Stucco stone, also called manufactured stone, is a nearly perfect imitation of real stone. For the longest time, stone has been considered one of the premier building materials. Its price prohibited it from being a viable option for the average homeowner. Natural stone has to be quarried and finding suitable stones is not easy. Manufactured stone is made from a composite of cement, natural aggregates, and often mineral oxides. If you like the appearance of stone, don't assume you can't have it for yourself just from what you've heard. It's lower cost and worldwide availability makes it a good choice for a new demographic of homeowners.
Not for DIY
Not only is a stucco stone project not a good idea for do-it-yourselfers, a reputable expert in stucco stone installation is vital for ensuring a quality, durable project. First the composite material must be mixed in a precise casting to get the desired color as well as solid, quality product. To achieve a variety of color options, the aggregate color of a mix may need to be modified with mineral oxides. In addition, improper mixing can result in stone that is too soft and easily crumbles.
Even expertly manufactured stone must be installed correctly or stones will tend to fall out. Unlike natural stone where gravity works to push the stones together, the lighter weight of manufactured stone requires an adhesive. Stones must be applied to a vertical surface with specially prepared glue or cement paste. If the stones are too hot, too cold, or dusty, this adhesion process will suffer. If a wet stucco mix is being used, the installation must happen before the mix has a chance to harden.
Quality Stone and Installation
Don't let the complexity of the process scare you, though. An expert installation will result in an extremely durable product that should last for the entire lifetime of your home. This increases the importance of finding a reputable contractor, as many of these companies will offer a warranty of 40 or 50 years for their manufactured stone installations.
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On average, stucco stone is 25%-35% cheaper than its natural stone counterpart. Naturally, the exact price varies on the size of the project, but there are several other factors as well. Special materials and extra labor are required for corners, so every corner your project entails will increase the cost. If this becomes an issue, you might consider focusing the project on the most visible part of your home. Even small sections of stone can greatly enhance your home's appearance. If the color you select requires extra additives, this may also increase the cost.
Not Just for Your Home's Exterior
One of the advantages of stucco stone is that its lighter weight doesn't require footings for installation. This greatly increases the kinds of places where the stone can be installed. The typical installation is for the exterior walls or a stone covering for a concrete foundation, but stucco stone is almost an excellent choice for fireplaces, entryways, gardens, patios, fountains, an accent column for your home or pretty much any other place you can think of that would look good with stone.