Manufactured stone fireplaces have come a long way in recent years. Though man-made cast stone mantels with smooth finishes have been produced for centuries and perfected to the point where they are barely discernible from their finely finished natural stone counterparts, the more rugged, roughly textured stone fireplace surrounds have not been so lucky.
Fortunately, manufacturers of roughly tex-
tured stone found a way to significantly im-
prove their product since the 1970s, when artificial stone looked every bit as fake as it truly was. Today's man-made stone prod-
ucts are a far cry from their predecessors. Many are so realistic in appearance that on-
ly the trained eye of a skilled stone mason can tell the difference!
Manufactured stone is made by blending lightweight
concrete with colored iron
oxide pigments. To give it a realistic look, the mixture is poured into molds made
from natural stones and then vibrated to integrate surface col-
oration and texture. After the mix sets, the stone is removed from the mold and cured.
One of the major benefits of man-made stone is that it is significantly lower in cost than natural stone. In addition, due to its much lighter weight, it doesn't require a foundation or footings for support. The substantial cost savings, in conjunction with its very realistic look, has made it a viable alternative to natural stone for fireplace surrounds.
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