Loose Stones vs Stone Panel Systems
– Which One is Right for Your Stacked Stone Project?
Loose Stones vs Stone Panel Systems – Which One is Right for Your Stacked Stone Project? There’s a healthy debate about using individual loose stones vs stone panel systems, and for good reason! Each product and installation method comes with its own set of pros and cons. So let’s take a closer look at each of these product types and learn the good, bad, and ugly to help you decide what’s the right product for your next stone veneer installation.
Some of the main advantages of using loose stone are the breadth of stone options available to you. Pretty much any stone can be used, or modified to be used, to be stacked on a wall. Stone masons are adept at using rock hammers and chisels to strike larger stones at just the right point to break it into smaller pieces or into a certain shape to fit the installation. With the variety of stone available for an installation like this, it also opens us this category of stone veneer to almost every price point.
The drawbacks of hand loose stone is that skilled, experienced labour is a must for a great looking installation. The installation process can often be tedious and slow, and some loose stone installations also will get “mortared in”, meaning masonry mortar is “pointed” into the gaps between each stone. The combination of a skilled installer plus a lengthy installation can make the cost of installation high. In our opinion, if you want a stone wall, make it look natural and you get what you pay for!
Stone panel systems have been around for about the past 15 years or so, and are made possible by advances in stone processing equipment that allows the stone to be split and cut into thinner sections. These “thin” stones are then glued together, or sometimes mounted to a backer in a standard size.
The biggest advantages of a stone panel systems is in the relatively easy and therefore lower labour cost to install stone panel systems as compared to loose stone. The ideal installer for a stone panel system is a tile installer with some experience in setting natural stone tiles, but is also well within the range of most DIY homeowners as well. Because the product comes as a repeatable shape, it can be installed quickly and efficiently, sometimes 10x as fast as hand stacked loose stone.
It makes sense to start off with loose individual stones because this method really is the original when it comes to stone feature walls. Loose stone have been around for centuries – just take a look at many forts, castles, city walls, etc. and you’ll see examples of stonework that has been hand stacked and stood the test of time. If your main priority is to have a stone wall which looks like the beautiful stone walls you see in the old photos, then loose is the best option. If looks isn’t a priority and you don’t mind a stone wall which looks like tiles with all the visible vertical joints, then by all means look at panels.
A great compromise which we at Aussietecture have come up with is our Colonial Walling Range. Colonial format basically means squares and rectangles but we have taken it a step further and work the perimeter of each stone to create effective shadow lines or joint lines. As a result its much easier and faster installation and no need to point or grout. You can still get your loose stone wall effect, no horrible vertical joint lines and cheaper install rates.
We have years of experience in quarrying and installing stone and our design team is always brainstorming to come up with fresh, new and practical ideas and products. We offer great products backed by years and years of hands on experience and knowledge.