Like most materials over the years, stone products have evolved greatly. Today’s products and materials have vastly improved, in both functionality and affordability, enabling home owners to create interior and exterior designs formerly reserved for those with extravagant budgets.

When a home owner begins a project, they have a vision in mind of what they want the finished design to be. This vision consists, in part, of a design that delivers the following benefits; visually appealing, functional in a practical way, durable, and within a certain budget. The use of stone veneer in home additions, landscaping designs and hardscape features makes all of these benefits possible.

Natural stone veneer comes in full veneer (NFV) and thin veneer (NTV). Another option to thin veneer is man-made materials. All three products come with their own unique characteristics. Here is how they match up:

Natural Full Veneer:

1) Typically NFV is 3-5 inches thick.

2) This thickness provides an insulation factor not found in the thinner veneer.

3) Usually is a local stone, as its weight makes it cost prohibitive to transport.

4) Can be used in weight bearing formats.

5) Due to its weight, it requires the building of support footers, foundations or brick ledges.

6) The additional support structures required adds to the cost of this product, so be sure to consider this when you make your decision.

Natural Thin Veneer:

1) NTV is 1-1 1/4 inches thick.

2) Because it is natural, its pattern is varied (no two are identical).

3) Required to be less than 15 lbs./ sq ft.

4) Its light weight allows for easier handling, requires no elaborate support structure and reduces the shipping costs. 5) Can be placed over existing materials, as long as the material is clean and not in a state of disrepair.

6) Requires less time to install.

7) Can be used on zero tolerance fireplaces.

8) Can be cut to fit specific angles and corners.

9) Used in both interior and exterior designs.

10) Does not absorb water, therefore, expansion, freezing and cracking are not an issue.

11) They are not meant to be used in a weight bearing design.

12) Limited insulation factor, if any at all.

Man-Made Veneer:

1) 1-1 1/4 inches thick.

2) Less than 15 lbs/sq ft.

3) Less expensive.

4) Weight allows for lower shipping cost.

5) Comes in a variety of colors and designs.

6) Precut angles, which allows for true 90 degree corners.

7) As with NTV, can be placed over existing material.

8) Non weight bearing.

9) Due to the manmade nature, there is no variation in the pattern making for a more artificial look.

This is a brief summary of the benefits and advantages of using veneer in your design. There are many sources of good information you can choose from. I suggest that you get as much information as you can, so that when you begin your search for your contractor, you will know enough to determine if they are the right contractor for the project.

In my research for this article, I went to no fewer than 12 different sites, each one providing a wealth of information. I wanted to make sure I saw recurring information, so as to root out the bias opinion of a manufacturer promoting their product. I found a lot of good companies not afraid to discuss the different products and their uses. Basically, they are there to provide their customers with the information required to get the finished product they are looking for.

Here are three resources I would recommend as a starting point for your information gathering:

1) Sturgis Rock Solid Solutions in Kansas City Kansas

2) Stone NW INC. in the Portland Or. & Vancouver WA. Area

3) Mutual Materials whose corporate office is in Bellevue Wa.

If you go to the websites of these three resources, you will see exactly how much there is to learn about using stone in your home remodeling and landscaping designs.

I hope this article was of use in helping you with your home addition project. Good luck!