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Zeigh 11-28-2012 12:49 AM

Custom Cut Natural Stone Veneer Project

I am seriously considering installing natural stone veneer to my 10 year old stucco home (in Northern Arizona), but actually using the sandstone rocks on my property to do it with. Yup, I know that it would be allot of work to find the stone, carry it back, cut it, shape it, arrange it, then slap it onto the home, but I really want to integrate the house with the terrain ascetically and ecologically. Unfortunately, I am unable to find much information on doing this to such a raw degree.

My main cutting tool would be a 14 inch cut-off saw with a diamond blade for cutting the stone flat on the attachment side. A hammer and a variety of chisels would be used otherwise. Of course, other power tools would be used to rough up the existing painted stucco, but the main ingredient in the whole project would be patience and elbow grease.

So, any suggestions?

Dr. Z.

user1007 11-28-2012 07:09 AM

First, will the Arizona Department of Natural Resources let you do it? In some places, even if the stone is "harvested" from your own property you are not allowed to use it in the manner you have in mind. For good reason, Arizona is rather fussy about messing with its natural environment.

As far as the material. As I remember, Arizona sandstone is fairly soft. Is it the best choice for a building veneer? I honestly do not know. Is it used commonly used for building facings and veneers? Will it take the constant contraction and expansion that stone must on a surface?

Obviously winters here are more brutal but even things like marble skins on skyscrapers have a life span and have had to come off during mine for replacement because of warping and shape changing due to weather. It is quite a feat to remove/replace 100 stories or more of stone!

As far as tools, it sounds like you have explored and know what will work. I would just comb the lapidary and stone cutting sites for other things that may come in handy. You will no doubt learn much about the natural grain of rock and how to work with it as you go along.

Zeigh 11-28-2012 09:48 AM


Originally Posted by sdsester (Post 1062190)
First, will the Arizona Department of Natural Resources let you do it?


Wow, what a great point to bring up (and one of the reasons that I so appreciate this community of help). Thanks! I will investigate that possibility more before I do anything else. Arizona Government is in their own little world anyhow, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised if there is a bureaucratic hurdle to jump or dodge.

I guess that I also need to talk to a geologist, as all the masons that I have chatted with only have experience with manufactured brick/stone. There has to be a true "old school" craftsman around here somewhere.

Dr. Z.

user1007 11-28-2012 01:55 PM

Your library may have information about regional stone cutters and masons familar with the natural material. The other thing I did not mention and that you may not know until you get into it is about reasonable expectations as far as the useable yield of veneer out of each stone. Depending on the veining and grain of the stone, you may be in for either less or more hauling of raw material than you think.

Adobe out of the question?

Tscarborough 11-28-2012 05:44 PM

Aside from Arizona law, sandstone has a grain and usually has to be worked with that in mind. For an adhered veneer, you will need to keep the weight below 14#'s per square ft. You may want to play around with some, cutting it to various thicknesses to find out how thick VS how fragile it will be in your desired shape of stone, then weighing a SqFt to see if it is even possible.

joecaption 11-28-2012 05:47 PM

I would love to be there just to watch someone tying to cut it with common power tools.
How would you even hold it while cutting?

Tscarborough 11-28-2012 05:59 PM

He didn't say common power tools, he said 14" cutoff saw. You do not hold it, you shave off sections of it.

Tscarborough 11-28-2012 06:01 PM

Like this:

joecaption 11-29-2012 12:19 AM

"sandstone rocks on my property to do it with"

I know how to cut a slab, kind of tricky to try and cut a boulder.

Tscarborough 11-29-2012 06:58 AM

Sandstone generally fractures in planes, i.e. slabs.

user1007 11-29-2012 08:39 AM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 1062800)
"sandstone rocks on my property to do it with"

I know how to cut a slab, kind of tricky to try and cut a boulder.

People with lapidary equipment and quarries do it all day long Joe.

I still worry the yield the OP can actually expect out of each stone. I expect there may be a fair amount of waste but no way to tell from here.

Tscarborough 11-29-2012 09:00 AM

It depends upon the style he wants. If flag, probably 10-20%, if ledge, probably 70-80 percent waste.

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