Stapled-On Stone, Part I

By Dave Fratello | September 1st, 2007
Let's mix it up a bit here and talk about "cosmetic" stone laminate, or, as MBC prefers to call it, stapled-on stone.

It is now a simple matter to add tiles or stone laminates to a wood, concrete, stucco or cinder-block structure or wall to give the look of stone without the expense of actually building with stone. It's so simple to put stone anywhere now, people do put it anywhere and everywhere.

It's easy to make ghastly mistakes. Homeowners, builders and on-the-fly contractors seem to blow it regularly in MB.

The problem is that too often, the use of a stone-look material is conceived and executed with no thought as to whether the surface being covered might look like it was built with stone. If you're not careful, you'll end up with something that looks unnatural.

Our first example is a "flying chimney." This is a great house, but the "stone" chimney is on the second floor, above – nothing. Due to the laws of physics, this is not generally how real stone chimneys are built.

Visitors may find it hard to believe that this gigantic, apparently heavy stone fireplace and chimney are being held aloft by a few 8 x 8 posts. But if they realize it's just stapled-on stone, they won't worry about walking up and knocking on the door.

Here we have a case of the "climbing pavers." Flat stones that really belong on a walkway, outlining a driveway, maybe topping some walls, have instead gone vertical.

Stapled onto the exterior of the chimney (which may or may not be brick underneath in this remodeled home), the pavers are meant to evoke an old-world chimney built from the ground up.

Have you ever seen a stone chimney? They rarely feature smooth surfaces and tight corners. Ditto for stone walls.

Finally, in the "sue your contractor" department, MBC offers an example of OK conception, miserable execution. This home was purchased last year and remodeled. To add interest to a stucco box, the new owners repainted and added a waist-high wall of stone laminate to mimic a stone foundation.

But the contractor didn't keep a straight line. The rightmost half of the house seems to sag as the lines of differently sized stone pieces go more and more uneven. The "stone foundation" illusion breaks down, and now the stone suggests to the eye that the home is about to crumble in one corner. (It's evident in the photo but vivid in person.)

We've seen some beautiful, and well-conceived, uses of laminate stone. But examples of the stapled-on variety are all over town. We'll return to this subject occasionally.

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