Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Real" stone vs Cultured" stone

view more at www.dona-arch.com

Cultured stone has come a long way since it's introduction.  It is molded from actual stones and the colors are pretty hard to distinguish from the real thing.  So why would you use one over the other?  While cultured stone is often less expensive since it is made of concrete instead of real rock, if the project has a lot of corners, the prices difference is minimal.  This is because the "corner" stones are quite a lot more $$ than the standard stones. 

If the project has a large field of stones with few corners, then cultured stone will often cost less.  It is also lighter and therefore can be applied to a wood substrate unlike full size real stone which often needs to be installed over a masonry core. 

Cultured stone can be applied by a tile setter or a mason while real stone requires an experienced mason for application. 

Just to muddy the waters a bit more we now have "Thin Stone" which is a real stone cut into 3" thick pieces.  this is often similar in price to cultured stone with the same issues about corners and installation as it is installed in the same fashion as the cultured product.

We often specify real stones for two reasons:
1. If we need large sizes
2. The application is a high wear location.  This is because if a cultured stone is cracked or damaged, well  
    it then looks like a broken piece of concrete and the illusion is lost.

This project looks great doesn't it?  so is it cultured stone or real stone?   Our best clue is the uniform sizes.  because this is a cultured stone product!

It is pretty easy to see from the size variation that these are real stones.  This provides a looser less formal look as the stone sizes and colors have more variety. 

Either way you go, installation by a craftsman is critical to achieve the look you are after.  The real key here is to hire an installer who takes their "art" seriously!