Unlocking the Key to Seamless Stone Veneer Installations

Casa di Sassi Pre Installation phase.

At Casa di Sassi, handcrafting beautiful and authentic stone veneers is our daily obsession. But our meticulously designed and manufactured products can only go so far on their own. We rely on partnerships with contractors, masons and other professionals – like you – to deliver an exceptional installation experience that showcases the beauty and benefits of our stone veneers.

Whether you’ve been building with stone materials from Casa di Sassi for years or you’re new to our MSV products, your insight and expertise on how to install cultured stone make all the difference.

We’re not about to instruct a pro like you on how to apply stone veneer to interior walls and exterior surfaces – even our tips for professional installers are aimed at giving you talking points for advising homeowners on the best choices for their projects, rather than step-by-step instructions.

But we do like to occasionally touch on some best practices for how to install stone veneer on interior and exterior walls with a flawless outcome in mind. One thing you’re likely to already include in discussions with your clients is where to install stone veneer and where to avoid it, like areas exposed to constant moisture or deicing chemicals.

This article focuses on surface preparation – which is key to achieving a seamless, long-lasting stone veneer installation. Read on for specifics on why surface prep is the first step toward a flawlessly fabulous stone veneer interior wall or exterior upgrade that will remain gorgeous for the long haul.

Why Prepare?

“Measure twice, cut once.” You’ve likely repeated this age-old adage many times on the job site. It reminds us to embrace the preparation phase of a project instead of rushing headlong into the doing phase.

There are three main reasons to take the time to prepare surfaces before applying our stone veneers:

  1. The manufacturer recommends it. Both surface prep and moisture barriers (more on those in a moment) are specified in the Manufacturer’s Data Sheet for all Casa di Sassi stone veneer products.
  2. Failure to properly prepare the surface before installation could nullify the warranty your client has factored into their purchasing decision.
  3. A solid prep job will yield a more durable and beautiful result for your clients – who will subsequently be more likely to give you great reviews and recommend you to others.

Moisture Matters

Here’s a fact: Manufactured stone veneers are not waterproof. They ARE quite durable when installed properly – and that process requires some serious attention to moisture. One of the most common stone veneer installation mistakes we see is skipping the required moisture barriers to save time or money. This omission inevitably leads to costly and time-consuming repairs or a complete redo of the installation.

Here’s another fact: All exterior stone veneer projects require two layers of weather-resistant barrier (WRB). Some stone veneer interior wall installations may also need WRBs if they are exposed to water, such as a kitchen or bathroom backsplash. For specifics on WRBs, flashings, drainage planes and other moisture matters concerning stone veneer applications, check the National Concrete Masonry Association’s MSV Installation Guide.

How To Prepare For Different Types Of Stone Veneer

The NCMA MSV Installation Guide is your go-to reference for how to install stone veneer on interior walls and exterior surfaces within best-practice guidelines. And it devotes more than three full pages to “surface preparation” – which should tell you how important this part of the process is.

Beginning on Page 9 of this industry resource, you’ll find details on prepping a variety of surfaces, including:

  • Concrete and Concrete Masonry – Must be structurally sound and free of dirt, waterproofing, paint, form oil or any other substance that could inhibit the mortar bond. Surface must readily accept or absorb water to achieve a good bond.
  • Wood or Steel Framing With Rigid Sheathing – Must be structurally sound and free of any coatings or materials that would inhibit bonding.
  • Lath – If a bondable surface cannot be achieved on cement or concrete masonry, the lath should be attached and a scratch coat applied before installing MSV. Lath installation and prep must be in accordance with ASTM C1063.
  • Cement Board – Must be installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and fastened every 8 inches vertically to each stud. See the guide for more details, plus instructions on treating seams between cement boards.

This resource also includes detailed information on flashings, weep screeds, casing beads, movement joints, clearances and other elements of a successful stone veneer installation. Consider it your definitive guide for how to apply stone veneer to interior walls and exterior surfaces with confidence!

Keeping Stone Veneer Looking Its Best

Armed with all this knowledge about how to install cultured stone the best way possible, you’re a valuable resource for your clients! Make sure you also have a conversation with them about how to clean manufactured stone veneer so that there are no surprises down the road.

For interior stone veneer walls, maintenance is as simple as a periodic vacuum with a bristled attachment to suck up dust or a quick wipe with a damp cloth.

Exterior stone veneer projects can be hosed off occasionally with plain water or lightly scrubbed with mild dish soap and a soft brush.

The big long-term maintenance question that frequently arises is this: Should you seal or not seal manufactured stone veneer? There’s no simple yes or no answer, as it’s up to the homeowner’s preference. You can counsel your clients that exterior stone veneer may benefit from a breathable silane or siloxane sealant protecting against harsh environmental conditions. Indoors, however, a sealant is typically not necessary.

Thanks for partnering with Casa di Sassi to bring a world of possibilities to your clients’ homes and businesses! Check out our other downloadable resources – and don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions about our products or insight into how to install stone veneer for the best possible results!

As we look to the future, we continually seek to innovate and grow. From pushing the limits on our creativity to developing new stone profile designs – to increasing the efficiency of our manufacturing processes – our team is dedicated to being a valuable stone veneer partner.

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