Stone veneer siding: a buyer’s guide

Image source: Table Rock

Chris Gennone

By Chris Gennone

April 16, 2021

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If you're looking to install new siding on your home, you're probably familiar with vinyl siding and fiber cement, but nothing really comes close to the classic appearance of natural stone. But with hefty installation costs, it can be a difficult option if you're on a tight budget. Whether you're looking to install a simple stone backsplash or more extensive coverage of your home, stone veneer siding is a solid alternative. Manufactured stone veneer siding may not exactly look like real stone, but it's easier to install and costs about half the price. Let's take a look at the different styles of stone veneer siding, its pros and cons, and determine if it's right for you.

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What is stone veneer siding?

Stone veneer siding being installed on a residential home

Image source: American Craftsmen

While real stone siding is made with real quarried stones, faux stone siding is often made from cement, natural aggregates, and other artificial pigments to make it look like real stone. Since stone veneers are made from synthetic building materials, many installers are experienced using them. Homeowners interested in the DIY route will be thrilled to learn that some faux stone siding comes in veneer stone panels, which also makes it a doable home improvement project. These panel kits make it possible to install stone veneers inside and outside your home with a handful of simple tools.

Find a local contractor to install stone veneer siding on your home.

Types of stone veneer siding

Before deciding whether to choose between stone veneers or natural stone, let’s take a look at several types of stone veneer siding.

Manufactured stone

Manufactured stone veneer siding

Image source: Woodward Landscape Supply

Manufactured stone offers a similar appearance to natural stone that is cheaper, more lightweight, and durable. Manufactured stone also comes in a variety of colors and styles, which makes it easy to customize your fireplace or exterior walls. This type of stone veneer siding is harder to install yourself and we recommend hiring a contractor for the veneer installation.

Polyurethane

Ployurethane stone veneer siding

Image source: AliExpress

Another type of stone veneer is made from a polyurethane base which is poured into molds. Polyurethane stone veneers are incredibly versatile and can be cut into many different shapes and styles, while also available in a variety of different colors. In addition to being lightweight, polyurethane stone is impact and heat resistant, and also provides insulation.

Veneer panels

Veneer panel stone siding

Image source: Faux Stone Sheets

Perhaps the easiest way to install stone veneers is by choosing veneer panels. These panels can be made from a variety of materials, including real stone, and click together, giving you a more uniform appearance. Though installing stone veneer panels is relatively simple, there are mortarless panels available that are less labor-intensive.

Pros and cons of stone veneer siding

Stone veneer siding on a residential home installed above windows

Image source: MasonryDirect

Pros of stone veneer siding

Cost-effective - The main advantage of stone veneer siding is its lower price point compared to natural stone. Stone veneers cost an average of $5 per square foot for materials, half the price of real stone siding.

Lightweight - Because stone veneers are manufactured from man-made materials, they're incredibly lightweight and easy to transfer.

Provides insulation - Natural stone and stone veneers both offer some kind of insulation, with veneers providing an R-value of 0.41.

Environmentally friendly - Though stone veneers are manufactured from building materials like cement and sometimes polyurethane, they are recyclable.

Easy to install - If you're interested in doing it yourself, we recommend buying stone veneer panels or kits which include all of the materials you need.

Cons of stone veneer siding

Prone to moisture - One of the biggest disadvantages to stone veneers is their tendency to absorb moisture, which also makes them hard to wash.

Discoloration - Stone veneers can begin to fade over time, losing their color after consistent exposure to damaging UV rays.

Visibly not the same - While stone veneers may look like natural stone, they are not the same. The beauty of real stone is its randomness and flaws where no rock is the same. And because stone veneers are manufactured, there are several identical pieces, which can be disappointing for some homeowners.

Stone veneers vs. natural stone

Stone veneer siding next to natural stone

Image source: K2 Stone

Appearance

Stone veneers - Because stone veneers are manufactured to look like real stones, you may notice some stones will be identical and not as rugged as the real stones. Faux stone also does not hold up as well in severe weather as natural stone, which can cause discoloration and deterioration over time.

Installation of stone siding

Image source: The Balance Small Business

Natural stone - Appearance is where natural stone really shines. Cut from real quarried stones, they are cut into varying degrees of thickness and feature all of the stone's natural features and flaws. Installing stone cladding to the interior walls or the exterior of your home can increase your home's curb appeal.

Cost

Stone veneers - Perhaps the biggest advantage of stone veneer siding is its lower price point. Stone veneers cost about $5 per square foot for materials and because they're easier to install, labor pricing is also lower. To save even more money, you can also install your own stone walls with veneer panels and siding panels available in DIY kits.

Natural stone - One of the biggest disadvantages to natural stone is how expensive the stones are and the complicated installation process. Natural stone costs an average of $14 per sq ft for materials, and you'll also have to hire an experienced mason to install them.

Durability

Stone veneers - While faux stone may cost a lot less, it does not last as long as natural stone. While stone veneers are less susceptible to cracking and breaking than natural stone, they are also harder to clean and can absorb moisture easily. Depending on the materials and the manufacturer's warranty, the average lifespan of veneers widely varies, lasting anywhere from 20-75 years.


Natural stone - Natural stone is incredibly durable and able to withstand most severe weather. Though real stones are susceptible to cracking and breaking, repairs are easy to make using special epoxies. Natural stone siding can last at least a minimum of 25 years, potentially longer, and typically comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Maintenance

Homeowner maintaining stone siding by cleaning it withh soap and a rag

Image source: ProVia

Stone veneers - Both faux stone and natural stone are relatively low maintenance, only requiring an occasional wash. Just be careful and check with the manufacturer before using any high pressurized power washers. It's best to clean by hand with soap and a rag.

Natural stone - Though natural stone is also low maintenance, we do recommend that you use a color enhancer and a sealant to preserve the appearance and ensure the longevity of your stone siding materials. Natural stone can withstand highly pressurized power washers.

Environmentally-friendly

Stone veneers - Though stone veneers are made up of man-made materials, they are still relatively environmentally friendly. In addition to featuring mostly recycled materials, stone veneers are not quarried like natural stones and don't interfere with the environment or wildlife.

Natural stone - Natural stone siding is made from natural materials from the Earth and does not contain any toxins, making it an incredibly environmentally friendly option. While it's been disputed that the mining process can be harmful to the environment, new technologies and processes have prevented further damage.

Is stone veneer siding right for you?

There’s nothing like the rustic and striking appearance of real stone. Whether you’re looking to install stones around your fireplace or on the exterior walls of your home, stone veneers offer a similar vibe at half the cost. Not only are veneers cheaper, but they’re also easier to install, and they’re relatively durable if you occasionally maintain it with a proper wash. Stone veneers are easily customizable with multiple colors, shapes, sizes, and styles and a solid choice for any homeowner on a tight budget.

Find a local contractor today.

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