Stone Definitions

Flagstone, Steppers, Veneers, Full Veneer, Thin Veneer, Façade, Wainscot. What are the meanings of all of these? Some people can become confused when talking about their projects, and the contractor or the supplier may end up installing the wrong product, because their definition is different from the homeowner! Great Lakes Stone is committed to serving our customers in every way we can. Here we are going to talk about the different definitions of some of the more common terminology in the stone world, at least in our world. We hope this will help us all be on the same page when we are planning and ordering the stone for your project.

Flat pieces of stone, ranging in thickness from 1”-3”, and diameters over 2’x2’. These are usually used for larger patios, walkways, driveways, or as single stepping stones.

The same stones as flagstone, but the diameters are less than 2’ x 2’. Usually used for smaller patios, walkways, or as single stepping stones. Also small garden walls can be built with steppers

Ponding Slabs:
These stones are similar to flagstone, usually thicker, 3-5” thick. Used for a low rise, long run step, or in a water feature.

These are usually heavy wall stone, longer than they are tall,

Generally 5”-8” thick, flat tops, and usually 2’x2’ and bigger. These can be cut into perfect steps, or left natural for a more rustic touch.

Garden Walls:
Usually less than 2’ tall, generally used to retain dirt around a tree, or garden. More fashion than function!

Free Standing Walls:
Made out of flat top and bottom wall stone, double sided for stability, used for accents, borders, and seat benches.

Retaining Walls:
A wall made out of stone, or concrete retaining wall block, that hold back, or “retains” earth, usually in a change of elevation. These are usually dry stacked walls, with a packed gravel base. This will allow the wall to move with the earth. In cold climates, like the Northland, you should not use mortar to build these walls. When the ground freezes, it will expand in a path of least resistance, and UP is usually the least resistance. (My guess is that it is easier to lift a house or a wall or air, than to push the earth down!) and any movement in your wall will result in cracking, and a crumbled pile of rubble in a few short years.

Poured/Veneer Walls:
This application requires a footing below the frost line, and a block or poured wall built up to grade or your desired height. Then you can install the stone of your choice to the wall, either full veneer, thin veneer, or manufactured stone. This is a very sturdy wall, but costly, as you need to excavate to below frost, (6’ here in the Northland), then form and pour a footing with rebar, then build a block wall, or form and pour a concrete or icf (insulated concrete form) wall.

This is a general term to describe a facing, usually on the front of your home. This does not mean fake, or a thin layer, like in re-facing countertops!

Full Veneer:
This is a full thickness stone, usually has a “bed-depth” 3-6” thick, that has not been cut thin. This application requires a footing, or brick ledge to carry the weight of the stone. Full thickness stone usually has a coverage of about 30-40 sq ft per ton, or weighs 50-70 lbs per sq foot! This application is usually reserved for the professionals. The cost of this stone is usually much less expensive the thin veneer, but the labor costs drive it back up to be comparable.

Thin Veneer:
This is a full stone that has been cut with a diamond saw, usually 1-2” thick, and according to IRC (International Residential Building Code) weighs less than 15 lbs per sq foot. This stone gets applied directly to the wall, using the same application as a manufactured stone, or “faux” stone. Outside corners are also cut thin. This process has opened a whole new market for real stone. Years ago, if you wanted a real stone fireplace in the living room on the main floor, with a basement, you would need to build a footing into your basement or crawlspace, and then build the foundation all the way to the bottom of the fireplace, or to the top of the chimney. Since thin veneer only weighs a fraction of full veneer, you no longer need a footing to get real stone on your home or second floor fireplace!

Manufactured Stone:
Many people call this cultured stone, but that is actually a brand name, much like Zipper, or Kleenex. To make this stone, the manufacturers take a real stone, cut it to the desired thickness, usually 1-2” thick, and pour a rubber mold over the faces. When the rubber dries, it is a nearly identical replica of the real stone! Then they pour a colored concrete into the mold. After it is cured, it is ready to “stick” to the wall!