Thin Stone Veneer

The Ultimate Guide to Natural Thin Stone Veneer

Building stone has been used to create magnificent masonry projects for thousands of years—just look to the Roman Colosseum or the Egyptian pyramids! In all this time, architects, engineers, and builders have continued to advance their trades, creating new products, machinery, and innovative approaches to stone products. Here at Kafka Granite, we like to stay on the cutting-edge of things. In fact, we opened our new stone fabrication facility in the summer of 2018! 

Inside that fabrication facility, we cut natural stone down to precise measurements. The result? A versatile material to complement almost any building project. You may have heard of natural thin stone veneer but do you really know what sets it apart from other building materials, other than its thin specifications? 

Thanks to its versatility, light weight, and unique look, the popularity of natural thin stone veneer is on the rise, so we’ve created a guide to provide some helpful information to architects, engineers, contractors, and even homeowners seeking to learn more. Here’s what you need to know about this building material.

What is Natural Thin Stone Veneer?

Simply put, natural thin stone veneer is a thinner cut of building stone. Like building stone, these veneers are completely made up of quarried stone—meaning you won’t find any concrete composites in this high-quality material. Thin stone veneer can be used for everything from interior and exterior building walls to fireplace, chimney, and firepit facades. 

For a product to be considered natural stone veneer, whether full or thin, it should be tested to ATSM specifications and needs to meet certain levels for absorption, flexural strength, and compressive strength. In terms of dimensions, natural thin stone veneer ranges in thickness from a minimum of ¾ inches to a maximum of 1½ inches. The product weighs less than 15 pounds per square foot. 

The benefits of utilizing natural stone veneer in your building project are numerous. Here are just a few of the positives:

  • Weighs less than other stone building materials, cutting shipping costs
  • Can be installed without support ledges or footings 
  • With the proper surface preparations, adheres to a variety of surfaces such as plywood, drywall, paneling, concrete, and metal
  • Appropriate for indoor and outdoor applications
  • Low maintenance

Natural Thin Stone Veneer vs. Manufactured Stone

Manufactured Thin Stone Veneer

Sierra Granite - Dimensional Cut

Natural Thin Stone Veneer

Designed for lightweight, non-structural installation, natural thin stone veneer can be used for everything from building facades to interior features. Because it consists entirely of quarried rock, the material maintains its color and integrity as it weathers, allowing projects to retain the beautiful, rugged look of natural rock. Each piece of natural stone is inherently unique, giving the product more character than manufactured or cultured stone. In contrast, man-made cast concrete materials that contain oxide colors and other chemicals are prone to fading over time. As an added bonus, thin veneers don’t require the use of footings or ledges because of their relatively light weight compared to full veneer building stone. 

Natural Thin Stone Veneer vs. Natural Full Veneer

Thin Stone Veneer

Natural Thin Stone Veneer Flats

Thin Veneer Corner

Natural Thin Veneer Corner

You may be wondering how, exactly, natural thin stone veneer differs from full veneer. While the two are made from the same high-quality natural stone, the difference lies in an additional process that makes thin stone veneer thinner, which leads to varying weights as well as divergent production and installation costs. 

A nominal thickness makes thin stone veneer weigh in at under 15 pounds per square foot, while full veneer covers 30 to 40 square feet per ton—an enormous difference in weight, which directly affects shipping and installation costs. To further illustrate this distinction, you can fit 3,000 square feet of thin veneer on a truck compared to approximately 800 square feet of coverage with full veneer. That’s about 3.75 times the coverage per shipment! 

Due to the additional labor and equipment needed, exact cuts, processing natural thin stone veneer tends to be more expensive than creating building stone. But thin stone veneer makes up for it when it comes to shipping and installation costs. Natural thin stone veneer can weigh up to 75 percent less than full veneer, leading to significantly lower shipping prices. When it comes to installation, full veneer is heavier and requires more shaping on the jobsite, so a mason may need more time and money to install full bed veneer. 

Ultimately, the price of all building stone materials vary on factors like the location you’re sourcing materials from, shipping costs, and how many square feet of material you need for your project. The quality of the product and type of stone also play a huge role in determining cost.

A Quick Look at the Installation Process

If you’re interested in utilizing natural thin stone veneer in your next project, we recommend that you contract a professional mason in order to ensure that the product is installed correctly. Here’s a brief summary of the process, so that you know what to expect. 

Before beginning the installation process for an exterior project, the area that will be in contact with the natural stone veneer needs to be waterproofed to industry standards. This will work to maintain the integrity of the installation as time passes. Once waterproofing is complete, any chemical film on the wall should be removed, and the surface should be prepared according to the type of material. Unsealed concrete, for example, needs no further preparation before the application of thin stone veneer. Wood surfaces, on the other hand, require a non-corrosive wire lath and a setting mix to ensure proper application. 

Once the surface is fully prepared, mortar (likely type N or S) can be used, potentially along with a bonding admixture to strengthen the bond. To set natural thin stone veneer, begin with any corner pieces, alternating long and short ends as they are stacked on top of each other. Once finished with the corners, you may begin filling in the rest of the pattern by pressing each stone firmly against the scratch coat wall, allowing oozing mortar to create grout joints around the edge of each stone. 

Natural Thin Stone Veneer from Kafka Granite

Our natural thin stone veneer has a nominal thickness of ¾” to 1½”, allowing this masonry product to meet the standard of weighing less than 15 lbs per square foot. As further evidence that our line of natural stone veneers is authentic and up to our standards, you’ll find that the natural colors of our various stone options run through the entire product., allowing it to weather naturally while maintaining integrity as a fundamental element of your project.

At Kafka Granite, we provide high-quality aggregates and building stone products to architects, designers, contractors, masons, and distributors. Our line of thin stone veneer includes natural granite, quartz, and marble building stone options, all sourced from our various quarries throughout North America. You’ll find the classic Kafka Granite colors you expect, as well as the same high standards of quality you’re used to finding in all of our products. Whether you’re looking for warm burgundy and desert tones for a building exterior or more of an airy gray color scheme for a client’s fireplace project, you’ll find the perfect color among our many options. 

Find the Right Material for Your Project with Kafka Granite

We’re proud to be an industry leader in natural stone products, and we look forward to working with you on your next building project. Our natural thin stone veneer is the perfect addition to interior and exterior features alike. Whether you’re searching for a specialty stone product with a natural, rugged look or one with a smooth, gleaming finish, Kafka Granite has an option that will make your project shine. Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your project shine.

Which Type of Mortar Should I Use for Thin Stone Veneer?

Whether you’re a designer, builder, masonry professional, or even a homeowner exploring the possibility of including natural stone in an exterior or interior project, you probably know that mortar is the “glue” that holds masonry units together, binding building blocks, filling the joints between them, and providing structural support. This workable paste consists of different amounts of hydrated lime, Portland cement, and sand combined to create a mix that meets certain requirements. There are five official types of mortar, all classified according to their bonding properties, flexibility, and compressive strength. 

So, how do you choose the right mortar mix for your project? First, think about the masonry products you’re installing. Kafka Granite’s natural thin stone veneer, for example, will lend a unique look to your project—but what goes under and around this product matters just as much as what you see on the surface. Without the right type of mortar, your project will crumble quickly. We created a quick guide to mortar characteristics and some of the most popular types of mixes in order to help you select the best option.

Characteristics of Mortar

Before choosing a mortar type, it’s crucial to understand the structural requirements of a project. What type of building material will be used? What elements will an exterior structure need to withstand? Once you understand exactly what you need out of your bonding materials, you can select a mortar type based on the following properties. 

Bonding Properties

Mortar adheres to building units, working to keep them together. Bond strength is measured by the force required to break the bond between the mortar and that unit. A high-tensile bond strength is ideal for exterior projects that need to hold up to the elements. 

Flexibility

Masonry units will crack if exposed to movement caused by moisture and settling. That’s where mortar comes in—to flex and absorb that movement, protecting the structure of the project. 

Compressive Strength

Compressive strength is important for a number of reasons. While the mortar needs to be strong enough to maintain the structural integrity of the installation, you need to select a mortar with a compressive strength less than that of the stone you’re installing. If you choose a mortar with a higher compressive strength than that of your masonry units, you may find yourself with cracked components and exterior projects eventually worn away by the freeze-thaw cycle.

 

The Most Popular Mortar Types

Type N

If you’re looking for a reliable, general-purpose mix, type N mortar might be the winner. This mortar mix has a medium compressive strength and consists of 1 part Portland cement, 1 part lime, and 6 parts sand. It typically achieves 28-day strength at approximately 750 psi. 

Kafka Granite’s masonry experts recommend type N mortar for use on exterior and above-grade projects that are exposed to severe weather and high temperatures, as well as on interior, load-bearing installations. Type N is also the preferred mortar mix for soft stone masonry as its flexibility helps to prevent cracks in the stones that stronger mortars might actually cause.

If you’re a homeowner or designer searching for the right mortar mix, you’ll find type N is the best choice for general application and likely the ideal choice for your project.

Here are some ideal projects that call for type N:

  • Soft stone masonry
  • Exterior or interior above grade walls
  • Chimneys 
  • Repointing newer brickwork

Type S

When it’s time for something a little (or much) stronger, builders turn to type S mortar. A high-tensile bond strength and a high compressive strength of over 1,800 psi sets this mix apart and makes it ideal for a wide range of projects at or below grade. And that 1,800 psi is just the minimum compressive strength—builders often mix type S for strengths between 2,300 and 3,000 psi. 

These significant bond and compressive strength numbers make type S able to withstand forceful soil pressure, wind, and seismic loads. Because of these unique properties, type S is the go-to for many below-grade applications such as masonry foundations and sewers as well as many at-grade projects.

Here are some projects that are best suited to type S:

  • Exterior Masonry
  • Brick patios
  • Masonry foundations
  • Sewers
  • Manholes
  • Retaining walls 
  • Various repair projects 
  • Planter construction

Type M

With the highest amount of Portland cement in its makeup, type M mortar mix provides at least 2,500 psi of compressive strength. While this mix is ideal for heavy loads and below-grade applications such as foundations, it provides relatively poor adhesion and sealing properties. This makes it poorly suited to many exposed applications. 

Here are some suitable applications for type M: 

  • Foundations
  • Retaining walls
  • Driveways 

Find the Perfect Thin Stone Veneer for the Job with Kafka Granite

Depending on the type of thin stone veneer you’ve chosen to install, type N or S mortar will fit your needs beautifully. But mortar is the (relatively) easy part. The true task is picking the perfect cut and color of thin veneer to use in your project. Kafka Granite’s natural thin stone veneer is a line of natural granite, quartz, and marble building stone suited to a variety of applications from building facades to fireplaces.

We can’t wait to be a part of making your next project truly stunning. Reach out today with any questions, and our knowledgeable sales team will get you the information you need.