Cultured stone fireplaces continue to climb in popularity as very realistic looking . . . . . and much more affordable . . . . . alternatives to natural stone fireplaces for both indoors and out.
"cultured stone," -- also
the name of one of the leading brands -- is commonly used to de-
scribe all manufactured stone prod-
ucts of a similar nature. When refer-
enced herein, the term shall apply to all similar manufactured stone prod-
ucts, as well.
Cultured or manufactured stone is cast in flexible molds made from natural stones and colored with iron oxide pigments to closely replicate the look and feel of natural stone. Available in a vast array of colors and textures to emulate a wide range of natural stone types and styles, the multitude of choices gives you a great deal of flexibility and opportunity to create a realistic and uniquely personal fireplace design. The best examples of cultured stone fireplaces are virtually indistinguishable from their natural stone counterparts, such as the examples pictured at top right and below.
The following examples show how closely some of today's manufactured stone products replicate natural stone. Each of the four fireplaces directly below is clad with river stone, also commonly referred to as river rock. The fireplaces on the left (top and bottom) are clad with manufactured stone, while those on the right (top and bottom) use natural stone.
Likewise, the fireplaces below are all clad with fieldstone of varying colors, textures and finishes for broad geographic appeal. Once again, the three examples on the left are cultured stone fireplaces, while those on the right use natural stone.
Made of Portland cement and lightweight aggregate materials, manufac-
tured stone is approximately two-thirds the weight of natural stone veneer and about one-quarter the weight of full-block natural stone. Unlike natural stone hearths, the light weight of cultured stone fireplaces requires no foundation or footings, or other costly structural reinforcement.
As a result of its light weight and "manageable" sizes and shapes, manu-
factured stone is much easier to handle and install than natural stone. It adheres to any structurally sound wall surface, making it an ideal cladding material for fireplaces.
Manufactured or cultured stone is strong and durable and virtually mainte-
nance free, due, in part, to full color integration during the manufacturing process by many of today's producers. Now, when a cultured stone is chipped, you no longer see a glaring white or gray spot. Rather, just as with natural stone, the exterior color is embedded within the manufactured stone product. Non-combustible and safe as a fireplace material, the qual-
ity has improved so much in recent years that many manufacturers now offer a 50 year warranty on their faux stone products.
Now that it is possible to get the look and feel of natural stone with cultured stone hearths, one of the biggest benefits is the lower cost. In addition to the lower cost of the material, itself, its light weight makes it easier and faster to handle, thereby lowering the cost of installation, as well. Its light weight also eliminates the need for special footings or other costly structural reinforcements. And finally, because it is so much lighter in weight than natural stone, shipping costs are significantly lower.
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