It’s hard to imagine manufactured stone used in place of natural stone, as the natural look in stone is the going thing, but though natural stone is gorgeous to look at and is durable, it has its drawbacks. Natural stone can be expensive, weighty and difficult for many homeowners to install and afford, so manufactured stone is a good alternative. It can resolve a lot of the drawbacks of natural stone use. So, exactly what is manufactured stone, and how does it compare to the genuine article?
Manufactured Stone Process
Manufactured stone is usually made of concrete or a combination of lightweight materials that are poured into specially made molds. The molds themselves are often cast from natural stones to resemble both the texture and feel of real stone. Once the casting and molding process is completed, the stones go through a painting procedure, which is sometimes done by hand. The coloration of the stones is done through the use of just the right range of colors and hues that exist in natural stones. If this process is done correctly, manufactured stone can look very similar to its natural counterpart. Of course, if the process is not done well, you are certainly going to know that you don’t have a replica of the real thing.
Manufactured Stone Cost
Manufactured stone isn’t always the less expensive option, particularly when it comes to its longevity. The concrete used in manufactured stone can deteriorate over time. In addition, concrete has the affinity to be more susceptible to moisture accumulation. If concrete happens to be used as a countertop material, it can be subject to damage from water, stains, high heat, and bacteria. With this information in mind, manufactured stone should be used sparingly, especially in outdoor use for patios, walls and other areas. It will eventually erode and appear drab after a number of seasons. So, the lower cost of manufactured stone, may not be as budget-friendly as once perceived, as any savings gained are likely to be lost in replacement costs.
In addition to manufactured stone, there are options in composite materials such as quartz and cultured marble. Both of these materials require the use of fabricated resins as binding agents to adhere to the remnants of stone or stone pieces utilized for countertops and other structures. The resins used can be colored with most any dye configuration to create a stone-like effect. Cultured marble can also be manufactured to give the appearance of the same type of veining as natural marble. These two options can be lasting choices, but their finishes can be subject to scratches, scuffs, and staining as well as the damaging effects of the sun and chemically based cleaners. Natural stone may share some of these same disadvantages but, in the long run, natural stone is going to be more durable than composite materials.
Manufactured Stone Use
Builders and homeowners turned to the use of manufactured stone in the past for various reasons. Ease of installation, particularly with areas that required sizable coverage, such as fireplaces, retaining walls and columns is one reason for the use of manufactured stone. In comparison, natural stone slabs were cut thicker, which made them heavier and unwieldy for installation; whereas manufactured stone in the form of veneered stone was considerably thinner, lighter and easier to install. Technological and manufacturing advances in the cutting process of natural stone have made it less dense and much simpler to handle. Obviously, working with natural stone is quite a bit easier today than it was in the past and homeowners and contractors have turned to it because of its value and ability to maintain itself indefinitely.
Natural Stone Effectiveness
In the long run, natural stone is going to be more cost-effective than manufactured stone as well as composites. Manufactured stone still remains initially less expensive than natural stone, and if it is well made and prepared effectively, it can work, but the factors of time, wear and erosion play heavily on the possibility of added costs down the road with repairs and replacements. Natural stone definitely has short and long-range benefits that outweigh manufactured stone and other options. Durability, natural innate beauty, and longevity are hard to beat.
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