Compass Greater NY, LLC
Ann Marie Damashek, GRI, CBR, SRES, Compass Greater NY, LLCPhone: (917) 623-0624
Email: [email protected]

3 Budget-Friendly Alternatives to Natural Stone

by Ann Marie Damashek, GRI, CBR, SRES 11/14/2021

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

Natural stone siding is not always the best choice. Depending on your budget and the climate where you live it might be wise to choose an alternative. But what if you have your heart set on the look of a stone house? There are lots of material options for home exteriors on the market today including some excellent imitation stone varieties. Here we will go over the three most popular and readily available alternatives to natural stone.

Manufactured Stone

Manufactured stone, also called cultured stone, is actually cement poured into molds to imitate the texture and shape of natural stone. One thing that makes manufactured stone such a great option is that cement shares some of the same non-aesthetic benefits as natural stone. Cement is extremely durable and resistant to extreme weather and fire. It’s a fairly good insulator and will last the entire life of your home without need for regular maintenance. It’s lighter than stone which makes it more convenient and easy both to transport and install. Because it’s made in specialized molds, it’s also easy to get the exact size and shape of slab or siding components with very little waste.

Manufactured stone essentially allows you to enjoy the benefits of stone without the higher price. You can even purchase manufactured stone directly and install it on your own rather than need to hire a professional mason. There are also lots of companies out there who specialize in the creation and installation of manufactured stone, usually with a variety of colors, textures and finishes to choose from.

Stone Veneer

Stone veneer siding is sold in panels that fit together like puzzle pieces. They are lightweight and inexpensive but are actually made with real natural stone—just a lot less of it. This option is a great compromise for those with their hearts set on using natural stone because it essentially adds a mask of natural stone to the home that doesn’t require mortar or masons. You can buy stone veneer kits or individual panels at your local hardware or home improvement store and install them yourself in a single weekend. The wide variety of colors, patterns and textures available is staggering—you will certainly be able to mimic the natural stone vision in your imagination without the hassle or high price tag. It’s also perfect for adding stone as an accent rather than covering the entire house because you only need to buy what you need.

Stone veneer is extremely convenient but has some drawbacks. By nature of being mass-produced, stone veneer panels lack the same character present in natural stone. You are not likely to get the same levels of variation and may even find pieces that look identical. Another issue with stone veneer is that if the seams are not precise or the panels not installed correctly moisture can get in between them and potentially lead to mold issues and other water damage.

Faux Stone

Faux stone is usually made of polyurethane-based foam. You can purchase and install it in panels similar to stone veneer or even cut it to size with a handsaw. Each panel only weighs a few pounds and can apply to surfaces with glue. The truly brilliant thing about faux stone is how real it looks. It does not feel like stone when you touch it, but the technology used to mimic the textures of different varieties of stone is so advanced it’s highly believable.

Faux stone is the lightest of your natural stone alternatives and the least durable. The foam layer is covered in a protective plastic coating to prevent damage and keep out moisture, but cannot withstand impact. This means that in a hail storm you might end up with dents or even tears in the panels. If you want to install it indoors you must confirm it is safe to install on or around fireplaces, as not all varieties of faux stone are flame and heat resistant.

The best thing about all the above options is that they are easily accessible to purchase and research. Some stores and suppliers even offer in-depth tutorials for self-installation to help you save money and time. If you want the look of natural stone without buying the real thing, any of these options are excellent alternatives.

About the Author

Ann Marie Damashek, GRI, CBR, SRES

Ann Marie Damashek has always been a natural at helping people prepare their homes for sale. She started out with a successful business selling goods for people on eBay. "Nine times out of ten they were hiring me because they were down-sizing,” Ann Marie says. "So I decided to get my license. I said, ‘Might as well sell their house too.’” The transition was a smooth one and for nine years she’s had a thriving full-time real estate business that allows her to marry her entrepreneurial spirit with her passion for helping others. With an office in Larchmont, New York, she serves all of Lower Westchester County, with her primary market in the Sound Shore region. The majority of her business is "sphere of influence” with former clients referring her to friends and family. A gifted communicator, Ann Marie quickly builds trust and rapport with her clients by being both thoughtful and responsive; she understands that during the purchase or sale of a home, a quick response time is crucial. "I am very accessible,” Ann Marie says. "I always make time for my clients. They can call me, text me, email me up until 10 o’clock at night and I will respond. I’m available on weekends. I get back to people very promptly. I’m very customer service-oriented.” Her clients appreciate her professionalism, passion and enthusiasm and as a result her repeat and referral rate continues to grow each year. While selling real estate is serious business, Ann Marie knows that at times humor and a moment of levity can be a relief to clients. While she has a laidback and easygoing personality, she can be assertive when needed on her clients’ behalf. She loves being of service to them, and the continually changing nature of the work keeps her engaged and fulfilled. "It’s never boring,” Ann Marie enthuses. "Every day is different. That’s probably what I like most about it. But I also enjoy helping people sell or buy and educating them about the process. I love helping them achieve their goals.” This ethic of service has resulted in well-deserved recognition. Ann Marie has received the Westchester Magazine Five Star Real Estate Agent Rating four years running, in 2015 and 2016 she was the #1 agent in her office, and she’s a Zillow 5-Star Premier Agent. To keep in touch with former clients, Ann Marie sends cards to mark special occasions or reaches out via email. To market her listings, Ann Marie uses Multiple Listing Services (MLS), as well as, a service that allows both agents and their clients access to MLS data. She also uses a Facebook business page and ads to boost new listings or promote upcoming open houses. "That drives a tremendous amount of traffic,” Ann Marie says. She also uses the most popular real estate websites such as Zillow and Trulia. A strong believer in giving back, Ann Marie sits on the Board of Trustees of her church and is involved in a variety of social justice projects. She’s affiliated with Furniture Sharehouse, a furniture bank for Westchester County, which collects and distributes gently used furniture free of charge to those in need. "I love it on so many levels because as a realtor, it’s helps my sellers downsize through charitable donations. I like the environmental aspect of it as well. And it helps people who truly need things.” She’s also involved in Impact 100, a women’s philanthropic giving organization. In her free time, Ann Marie enjoys gardening, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. For the future, Ann Marie wants to continue expanding her business and developing her brand, and she someday hopes to grow a strong team. But her main goal is to stay in the real estate business, helping her clients to achieve their dreams.