What to Know About Stone Veneer

Stone veneer is popular on the outside of homes, as well as accenting the inside. Learn more about this decorative facing material here.

What Is Stone Veneer?

Manufactured stone veneer (also known as MSV) is a man-made material made to replicate the look and feel of natural stone. There are two types of stone veneer, manufactured and natural stone.

Allie Roqueta, marketing manager for Boral’s Stone Division, says a combination of Portland cement, natural aggregates and iron oxide pigments are used to create a lightweight stone replica with a robust range of styles and uses. Stone veneer can also be made of natural stone quarried from the Earth, then split into thin segments and mounted on sheets.

Types of Stone Veneer

There are three main types of stone veneer for residential applications:

  • Panelized. This consists of several individual stones fastened onto a single, large panel. Panelized stone veneer can often be installed directly onto an existing wall with nails or screws, without adhesive or special backing materials. Panelized stone veneer can be more expensive than large-format veneer (see next type), but it is usually much easier and quicker to install.
  • Large-format. Large, single stones are individually installed much like conventional stone. Large-format veneer pieces often require an adhesive (mortar, concrete, etc.) to secure the stones onto a specialized backing material (concrete board, moisture barrier and lathe) fastened to the wall. Large format stone veneer installed this way is commonly called adhered manufactured stone veneer (AMSVs). AMSVs are typically more difficult and time-consuming to install than panelized veneers.
  • Individual pieces. Instead of attaching the stone pieces to a larger panel and affixing them to the surface, they are attached directly. This can result in a much more creative, custom look.

Where Is Stone Veneer Most Commonly Used?

Stone veneer is most commonly used on a home’s exterior, but indoor applications are also gaining popularity. Roqueta believes the growing trend of indoor stone veneer may be attributed to more homeowners embracing the inclusion of natural elements into indoor living spaces.

“We’re seeing a big push in the industry to incorporate these natural elements indoors, both in residential and commercial applications,” Roqueta says.

Roqueta notes the indoor and outdoor applications are virtually limitless, but commonly include:

  • Indoor and outdoor fireplaces;
  • Indoor and outdoor kitchen islands and backsplashes;
  • Indoor and outdoor accent walls;
  • Indoor and outdoor showers.

Stone Veneer Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Affordability. Often cheaper to purchase and install than natural stone.
  • Ease of installation. Manufactured stone is much lighter than natural stone, so it doesn’t require structural supports like footings, foundations or wall ties. It is also easier to cut stone veneer so it doesn’t require the same range of specialty masonry tools. Although some stone veneer requires a special backing material and mortar, others can be installed with just screws or nails. Both types are usually more suitable for DIY installations than natural stone. However, installation of natural stone veneer can come with many of the same challenges of regular stone.
  • Low maintenance. A stone veneer’s quality can vary between manufacturers, but many are resistant to water, fire and extreme temperatures right out of the box.
  • Diversity of designs. With manufactured stone veneer, you can choose from a wider range of design styles, including those that you can’t find in nature. This can include white, gray or black contemporary-style veneers with a smooth texture and clean lines, and stone veneers with wood-grain textures and colors.
  • Uniformity of style. Manufactured stone veneers can be produced to all look the same, something you cannot find in nature. Plus it’s easier to find one with the exact color, shape and pattern you’re looking for.

Cons:

  • Inconsistent production quality. A stone veneer’s appearance and durability largely depends on the manufacturer’s production methods, which can vary. Many companies produce stone veneers that are virtually identical to real stone and have comparable levels of durability. However, other veneers can look inauthentic and cheap. Because they are quarried from the Earth, leaving choice up to Mother Nature, it can be difficult to achieve a cohesive look with natural stone veneers.
  • Not as durable outdoors. Although stone veneer’s durability compares favorable to natural stone in indoor settings, it may deteriorate more rapidly outdoors. Manufactured stone veneer is more susceptible to chipping and color fading when exposed to the elements long-term, even when UV and moisture barriers are applied during production.
Stone veneer could potentially be used in any number of outdoor projects similar to those you see in our Getaway.

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Shay Tilander
Shay Tilander is a senior editor at Family Handyman. When he's not enjoying family time with his wife and three boys, he loves tinkering with projects and geeking out on electronics.