Today's choices in stone outdoor fireplaces sur-
pass anything that was possible a decade or so
ago. Given the nearly limitless array of material choices, as well as the mountain of variations
within each material type, the sky is truly the limit. With some imagination and creativity, you can con-
jure up an outside fire space so breathtaking it will leave your friends and neighbors breathless!
The incredible range of stone types, textures and
colors available today -- whether natural, manufac-
tured or cast -- makes it possible to get the look
you want on nearly any budget. Natural stone, the
most durable material, is certainly impressive, wheth-
er fieldstone, river stone or limestone. Though the
most durable, natural stone is also the heaviest ma-
terial and will likely require a foundation and footings.
That, in conjunction with the higher cost of the
stone, itself, as well as the skilled labor needed to
build it, makes it the costliest outdoor stone fire-
However, due to advances in technology and processing techniques, it is now possible to closely replicate the
look and feel of natural stone with a
manufactured or cast stone product. For a mildly textured to rugged and rustic look, cultured stone comes very close to the look and feel of natural stone.
If you're going for a more refined or Old World look and feel, you will find several choices in cast stone mantels and surrounds. The smooth textures and finishes of these products are offered in a variety of mostly traditional styles.
Another, albeit more recent, material gaining in popularity for stone outdoor fireplaces is
natural thin stone veneer, which is cut from natural stone quarried from the earth. Unlike traditional full-dimension stone which is
ically three to five inches in depth, thin veneer is only 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches and much lighter in weight. Consequently, it doesn't require any load bearing foundations or footings.
For ease of installation, some manufacturers now offer thin stone veneer in preassembled modular panels in a
wide range of stone types, textures, colors and configurations. A natural product, thin stone veneer is
fast, will not fade, and resists chipping and scratching. It's like having the best of both worlds . . . . . . you get the beauty and durability of natural stone without the traditionally high cost!
Regardless of which way you decide to go, stone -- in any form -- is a fantastic medium for creative expression when used in the building of an outside hearth. Not only does an outdoor stone fireplace offer year round enjoyment with family and friends, but it adds real value to your home, as well!
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