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Real Stone vs. Fake Stone

It's a question we get asked time and time again, should I use real stone or man-made stone on the outside veneer of my house. Man-made (fake, faux, cultured, etc.) stone is a cementitious product made to simulate natural stone. The "stones" are made thin and applied to the exterior wall with a thin coating of mortar. While it seems simple, there's actually much more to it and this where your first problems arise. Cement likes to absorb water much more than natural stone. If not applied with the correct materials beneath it to keep this water out, you will have major issues down the road.
In addition, if you live in an area that has a frequent freeze/thaw pattern this too will eventually cause issues with man-made stone. We've all seen concrete driveways and sidewalks with cracks on the surface, this is caused crazing, and is common in man-made stone as well. Over time, these surface cracks will not only mar the appearance of the stone, but will also allow more water to infiltrate inside. Once this water freezes and thaws over and over again (here in Kansas CIty, we average about 90 cycles a year), the cracks will expand and contract, further weaking the stone until, that's right, off it pops from the wall.
The common perception of man-made stone was that it's more affordable than the real thing. Today, that price gap has narrowed considerably as some quarries are now producing a product called Natural Thin Veneer (NTV). This product is shaped like the man-made products, but completely genuine. It goes on like man-made stone, but doesn't attract water. And, because it's thin, the pricing is comparable. Our Crystal Ridge NTV (seen in the picture used on the latest Oklahoma Joe's) is just $10 /sq. ft. at Sturgis Materials. For more info visit our website at
Have you experienced these or other problems with man-made stone? If so, post your story here!

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