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Thin Stone Veneer

Thin Stone Veneer

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The revolution in Thin Veneers has made the beauty of stone an available option in almost any project. It requires less in the way of structural support than traditional building stone and brick. But proper preparation is essential.

What you need to know: Thin Veneer has become very popular: known as “Stick-on” or “Lick and Stick” stone, it has appeared on new houses and in renovations in every neighborhood. But a minor industry has sprung up fixing installations in which improper preparation resulted in moisture getting underneath, causing sometimes extensive damage to the structure beneath.

Moisture: KEEP OUT!– The cement coat used as a base for thin veneer must be installed over a proper base of many layers.

  1. Double, Grade D moisture barrier: not just a layer of tar paper, but a double layer of paper rated to resist water for 60 minutes, or one layer of Grade D and a moisture-control product specifically designed to separate the paper from the stucco with a drainage space, to allow moisture to move behind the stucco and release it safely.
  2. Weep screed: a special strip, similar to drip-edge for a roof but with a wide leg and a sloped flange, which prevents “wicking” of moisture from the bottom edge of a cement coat back into the structure behind. NEVER apply your cement coat so as to contact the ground, even over masonry: capillary action will draw moisture up and take it places you won’t see until the damage is done.
  3. Lath: almost always a must, and always the safe way to go. Be sure that all borders – around windows, doors, and other openings, and any edge that meets the other material (soffits, siding, etc.) – are finished with “casing bead”, allowing a clean edge and a place to put caulk between the stucco and other materials. There is some debate about how to protect Thin veneer applications from cracking: create a “control” joint – a continuous interruption in the stone pattern, finished with caulk – as you would with stucco, or treat it like “unit Masonry” – bricks and blocks—and use control joints only in very large expanses of wall, such as commercial work. Because of the integrity of individual pieces, some experts are saying that control joints are unnecessary because expansion and contraction will be absorbed by many very small – almost invisible – cracks in the interface between the units and the mortar joints, and that proper preparation (see Stucco, below) will prevent damage to the structure.
  4. Brown, Scratch, and Finish coats: the first layer “fills” the lath, the second is “scratched” to make sure the next coat holds (so is the first if it is at all smooth). A thick stucco application, in combination with the veneer, can take the rain, even absorb it, and release it when the weather changes. But put a single coat on too thick and shrinkage cracks will appear, compromising the strength of the job. The “finish”, of course, is the Thin Veneer.

The three steps to get your project started:

MEASURE your project area.

For walls, you will need to know square feet (length x width) of the face of the wall. Also measure windows and doors, the edges where you’ll meet other materials (siding, soffits), and vertical corners.

CHOOSE your materials.

The majority of Thin Veneer applications are done with manufactured stone – concrete molded and colored to look like stone. There are many manufacturers, but most offer the same few basic looks that have to do with the shapes: “ledge stone” (strips that mimic stacked stone), “mosaic” (irregular shapes with the large faces turned outward), “cut” or “ashlar” (squares and rectangles).

Colors vary much more widely, and matching one manufacturer’s stone with another will be very difficult.

Natural Thin Stone Veneers are also available. They are hard to distinguish from traditional, full-size veneer, especially if corner pieces are available, and they tend to be more expensive than manufactured stone.

ESTIMATE

Come see us for solutions, prices, the name of a qualified contractor, or Do-It-Yourself tips.

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G.W. Lippincott's Supply
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