Contractors and Builders alike know, that pre-cast stone veneer (commonly referred to as Cultured Stone®) is one of the most sought after construction materials on the market. It's beauty and durability have made a solid reputation. Some manufacturers have lead-times in excess of two months for product delivery as a result of its popularity. This has been a source of much frustration to Project Managers and Homeowners alike. The three major manufacturing companies are constantly upgrading their production capacity in an attempt to keep up with the demand. Still, they have not been able to alleviate such long lead-times.
A few of the many reasons for this surge in popularity over natural stone are: 1.) Cost per square foot is less than natural stone. 2.) Installation can be half the cost due to building codes and labor. 3.) The ability to customize your design scheme to match anything.
Natural stone is harvested from mines or quarries. Once the quarry is tapped, you will not be able to find exact color matches to replace or expand on your original design.
Pre-Cast Stone Veneer can also be efflorescence (a powdery substance that forms on the surface of rocks and brickwork) free if a Natural Pozzolan is added. This is a HUGE advantage over natural stone, which needs a regimen of sealers and cleaning to prevent efflorescence.
There are 2 ways to go about acquiring Pre-Cast Stone Veneer. The first is to buy the stones from a reputable dealer. Average cost of manufactured stone veneer is around $7sqft. You are bound by the colors that a company carries and the style of stones in stock, and you must conform your project to the availability of that color and style. Not only do you lose control of your vision in coloring and style, your project is at the mercy of the above-mentioned lead-times of 2+ months.
The second option is to create the stone veneer yourself. With minimal space and effort, your project is back on track using only the colors and styles that YOU want to use. No longer held down by the constraints of what the manufacturers want to produce, the sky is the limit.
The first step in creating your own stone is deciding on a rock profile that suites your needs. There are two options for Stone Veneer Molds. One is the Plastic (or Polystyrene) pre-cast mold and the other is a rubber-based mold. Plastic molds are unable to transfer 100% of the natural stones detail, a rubber-based mold can. Further, powdered iron oxide pigments will not stay in place on plastic and your exterior color will come out splotchy. Plastic also breaks down a lot faster than their rubber mold counterparts, which has a production life of 5+ years.
The second step is to choose the color scheme that fits your design plans. This will determine the technique you will use to color your stones. Some stones only require "integral" color, while others might only need "external" coloring. Start off by making small batches of concrete and add the pigments to the mix (if needed for your color choice). Then, take a dry brush and dab your desired exterior pigment to the interior of the mold. Remember, rubber molds will hold the pigment in place on the inside, as plastic molds will not. Once you have the desired color achieved, simply scale your measurements up to create the amount of stone veneer needed.
Creating stone veneer for yourself should cost no more than $0.60-$0.80sqft. Using rubber molds will produce a crisper and cleaner stone than ANY manufacturer can accomplish. Manufacturers over use their molds, which degrades the intricacy of the natural stones profile.
Making stone veneer is as easy as baking a cake....literally. You are simply mixing the concrete, adding some color, and letting it dry. If you every want to expand on your project or start a new one, you then have the molds and the know how to do so.
For more information on making concrete stone veneer using rubber-based molds, please visit StoneCasterStudio.com.