Design and Construction Tips

Answers to Your Questions

At Cornerstone Masonry, we get a lot of questions about stone. Read through our FAQs to get answers to some of these questions. If we haven’t answered your question on this page, feel free to get in touch with us.


Q: I know I want stone, but I’m not sure what type of stone


A: If you know you want stonework but you’re not sure what style of stonework you want, take a look at our extensive photo gallery of home exteriors, fireplaces, and walls. 

If the photo gallery doesn’t have what you seek, we can provide websites with more information. We can also direct you to showrooms where you can view samples of the actual stone on mock-up boards.

In addition, we can source natural stone from near and far; locally, from other provinces and from around the world.


Q: How is manufactured stone applied?
A: Manufactured stone still requires mortar and skilled masons to adhere the stones to the wall or structure.

Our first step is to apply cement over water-resistant paper and metal lathe. As the cement dries, grooves are brushed into the fresh scratch coat with a stiff nylon brush.

Next, mortar is applied to the back of the stone (called back buttering), and the stone is pressed firmly onto the wall. As the stone is pressed onto the wall, mortar is squeezed into the grooves of the scratch coat and out along the edges, bonding the stone to the wall and the surrounding stones.

Depending on the type of stone and application pattern, there may or may not be a visible mortar joint. Where there is a visible joint, care is taken to ensure all the joints are of the same width and depth.

Manufactured stone has a fixed number of stone shapes and colours. Typically, there is enough variety in manufactured stone to create a 12-foot-wide section, which then repeats. Our skilled masons always ensure that the final stone pattern looks natural from every vantage point.


Q: How do you apply manufactured stone over stucco?

Application of manufactured stone over stucco

A: If there is an existing stucco finish already on the home, we can use the stucco as our base scratch coat. To prepare the surface, we use a grinder to etch a gridwork of lines into the stucco.


Q: What are the advantages of real stone?
A: Man-made stone is a technological marvel. It's lightweight, inexpensive, and incredibly versatile. When installed correctly, man-made stone is almost indistinguishable from the real thing in many cases.

If you want the real deal, however, nothing surpasses the visual impact of natural, full bed stone. Natural stone is not only beautiful, it can be used as a structural support for walls and roofs – something man-made stone cannot do. When it comes to natural stone used on home exteriors, it will give you an impressive 4- 5 inches of stone depth around windows and other openings. And of course, being the oldest building material known to humanity, its durability is second to none.

If you want your home, fireplace, walls, and gates to reflect quality and permanence, then natural stone is the only choice.


Q: What are the advantages of manufactured stone?
A: 1. You've got the look of full stone for 1/2 the cost and 1/3 the weight.
2. Cost savings – your home design does not have to account for the extra weight of stone.


Q: What makes a good foundation?
A: A good mason has a good foundation, so this applies to application.
1. We install flashing over windows and doors as part of the water shedding process.
2. We use two sheets of paper instead of one. We start from the bottom and go up, making sure of correct paper overlaps to provide proper water shedding.
3. Next, we use wire lathe for all man-made and natural veneer applications. Again there is a 2-inch overlap. There is a right side and a wrong side to install the wire lathe. We also use 2-inch-long staples every 6 to 8 inches, hitting on studs.

With full bed stone, we start with a 4x4 inch angle iron or a brick ledge poured with a foundation – the homeowner will have already planned for full bed (natural) stone. Brick ties must be used in this application.


Q: How do I choose the right stone mason for my project?
A: Here are some things you can ask to ensure you get the right stone mason:
1. Ask for references.
2. Call at least three of the references.
3. Ask to see pictures of past projects.
4. Ask references about the mason's punctuality and follow-through on promised beginning and completion dates.
5. Ask references if the mason kept the work area clean (e.g. no garbage left behind of any kind, such as stone packaging, lunch wrappers, or cigarette butts)
6. Ask if the mason was sensitive to existing woodwork, lawns, flower beds and the like around the home.
7. Ask if the mason and the mason's crew were respectful in terms of their language and demeanor toward you and the other trades.

Stone masonry is an art, but it's also very physically demanding work and therefore it attracts rough and ready individuals. That, however, is no reason the mason you choose shouldn't be respectful of your home or your job site. At Cornerstone Masonry, we pride ourselves on being respectful of your time, your job site, and of your safety, at all times!

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