What I'm Seeing Now


What Is The Insulation Value (AKA R-Value) Of Faux Stone?

That is an interesting question - what is the insulation value, AKA R-value, of faux stone?

Faux stone, or sometimes called manufactured stone, cultured stone, and veneer stone, is a composite material made from cement, polyurethanes and high-density polymers.  The "stone" product manufacturers say that there are substantial differences in the materials comprising the different products in terms of thicknesses, weights and composition.

But they all claim that faux stone adds R-value ("resistance" value, an insulation measurement) to whatever it is put on top of.  I read claims of adding anywhere from 3.6 to 5 additional R-value with faux stone applications.  The typical insulation R-value of walls is 13.

I'm not sure what the R-value is here, but faux stone certainly seems to conduct heat!

Remember, heat seeks cold.  In the winter it is trying to get out of your house and in the summer it is trying to get in.  We wear coats and warm clothing in cold weather to retain heat, or to prevent it from leaving our bodies so quickly.  It's trying to get out of us!

Can we tell if faux stone is a heat conductor?

We can't, but my thermal camera, Mighty Mo, can!

Comparing these images is very revealing!

All three look at faux stone on a house.  You can see that the faux stone does not extend very high up the house in any location. 

In these palettes, warmer temperatures are demonstrated by orange and yellow.  Similarly, cooler temperatures are demonstrated by lavender, blue and purple.  These depths of the colors are relative to the particular image, but the color scheme is the same.

The outdoor temperature that day was 13F.  In all three images the faux stone is applied below the vinyl siding.  One would have to assume that the same insulation that exists inside the wall behind the vinyl exists also behind the faux stone.

The left image is in a corner of the kitchen, and a little from the kitchen window.  Inside of this location would be kitchen cabinetry and a counter top.  Heat is pouring out of the faux stone and the warmest spot there is 43F.  The temperature of the vinyl is 16F.

The center image is a corner just outside of a patio door.  You can virtually see the heat pouring out of the stone, particularly at the bottom where it is flaring out.  The little purple spot is a wall receptacle, better insulating than the "stone!"

Finally the right image looks at the front door.  That window above the door probably has an R-value of 3.  And look at it compared to the "stone," low on the wall on both sides of the door.  Heat is escaping.  Look at all that as compared to the vinyl.

So, I am no thermal barrier expert, or engineer, but it seems to me that faux stone has great heat conductivity!  It appears to NOT be adding 3.6 - 5 in R-value to what it is covering.  It looks to provide little insulation value at all.

People often ask why I name my thermal camera Mighty Mo.

Because I was born and raised in Washington DC, you silly!  In the 50s and 60s, long before the Big Mac and Whopper, the Marriott Hot Shoppes Restaurants served a biggie-big burger, the "Mighty Mo."  It was code to have it with fries and an A&W root beer.  The code also allowed for milkshakes.  We always obeyed the code.  It was Best Practice.

You sat in your car, ordered from a menu on the side via a microphone, and waitresses in uniforms inspected by the boss would bring huge trays of food to hook to the side of your car.  That is where you ate the food, in the car, with your family.  It's a wonderful childhood memory.

My recommendation:  when manufacturers make claims that their product will do this or that, see if you can check it out!  A thermal camera is a wonderful tool for examining the value of insulation and thermal barriers.  If the stuff works, it works!  If not, well, Mighty Mo will see it! 

And can't you imagine how cute this yet-to-be thermographer was eating a hamburger half his size?

I can.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 52 commentsJay Markanich • February 09 2014 03:57AM
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