Real Stone vs Faux Stone
Advantages and Disadvantages
What are the advantages & disadvantages between real (natural) thin stone veneer and faux (cultured) stone veneer?
The most common comparisons are durability, aesthetics, cost to install and cost of the material.
What is Real (natural) stone?
Real stone veneer is a thin, 1"-2” thick, 100% natural stone quarried from the earth. The ultimate “green” material. It is used on homes and commercial buildings for exterior and interior walls.
Durability: Natural stone veneer will last virtually forever. It will not fade, erode, or crack over time. It will hold its color despite sun and water exposure. It is the best choice for pool & other water areas.
Aesthetics: Because real stone veneer is made by nature its look far surpasses the man-made cultured stone product. Natural stone characteristics such as texture, unique shapes, moss or lichen growths, etc. cannot be copied with cultured stone.
Cost of Install: Since natural thin stone is light weight (12 lbs/sq. ft.) it can be installed exactly the same way as cultured stone, and for about the same cost.
Cost of Material: Material costs for real stone are typically more than faux stone although the price gap has shrunk in recent years. Especially at Blue Mountain Stone Supply.
What is Faux (cultured) stone?
Faux stone is a concrete product that is cast in molds. It then gets painted or dyed to copy colors of real natural stone.
As stated above, faux stone typically cost less than real stone, but may need sealing every 2-3 years which adds cost.
Color Fade: Faux stone is not a natural product. It is man, trying to copy nature. Its poured concrete manufacturing process and painted exterior is susceptable to color changes caused by exposure to the ultra violet rays in sunlight and moisture from rain, sprinklers, or pool water.
Porosity: Faux stone is very porous. It absorbs much more water than real stone and it will transfer the moisture through to the wall of the structure possibly causing many issues such as mortar decay, wood rot & mold (if not installed properly). Tests have shown faux stone to absorb water equal to 20% of its total weight vs 2% or less for real stone.
Freeze/Thaw: High porosity can lead to ice wedging and freeze/thaw problems. When water soaks into the faux stone and then freezes, pieces of the face can pop off leaving an ugly rough surface which looks like the edge of an old broken sidewalk. Proper repair requires the entire piece of stone to be cut out and replaced and can be quite expensive. Also, there is no guarantee that the repair will not stop the problem from happening again.
Efflorescence: High porosity can cause other issues as well. Faux stone is susceptible to something called "efflorescence" or "leaching" problems. When exposed to moisture, lime (contained inside the fake stone) can leach out and get deposited on the surface of the stone. This leaves behind an ugly deposit similar to a hard water stain and is very difficult to remove.
So, when deciding whether to use Real stone or Faux stone you should consider the total cost of materials AND labor.
Installation cost is typically the same for both. So, with our low prices the cost difference is only 15-20% more for a natural product that will last a lifetime vs a man-made product that may only look good for a few years.