Sustainable Stone

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Whether you want to bring a fresh look to your home’s exterior or are looking to add elegant accents to your yard, stone is a popular, natural material that has been used for ages, and its strength and beauty will never go out of style. “Stone is a natural product that is thousands of years old when quarried; it will continue to withstand the test of time,” says Hugh Dixon of StoneAge Stonescapes LLC.

Rock Solid Choices
In a time when more people are searching for sustainable materials to build their homes, stone remains in the spotlight. Because much of the stone used on homes in Georgia is quarried nearby, shipping and transportation costs are lower, and homeowners can enjoy the feeling of having a home that is constructed with local products.

While a variety of stone options are available, running the gamut from bluestone to limestone, the most popular options among Georgia residents are some that are quarried right here at home and close by in neighboring states. “Tennessee stack stone and Tennessee flagstone are the most popular stones,” says Jose Medrano, foreman for J&C Stone Design Inc. These varieties are usually quarried in north Georgia and into Tennessee. Granites, also quarried in Georgia, are another option common to the area. “Most stones that are quarried in Georgia are gray-colored stones, such as granite from Elberton or Lithonia,” Medrano says.

The cost of stone applications vary, but stack stone generally runs about $160 per ton, while a typical flagstone ranges from $260-$290 per ton. This translates to homeowners at a cost of anywhere from $11 to $30 per square foot. Because the cost is usually significantly higher than that of materials such as vinyl siding, concrete, wood or stucco, stone is more often found on higher-end homes. However, when used as an accent or a veneer, the material becomes affordable for any homeowner seeking a natural yet refined look.



Surrounded by Stone
When it comes to using stone around your home, the options are limitless. “Stone is used for many applications on exteriors of homes, from wall veneers to columns and flagstone patios,” Dixon says. Most homeowners use stone as more of an accent than as the primary material of the home, both to cut costs and to create a chic, blended look. When using stone on your home’s exterior, you can choose regular, 6- to 8-inch slabs or opt for a natural stone veneer, which is usually about 1 inch thick. Choosing a veneer will give your home the same natural-stone look without the extra weight and cost.

Today’s most popular trends in using stone on a home’s exterior include placing the material around the entryway and lower floors of the home. Using stone on an entryway creates a dramatic first impression, as a visitor’s eyes are usually drawn immediately to the front door. Stone is also commonly used in columns and on patios at the front of the home, which gives the impression of strength and natural beauty. To add interest, some homeowners opt to vary the cut and shape of stone used around their homes, including cobbles, boulders and pavers, in addition to stacking and veneers.

If you aren’t looking to remodel your home, but still want to incorporate stone around your property, there are a variety of ways to do so. “Stone can be used for outdoor appointments such as fireplaces, water features, outdoor kitchens and more,” Dixon says. Mailboxes and walkways are also ideal places to add stone detail to your home. “You can also include stone in grilling areas, pool areas and retaining walls,” Medrano says. The options are endless, especially with local remodeling and landscaping companies, which are apt to get creative with your spaces. A retaining wall combined with a beautiful stone outdoor kitchen and fireplace can add an entire outdoor room to your home.



Built to Last
Although stone may be more costly than some of the other materials on the market, it definitely has its benefits when it comes to maintenance. “Stone is a great option for exterior or interior home improvements; stucco and concrete won’t last as long and would have to be replaced more often,” Medrano says. “There’s not much deterioration with stone, and you don’t have to replace it multiple times.”

Because it is a strong, natural product, stone will stand the test of time, especially when properly installed. Regular maintenance is limited to pressure washing once every several years at most. Mortar should not need to be replaced or repaired until years down the road. Homeowners may hose off stone any time they wish, but its rugged strength and natural beauty make regular cleaning unnecessary.



Cost-Saving Alternatives

Stone is considered a sustainable option because it is locally quarried and natural. However, if you’re seeking a less expensive option, there are other sustainable materials available, such as manmade stone or concrete pavers. For example, Belgard Hardscapes’ Dufferin Stone veneer exhibits the beauty of natural stone, but is more cost effective and available in a variety of colors and textures. Waterford stone is a similar option. “Our products have the look and feel of natural stone and can be used in many hardscape applications,” says Aaron Faubli of Oldcastle Architectural, manufacturers of both products.

Cultured stone, a manufactured stone made from concrete, is another popular choice. Like most of today’s manmade stones, it can be difficult to see a difference between this fabricated option and natural stone. However, while natural stone is usually stacked, manufactured stone is adhered to the home with a cement mixture and can be applied over most materials, including brick, concrete and wood. With all the installation options available, manufactured stone can look just as elegant, unique and natural.

For an eco-friendly option, Belgard Hardscapes also offers an environmental line, which includes Subterra Stone. These stone pavers, which can be used for anything from driveways to patios, have a natural, chiseled look and are permeable, so they reduce pollution by decreasing runoff from a rainstorm by as much as 100 percent.

Whether you choose the real thing and build with natural Georgia stone or cut costs by using a high-quality manufactured product, you can increase the beauty of your home, as well as your pride in it. “Stone brings a unique look to your home,” Medrano says, “and believe it or not, it can really change the amount of time you spend on the exterior of your home.”



Another Sustainable Option: Brick

If you’re looking to mix your materials, consider adding brick accents. While brick is still one of the pricier home-building materials, it’s generally less expensive than stone (at $6-$12 per square foot) and still made to withstand the test of time. Brick is also low maintenance and has some environmental benefits:
•    Most brick manufacturers have significantly reduced the energy needed to manufacture and transport brick.
•    Brick plants are now using non-fossil fuel resources, such as burning methane from landfills and agricultural waste products.
•    Brick can largely be made by using recycled materials.
•    Manufacturing and building with brick produces very little waste, as the materials are inherently recyclable.
•    Most brick is manufactured from materials that are an average of 15 miles away from the plant, and most major cities have a plant within 200 miles.
—Crysta Allen, Boral Bricks Inc


Stone Stand-In

If you’re seeking a substitute for stone, consider EnviroStone. It is applied as a veneer and has several notable qualities:
•    Similar to Venetian plaster, it can be polished to a high gloss.
•    It can be applied over old concrete, wood or virtually anything else and sets in 48 hours.
•    It can be applied at a thickness of only 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch, while concrete will crack when applied that thinly.
•    Texture can be varied to create a natural stone look.
•    EnviroStone is available at only $1.50 to $2 per square foot.
•    It can be professionally installed or sold to do-it-yourselfers.
—Allen Sales, EnviroStone LLC


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