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Stone veneer is a popular choice for interior and exterior projects ranging from fireplace surrounds and backsplashes to gates, fencing and retaining walls. There are a number of faux products on the market that provide the look of stone veneer, but only 100% natural limestone veneer provides the nature-made versatility and durability that ensures a lifetime of beauty and performance.
Selecting limestone veneer over lesser variations like veneer architectural stone is the first key choice you’ll make for your project. The second will be deciding upon the appropriate type of limestone veneer, either full or thin. It sounds like a matter of preference — and to some extent it is — but there are certain differences between full and thin limestone veneer that dictate the right type for your application:
Height, Thickness and Weight
For full or thin limestone veneer, the height of individual pieces isn’t necessarily fixed and can range from 1" to 24+". Thickness and weight, however, are determining factors in type and use:
- Full limestone veneer is cut to 3"-5" deep, which provides striking visual appeal and robustness to many projects, particularly large projects like exterior wall siding. However each piece is also weighty, which brings with it limitations in project choices since support and reinforcement is required in installation areas.
- Thin limestone veneer is cut to .75"-1.25", making it a lightweight and easily manageable decorative building material perfect for nearly any project, especially those where larger stones cannot be accommodated or weight restrictions are imposed to maintain structural soundness.
- Full limestone veneer requires careful attention during installation, and is best handled by a skilled mason. Each piece needs to be sorted and trimmed for a perfect fit and uniquely custom look, and structural foundations or support ledges must be erected and used as the installation base. Further, projects using full limestone veneer cannot be rushed. Height limitations are imposed per work session as mortar that is not properly set could cause the facing to collapse, ruining the project and possibly endangering installers.
- Thin limestone veneer generally requires no additional structural support pre-installation, with the exception of exterior applications where moisture barriers, wire lath and a scratch layer of cement or mortar are necessary to prevent grout cracking, water entrapment and/or mold and mildew growth. Otherwise, in the hands of an experienced stone worker, thin limestone veneer installs easily over existing rigid materials like brick or concrete, base substrates and standard framing. The relative ease of use makes it a good choice for remodels and retrofits, especially for indoor applications.
It’s important to note that in either case, limestone veneer is purely decorative, meaning it is never intended to bear weight.
Full or thin, limestone veneer provides a one-of-a-kind look. Due to its hefty size, full limestone veneer can be customized by a skilled mason.
Thin and full limestone veneer is generally finished in one of the following ways:
- Splitface: Characterized by a broken edge that exposes the core of the stone and the natural elements within
- Seamface: Featuring natural seams developed by water and wind erosion that brings out different natural colors and textures in the stone
- Bedface: Marked by a rugged appearance from its origins at the base of the quarry. This is the natural horizontal layers of the quarry that are “stood up” during application
There are also two more “add-on” finishes:
- Tumbled: Contains softer edges with a more aged appearance
- Rockfaced or chiseled: Adds depth and dimension to the stone surface
The visual versatility of limestone veneer really shines through in the numerous patterns in which it can be set by experienced stone craftsmen.
Understanding the pros and cons of full and thin limestone veneer is essential to using this chic decorative element in your next commercial or residential project. To learn more about natural stone, read our brief eBook, Understanding and Selecting Natural Stone. Click the button below to access your copy.