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Looking for stone veneers near you in West Palm Beach can be a great addition to a variety of settings and can lift the look and value of the property. It pays to take a step back and outline the entire process, regardless of how big or small your job is. Enlisting the services of a qualified hardscaping business can make installing your stone veneers much more convenient, so look for a local contractor to assist you. Continue reading to learn about the stone veneer siding installation method.
What is Stone Veneer?
Siding that appears to be solid blocks of limestone, granite, or any natural stone is often not what it seems to be. Most of the time, it’s a thin veneer of molded concrete that’s been tinted with iron oxides to look like natural stone. The molds give the veneer pieces a texture that is remarkably similar to that of actual stone. These veneers are nearly indistinguishable from solid stone when correctly fitted.
Other synthetic polymer items attempt to replicate the appearance of natural stone, but these highly lightweight replicas feel more like styrofoam and are not very convincing, especially up close. Finally, a genuine stone veneer is constructed from tiny pieces of actual stone—usually limestone or sandstone, but occasionally granite. These veneers can be quarried or cut into slices, or they can be smoothed river rocks with a flat backside to apply to the wall. Even though genuine stone veneer siding is just 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick, they are incredibly weighty. They can weigh up to 13 pounds per square foot, nearly twice as much as concrete-based synthetic stone veneer.
Manufactured cement veneer accounts for most stone veneer siding installations due to product homogeneity, less weight, and cheaper cost. Actual natural stone veneer is seen in opulent residences, but synthetic is more affordable.
It’s crucial to remember that stone veneer, whether artificial or natural, is not a structural material. It cannot support the same amount of weight as solid stone or concrete blocks. When a house is built with lap siding or stucco, stone veneer is consistently applied over a framed and sheathed structure. Stone veneer, like stucco, requires a metal lath and mortar base to which the veneer pieces are affixed.
Stone veneer is available in various styles, and the preparation and installation process varies slightly depending on the product. The best source of meticulous preparation, assembly, and maintenance instructions are the manufacturer’s instructions. Stone veneer is typically sold in boxes with flat pieces and molded corner pieces.
How to Install Stone Veneer
1. Install a Vapor Barrier and a Metal Lath
Most veneer products made for houses with wooden frames, require the installation of a vapor barrier on the sheathing as a first step. This might be the same Tyvek or other basic house wraps that are used under lap siding. Alternatively, sheathing paper, like grade D asphalt builder’s paper, can be used. A vapor barrier may not be necessary on concrete walls or poured concrete blocks; follow the veneer manufacturer’s recommendations.
Then, as a base for the mortar under the veneer, lay sheets of expanded galvanized metal lath. Roofing nails are driven at a spacing of 6 inches to attach this lath; ensure the nails penetrate the studs. Also, between studs, nail the sheathing to the sheathing, putting nails about 6 inches apart.
2. Scratch Coat Application
Using type N or type S mortar, apply a scratch coat. A decent mortar mix includes one part N or S cement and 2.25 parts sand; however, scratch-coat mortar that has already been mixed is also available. The same mortar used for the scratch coat can be utilized for the bond coat and seam grouting.
Cover the entire lath area with the mixture in a layer 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick using a trowel. Depending on the arrangement, you may want to tint the finish because it is occasionally noticeable once the stone veneer siding is put in.
Using a metal scraper or a metal comb, scrape horizontal ridges into the scratch coat. The idea is to give the mortar some “teeth,” which will aid in the adhesion of the following layer of mortar.
Allow at least 24 hours for the scratch coat to dry before adding the stone veneer panels for exterior.
3. Prepare the Stones and the Area
First, wash all of the stones and then lay them out on a flat area to test the plan. To ensure a random mixing of colors and forms, it’s a good idea to mix several boxes of veneer pieces. You can lay down the whole wall portion if you have the space. Lay out small parts and apply them in stages if necessary.
Trimming can be done with a wet saw, a circular saw fitted with a masonry blade, or a chisel and maul if appropriate. Remember that trimmed edges will be concealed with grout later, but it’s a good idea to place cut edges where they won’t be visible.
It’s critical to keep the stones damp as the installation progresses to avoid collecting moisture from the mortar.
4. Make the Mortar Mix
Prepare the veneer mortar mix. Mix 2.25 parts water to 1 part type N or S cement. Mix vigorously until a thick paste is formed. Ensure the mortar is wet enough to work with but not so wet that it falls off the trowel and drips off the lath.
5. Apply Mortar
Apply a 1/2-inch layer of mortar to the scratch coat and the back of the veneer piece. The mortar should be paste-like, wet enough not to dry out completely but stiff enough to modify and level the stone as you apply it.
Work in small portions so the mortar does not dry up before you can apply the veneer. Start at the bottom of the wall and work your way up and outward.
6. Install the Stone Veneer Panels for Exterior
Begin by installing the corner veneer pieces. Work upwards from the bottom. Hold the stone in the mortar for 10 seconds. Using a gentle rotation, squeeze out the mortar. You should see some mortar around the stone’s edges. If the stone slides or slips when released, the mortar layer is too thin, or the mortar is too wet.
Then work outward with flat pieces, starting at the bottom and going higher. Saw-cut edges should be positioned in regions where they are not visible.
Keep the joints thin and uniform in width. Narrow joints seem more professional.
If mortar gets on the veneer pieces during installation, wait until it hardens and crumbles, then brush it off. Don’t let it dry overnight.
7. Joint Grouting
The grout mix can be the same as the scratch coat or the bonding mortar mix. This job calls for a grout bag, a canvas bag with a metal nozzle on one side.
Squeeze the bag of mortar while pushing the nozzle along the joint. Cover all edges and trimmed ends with mortar. The grout can stay recessed slightly or filled in the joints, but the depth should be consistent.
Then, after the mortar mixture dries, use a pointing tool to pack it into the joints.
8. Clean then Seal
Remove excess dirt or leftover mortar residue from the veneer’s surface with a vinegar-water solution and a steel wire brush. Before the mortar entirely dries on the face, clean the stone veneer panels promptly, within 30 minutes.
Seal the veneer stone as directed by the manufacturer. Re-seal the new veneer every two years or as suggested by the manufacturer. Sealed stone is easy to clean, and certain sealers also repel stains.
Consider a Professional
As you can see, the installation process is a bit involved. If you are confident in your abilities, use out step by step guide to aid your installation process. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, enlisting the services of a qualified hardscaping business can make installing your stone veneers much more convenient. Consider South Florida’s premier paving and hardscape general contractor, U.S. Brick and Block.