Today's outdoor stone fireplace options exceed anything that was possible a decade ago. Given the array of material choices, as well as the moun- tain of variations within each material type, the sky is truly the limit. With some imagination and ingenuity, you can create an outside fire space so breathtaking it will leave your friends and neighbors breathless!
The vast range of stone types, textures and colors available today -- whether
natural, manufactured or cast -- makes it possible to achieve the look you want
on virtually any budget. Natural stone, the most durable ma-
terial, is certainly impressive, as the following examples show. From field-
stone to river stone, limestone to ledgestone, you can't go wrong with a well executed design.
Though the most durable, natural stone is also the heaviest material 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 hearth option.
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, as the following examples show.
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, as shown below.
Another, albeit more recent, outdoor stone fireplace material gaining in popularity is natural thin stone veneer, which is cut from natural stone quarried from the earth. Unlike traditional full-dimension stone which is typically 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 col-
orfast, 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 tra-
ditionally high cost!
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