What does manufactured stone veneer cost and why do prices vary so much from stone veneer manufacturers, when they are all manufactured stone?
This is a good question, and if I were in the market for manufactured stone I would question the big difference in price also. We can begin by addressing the second part of the question, as this will explain the vast differences between manufacturers and the cost of their stone.
Some very important factors to consider when choosing a manufactured stone are how the molds are made, how the color is applied, how long the stone is cured, how the stone is packaged and the length of the warranty.
Some manufacturers have state of the art mold manufacturing facilities and are able to capture every textural detail down to most finite level. Molds should be made from actual stones and each piece should compliment each other and have just the right shape, texture, size and detail.
When it comes to color, you want to make sure that overtones of color are integrated into the stone during the molding process, while the base color of the stone is blended entirely throughout. Some of the best manufacturers use highly skilled artisans to literally hand paint each piece giving each stone depth and variation of color. You also want to choose a manufacturer who uses the highest quality synthetic mineral oxides to infuse the surface with rich, authentic tones. This will ensure the long lasting color and protect it from UV rays.
The curing process also affects the color of the stone. Some manufacturers use industrial dryers to help cure the stone or brick.
Although it may seem irrelevant, packaging is a very important factor that affects the cost of manufactured stone. If you order enough stone to cover a 100 square foot area, you want to make sure you’re getting that amount. Many manufacturers try to “trick” the consumer by factoring the mortar joint (or the grout joint) into your coverage area. For example, when you order 100 square feet of stone from some manufacturers, you may actually be getting 90 square feet of actual stone because they have allotted for the mortar joints. You should be ordering the stone as if you were planning to “dry stack” the material which is another way of saying you would not be using mortar or grout joints.
We all want a warranty on products we’re buying. The stone manufacturer should be guaranteeing their product for a minimum of 75 years. If they can’t provide you with that kind of warranty, don’t buy their product. This will not include a warranty on the installation or the color, but it will cover any defects in the product itself.
Some manufacturers make and sell cheaper stone. There’s a reason for that and there is a market for cheap stone. We all know the reality that you get what you pay for. There is much less attention to detail and they are not using molds made from real stone. They don’t spend time ensuring each stone has the right color variation and depth, they aren’t using high quality minerals to produce the stone and they aren’t concerned with the curing process. In effect, cheap stone looks cheap. It lacks the authenticity of a well made manufactured stone. However, there is certainly a market for less expensive stone.
So the answer to the question about how much manufactured stone veneer costs is…. it depends. It hinges on multiple factors, some of which we’ve discussed above. If you’re in the market for a cheap stone, you can probably find it for as low as $3.00 per square foot. If you’re in the market for a quality, authentic looking stone, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5.00 per square foot to $8.00 per square foot.