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How NOT To Install Stone Veneer Siding

When a large part of the exterior of a house is covered with a faux stone veneer, there are many locations each of which has its own method of protecting prior to the mortar application.  There are inside and outside corners, vertical and horizontal trim members, windows and doors, etc.  Suffice it to say that the stone veneer industry has done many studies and tests and has published very specific "best practices" diagrams.  They are available in a variety of places on line and in classroom form, complete with workbooks and technical diagrams.

This house has a VARIETY of such locations, each of which should have been done correctly.  One example is below, on the same new construction you have seen before --

Without getting too technical and posting architectural diagrams, this kind of thing is all over this house and it is a problem.  It is a problem because it simply is not done correctly.  With stone veneer things aren't simply nailed to the wall and surrounded by mortar.  Basically,

  • Wood has six sides, and all six need to be primed AND painted prior to installation.  You can see paint on the mortar on the left.  How about the rest?
  • Mortar never touches wood products.  There is defined separation with flashings (called casings or casing beads), backer rods and a caulking-type material.
  • Windows are not waterproof when mortar surrounds them.  The mortar will shrink and separate.  Water will get in.
  • Not only will the wood trim rot, but what is underneath can as well.  It is hard to see under the stone!  The framing around the windows will rot as water gets in there too.  Once you realize there is a problem it is usually a BIG problem because it has been there a while.

The Masonry Veneer Manufacturers Association has published, on line and in workbook form, over 50 diagrams which demonstrate best practices for such veneered stone.  They can be viewed here:

http://www.culturedstone.com/literature/docs/InstallationAdheredConcreteMasonryVeneer.pdf

As to the photo above, its proper application is described in diagrams 21 and 22.

My recommendation:  Whenever you see faux stone veneer on a house just remember that it is not as simple as paste and mortar.  There are very specific things necessary to make it a long-lasting application.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 63 commentsJay Markanich • November 26 2010 07:18AM

Comments

Jay....I wonder how many unsuspecting home owners do not realize they have had a job done incorrectly.....usually not until they have damage, I guess...hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 9 years ago

 

Good Morning Jay. Picky, picky, picky. Just think, it will give some carpenter a job some years from now...

 

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I did Barbara!  And you too.  Yes, I think a lot of homeowners are entirely unsuspecting, ESPECIALLY when it comes to new construction.

Michael - true, but you are falling into the Broken Window Fallacy pit, described by Frederc Bastiat a couple of hundred years ago!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

These are good tips to consider for any home buyer.  Most people do not realize potential problems that lie beneath the surface.

Posted by Barbara Michaluk, Leisure World Specialist / Full Service REALTOR (Weichert Realtors | Silver Spring, MD Phone Direct 240-506-2434) over 9 years ago

Good morning Jay you sure can pick a home apart which for me if I'm the seller or buyers agent I appreciate it

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 9 years ago

These lessons will probably go on for a while Barbara M!  I grew up in Kensington and remember when they built Liesure World!

James - thanks!  And if you are the listing agent...?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

There is faux stone all over our area and there seems to be no shortage of accompanying problems.  Are there any builders who consistently get it all right, all the time?

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 9 years ago

Susan - as you know, the builder's product is only as good as the supervisor who is on site every day and the subcontractors the builder hires!  So the answer to your question is...?

In my opinion, faux stone veneer is the new EIFS!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay

I love pointing out the good old, did you read the instructions for this stuff, line.  Most of the time they did not.  Good catch, poor builder, he didnt stand a chance.

Posted by Lee Floyd (Race City Inspections Inc) over 9 years ago

Lee - this is all over the lower level of this house too.  This will be a huge problem to fix, which leads me to believe that the builder will simply trash me and not do it.  I gave my client a link to the diagrams though, so hopefully that will provide him ammo.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Well, Val, I don't know what the eventual prize will be!  If I am stumping the panel, I hope to be educating you!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay, This is why I love reading your posts. I have learned so much and attained important knowledge.

Posted by Jackie Connelly-Fornuff, "Moving at The Speed of YOU!" (Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY) over 9 years ago

Thank you Jackie!  Keep it in there, and one day it will become useful!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I have a faux stone water table in the center front of my home.  When performing routine maintenance of caulk on my home this year, we discovered that, due to faulty joint installation of trim between siding and the stone material, water had penetrated behind the stone. 

Eeeekkkk!!!!  Several pieces, about 10, of the stone had to be removed, trim changed to direct water away from the stone, re-caulk and re-grout, etc., etc. 

Done and fine, but it was time consuming and cost about $500 I didn't intend to spend.  However, ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. 

Water is very destructive and insidious.  Keep it out.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Those diagrams I suggested shows the proper finish for that stuff Lenn.  I think faux stone is the new EIFS due to improper installation and future problems that will result.  And the longer the problems go the more expensive they will be to correct!

Water is THE killer of houses, inside and out.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay...

Another very informative post about proper construction technique. Worse part is, this will be a tough repair once it is necessary.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 9 years ago

Jay.  I agree and of course, following my experience, I'll be extra vigilant when showing homes with this material. 

Clearly, the builder of my home was negligent when installing the trim.  I wonder how many other homes with faux stone have the same problem. 

Oh well.  Just another arrow in my quiver.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

It is tough, Richard.  Ask Lenn, who mentions her problems above.  And she just had a small area.  This particular house, which you have seen before, has this stuff all over!

Lenn - experience, the school of hard knocks, is a cruel, but effective, teacher.  If you look at those diagrams, you see that there are three and sometimes four things between the mortar and any wood materials.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Your posts are very informative. Thanks for the pre home inspection  general education.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) over 9 years ago

Good information. I think there were many similar issues with the "stucco issues" of a few years back, but those problems certainly got a lot of media attention. 

Posted by Jason Rankin, 865.475.3236 (Rankin Real Estate Services) over 9 years ago

Jay, this is a very informative post. What appears to look good is a potential problem down the road. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 9 years ago

I'm glad you are informed Cheryl.  That, after all, is the objective here, isn't it?

Jason - and because of such installation issues, I think stone veneer is the new EIFS (stucco).

Michael - it does look good.  But ain't!  And with so much of it on this house, it is a big problem.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

You should write a book for new homeowners who are looking to make improvements to their home.

Posted by James McGary (Agents Set Free, Inc) over 9 years ago

Thanks James, and that may just be in the works...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, short cuts are shortcuts. I would have thought that a lintel would have been used to keep the stone weight off of the window frame as well.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 9 years ago

Jay, me thinks there will be no "fixing" that problem----it falls intot he "redo" category.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Ed - there really is no stone weight.  Those are faux stones, and while made of concrete, the concrete has an admix of fiberglass in it.  It literally glues to the wall.  So there is no weight underneath.  That pediment detail is just a decoration.

Charlie - yeah, ye thinks right, which is why I gave my client a couple of links so he could see how it should have been done.  I would demand it be changed and done right, but that will be some fight.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Faux stone would seem to be a big problem if it has been incorrectly installed. EIFS was in the beginning "correctly" installed and the problems were unforeseen. Big difference in my opinion. What you're showing is a complete lack by the installer of educating themselves and quality of work. Which the way I'm seeing it, the installer will do schluck work no matter what he does.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Very important since faux stone is huge in your part of the country where weather and elements are 3 seasons long. We don't have a lot of faux stone veneers in our area. We have more stucco and wood siding. We do however have stone veneers as decorative accents on the lower one third of most of our houses in the area. I'm going to have to go check them out now to see how they've been applied! I even have it on my own house! Happy Thanksgiving...

Posted by Christianne O'Malley, Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno! (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 9 years ago

Jay,

This is one that I see over and over again at new construction. Here, mainly, it ends up being installed at a couple areas, both sides of the attached garage vehicle door and, almost never, is there a flashing....just mortar to wood. I call it out but nobody cares but it will be a problem for them down the road.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

This is some very valuable information.  Thank you for taking the time to put this together.  One of the agents on my team will benefit from this for an upcoming showing on a partially rennovated home.

Posted by Barbara Hensley, Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas (RE/MAX Properties) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay -- Wow, this seems like it could really be expensive if all the touch points had to be completely redone.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) over 9 years ago

Jay - And consumers wonder why homes just don't seem to be built like they used to be--In many cases, they're not.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 9 years ago

Hello Jay-

 

My father and I have built many homes in our area, a lot of which have used stone veneers.  It is definitely a skilled trade to set all the stones.  Not an occupation where shortcuts should be taken.  It will only lead to a lower home price because of problems and even a lawsuit.

 

wszczk

Posted by Michael Woszczak over 9 years ago

Jay, thank you for another lesson in "what not to do when building or remodeling a house".  These posts are fascinating!

Posted by Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale, WendeByTheBay.com - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula (Wende Schoof) over 9 years ago

Agreed Jim.  They WERE installing EIFS correctly.  I say this is the "new" EIFS because it will multiply into many houses with the same issues.  

Can you imagine - gluing styrofoam to plywood with no way to breath and they were thinking that was installed properly!?  Oh, gee, maybe it needs to eliminate moisture!

Christianne - sometimes on the lower third like that they are glued directly to concrete foundation walls, which would not be a problem with moisture and likely would not abut much wood.

Steve - all we can do is observe and report.  Later, with the inevitable phone call, we can say that it was warned about, but by then nobody thinks we are prophets!

Barbara- I am glad it might help you!  That, of course, is the objective here!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Chris - it WOULD be a lot of work, should be builder roll over and do it.  I think everyone might end up hoping it is not an issue until much later.

John - certainly not in this case!  In my grandmother's neighborhood, built up in the 19 teens, the stucco houses were stucco and mortar!  The stone was stone!  And the original wood siding on my grandmother's house, circa 1910, is still there!

Thanks Michael.  No short cuts work in this case.  And, you would know!

And I am glad you are fascinated Wende!  That would compliment any home inspector!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Thank you Jay... It is always nice to hear the finer points! Best, Gay

Posted by Gay E. Rosen, As Real as Real Estate Gets! (Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago

Thanks so much.  This is very informative and we have a fair amount of the stone veneer in this area.

Posted by Faye Y. Taylor, Homes for Sale Floresville, La Vernia & San Antoni (StepStone Realty, LLC ) over 9 years ago

Gay - sometimes those are the most important points!

Faye - then I hope to contribute something to your knowledge base so you have some ammo when you look at those houses!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

As usual, a very informative post. Thanks.

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) over 9 years ago

Thank you Gregory.  Take the information and go and do that voodoo that you do so well...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

The level of detail in the installation manual diagrams is interesting.  It looks like it takes someone with some knowledge to get this right.

I will have to go home this evening and check out the transitions from my siding and garage door trim to my stone veneer to see if it was done correctly.  Fortunately there is less than 50 sq ft of it.

Thanks for another interesting post in this continuing saga.

Posted by Mike Weber, 40+ years in Northern Colorado (Keller Williams Realty Northern Colorado) over 9 years ago

Saga indeed Mike!  Yes, properly done this stuff is not easy.  But certainly it isn't something that requires slapping in a wood detail and surrounding it with mortar.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Proper installations for all systems and components related to a house...is all we can wish for, that is what I am asking Santa for.

Posted by T Doe over 9 years ago

Santa is a good guy Thomas.  If you have been good, I am sure he will come through for you.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Dang, that is interesting...  I never thought about the fact that it should be primed and painted BEFORE that.  Great post, as always!

Posted by Chris Alston, Silicon Valley, California (Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California)) over 9 years ago

Aw shucks, Chris.  Yes, always primed and painted BEFORE.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Too bad about this install. You know what the builder will say: "can't see it from my house."

Posted by Robert Slick, NRBA, RDCPro, Trident/CCAR MLS (Beach and River Homes) over 9 years ago

Jay,

You are giving us a great education!

Posted by Renée Montgomery, Northern Virginia Real Estate (Century 21 New Millennium) over 9 years ago

How unfortunate.  That's going to be one expensive fix... I'm assuming they didn't just get one window wrong, right?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Nothing in construction is ever as simple as it looks....here we say that the faux bricks...inside (frequently used for fireplaces) are buttered...mmmmm with great care in application!

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

Robert - the supervisor will say that this is all acceptable practice.  I say, show him (and his subs) the diagrams!

Renee - I am happy you feel that way.  That is the objective here!

Reuben - right, all wrong, or yes, they were all wrong, right, or geez, now I'm really confused.  That's right, they were all wrong.  Or left...?  Geez...

S&D - I think faux anything, especially "marble" on columns and walls, looks less than stellar.  And those Z-bricks you are referring to are one of mankind's banes!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

It really is sad how poorly the "new construction" home are built.  My client had rotten wood and mold all beneath the stone facade of their home due to improper installation.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 9 years ago

Justin - this is a common problem, and apparently nationwide.  This stuff is not easy to install and people with it have lots of problems.  I call it the new EIFS...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Part of the problem with "Do it your selfer's" is they don't realize how intricate a project can be to actually do it right. So, they end up cutting corners after starting to avoid damaging their pride.....

Posted by Sam Fischer over 9 years ago

This is new construction Sam!  That installer was a PRO!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Just another case of cutting corners trying to say a few pennies.  What ever happened to taking pride in your work and doing it right the first time? I see a lot of this with bathroom tile.  Great post!

 

Posted by Mark Woodward, We bring the flooring store to your door (Floor Coverings International) over 9 years ago

This wasn't simply a case of cutting corners.  This is all over the house Mark.  Do they even know how to do it right?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, thanks for pointing out what to look out for in stone veneer installations, as well as posting a photo that demonstrates an incorrect installation. I'm going to re-blog this, as I think this is something most people overlook when buying a home. :)

Leilani

Posted by Bob & Leilani Souza, Greater Sacramento Area Homes, Land & Investments (Souza Realty 916.408.5500) over 9 years ago

Leilani - most people would look at that and see a well placed piece of trim and mortar carefully placed around it.  But that's not correct!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

I wonder if contractors think that flashing is just not what it is billed to be, or is it just too darn expensive for them to use and install. I am amazed if I find a home that is properly flashed. I had one very close not too long ago but the deck ruined it. I guess different sub there.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Don - flashing is quite the foreign concept for some people!  Especially, it seems, faux stone siding "pros."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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