Stone naturally complements wood and so finds special favor with log-home owners. It is most visible as a chimney material and a facing for foundations, but stone is also used for flooring and countertops, even roofs. And don’t forget landscaping. Manufactured stone has recently become a popular alternative. The result is that whatever uses you have in mind for stone in your log home, you have plenty of choices.
Genuine stone, used since, well, the Stone Age, is a natural product, just like logs. The most common varieties are:
- Limestone. Widely used as a building stone because it is readily available and can be cut and carved, limestone is chiefly used for countertops, flooring, interior and exterior wall cladding and exterior paving. Limestone weathers naturally, and its color mellows and blends into a pleasing natural patina. Some limestone is very porous, offering a more rustic or aged appearance. An acrylic-based sealer is recommended to protect the stone, which adds sheen to its appearance. Limestone is popular for fireplace surrounds and is ideally suited for flooring, especially in the bathroom and shower.
- Sandstone. Most sandstone is composed of quartz and feldspar. Like sand, it can be any color but most commonly comes in tan, brown, yellow, red, gray and white. Some sandstone resists weathering, yet it’s easy to work with. Its versatility makes it suitable for most types of interior and exterior applications, including wall cladding, roofing and flooring.
- Granite. Granite is favored for kitchen countertops, floors and other heavily used surfaces because of its permanence, enduring color and texture. Requiring no maintenance, granite is highly heat, scratch and stain resistant, and is unequaled for fireplaces. Interior granite applications generally have a polished finish and a “busy” look, but trend-following manufacturers are producing honed (smooth and unpolished) and flamed (rough textured) surfaces. Exterior applications can be polished, honed, flamed, split-faced, bush-hammered or otherwise textured.
- Marble. Ideal for foyers, bathrooms, floors and hearths, marble adds a sophisticated element, and its appearance, superior engineering characteristics and ease of maintenance make it a natural favorite. Marble has the same general properties of limestone and can stain, etch or scratch, but only becomes more beautiful over time. Tumbled marble is especially popular for backsplash, flooring and shower areas.
- Slate. Slate is a popular flooring material also used for fireplace facings, chimneys, garden walls, kitchen countertops and roofs. Slate is a rustic material with either a cleft or honed surface texture that offers a weathered look. Slate is available in a variety of sizes in dimensional tiles, a few in slab form and most in crates of random pieces like flagstone. Since slate has softer properties, it can shale off the surface more easily. One difficulty is that its thickness varies. It’s also difficult to cut evenly. As a result, specific size installations may be a challenge, so expect higher installation costs.
Rivaling natural stone is manufactured stone, also called cultured, engineered and veneer. Once scorned for looking as phony as a bad toupee, today it so closely resembles the real thing that few but stonemasons can tell the difference. Manufactured stone comes in a variety of styles and colors, making appearance its primary appeal.
Its depth, texture and color truly mimic natural stone. It is made by mixing concrete, pebbles and pigments and pouring them into molds created from natural materials that come from quarries, fields and riverbeds. The textures and colors equal those found in nature, but they have the advantage of being readily available, meaning you can coordinate stone with any log-home interior, right down to matching the color to, say, a favorite rug. Also, because manufactured stone is made from concrete, it is durable. Many stone makers warrant their product for 50 years.
Manufactured stone costs roughly half what natural stone does and is easier to install. Plus, you don’t need a mason to do the job. Homeowners like it because they can get exactly the look they want without having to hunt and haul. Its realism also makes faux stone popular with architects and designers.
This article ran in the November 2007 issue of Log Homes Illustrated.