How to Buy Manufactured Stone Veneer

Tan and brown stone veneer covering fireplace next to open hallway and staircase

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

If you love the look of stone exterior home facades or cozy stone fireplaces, it's a look that you can more affordably achieve with manufactured stone veneer. Some old buildings may be constructed of stacked natural stone, but in most modern applications, there's a good chance the stone look is a facade made of manufactured stone veneer. They have nearly the heft and all of the texture of natural stone.

What Is Manufactured Stone Veneer?

Manufactured stone veneer is synthetic stone, an artificial material mainly composed of Portland cement, aggregates, and iron oxides. It is made to look like natural stone. The term "veneer" means a decorative facing of brick, stone, or concrete attached to a wall or backing, but it is purely aesthetic and non-structural. 

Natural stone may be gorgeous and highly valued, but it is heavy, difficult to install, and difficult to repair. It also needs to be mined from the earth. Manufactured stone veneer has some of the good qualities of natural stone while dispensing with some of natural stone's downsides. Manufactured stone veneer is commonly used as a fireplace surround, wainscot, exterior wall, accent wall, or any area that needs solidity, rich texture, and timeless beauty.

Read on for a comprehensive look at how it's made, buying considerations, such as cost, and how to choose the type that is right for you.

Before Buying Manufactured Stone Veneer

Many people are trending toward buying manufactured stone veneer for its cost-effectiveness, but you can also consider stone veneer made of actual stone. Stone veneer is real, natural stone mined or quarried and sliced into thin pieces, then adhered to a wall panel to act as veneer. Natural stone panels cost roughly the same as manufactured stone veneer but are slightly costlier to install since natural stone is heavier and harder to work with.

Buying Considerations for Manufactured Stone Veneer


Manufactured stone veneer is often used indoors to decorate fireplaces, kitchen walls, or backsplashes. They create a stunning visual effect for an entryway, stairway, or spa-like bathroom. Manufactured stone veneer also makes a statement for accent walls in a cozy living room or bedroom.

Outdoors they're often used for exterior fireplaces, firepits, retaining walls, gardens, fencing, mailboxes, and light posts.


Manufactured stone veneer is made of cement, aggregates, and pigments. Stone veneer companies have been refining the composition of the stone to look remarkably like the real thing upon close examination. Its cement content gives veneer stability; the aggregates help lighten the stone's weight, and the iron oxides provide pigments to color it.

Manufactured stone veneer is non-flammable and heat resistant. It can also handle moisture without crumbling or decaying.


Do not confuse manufactured stone veneer with plastic faux stone veneer, it's a polyurethane panel that looks like natural stone or manufactured veneer. It is affixed to a wall, typically used in living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms.


Depth is an essential factor with manufactured stone veneer. Since the manufactured stone veneer is purely an addition to what's already there, in many cases, you want to minimize the thickness of that addition.

While it may not matter much in most exterior applications, depth certainly does matter in the interior, where every square foot of interior space counts. The thicker the wall covering, the less space you have available in the rooms.

Full-dimension manufactured stone veneer starts at around 2 inches thick and increases to various thicknesses, often up to 6 inches thick. Thin profile manufactured stone veneer is never more than 2 inches thick. The panels vary in size, averaging about 2 feet square; they can go up and down in size and come in rectangular panels too.


Special features of manufactured stone veneer range from the stone type (limestone, fieldstone, ledgestone) and style, such as rough-hewn quarried stone, to smooth, round river stone. Also, the way the stone looks can vary between dry stack and mortared.

Pros and Cons of Manufactured Stone Veneer

  • Lightweight

  • Easy to install

  • Soft, easy to cut

  • Predictable sizes

  • Interior or exterior

  • DIY-friendly

  • Can have a homogeneous look

  • Brittle

  • Brand-dependent styles

  • Color does not continue to the middle

Types of Manufactured Stone Veneer

When choosing the types of manufactured stone veneer, several considerations include color, type of stone it looks like, and its "stacking" look. Choosing between these types mainly depends on the aesthetic style you are going for.

Stone Style

Manufactured stone can be fabricated to look like all stone products, such as smooth round river stones, rough-cut or smooth quarried stone, and a mosaic or stacked layout. The stone profile can vary by smooth or flat faces, split faces, or jagged and jutting.

Stone Color

Colors vary from looking like natural-looking ledgestone or chiseled "castle" stone in the gray family to fabricated fieldstone in the brown and beige color family.

Stacking Style

The stacking look changes the aesthetic entirely. These are the differences:

  • Drystack: Dry-stack stone looks like building blocks laid right on top of each other, block to block, without mortar between them. Dry-stacking also means squeezing the stone units closer together than if you were mortaring them. Dry-stack has a cool, contemporary look.
  • Mortared: Mortared stone veneer has mortar between each stone. Mortared stone veneer projects a traditional, Old World look.


According to Homeguide, the cost of materials and installation of manufactured stone veneer facade costs, on average, between $10 to $35 per square foot. The material cost is roughly the same for natural thin stone veneer and manufactured stone veneer; however, installation averages about $10 more per square foot for natural stone veneer than manufactured stone. 

The price difference depends on the type, waterproofing methods, and if they’re individual flat pieces (pieces smaller than 1 square foot) or larger panels (2 square feet). Manufactured stone is less expensive to install because it is easier to handle and cut than a natural stone since it is porous and lightweight.

Faux stone or plastic (polyurethane) stone-looking panels are the cheapest, costing between $10 to $25 per square foot for materials and installation.

 Materials Material Cost  Materials and Installation 
 Manufactured Stone Veneer  $4 to $20  $10 to $35
 Natural Stone Veneer  $4 to $21  $15 to $45
 Faux Stone (Plastic)  $8 to $19 $10 to $25 

Installing Manufactured Stone Veneer

Manufactured stone veneer installation is within grasp of do-it-yourselfers. However, even though the material is artificial stone, this is still a masonry project. Like some of the more involved home remodeling tasks, such as tiling, electrical, and plumbing, masonry has a learning curve.

Interior Installation

For do-it-yourselfers, interior stone veneer installation is more straightforward than exterior installation. Interior manufactured stone will be subjected to far fewer stress events than exterior stone: no rain, snow, sunlight, or extreme temperature variations. With interior stone, you do not have to worry about waterproofing. With interiors, it's mainly the look that counts.

Exterior Installation

For exteriors, you will need to waterproof the surface behind the stone veneer, as the veneer is not intended to be your sole barrier against rain and snow. If you are laying exterior stone veneer, you can waterproof the structure with builder's felt (similar to roofing paper), builder's paper (a special kraft paper material), or house wrap.

Eldorado Stone, a major manufactured stone veneer company, recommends two separate layers of #15 felt, two different layers of Grade D paper, or one layer of house wrap and one layer of Grade D paper.

How to Choose Manufactured Stone Veneer

Manufactured stone veneer comes in many styles; everyone has a preferred style. The challenge is to find something that suits your taste, serves its purpose, fits in your space, and falls within your budget. To start figuring out what might work for you, ask yourself these questions:

Are You Only Using It in One Room?

If you plan to carry the look throughout the house, it's best to plan it out in advance for the entire house vs. doing a room here and there. Consider the color story or theme conveyed throughout the home to maintain a cohesive look. Also, if using a stone facade for your exterior, think about tying in that look inside.

Is the Manufactured Stone Veneer Pattern Repeating Noticeably?

When molds are made for manufactured stone veneer panels, the pattern of the stones eventually repeats. It's part of the manufacturing process. If you install a manufactured stone veneer for a large wall or home exterior and the pattern repeats quickly, the eye might notice the fabricated pattern, making it stand out that the wall is not a natural stone. Before you order panels, find out how often the pattern repeats.

What Kind of Warranty Can You Get on Your Purchase?

Installing a manufactured stone veneer wall is costly. Longevity is important. Check that the product is protected against unexpected deterioration or damage. Manufacturer defects, such as cracking and peeling, are possible even with proper installation. Warranties should cover manufacturer defects.

How to Maintain Manufactured Stone Veneer

Manufactured stone veneer should be installed with a sealant that protects it from most stains and damage. The sealant should be reapplied every two to three years. Manufactured stone veneer also requires some general easy maintenance.

Clean the surface with mild soap and water, and rinse thoroughly with water. Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners. If you need to remove a stain using a strong chemical cleaner, test the cleaner in an inconspicuous area first.

Where to Shop

You can find a few varieties of manufactured stone veneer flats and panels at home improvement retailers like Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards. Also consider shops and online companies catering to stone supply, siding companies, the masonry trade, and contractor supply houses. Also, if you want the experts to do the installation, clearly determine the costs involved, the time it will take, and what's included.

Buying In-Store

The most significant advantage of shopping in a store is seeing the products firsthand. Look closely at colors, stone texture, repeating pattern, stacking appearance, and manufacturing quality. Ask questions about timing, delivery, installation (if they're installing), and any additional costs.

Buying Online

A disadvantage of buying online is being unable to see and touch the product. Your best bet will be to research online reviews, closely look at online photos, and read the fine print on the product information. Also, be clear about the return policy. If you do not like what you receive, you must determine if you will be charged for the return and the process to return the product.

Manufactured Stone Veneer Companies

  • Cultured Stone: In business for over 50 years, Cultured Stone is now a subsidiary of Owens Corning.
  • El Dorado: El Dorado's motto is "The Most Believable Architectural Stone Veneer in the World," making replicas of natural stone.
  • Coronado Stone Products: For over 60 years, Mel Bacon and Coronado Stone Products have been pioneers of modern manufactured stone veneer.
  • How long do stone veneers last?

    Manufactured stone veneer can last from 20 to 75 years with proper maintenance. Manufactured stone veneer manufacturers have warranties that can last up to 50 years.

  • Does stone veneer crack?

    Manufactured stone veneer can get occasional cracks or chips through normal wear and tear. Many cracks can be repaired.

  • Does stone veneer increase home value?

    Stone veneer can increase home value. Most estimates suggest you can add nearly the entire cost (about 90%) of the manufactured stone veneer remodel project to the value of your home. 

  • Does stone veneer need grout?

    Grout is needed for manufactured stone veneer since it fills the voids between stones, makes it look more like the real thing, and gives it character.