- Autoclaved Aerated Concrete
- Cultured Stone
- Stone and Brick Veneer
- Hard Stucco
- Metal Panels
Cultured stone, or “manufactured stone” refers to stone that is made in a factory. Typically, it is molded into many different shapes using concrete. The concrete shapes are then stained with various hues to achieve the most natural look possible.
While it may seem that real stone would always be preferable to cultured stone, you may want to take a second look at manufactured stone. One reason to consider is the weight of real stone. Even when it is cut into a thinner veneer, stone can be very heavy. This can become a major issue if you want to add it to the front of your fireplace. Unless your floor is reinforced properly to accommodate the extra weight, manufactured stone may be a better option. This is especially a problem with standard-cut stone; it is much thicker than stone veneer and manufactured stone.
Another reason to use manufactured stone is cost. Quite often (but not always) real stone is more expensive than manufactured stone. If you plan to cover a large area with stone, the cost savings can add up to a significant dollar amount.
For the most realistic look, many architects and designers recommend choosing a manufactured stone that is installed in individual stones instead of panels containing several stones glued together. Many manufactured stones have become so realistic, even when installed in panels, that you may not be able to tell the difference between them and real stone once they are installed. Before moving ahead on any stone installation project, be sure to check with the manufacturer and installer to learn about any potential issues that could arise due to the freeze/thaw cycle in your area, mortar requirements and maintenance.