Building with masonry is a timeless art form. Stone masonry is one of the earliest trades of civilization, and is responsible for the most impressive monuments throughout history. Think of the Roman cities, Egyptian pyramids, and Greek temples that are still standing today. Natural stone has been a building material of choice for hundreds, even thousands of years. Stone masonry evokes a feeling of permanence, strength and beauty.
Now, more than ever, stone is becoming more accessible to the average homeowner.
Full bed stone veneer, often referred to as full dimensional stone, is the standard for stone masonry. The bed depth is the measurement from the face of the rock to the install surface. Full bed stone veneer has a typical bed depth of three- to-five inches or more. Its beauty is unquestionable, but it has limitations as to how it can be applied because of its weight and cost.
Thin cut stone, or natural thin stone veneer is a modern twist on a timeless building tradition. Thin stone is becoming increasingly popular. It has all of the classic and unique qualities of full bed stone veneer, but it is more versatile, affordable, and ultimately has a lighter impact on the earth.
Thin cut stone is 100% natural stone that is sawn to be ¾” to 1-¼” thick. It should not be confused with artificial or manufactured stone. Weighing less than fifteen pounds per square foot, it can even be applied to non-load bearing walls. The corner pieces are “L” shaped, wrapping around the corner of the structure giving the appearance of a full bed masonry stone. It does not need the footings, ledgers, and wall ties required for full bed masonry stone. It is supported by the wall to which it is installed. It can be installed over many different building surfaces such as wood, metal or poured concrete. Thin stone can be applied right on top of existing masonry, such as bricks or blocks. Updating an outdated brick fireplace or chimney has never been easier. Nothing structural needs to be done. This thin profile makes thin stone easier to work with and it can be used in areas that cannot support traditional masonry.
Think of how many homes in Steamboat have a stone fireplace that only goes as high as the mantel. This is because of weight constraints. With its lighter weight, thin stone can reach all the way to the ceiling, adding to the grandness and character of a fireplace, creating a focal point in the room.
Fireplaces are just the beginning of uses for thin stone. It can be used outdoors and indoors. Accent walls, wine cellars, columns, chimneys, outdoor kitchens, and archways are just a few examples. It is a perfect choice for new construction or remodels, residential or commercial. When it comes to designing with stone the options are limitless. There are broad variations in color, texture, and the cut of the stone. Stones can be blended, to make a one-of-a-kind look, and can be used in conjunction with full bed masonry stone.
Stone is a sustainable building material, and a product of choice in the green building industry. It is naturally occurring and readily available. It is durable, with a life cycle of a hundred years or more. Unlike most building materials, which need to be replaced and disposed of during the life cycle of the building, natural stone will last a lifetime, often improving with age. Ultimately, it can even be reused or recycled into other building materials. Advances in stone quarrying and processing are further reducing the cost to the environment. Use of full dimensional stone or thin stone veneer can earn LEED points in several categories.
Thin cut stone veneer is even better for the earth too. Often thin veneer is a recycled or reclaimed product. It can be made using leftover pieces from quarrying, or stone fabrication such as granite countertop production. One ton of full bed stone veneer can cover approximately forty square feet. Compare that to one ton of thin stone veneer which can cover about 135 square feet. Carbon footprints are also reduced in transporting thin stone. One truckload of full bed stone veneer can cover about 900 square feet. Three thousand square feet of surface can be covered by a truckload of thin veneer. Ultimately about one quarter of the stone is quarried.
Whether you are installing a traditional full bed stone or a thin cut stone, a mason, who is a true craftsman, is recommended. There are new building codes for Routt County that should be followed for proper installation. A skilled mason used to designing with stones, will fit the stones together in the most esthetically pleasing way. A good stonemason can turn stones into functional works of art.
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