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Patio Seat Walls

Time / 01:21

Contemporary landscapes are calling for stone in a very big way. It may be the authenticity of this age old building material, or its natural appeal that has brought it to the top of today's hardscape world. No other choice for masonry has proved so universal, blending into virtually every architectural palette from sleek modern homes to rustic cabins. In short, stone will never go out of style.

What does change is the way stone is applied. The cost factors that once made this an excessively expensive choice have been lowered to bring the look of real stone into projects of any scale. Key word here is "look", for there are tricks and trends of preparing stone and manufacturing faux stone to provide any style of masonry to homes throughout America.

The key factor that comes up time and again in relation to stone is weight. Natural stone is a heavy material if used by itself as a structural wall, or when used as whole stone cladding. For this reason the newest trend is stone veneer, which is slices of stone applied to the exterior of walls and other structures constructed out of wood frame or concrete masonry units (CMUs), also known as concrete block. Veneer results in manageable tile-like pieces that cover far more surface for less money due to reduction material prices, transportation costs and less skilled labor for installation.

There is a great deal of variability in stone veneer, however there are now imported materials that increase the color options and locally quarried rock is most affordable and a greener choice because there are no long distance shipping costs. Some designers feel strongly that locally sourced stone is a more appropriate choice since it will blend with natural surroundings.

The large variety of available stone can also make it more complicated to arrive at the best choice for your home. With such wide ranges of color, narrowing down the suitable options can be a challenge.

At Apex Landscaping, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, landscape architect Matt Schmuke emphasizes the importance of using a designer. "The most important thing we do with design and structures is to take into consideration your natural surroundings and your architecture, then come up with the solution that works best. Too often contractors force something into a project that doesn't work, so it doesn't look cohesive. I try not to bring clients to stoneyards because it muddies the water for them. We prefer to make recommendations, and once I explain our reasons, they realize why we made the decisions, and then they get it. But if they still can't decide, then we go to the stoneyard. Designers too often make choices arbitrarily. My clients are spending a lot of money and that's why they come to me. I feel strongly they deserve a professional without a conflict of interest who is able to look after their best interests."

Landscaping Network

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