Considerations for Exterior Stone Selection

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

Stone elements add awesome curb appeal, so take a look at your new house plans or existing home to see what you can do! Even limited applications—such as those just around an exposed foundation—can make a huge difference, but you can also side the whole house with stone for an impressive aura of permanence. If beautiful stone possibilities have piqued your interest, here are some things to keep in mind!

Eldorado Stone Cliffstone

Used on the foundation, chimney, and to conceal the exterior staircase, Cliffstone® in Montecito complements the rich, smooth wood siding of this hillside home with contemporary lines and texture.

Natural Stone vs. Manufactured Stone Veneer

The first major decision you need to make is whether you want to outfit your home in natural quarried stone or manufactured stone veneer. If you think you can tell the difference on sight, think again! A good manufactured veneer can look so authentic you’ll mistake it for the real thing. And there are so many varieties these days, you’ll have tons of options regardless of your location, home, and personal style.

The decision typically comes down to two issues: cost and code. Natural stone is expensive to quarry and transport, and loss through breakage is par for the course. Manufactured veneer is man-made with materials like Portland cement and finished with pigments to get the right look. Due to greater control over the product, multiple manufacturing facilities around the country, and lighter shipping weight, this veneer is much more cost effective. When it comes down to code, the weight difference comes up again, because natural stone is very dense and must be thinly and precisely cut to a certain weight per square foot. This is an issue for building codes across the United States and you need to know what your limits are before making a decision. It’s much easier to find a manufactured stone veneer that meets your requirements, because these products are made with weight in mind from the beginning.

Eldorado Stone Cypress Ridge

The variety of hues and irregular shapes of Cypress Ridge® stone in Orchard® give this home one-of-a-kind appeal. Thick overgrout accentuates each piece, contrasting with the regular pattern of the pavers and tile roof.

Individual Pieces vs. Panels

Depending on the style of stone you choose, you might be offered individual pieces or panels of veneer that appear to be made from multiple stones. Natural and manufactured veneers can come either way, giving you or your builder a choice: do you want to ensure your application is completely unique with separate stones, or would you rather invest in panels to reduce labor time and finish the project sooner? Most people never notice repeating panels because they are specifically put together to look like multiple pieces, and because panels are most often offered for linear stone profiles. If you have your eyes on irregular, jagged, or rounded profiles, you’ll probably have to rely on stone-by-stone installation.

Panels are especially helpful if you want to cover large swaths of the exterior in stone, and they also make short work of corners. They have staggered, interlocking side edges to help achieve a natural look, but the top and bottom edges are level so it’s not like putting together a puzzle; you can still put together your own layout with different panels. With regards to style, panel veneer is ideal if you like dry-stack applications—you won’t even have the opportunity to see much grout!

On the other hand, if you like a rough and rustic look with visible grout, you’re better off choosing to lay individual stones. There’s a lot more freedom and you can decide on your own joint width, style, and color. It doesn’t matter which stone type you like with this choice, because you’ll find everything from flat-faced, modern ledgestone to smooth, rounded river rocks. The possibilities for the final look are practically limitless.

Eldorado Stone Stacked Stone

This lovely home has walls of Stacked Stone in Nantucket for a beachy faded look. With simplified panel installation, even an intricate dry-stack appearance can be achieved quickly and easily.

Choosing Stone for Your Home's Exterior

Finally, we come to the selecting of the stone itself. While architecture plays a big part—see Choosing Stone Accents for Different Architecture—it often comes down to personal preference. Where some people like long, narrow stones, others prefer large blocky ones. And the colors chosen might be on opposite sides of the spectrum! Imagine the look you want in general first—everything from shapes, to profiles, to lines, to hues. Is your style simple or intricate? Do you want to match the surroundings or stand out? Once you figure these out, it’ll be much easier to choose your veneer!

No matter your choices, be sure to hire a qualified professional to install exterior stone. This isn’t like other siding materials—you need a multi-layered base and the right conditions and timing to correctly and efficiently apply the product. Inexperience could result in everything from wasted materials to structural damage to the home down the line. Make the effort up front to ensure you love your stone elements now and in the future.

Check out the wide variety of styles and color palettes available from Eldorado Stone if you’re ready to take the next step! With options for all kinds of aesthetics and expert assistance available, you’ll be sure to find stone veneer that you’ll love to come home to!

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