Everyone has seen houses that were made around the turn of the 20th century or earlier. These houses were constructed using a lot of natural stonework to build both the foundation of the home, as well as many of its primary features. As the pace of construction became faster, and concrete began to take center stage, natural stonework became a thing of decadence and status and less of a common element in the construction of new homes.
To play into this faster paced world of construction, and to give stonework more of a place in the realm of this quickened tradecraft, concrete companies sought to offer a suitable alternative that could provide an illusion of natural stone without the time or money required to actually have it installed. With this premise, manufactured stone was born.
So, what is manufactured stone? The short answer is that it is colored concrete. Based on what you choose in terms of style, the concrete is poured into certain molds and colored to appear as though they were natural stones pulled from the earth. The difference is, the backs of these molds are flat, allowing them to be held in place by a parging of mortar on a wall. This is why bricklayers and stonemasons (the two trades that most commonly use manufactured stone on exterior projects) refer to these products as lick and stick stone.
For exteriors, the process of installing this stone is much more expedient than it would be to actually do natural stonework. Typically, the pieces end up looking very similar to that of a natural stone job, making it a much less costly (both labor and material) project than stonework might be otherwise. While this is often used in the exterior of homes and commercial projects, there is a long list of indoor applications in which manufactured stone could find its place. A couple of good examples would be throughout the area surrounding a fireplace or the backsplash of your kitchen.
To install manufactured stone, you first have to have a stable backing to hold the weight of the faux stone that you are going to have installed. The next step is going to be installing chicken wire or lath to the backing. A scratch coat of mortar is then put on the lath and then it is let to set up. Once it has dried hard to the touch, you can parge another layer of mortar over top of the scratch coat. Applying some mortar to the back of your manufactured stone piece, place it into the newly placed mortar on your wall and move it firmly up and down until it is held into place.
Natural stone looks similar to manufactured stone, but is a lot more expensive. If you are the kind of person who likes the authentic piece, you might consider investing in natural stone. Be prepared for the price tag, however.
If you are interested in installing manufactured or natural stone to your home’s interior or exterior, contact ImproveRite and let our expert remodeling contractors transform your home.