Natural stone has the highest price point due to labor intensive installation and cost of material.
It is also widely considered the most desirable of all stone options. It’s difficult to install, and it can be prohibitively expensive to add true stone if a stone ledge is not present. One reason for the heightened cost is due to this cladding requiring what is essentially its own foundation, which is a stone ledge.
A space of 1″ to 2″ is required between the stone and the rest of the wall assembly. This space is called a rain screen design, and it provides a capillary break to limit moisture transfer. This break provides a space for the drainage of moisture, and allows enough ventilation in order to dry the cladding. Natural stone is more expensive than veneers due to the cost of the stone, and the labor involved throughout installation.
Natural Stone Veneer (NSV)
NSV is a thin portion of natural stone. Stone ledge is not required for the installation of this veneer. A galvanized lath (metal screen) is attached to the wall, and then Type-S Cement is applied over the lath (a thin flat strip of wood). Pieces of the stone veneer are embedded in the Type-S Cement to create a pattern much like a wall of natural stone. Stone Veneer can be applied to any structurally sound surface including wood sheathing, brick, block, or even concrete.
Manufactured Stone Veneer (MSV)
Manufactured from Portland Cement and made to resemble natural stone veneer. These stone veneers are created through molds, which use iron oxides to color and dye the stone to the specific color requested. This dying technique allows the color to truly soak into the cast, and become an internal part of the veneer. The base color is blended throughout, and the mortar can be colored to match as a homeowners color choice well. There are no noticeable changes in the color after years of weathering.
How does this benefit you? For one, it is roughly a third of the price of natural stone, and it does not require a stone ledge (less labor intensive). Also, if you crack or chip this veneer, it will just look like a misshapen stone rather than a piece of chipped plastic.