Working With Manufactured Stone
Fake rocks can look pretty good if you know what you’re doing.
Synopsis: Manufactured stone might get a bad rap for not being the real thing, but installed correctly, it can have a long life and can appear deceptively real. Mason Brendan Mostecki has nearly ten years of experience working with manufactured stone, and he shares his lessons on how to make a good installation. Mostecki begins by preparing a solid substrate with peel-and-stick membrane, wire lath, and builders’ felt. He says that corners should go on first and that it’s important to keep variety in mind when placing pieces. Mostecki also includes tips for preparing the mortar and applying it correctly so that the manufactured stone isn’t damaged or defaced. The article includes a sidebar on the different sizes and styles of mortar joints for manufactured stone.
About nine years ago, I stopped to visit a friend at a job site after a 10-hour day of lifting fieldstone and pounding on a chisel. I was exhausted, and my fingers were curling into what we masons refer to as “monkey hands” from moving stone all day.
My buddy had been working with manufactured stone all day, and he looked like he had just come off his first morning break. I asked him a flurry of questions about manufactured stone and picked up a few pieces for a closer inspection. I remember noticing that they felt almost weightless compared to what I had been lifting. I took a swing at the man-made stone with my hammer and watched it break along the desired line as if it had a memory. I was hooked.
Since that first encounter, I’ve incorporated manufactured stone into more and more projects. I’ve also noticed the growing popularity of this material just about everywhere I go. Don’t get me wrong; I still love working with natural stone.…