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Natural Stone Veneer Tips for Longevity

Ledgestone Denver

exterior stone veneer

Thin natural stone veneer makes it easy to add a decorative, functional surface of marble, slate, or travertine to any structure. However, to ensure looks that last, natural stone veneer requires careful installation.

Ledgestone Tips: Prep for Success!

Natural stone veneer installation differs significantly from that of other materials. Manufacturer instructions are crucial to deciphering the idiosyncrasies of each unique stone and its effect on the installation process. Careful prep and the right supplies ensure success. 

  • Get to know compatible surfaces.

    Each surface requires different prep:

    • Exterior plywood requires a moisture-resistant barrier, typically house wrap and felt paper with overlying metal lath and a scratch coat of mortar.
      Note: Check manufacturer height clearances for exterior stone before affixing lath.
    • Masonry or concrete does not require a moisture barrier or lath.
    • Brick may require a skim coat to even the surface.
    • Drywall and painted surfaces will not support stone veneer.
    • Cement backer board is recommended with the installation of natural stone veneer in wet areas.
  • Cut metal lath carefully.

    Use gloves and safety glasses, cutting the lath with large tin snips or an angle grinder with a diamond blade. Place the lath on sawhorses at waist level. Staple the ends to the sawhorse to reduce bending that produces awkward cuts, using a 2×4 as a cutting guide. Carefully orient the lath for installation. It should feel rough when running your hand upward on its surface.

  • Layout ledgestone before installation.

    Open several boxes, noting variations in size, depth, and color. Lay out pieces on a flat surface identical to the area where it will be installed. If you need to cut/trim any stones, do so at this time using a wet saw and diamond-edged blade to ensure a tight fit and fast installation. Now is also the time to backbutter stones to prevent lippage on smooth installations as well.

  • Choose the right adhesive.

    Thinset or mortar with a polymer additive (not mastic) provides stronger adhesion. Be sure to use white with light-colored stone.

  • Prep the stone and lightly dampen surfaces.

    Ensure veneer are clean of dust and dirt. Lightly dampen the concrete/masonry surface as well as the ledgestone.

  • Be mindful of technique.

    Veneer is best applied from the bottom up, beginning at the corners. Each corner should have a long and short leg. Alternate short and long legs to set up a staggering pattern and prevent a straight joint from running the length of the corner. After this, begin stone veneer application at the top, working your way down to prevent falling thinset/mortar from landing on the surface of veneer. Watch for sagging pieces. If this becomes an issue, you may prefer to work from the bottom up,  correcting with shims and cleaning later.

  • Camouflage cut edges.

    There are a few techniques you may use:

    • Use cut edges in/nearby inside corners.
    • Round the corners of cut edges to make them look more natural.
    • Mix mortar with dye that matches the stone and apply to cut edges to blend.
    • Cut smaller pieces to place against larger pieces to camouflage cut edges.

Avoid ledgestone liabilities. Set yourself up for success with the help of the technical expertise of PetraSlate today.

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