Affordable Cultured Stone® – The Real Stone Alternative
There is nothing quite like the look of natural stone. It projects a sense of stability and permanence. I feel part of this stems from the fact that many very old buildings around the world were constructed using different stones and rocks. As we know, some of these buildings (Great Pyramids of Egypt) and public works (Great Wall of China) are thousands of years old. The stones or rocks used are often in good shape, only the mortar that was sometimes used needs periodic repair.
Natural stone used in residential construction can be very expensive to install. The cost to quarry the rock, package it and ship it to the construction site all contribute to the cost. Because many natural stones are heavy, the shipping costs can actually cost more than the stone itself. Once on the job site, the stone must often be extensively trimmed to fit aesthetically into a wall. This adds to the labor cost. Using natural stone also requires a foundation beneath the stone to support the weight. Steel lintels or archway forms need to be used to span over openings. The entire process is labor intensive. As you might imagine, this also adds to the cost of installing the stone. Current costs, here in the Midwest, for labor and material to install natural stone range from $20 to $25 per square foot.
The Alternative Product
About 30 years ago, someone figured out that you could get around the problem of heavy natural stone by using high quality, light weight concrete. This is how Cultured Stone® was created.
The first attempts at producing this product created durable materials, however, they were not very realistic. Necessity, being the mother of invention, spawned experimentation with different forms and colorization processes. In short order, realistic artificial stones were being mass produced.
The idea caught on, as evidenced by the numerous regional manufacturers that still persist to this day. There are many artificial stone manufacturers, however only a few produce large quantities and distribute throughout the United States and Canada.