product is DIY. No need for special equipment or an installation team, just an angle grinder to cut the sheets, a PU adhesive to paste it, & finally a penetrative sealant on top of the surface. You’ll not only save up on labour cost, but also, it’ll be something fun for you to look forward to do in the weekend, especially if you’re a DIY enthusiast!

3. Versatility of application
Natural stone veneers can be installed on both indoor & outdoor surfaces, but that’s not the best part – seeing that it can endure extreme weather conditions as well as be installed on top of any kind of substrate, applications are limitless for your home renovation or building construction project, from indoor & outdoor floors to walls & even ceilings. Common applications that’s popular include splashbacks, feature walls, fireplace exteriors & even furniture! It’s also a beautiful product to install on your cabinetry, bathrooms & bedrooms.

4. Water & heat resistance
Natural stone veneers are naturally water & heat resistant, since the surface is natural stone. So, you can install it in places where water & heat resistance is an absolute necessity, including outdoors.

5. Visual appeal
Natural stone veneers have an elegant look, whether it’s installed indoors or outdoors. The natural stone surface is unique in appearance & since each sheet is unique from the other, it creates a theme of its own.

6. Low maintenance
Once a penetrative sealant is applied on the stone surface after installation, it’ll preserve the surface & the most basic dust & day to day dirt can be easily cleaned with water.

7. Lightweight
Unlike other cladding options, the natural stone veneer is an extremely thin slice of rock, weighing only around 1.5 kilos per standard sheet, so it’s the perfect solution when you want an elegant stone appearance, without the weight & difficulty in installation. It’s also perfect for installation on structures that are unable to bear heavy weights.

8. Affordability
Compared with other cladding options & considering the advantages it offers, natural stone veneers are affordable. Not only saving up on the labour cost if you do it on your own, but each sheet is extremely cost effective for the benefits & unique stone look it offers.

Food for thought – stone veneer or natural stone veneer?

It all comes down to weighing the advantages between cultured stone & natural stone veneers. Sure, stone veneers are relatively cheaper, with more versatile designs & colours, is light-weight, can be a DIY project, & has a very similar look to natural stone. But in reality, man-made concrete products will never have the same level of durability that natural stone has, while natural stone will continue to look great after many years of installation, cultured stone colours may fade with time. Installation of both natural stone veneers & cultured stone may be similarly easy, but considering the longevity of natural stone veneers, it’s better to install a product once & for all, rather than having to replace parts of it after years of wear & tear, as is the case with manufactured stone. All in all, while both natural stone veneers & cultured stone have their own inherent advantages & disadvantages, one cannot deny that the natural stone veneers’ appeal is undeniably seductive to connoisseurs of arts & elegance.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *