How to Screw-Up Manufactured Stone Veneer

Adhered concrete masonry veneer (ACMV) has also been called “manufactured stone, “lick and stick,” “cultured stone,”, and” faux stone”.

Some say it’s stucco with chunks of concrete stuck in it.

In terms of moisture, anchored masonry veneer isn’t much different than stucco.

Builders have learned a lot of hard lessons about stucco over the years and unfortunately many are repeating the same mistakes when working with thin masonry and stone veneer .

Justin Fink – Fine Homebuilding: “Stucco is a so-called reservoir cladding, which means that it can ­absorb and hold water. Warmth from the sun pushes moisture from the surface of the stucco farther into the wall, where it can sit against the sheathing and lead to rot. Decades ago, builders installed a single layer of asphalt-impregnated building paper over the wall sheathing to protect against this moisture. Scientists realized later that the reason why this single layer worked so well is that as the stucco dried, it debonded from the building paper and left small gaps, which ­allowed water to drain away. Over time, however, the manufacturing methods for building paper changed, and a single layer of the newer ­paper maintained its bond with the stucco rather than debonding like the old stuff; as a result, the drainage space wasn’t created. Around the same time, builders started switching from plywood sheathing to OSB sheathing, which is more moisture sensitive (see The Mold Explo­sion: Why Now?). You can guess how the story ended: lots of builders dealing with catastrophic cases of rotten sheathing.”

Providing airflow and drainage behind a home’s siding keeps moisture issues under control, extending the life of your paint or stain, the siding itself, and the structure beneath. Drainable housewraps may seem like a silver bullet — better than siding installed tight to a standard smooth-faced housewrap and less complicated than furring strips or other ventilated rain-screen systems — but don’t mistake drainage for airflow.

Justin Fink – Fine Homebuilding

Home Inspectors

The rotten sheathing brings us around to rotten walls, and you know where rotten walls lead. You guessed it. Rotten walls lead to home inspectors – or at a minimum – to home inspections.

Louisville KY home inspector Ben Hendricks is a Professional Home Inspector and a member of our Facebook Group.

Photo: Ben Hendricks

One of his latest blog articles covers an inspection where the veneer install was so bad the builder actually bought the house back.

Ben’s article has some of the best photos and documented examples of this type failure.

His story is also a meaningful example of why you’ll want to hit the pause button when considering hiring a professional home inspector. Call the inspector for an interview.

Hire an experienced home inspector.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve done so many of these manufactured stone inspections over the years that sometimes I have to fight the urge to not go on autopilot. I take pictures of the same messed-up details on every house: missing weep screed, missing kick-out flashing, missing casing bead, etc. and I give the same explanations as to why these homeowners are in the pickle they now currently find themselves. – – This house was different.

Ben Hendricks – Professional Home Inspector

Update: Here’s another great article from Ben.

“The whole thing is covered in manufactured stone – Oh Boy!” – Ben Hendricks

Any Good News About This Product?

Yes – it’s not all bad news…

Recently manufactured stone veneer posted a 96 percent cost/value return in Remodeling magazine’s just-released 2020 Cost vs.Value Report  – – -putting it at the very top of the list of 22 remodeling products/projects covered by the highly regarded benchmarking study.

Source: Hanley Wood, Remodeling

Manufactured stone veneer’s 96 percent cost vs. value return stands in sharp contrast to the other cladding products in the study.  Concrete fiber siding had a 2020 cost vs. value return of 79 percent, while vinyl siding only posted a 75 percent return.

According to the report, manufactured stone veneer eclipsed the Garage Door project for the first time as the project with the highest cost recouped. Realtors participating in the study tend to place high value on projects that enhance curb appeal.

Here’s a great link inspectors should consider using as reference material. This stone veneer installation Guide is published by the Manufactured Stone Veneer Association and provides a ton of drawings, details and information about cleaning/care.

The ASTM C1780 Standard is also a meaningful resource. Just keep in mind, the standard is meant to complement the specific installation instructions provided by stone veneer manufacturers and recognized building codes. It’s not meant to replace the code. It’s very rare for manufacturer’s installation instructions to be subordinated to a particular standard.

As with all code requirements, check with your local code compliance officer and have them interpret the code.

The Key is Moisture Management

Stucco, exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS), brick veneer, manufactured stone veneer, and “cheap” thin stone or faux stone siding often get bad reputations when it comes to installation defects because of improper moisture management.

Even the best natural stone veneer, whether full or thin stone, is doomed to fail if moisture stays trapped in the wall.

Tyler LeClear Vachta, Marketing & Education Manager with Masonry Technology Inc., explains how to manage water in stone walls.

MTI’s products enhance the performance and sustainability of the exterior building enclosure by reducing the risk of entrapped moisture.

Products That Help Control Moisture

Moisture management isn’t about a single product – it’s about systems of components that, when installed to manufacturer’s specs, are designed and detailed to work together. 

If you understand how stone veneer is properly installed – you’ll become a better inspector. See 22 videos here that will help you learn more. Click the top right corner of this video and choose from the list.

Join my 9,000+ member Facebook group for homeowners and inspectors.

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