So you’ve built that concrete block wall to fence off the wildlife that’s wreaking havoc in your yard and garden. After looking at it for a while you’ve decided that it needs an aesthetic upgrade. You liked the idea of a real stone dry stacked wall from the beginning, but you built the wall out of concrete block because it was a lot less expensive than purchasing what comes out of the ground. Somehow you wish you had gone for the real stuff, but the budget was just not there. So what are your options? How about stone veneers? If you’re new to veneers, think of them like a thin slice of bread out of a whole loaf – used as a facing material (not structural) on walls and floors. This could be the perfect solution to keep you in budget and get the look you’re after.
Right here in Tucson is a company called Arizona Stone . Brick . Pavers (ASBP). It stocks a huge selection of man-made or “manufactured” (as it’s known in the industry) stone products including veneers. For the budget-conscious consumer, veneer products typically cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 – $8/sq. ft. But if you’re after the “natural” (real rock cut from the earth) veneers – which ASBP also stocks – plan on paying $10 – $25/sq. (these prices are the product cost only and do not include installation).
The man-made material is amazing when compared to natural stone. First; it’s hard to tell the difference; it’s less expensive per square foot; it’s easier to cut and install; weighs less; is usually easier to source, and has a quality that is predictable/consistent.
When I arrived at the store I found myself in the midst of a giant outdoor sample room. I couldn’t believe that manufactured stone products came in so many different colors, sizes, patterns, textures, and types. When looking at the displays it was virtually impossible (at least for me) to tell the difference between a natural rock and one that had been manufactured. From dry-stacked walls to irregularly shaped stones, from thin brick to floor tile. If it went on a vertical or horizontal surface, there seemed to be almost infinite possibilities.
Manufactured stone products are made from a combination of water, cement, aggregates, and iron oxides (the “base color”) – all mixed together into a slurry. The stone’s “face color” is deposited into each mold before the slurry is poured onto it. Variations in the stone’s front-facing color are a function of how much and what type of color is added. This process is often done by hand to create individual uniqueness from stone to stone.
I’ve clearly spent a lot of time talking about manufactured products. But Arizona Stone . Brick . Pavers carries a lot of other products too*:
- A full line of “Natural” stone products (veneers, tiles, pavers)
- Landscape & Driveway pavers
- Distressed wood beams
- Slim concrete overlays
- Fire bowls & tables
- Old Texas brick
- Full/Thin brick
- * Not all products are in stock, but can be ordered. My recommendation is to call the Tucson Design Center 520-888-9264 to see if they carry what you want. If you’re in the, “I’ll know it when I see it” frame of mind, then a trip to the Design Center is your best bet – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
If you’re interested in fully exploring their website, you’ll need to create an account. I did and it let me peruse what they had to offer. It’s a place where you’ll find a lot of pictures of different products – either used for a specific project or as a stand-alone material photo. And if you want to contact the company via online correspondence, the website has a contact form (not a direct email address).
While exploring the outside labyrinth of the many products that Arizona Stone . Brick . Pavers offers, I was met by a very friendly saleswoman who asked me a bunch of questions about my project and what I was interested in. Based on my example above – If I wanted to apply a manufactured veneer to a concrete wall, I was drawn to the Coronado (Profile: Mountain Strip, Color: Renaissance) that I found in one of the outdoor displays (see pic). But I told her that there were so many great products in the manufactured line, that it was difficult to choose. At that point, she walked inside her office and brought out a hefty catalog by Coronado (manufactured stone, brick and tile products) and three other brochures on natural stone materials. After looking at all four brochures I had a dizzying amount of information. Personally, I felt that my trip to the store was the most valuable vs just looking at the website. I got to see, touch and feel so many of the products and meet with a knowledgable salesperson who could help me as questions arose (and there were a lot of them).
If you’re looking for some pretty cool earthen products to use in your outdoor landscape or home’s interior – then a trip to Arizona Stone . Brick . Pavers is an eye-opener, an education, a place where you can explore to your hearts content, get the help you need, and possibly the supplier you’ve been looking for all along.