What are stone veneer panels?

We do not quarry, cut or sell stone panels but it seems to be a common question.  Stone veneer panels are pre-finished boards of stone in an interlocking shape. The shape can be anything from a basic rectangle to a more elaborate “S” design. The panels can be made of fake (cultured) or natural stone. The fake panels are made by pouring cement into a mold similar to the process of making cultured stone. The panels made of real stone are usually made by gluing small pieces of ledge stone together. The panels can also be made with a cement back instead of glue to hold the pieces together. They are quarried and/or manufactured in China or the Philippines and can be purchased at most construction supply stores like Home Depot.

Stone veneer panels were developed for one purpose: simple installation. Similar to a puzzle the panels are a great option for the do-it-yourselfer on a budget however you may be surprised to find that the nicer real stone panels are quite expensive.

Although the panels allow for simple installation, they have their detriments. A simple analogy would be to say stone veneer panels are the pre-fab homes of the stone world. High end homes are rarely pre-fab, likewise you rarely see panels on high end homes. Yes, loose pieces are more work to install but they are the real mi-coy allowing the mason to add his own touch of art to the wall. This creative beauty added by the mason cannot be achieved with panels.

Occasionally panels will be used on exteriors in warm climates, however, panels are recommended for interior use only. This is a combination of the glue and the fact that they are not water tight. This is extremely important in areas with a freeze/thaw as moisture gets behind them, freezes, expands and leads to problems. Drystacking (not having a mortar joint) is also not recommended with any natural stone veneer on exteriors in areas that freeze.

The pre-made stone panels also greatly limit your design options as they are almost always little pieces of low height ledgestone sawn on five sides. Your home’s style is limited to contemporary or modern. The panels can contain random stone shapes but this is rare as it becomes difficult to hide the gaps where the panels meet.

We do not produce nor carry any panels, all of our natural stone veneers are premium quality loose pieces intended to be installed by a professional masonry contractor. Building or renovating a home is a once in lifetime occurrence for most people and the design decisions are important and need careful consideration.