7 Ways to Use Natural Stone to Increase Your Home's Value
By Megy Karydes
Photo courtesy of Coldspring.
officially arrived, as has the busy real estate season. First
impressions count if you have your house on the market. Even if you're
not selling your home, you might be wondering what updates or upgrades
will increase the value of your home.
homeowners might pause at the cost of natural stone compared to other
materials. What they don't always consider is that not only does natural
stone add more value to a home, its longevity is unmatched. "Stone does
not break down and can stand the test of time. Stone features are there
for the long haul, which you cannot say for other materials," says Jan
Johnsen, co-principal of Johnsen Landscapes & Pools, a design/project management firm and author of The Spirit of Stone.
Our experts share seven ways that natural stone can help boost your home's value at any budget, both indoors and outdoors.
Using Natural Stone in Your Home's Exterior
Jerusulem Grey Gold Limestone. Photo courtesy of Lurvey Supply.
1. Wide Stone Walk to Front Door. Wide walks accent the front of a house and make it appear more stately, says Johnsen.
2. Limestone Details.
While limestone may be more expensive than brick or other common
materials, it will always add more value and more than pay for itself,
according to Derek DiSera, a real estate broker with @Properties
in Chicago. He recommends using limestone pavers to create walkways and
steps, or adding limestone to windowsills, crown moldings, or front
stairs. "All of these have a timeless appeal and a much wider appeal to
most buyers," he says.
Photo courtesy of Vaughn DeWitt.
3. Stone Paving to Backyard Patio. The durability of stone,
coupled with its authentic appeal, makes stone paving a desirable feature for
outdoor living and definitely a plus to a potential buyer.
4. A Low Stone Wall. For those on a budget, a
low stone wall around two sides of a corner of the rear patio creates a "sheltered corner" where people can congregate, which is very inviting and
changes the look of the backyard.
Using Natural Stone in Your Home's Interior
As one would expect, most of the projects indoors involve the kitchen
and bath. A complete overhaul isn't required to increase a home's
value. DiSera often visits tile stores with his clients to pick out
materials that will help increase resale value.
"Whether they plan on selling immediately or not, it's always best to
bring someone objective that can give you a sense of the marketability
of any of the choices they are going to make," he says. Choosing the
right materials could mean the difference of tens of thousands of
dollars in resale value.
What You Should Know About Natural Thin Stone Veneer
Vaughn DeWitt AAA Natural Stone
All photos courtesy of Plymouth Quarries. (AAA NATURAL STONE)
thin stone veneer. (AAA NATURAL STONE)
If you are
in the construction business, I'm sure you are always asking yourself
how you can take what you do and make it better - whether it's
installation, developing new products and techniques, or finding more
efficient ways to get the job done. We have to keep up with the times,
and time seems to be moving quickly. Natural thin stone veneer is not
new to the market, but it has been growing at a very rapid pace. If you
are in the stone industry, you know about all the uses and applications
of natural thin stone veneer. If you're not in the industry or the
construction field, then there is probably a lot you don't know. For
those of you who are not familiar with natural thin stone veneer, here
is a quick introduction.
Tuscan Blend Natural Stone Veneer
stone veneer is real stone cut to approximately one inch thickness,
weighing no more than fifteen pounds per square foot. This is important
because it enables your contractor the ability to install stone without
building a block or concrete base that has to support the weight of a
full bed stone. Full bed veneers are stones that range from four to six
inches and are used in any vertical application. They can weigh up to
fifty-five pounds per square foot, which is a lot of weight to support.
This is one of the reasons why natural thin stone veneer has become so
popular. Another great thing about natural thin stone veneer is most
products have corner pieces, which means if the job is done right it
should look just like a full bed veneer.
of color and cut have increased dramatically with the growth of the
business and with more players coming into the marketplace. The cut is
very important in your design, so let's break it down.
Liberty Hill natural thin stone veneer. (AAA RIVER ROCK VENEER )
These are natural shaped round and ovals that have a balance of size.
They're great for that old farm look or for Oceanside communities. Farm
walls or country fireplaces are a very desirable look, especially in the
northeast and mountain areas.
Square and Rectangular:
This cut enables you to get an excellent ratio of size which is a plus
for larger applications. It's a great choice for a classic "old world"
This is rustic or a finely cut shape; a very universal cut that can be
used in most applications large and small. It has a balance of size but
not as dramatic as the square and rectangular.
Ledge cuts are smaller in width two to four inches and have varying
lengths. If used alone they can create a "stacked" look and are an
excellent choice for contemporary designs.
This is a cut with points and angular shapes that have a mix of large,
medium, and small sizes. Mosaic is another great option for larger areas
where you can show the contrast of the shapes and size.
point on cut: you don't have to be married to just one. Some of the best
stone work has a mix of all cuts, so if you are bold in your design,
mix it up!
Multi-colored round natural thin stone veneer.
about application. To make it simple, I use this rule: "Masonry on
Masonry." Natural thin stone veneer cannot be applied to wood, drywall,
or any other surface that is not masonry. It must have some kind of
moisture barrier, unless being applied to a solid concrete surface. The
mortar mixes you use to set the stone is also very important. There are a
lot of great products on the market that are made for thin stone
installation. Some are premixed mortars with everything you need in the
mix. There are also different types of fortifiers on the market that are
used to mix in the mortar to give them a stronger bond and more flex
for changes in temperature and moisture. Most natural thin stone veneer
suppliers will have all this information in their brochures and on their
websites. The more you educate yourself on the stone, cuts, and
installation the better off you will be. When you hire your contractor, you will have enough information to ask the right questions, get the
look you want, and save you and your contractor a lot of leg work.
incorporate stone in any type of construction, whether it's commercial,
residential, inside, or outside, nothing can compare to real natural
stone. Rustic, high end, contemporary, or something in between, natural
stone is a must for any design and natural thin stone veneer can make
any job happen.
Why Build Green?
Constructing buildings in an environmentally-considerate way requires
careful thought and planning. However, the payback from a green
building far outweighs this price. Conventional building practices
consume large quantities of energy and water, while generating excessive
air emissions and waste streams; these impacts are also caused by
product manufacturing. Moreover, indoor air quality can be impaired when
unhealthy building materials are employed.
Implementing green building techniques reduces impacts on the
environment and human health during both construction and operation of a
structure, as well as during production of building materials. If this
harm is not reason enough to build responsibly, consider the financial
aspect. Resource consumption and medical care can become expensive for
the builder, the material manufacturer, and the employer of those
working in the structure.
The Natural Stone Industry's Sustainability Standard:
After many years, and a great investment of time and resources, the
natural stone industry is able to tell the world about its
sustainability standard. This standard will assure architects,
landscape architects, designers, contractors, owners and others that
there is verifiable data to compare natural stone with other competitive
products in this rapidly changing green building environment.
The purpose of the Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension
Stone is to recognize sustainability practices in the natural stone
industry - practices many members already follow but don't document or
promote. This voluntary standard will eventually give quarries and
primary processing plants the ability to certify their operations (and
subsequently their stones) as sustainable. Third party verification of
conformance to a set of well-defined environmental, ecological, social
responsibility and human health metrics will be required. To date, the
stone industry has not been able to compete on a level playing field
with other industries that already have a standard like this in place
such as wood, tile and carpet.
In collaboration with the Natural Stone Council and Ecoform, NSF
International (NSF) convened a Standards Committee for development of an
American National Standard for the sustainable development aspects of
dimensional stone production. The Standards Committee reviewed Public
Comments for action in accordance with accepted ANSI criteria.
Designated as NSC 373, the Standard is intended to offer the following
benefits to the stone industry:
- Establish a set of well-defined environmental and human health
metrics recognized by the green building movement as an indicator of
leadership sustainability performance.
- Provide an important opportunity to educate key members of the green
building movement, government, and environmental advocacy groups about
the production of stone products.
- Create a mechanism that rewards natural stone companies that
demonstrate environmental leadership through commitment to sustainable
operations and continued innovation.
- Proactively address potential stone-related environmental and human
health concerns in a multi-stakeholder, science based forum (i.e. radon,
- Harmonize national and international environmental requirements for stone quarrying and production.
- Encourage transparent chain of custody reporting in support of LEED credits
- Create parity between stone and other competitive products covered by existing certification programs.
This Standard defines Environmentally Preferable Manufacturing
Practices (EPMP's) for the quarrying and manufacture of dimensional
stone products, and establishes baseline requirements for EPMP's
applicable to all stone manufacturers and processors. Specifically, the
standard defines criteria that consider the social, environmental, and
human health impacts associated with the dimensional, natural stone
product life-cycle including but not limited to the quarrying and
manufacturing life-cycle stages. Because stone is quarried in countries
around the world, the scope of the standard includes both North American
and International quarries and processing facilities, and considers
logistics and transportation issues during criteria development. The
standard will assist in the determination of whether a dimensional stone
product has been produced and transported in an environmentally
preferable manner consistent with the principles of sustainability.
The standard focuses on North American based stone products and
operations, but is developed with the participation and cooperation of
the international stone community and is the basis for expanding to a
proposed international-based ISO certification. Criteria define both
environmentally preferable products and stone production operations.
We can especially do our part to contribute to responsible building
by providing materials that have been quarried and processed in an
environmentally-conscious manner. Further, we are exploring the
implications of natural stone application during the use phase and
beyond, particularly with regard to durability, solar reflectance, and
salvage and reuse. This work addresses the entire life-cycle of natural
stone, substantiating on a holistic level the position of natural stone
as a green building material.
Implementing Best Practices:
Water Consumption, Treatment, and Reuse.
Water management is integral to achieving sustainable practices and
is increasingly becoming a high priority in any industry. This is due to
new and existing water resources becoming more scarce in many regions
throughout the world; per capita water consumption is increasing
annually; water and sewer rates have increased significantly over the
last decade (100-400%); and new water supply options are too costly or
even unavailable. There is also the growing recognition of the water,
energy, and operations and maintenance savings that can be realized
through the implementation of water saving strategies. Read Best Practice: Water Consumption
Site Maintenance and Quarry Closure:
Extracting stone can be an arduous endeavor that affects the local
ecosystem and community on a number of levels. Not unlike any
development (commercial, residential, government, etc.), quarry
operations can greatly modify landscape and topography, can impact
wildlife populations, and require supplemental quantities of water and
energy. Additionally, potential occupational health and safety risks may
exist for quarry employees, and local residents may experience noise
and vibrations. Responsible site maintenance, however, can make a
remarkable difference in the magnitude of these impacts. Read Best Practice: Site Maintenance and Quarry Closure
Solid Waste Management:
Solid waste management is a fundamental component to any
manufacturing or production enterprise. The natural stone industry is
unique in that the majority of its solid waste stream is its raw
material. It is estimated that 175 million tons of quarrying waste are
produced each year,1 and although a portion of this waste may be
utilized on-site, such as for excavation pit refill or berm
construction, it is often difficult to find a use for all scrap stone
and fines produced. Coupling this with the industry's other waste
streams, such as heavy equipment, wastewater sludge, and general site
trash, it is necessary that every operation in the natural stone
industry develop and abide by a waste management plan.
Through implementation of a proactive waste management strategy;
unnecessary fines, occupational exposure and environmental degradation
can be avoided. Additionally, opportunity exists for companies to
distinguish themselves as a socially responsible and environmentally
considerate operation. This document provides approaches to achieve such
practices at a quarry or fabrication facility. Read Best Practice: Solid Waste Management
Implementing transportation management promotes shipment efficiency,
ultimately minimizing negative impacts to the environment and reducing
costs. A comprehensive and proactive transport strategy can also improve
carrier-shipper relations and enhance the quarry or processing
facility's repute for social responsibility. In fact, a FedEx
transportation benchmark study demonstrated that higher customer service
level and lower transport expenses were seen in companies with a
strategic transportation plan (Younkin 2006). Read Best Practice: Transportation