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Rock veneer, also called stone veneer, is a thin layer of rock that is mounted onto an existing wall or structure. Used in home siding, outdoor garden decoration, or inside houses to accentuate fireplaces, rock veneer can be an attractive and economical choice in place of real stone. Some rock veneers are made of stone, while others are made from polyurethane or another plastic that has been cast and molded from natural stone. Unlike brick veneers, rock veneers are made to look like cut or natural rock. They are available in a variety of types and colors to meet a wide range of home and garden decorating needs.
Real rock veneer is produced in two ways. The first method is to sort rocks and use only the ones that are less than 2 inches (5 cm) thick. The other approach is to cut rocks. In this technique, the faces of larger rocks are sliced off, and the resulting thin pieces of rock can then be mounted onto plywood with mortar. Some rock veneers, like those made of natural river rock, are grouted between the rocks to give the appearance of real masonry.
Lighter and easier to work with than real stone, artificial rock veneer is made of polyurethane or some other durable plastic. For this type of veneer, molds are made from real rocks and then the plastic is cast from the molds. Artificial rock veneer is usually about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, and it can be installed either by mounting it onto plywood or attaching it directly onto an existing surface, such as a brick or metal lathe structure.
Real rock siding, fireplaces, walls, patios, and garden stepping stones can have a timeless elegance and class. However, real stone is heavy, bulky, and hard to work with because of its irregularity. Real rock veneers give the appearance of real stone, but without the weight and bulk, so they do not need as much structural support as real stone.
Artificial rock veneers vary in quality, with some types that look like plastic rocks and others that almost need to be touched to tell the difference. Molded polyurethane stone can be custom-sized, making it easier to work with since the pieces are regular. Although it doesn’t weather and age as nicely as real stone, an artificial rock veneer is easier for the homeowner to keep clean and maintain.