Cultured Veneer versus Natural Thin Veneer

What’s the difference between Cultured Stone and Natural Thin Veneer?

Cultured Stone (also known as cast stone, faux stone, manufactured stone) is a man-made product using cement, aggregates and pigmented dyes.  These materials are mixed together and poured into molds to mimic the shape and colors of natural stone.


Common Misconceptions and Questions

“Cultured Stone is cheaper than Natural Stone.” – FALSE

Cultured Stone manufacturers invest a great deal of money into convincing the average consumer that their product is less expensive than real stone.  Most every Natural Stone veneer product is comparable in pricing to the fake, or manufactured stone.  Cultured stone uses vast amounts of environmentally damaging additives and fillers, not to mention the cost of processing molds and manufacturing costs.  Natural stone is an extremely green building product and requires nothing more than processing the material on a saw to reduce the weight of the stone - while still maintaining its natural beauty and unique attributes.

“Cultured Stone looks just like Natural Stone.” - FALSE

While there have been great advances in the manufacturing of Cultured Stone, Natural Stone Veneer is still visibly superior.  From a distance, many people may not be able to distinguish between fake stone and real stone; however, if you take a closer look, MOST people will notice the difference.  Natural stone will ALWAYS have variations in shape, color and texture – creating a truly unique appearance.  Cultured stone will have identical shaped “stones” and colors because the product is manufactured in molds using artificial colors and dyes.  Additionally, cultured stone generally does not exhibit the beautiful variation in textures that Natural stone will display.

“Cultured Stone is just as durable as Natural Stone.” – FALSE

Natural stone has been used for building structures from the beginning of recorded civilization.  Castles built of stone are still standing CENTURIES later and display an aged patina on the surface.  While Natural stone does fade some over time, generally you will not notice the fading in your lifetime.  Because cultured stone achieves its color from artificial dyes, regular sunlight and UV exposure will fade the pigments in this man-made material.  In addition, Cultured Stone has a concrete-aggregate inside – this is important to note because any chipping or nicks of the material will reveal the concrete on the inside of the “stone”.  In comparison, Natural stone is often chipped and tooled on the jobsite during installation for a more custom-look.  You cannot process Cultured Stone in this manner due to its artificial composition.

To recap, the chart below will demonstrate why Natural Stone remains the preferred material over Cultured Stone.

 

Natural Thin Stone Veneer

Cultured Stone

Durability

Extremely durable

Poor - very good durability

*depending on manufacturer

Composition

Composed of natural stone minerals like slate, quartzite, sandstone, limestone

Cement and aggregates, iron oxides and other pigments.  Created in molds to mimic natural stone

Thickness

1” – 1½”

1” – 2½”

*depending upon manufacturer

Appearance

Earthy beauty, each stone unique in color, texture, veining

Similar to natural stone colors.  Lacking of individual characteristics and details

Weight

10-15 lbs per square foot

*depending upon type and style of stone

8-12 lbs per square foot

*depending upon manufacturer

Cost

$3 - $16 per square foot

*depending upon style and quantity ordered

$3 - $12 per square foot

*depending upon manufacturer and quantity ordered

Care/Maintenance

Avoid acidic cleaners

Sealing is optional in our geographical area of the country

Power washing or hosing down periodically

Careful to avoid nicks/chips