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    How to Install Stone Veneer: The Ultimate Guide

    Evolve Stone mortarless veneer siding stone veneer installation what you need to know
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      When choosing stone siding, consider cost, time, structure, workability, and labor skills needed for installation. First, learn about your stone siding choices: traditional artificial/natural stone and easy-to-install stone veneer without mortar.

      Artificial and natural stone siding are loose stones that use mortar/lath to attach (chemical attachment). A skilled tradesman, such as a stonemason, typically installs this type of system.

      Easy-to-install stone veneer comes in different options like panelized systems or individual stone systems. You can make it of plastic, special materials, or concrete and attach it with screws or nails. These systems are installed by both DIYers and professionals.

      Select a Stone Veneer That Fits Your Needs

      side by side comparison of traditional stone with mortar and grouting to dry stack mortarless veneer
      The image to the left features an example of a traditional stone with mortar and grouting between the stone. The right image is an example of Evolve Stone’s mortarless veneer installed with a nail gun. There is no grouting between stone for a clean, dry stacked look.

      Traditional Stone Veneer & Natural Stone Siding

      The reason we group traditional stone veneer and natural stone under the same umbrella is that while there are differences between workability and material, they have a very similar installation method which requires a weather-resistive barrier (WRB), lath, mortar and sometimes structural elements such as grade beams, structural wall systems or lintels to carry the weight.

      RELATED: Stone Veneer vs. Full Stone: Which is Better?

      Traditional stone veneer and natural stone siding take longer to install than mortarless easy-to-install stone veneer products. With the need for lath, mortar, structural elements, and skilled labor, end-users often pay a heftier on the wall price.

      Mortarless Easy-to-Install Stone Veneer

      You install mortarless stone veneer similarly to traditional siding. It usually needs a WRB for outdoor use. The need for a WRB depends on local building codes.

      Not all mortarless stone veneer is the same. Some need screws and brackets to attach to the surface and hit structural studs. Only Evolve can be nailed directly on the face. As mentioned above, there are two options with mortarless stone veneer products: panelized systems and individual stone systems.

      Infographic comparing the structure of panelized systems vs individual stones

      Panelized Systems

      Panelized systems use connection flanges and may have a spacer or built-in rainscreen. This keeps the panel off the wall to allow for drainage and drying. Panelized systems cover a large area quickly, saving time. But the fixed size of panels makes it hard to work with corners, windows, doors, or intricate designs.

      Stone veneer on a house should not have visible joints like a wood floor, as it can appear artificial. Often once you see the panel’s pattern, that ends up being all you can see.

      Individualized Systems

      With personalized systems, you can use the product without finding studs, even if it needs screws. Customized systems are also easy to cheat if you surpass the level, saving you time, effort, and stress.

      Individual systems take less time to install compared to panelized options. They may not cover as much area at once, but they don’t need as much planning or mapping. Customized systems provide a natural stone appearance without any inconvenience.

      How to Install Stone Veneer

      To install stone veneer, follow the steps and considerations based on the type of veneer you bought. We will guide you through the process.

      1. Determining Materials

      Consider Product Waste: When selecting your product, you’ll want to figure your waste factor. One of the biggest differences between traditional and mortarless manufactured stone veneer is your waste.

      Stone systems usually suggest ordering extra product, around 5-15%, to cover waste and breakage. However, with Evolve Stone, a mortarless option, you may only have 1-3% waste because of its durability and ease of use.

      Quote graphic that says, "Most stone systems recommend you order an additional 5-15% of product to account for waste and breakage."

      Once you decide which stone siding you’d like to install, you’ll want to evaluate key considerations to start your project. Ensure you decide on the desired appearance, identify the surface you will be placing it on, and consider any structural issues. These factors will assist you in determining the necessary materials for your project. Some of these materials include WRB, rainscreen, wire lath, mortar, insulation, and tools or fasteners.

      inforgraphic for stone veneer installation surface prep displaying the different layer comparisons from mortarless stone veneer installation to traditional stone installation

      2. Prepping the Surface

      How you prep the surface depends entirely on the substrate and the specific manufacturer’s recommendations. For example, if you are applying over concrete, you’ll want to start by cleaning off any dirt or oil from the surface. Typically, you do not need to clean when installing over wood.

      In traditional stone installation, you often prep the surface with a dual WRB (weather-resistance barrier), rainscreen, wire lath, and a scratch coat. Make sure to not cut any corners if installing a scratch coat. Wait for the full 12- to 24-hour window for the coat to firm up, otherwise, it can create quality control issues.

      When working with mortarless stone veneer, you install the product more like traditional siding. There is no need to worry about wire lath or a scratch coat.

      close up of person placing stone on wall on top of mortar

      3. Prepping the Stone

      Before installing your stone, consider the layout and orientation of install. Laying the stones out can help you visualize the pattern and determine if there are any stones you will need to cut. This is especially important when working with stone that is not color-throughout.

      Installations should start from the bottom up for heavier veneers. This means there is more limitation on the exact placement of your veneer and can lead to further visibility of cuts.

      With products such as Evolve Stone, there is no need to worry about cuts, as the product is color-throughout. Due to the lightweight material, you can work either bottom-up or top-down, providing more flexibility and less prep time.

      close up of man holding single stone veneer to install on wall

      5. Installing the Stone

      Depending on the type of mortar being used, you may or may not need to prime the back of the stone with water before applying mortar. Make sure you double check that you are using the correct type of mortar for your stone and climate.

      When using mortarless products, think about the materials you need (screws, nails, etc.) and if you’ll need to hit a stud. Most panel systems need to hit one or more studs per panel, but individual systems usually don’t need stud-finding.

      tube with grout being applied in between the space of stones

      6. Grouting

      This step really comes down to a design choice and can be more expensive since it requires more work and material. The vast majority of mortarless installation systems don’t need grout and give a dry stack look, while others may use a grout bag. Grout is hard to work with and remove, so mortared systems take longer to install than mortarless options.

      Considering Evolve Stone?

      Now you’re ready to start your installation! Contact us at Evolve Stone if you’re planning a project and need a fast and easy-to-install stone veneer.

      Our stone veneer comes in various colors and is mortarless. It can be installed 10 times faster than traditional stone veneer. It’s mortarless and can be installed 10 times faster than traditional stone veneer.

      RELATED: The Many Benefits of Mortarless Stone Veneer

      Our product is a customized system that can be fixed to the stone surface with regular stainless steel nails. To learn more about how Evolve Stone is installed, you can refer to our guide. Alternatively, you can watch the video that compares it to traditional stone veneer installation.


      What factors should I consider when choosing stone siding?

      Consider cost, time, structure, workability, and labor skills. Learn about traditional artificial/natural stone and easy-to-install stone veneer options.

      Who typically installs traditional artificial and natural stone siding?

      Skilled tradesmen like stonemasons typically install these types of siding using mortar/lath for attachment.

      What are the options for easy-to-install stone veneer?

      You can choose from panelized systems or individual stone systems made of plastic, special materials, or concrete, attached with screws or nails.

      What’s the difference between traditional and mortarless stone veneer?

      Traditional stone veneer requires mortar, lath, and skilled labor, while mortarless options are quicker to install without the need for mortar.

      Do all mortarless stone veneer products require screws or nails for attachment?

      No, only some mortarless veneer products need screws and brackets. Evolve Stone can be nailed directly onto the surface.

      What are the advantages of panelized stone veneer systems?

      Panelized systems cover large areas quickly but can be challenging for corners and intricate designs.

      What are the benefits of individual stone veneer systems?

      Individual systems are easier to work with for corners and don’t require as much planning. They provide a natural stone appearance.

      How do I prepare the surface for stone veneer installation?

      Surface preparation varies based on the substrate. Concrete surfaces should be cleaned, while wood surfaces typically don’t require cleaning.

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