Is Stone Veneer Siding The Right Option for Ann Arbor Homeowners?

Using Stone Veneer Siding When Remodeling Your Home

Today, advances in the manufacturing of stone veneer have given homeowners a gorgeous choice for exterior siding. While natural stone it is expensive and not suitable for every home if you love the look, stone veneer siding is versatile and affordable alternative material that can be used on almost any home. Today the choices are almost endless. Stone veneer siding is available in a number of different species, with fieldstone, stack stone, river stone and limestone being the most popular.

When installed correctly, stone veneer siding can give your home a stately curb appeal, livening up your home's exterior look. The problem is that if not installed correctly, it can lead to serious problems down the road. It is also not a great choice for certain climates.

Today, we're going to take a look at some of the pros and cons of stone veneer and if it is the right choice for your Ann Arbor home.

The Definition of Stone Veneer Siding

While natural stone veneer siding is available, it is often an extremely expensive endeavor. It is made using thin slices of natural stone, usually on a mesh type backing, much like ceramic tile. It is a heavy material and installation typically includes additional and costly needs like adding footings during installation.

Faux stone siding is the typical, and cost-effective alternative. Faux stone siding begins with a durable lightweight concrete (or occasionally clay) mixture. Polymers are added for strength and weatherproofing as well as a pigment to give the final product the desired look. Some veneers are painted rather than pigmented. Some manufacturers make their products out of a dense polyurethane.

The mix is injection molded or poured into rubber molds that are created using natural stone so the shape and texture of the finished product are extremely realistic.

Two Types of Stone Veneer Siding

Stone veneer is available in two forms. Individual pieces come boxed in a variety of sizes and color variations. The installer is given the freedom of creating the pattern, but this can be a long installation process. Individual pieces are connected to a wire lathe backing and on some, mortar is used to fill the spaces between stones.

The second type is stone veneer siding panels, usually in 2 to 8- foot squares. Installation is faster as panels are attached to the structure with screws. Some panels require mortar, others are pre-fabricated. L-shaped corner pieces are available for both types. They are typically installed first.

The Pros of Stone Veneer

Stone veneer does offer the homeowner many benefits. It creates the beautiful look of natural materials on any home's exterior and comes in a wide variety of colors and profiles. It is a lightweight product that is easier to install than natural stone, doesn't require footing support and costs 40 – 70% less than real stone.

Stone veneer offers 30+ years of low maintenance protection that is durable and competitively priced with premium vinyl, wood, and fiber cement siding. It is also a recyclable product make it somewhat environmentally friendly.

The Problems With Stone Veneer

With any stone veneer, installation is a critical step in terms of reducing potential problems. While it's called “stone veneer” siding, the latest products on the market are not actually stone, but a form of stucco that has been molded and colored to give the look and feel of stone, without the extra weight.

That means that it is subject to the same problems as stucco, including moisture problems. It must be properly installed to manage moisture including installing a weed screed, a 4-inch gap to the ground and a 2-inch gap around paving, like steps or patios. This step is often overlooked during installation and as a result, where the bottom meets the ground, rot can occur and can spread upwards. If not promptly dealt with, rot can compromise the entire installation.

The most common problem reported with manufactured stone veneer isn't the finish, but rather damage to the home's interior due to leaking. If the installation is not properly handled, performance will suffer. While the material is made to resemble natural stone, it needs to be treated like stucco. A rain screen and vapor barrier must be properly installed. If not, leaks and moisture damage may occur and can result in mold, rot and constant signs of moisture on the interior walls. Leaking around doors and windows, even with a proper rain screen has been reported. Two to three times the amount of caulking is necessary to seal them properly. If an insufficient amount of caulk is used you can develop water leaks in these areas.

Ventilation and roofing can also be problem areas. Sealing gaps with mortar which can crack as it ages can allow moisture to enter. Mortar doesn't flex like sealants and any settling or movement of the house could cause the vent cover to crack or break. This can not only allow moisture but can lead to other issues like allowing the entrance of pests into your home.

The Takeaway...

While stone veneer can be a beautiful choice for your exterior, in areas of the country like Ann Arbor which experience large amounts of rain, snow, and drastic temperature changes, a stone veneer may not be the best choice. Unless you are working with an established contractor who has extensive experience with the proper installation of stone veneer siding (and plenty of long-term references), you can experience serious problems down the road that can be difficult and costly to repair. Speak with our design experts about alternatives like fiber cement siding which avoid the problems associated with stone veneers. 

Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.