Culture Stones are artificial stones made in molds from a reinforced light weight concrete with surface hardeners. Culture Stones are used for a majority of stone facing. Culture Stone is easier to install and more economically priced then real stone veneer. Real stone veneer is installed in the same way as Culture Stone, but more difficult to work with due to its heaviness and inability to be cut easily. Natural stone is are also harder than Culture Stone. Therefore, it needs to be cut with a diamond blade which can be time consuming. Stone veneer is usually used as a decorative material in the front of houses, steps, retaining walls, and fireplaces. It is usually installed over a masonry backing like concrete block. On houses, it is sometimes placed over the plywood sheeting. This is acceptable to do as long as the proper preparation which include water proofing is performed.
First, waterproofing sheeting should be applied over the plywood. Next, wire lath is placed over the sheeting and nailed into the plywood where the studs are. The wire lath should then be coated with a mortar cement mix creating what we call a ‘scratch’ coat. The mortar cement mix actually goes in between the wire. The steel lath acts as reinforcement, as it is screwed to the house structure and then sandwiched between the cement coat. The Culture or natural stone veneer is then adhered over the scratch coat with additional mortar. After all the stones are installed, the adhering cement mix is left to harden, and dry overnight.
The next process would be tuck pointing the mortar joint. This is accomplished by squeezing mortar cement between the spacing of the stones. New cement based products usually mix gray but dry to a bright white for years to come. For this reason, we typically tint our mortar so it blends in with the stone and does not take away from its beautiful appearance. We also use special admixtures in our cement mixes when installing culture stones to provide a more flexible, freezing-thaw resistance, and waterproofed cement. This is done as insurance to prevent future repairs, and keeps your stone work looking as beautiful as the first day it was installed for years to come.