Natural Stone Vs. Cultured Stone And Increasing Your Home's Value
Lennox Masonry - Natural Full-Bed Quartzite Stone with Concrete Caps and Mexican Tiles
The Great Stone Debate And Its Two Flawed Premises
Time and time again, I ask the question: "Why are you choosing to implement cultured stone instead of natural stone?" And, like clockwork, those familiar three words come flying off my customers lips, as though I should be reprimanded for asking such a silly question: "Because it's cheaper." But, no. No, it's not. And this is flawed premise Numero Uno when it comes to this particular topic.
1) Truth is, unless you are purchasing a rare specimen that was hand-quarried by Leonardo Davinci himself, the price difference is nowhere near astronomical and in some cases it's even cheaper than its chemically produced counterpart. "But how, HOWWWWW!?!?", you ask, while your knees nestle into the earth and you furiously shake your fists towards the stone-gods for an answer. Well, my friend, it's quite simple and, not to mention, economically beneficial: source your natural stone from a local quarry.
Yes, I know, it sounds preposterous, "No middleman?" Yes! No middle man. I'll give you a moment to pick up the fragments of your mind and place them back into working order after that internal explosion... Take your time...
Surprisingly, you'll find that the vast majority of quarries throughout British Columbia will sell directly to the consumer. And, even if you're not so fortunate as to be in the vicinity of one that does, you'll find that the distribution centre which so happens to carry your desired product, won't charge you an amount that is sure to make your hands convulse as you proceed to remove your credit card from its vaulted existence.
Now, assuming that you're a die-hard DIY'er and will be tackling the project on your own, or, if you'd prefer to just handle the acquisition of the stone yourself, instead of relying on your chosen stone mason—which, in some cases, isn't such a bad idea—you may not receive the same sizeable discount as a Masonry contractor who's been doing consecutive business with said distributor for years-on-end. But—and here's a little secret, just between the two of us—once you've determined the amount of materials you'll need and you have gone ahead and placed the order, tell the sales representative that you want the contractor's discount. If they ask you if you're a contractor, tell them you're a self-proclaimed one, but have no use for formal titles and mark my words, they will apply a 5-10% discount. It might sound silly, but it works and you'll save some hard earned Loonies. They want your business and they'll be happy to appease you in order to secure a sale.
"But, Sean" I can hear you saying, "The labour costs go up when it comes to natural stone." No, not always and this brings us to flawed premise Dos...
2) Unless you're dealing with a highly specific application of natural stone, such as rough-face, hand-chiseled granite, you can expect an honest Masonry contractor not to increase his rate per square foot, based solely on the fact that it is natural stone and "more difficult to work with."
Fact: Natural stone veneer is typically no more than two inches thick and, thus, breaks nearly as easily as cultured stone when it comes to adjusting its shape and size to fit your wall.
Of course, each job is different, each stone mason has their own unique way of pricing-out projects, and your job might entail some unique qualities, but for the most part, I, personally, do not increase my rate due to the composition of the material to be applied and I can speak for several other Masonry contractors, in regards to that statement.
Lennox Masonry - Natural Stone Veneer, Pangea Fieldstone
4 Reasons To Go With Natural Stone As Opposed To Cultured Veneer:
Lennox Masonry - Natural River Rock with Blue Stone Archways and Flagstone Caps
Lennox Masonry - Cultured Granite River Rock
Firstly, before we dive into a condensed list illustrating the benefits of natural stone, I would like to submit this statement: "I don't have any personal quarries (stone mason pun) with manufactured stone veneer. It is an engineering marvel of the 21st Century and does look quite authentic, for the most part. Also, when it comes to obtaining a certain look/colour that cannot be found through a local quarry or a natural stone distributor, in a respective price range, I am all for it, especially when it suits the need of my client. However, I do find it to be a last resort, when compared to the natural diversity and one-of-a-kind characteristics embued within natural stone veneer."
Now, that being said, let's move onto why natural stone rocks! (hardy, har, har... I know)
If you've visited any Pyramids or Mayan Temples recently, you'll have come to the same realization I, and so many others have... they're still standing. With the right mortar consistency, or even none at all, natural stone structures will withstand the test of time, time and time again. It is a virtually indestructible element, save a nuclear holocaust.
Now, if you happened to visit, let's say, a home in Vancouver's West End, where the contractor/homeowner opted to save a few bucks and face their beloved exterior walls with a cultured stone product that is now 10-15 years old... what you'll undoubtedly find is a mess which in no way resembles its former, glorious self, next to those early days when it was fresh-off the assembly line.
Fact: the chemicals used to create and colour manufactured stone veneer, are no match for the onslaught of our infamous B.C. coastal weather. Like the fads of my youth: Pog and Magic: The Gathering, over the years, the cultured-facing will fade into oblivion.
However, you can rest assured, that no matter what the seasons throw at your natural stone wall/walkway, it will remain not only undaunted, but, also, its colours ever more vibrant, due to the rain itself. In essence, its features only intensify over the years and it never goes out of style. You will spend the rest of your days admiring its natural beauty, as opposed to cringing whilst peering at that aging cultured stone and the wall, itself, whispers softly, "I'm melting. I'm meltingggggg."
Short and sweet... it needs little, if any at all. Natural stone is easier to clean than cultured, can withstand the occasional pressure washing, if necessary, and does not require the assistance of a sealing agent.
3) Energy Efficiency:
One word: Savings. When you think of natural stone, equate it to savings. Read from any one of the studies conducted over the past 20 years—and there are well over a dozen of them—and you'll find that the exterior of any building which is faced with natural stone, provides, on average, 60-175% more energy savings, in comparison to any other material used. I'll leave you to the math, but if you were to add that up over the years, I'm sure it would easily equate to the price of that vacation you've been contemplating since Rick Steves began documenting his personal travel experiences throughout the known world.
4) (The entire point of this article) Re-sale Value:
Ask any property assessor and they will all deliver the same unanimous verdict: natural stone nets a greater return on your investment than any other interior/exterior application on your home. Period.
In summary: don't give into the rumours and opt to go with a cultured stone product, simply because you feel it's cheaper. In the long run... it won't be. As a Masonry contractor and having been in this trade for the majority of my life, I have an inkling as to what I am talking about. Invest your money wisely. Invest in o'natural.
With years of experience in this field, Lennox Masonry is well equipped to assess and address your specific needs.
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Lennox Masonry, Masonry Contractor, Victoria, BC