Many homeowners want the elegance of a stone wall, column, or fireplace but don’t want to pay the high price tag that comes along with it. I recommend a more affordable alternative: natural stone or lightweight manufactured veneers. Stone veneers are extremely versatile, especially when it comes to things like fireplace designs. You can apply them to masonry blocks, poured concrete walls, or plywood sheathing

    This step-by-step guide will explain exactly how to install your stone veneer siding to beautifully upgrade your home.

    1. Get the Materials

    This project requires a few materials, some of which you may not have lying around the house. However, you should be able to find everything you need at your local big box store.

    Here’s what to get: 

    • Quikrete Veneer Stone Mortar, Quikrete Polymer Modified Veneer Stone Mortar, or Quikrete Natural Stone Veneer Mortar
    • Veneer stone or natural stone
    • Grade D waterproof building paper
    • Galvanized, self-furring, expanded metal lath (at least 2.5 pounds)
    • Galvanized nails or staples
    • Pneumatic staple gun
    • Mason’s hammer or wide-mouth nipper (optional)
    • Square trowel
    • Chisel
    • Bucket
    • Steel bristle brush or metal rake
    • Straight edge tool
    • Whisk brush
    • Grout bag
    • Jointing tool
    • Gloves
    • Safety glasses

    2. Prep Your Project

    Before beginning this project, check local building codes and ensure you understand wall assembly and moisture barrier requirements. Then, select the veneers that fit your style. Your local home center likely has many options available.

    Next, calculate how many veneers you need. It’s simple: multiply the width of the project area by the height and subtract the square footage of anything that will not be covered with veneers, such as windows, doors, and corner pieces. I suggest increasing that estimate by 5% to 10% to provide leeway for cutting and trimming.

    Now, prep the project area. If you’re adding veneers to an exterior surface exposed to the elements, apply two layers of grade D waterproof building paper over the rigid wall sheathing. Applying veneers to unpainted concrete or masonry surfaces doesn’t require building paper and metal laths.

    3. Install Waterproof Building Paper

    Before installing stone veneer on exterior walls, add grade D waterproof building paper. Overlap the paper’s vertical seams by 6 inches and horizontal seams by 4 inches in shingle fashion. Extend the paper 16 inches around all corners to provide a moisture barrier between the veneers and wall sheathing.

    4. Attach Metal Lath Over Building Paper

    After placing the building paper, install a galvanized expanded metal lath over the entire surface, using galvanized nails or staples every 6 inches vertically and horizontally. The fasteners must penetrate the studs at least 1 inch, and the lath should extend 16 inches around all corners. The rigid metal lath provides a strong base for the veneer mortar.

    5. Plan Your Stone Veneer Layout

    This is where you can get creative. Place your veneers on the ground to determine the pattern you want. Pick pieces of varying sizes, shapes, and colors to add variety. I recommend placing large stones beside smaller ones and thick stones beside thinner ones for a natural look.

    Take time to plan the arrangement and make adjustments until satisfied.

    6. Apply the Mortar Scratch Coat

    Mix Quikrete’s Veneer Stone Mortar by hand or machine based on project size. Using a square trowel, apply a half-inch coat to the wall’s foundation. Scratch the area horizontally with a steel bristle brush or metal rake. Allow the mortar to set hard while working in 5-foot sections before moving to other areas. (Always wear gloves and safety glasses when working with cement-based products.)

    This scratch coat provides a rough texture for the veneer stones to adhere to. Let it cure completely before the next steps.

    7. Attach the Veneer Stones

    It’s time to adhere the veneer stones. Dampen each stone veneer’s back, apply half an inch of mortar to each, and firmly press the stones onto the wall, rocking back and forth until mortar squeezes out. Position the stones so their joints are no more than half an inch wide. Let the excess mortar dry, then remove droppings with a dry whisk brush to avoid tough stains.

    8. Fill Gaps with Mortar

    Once the veneer stones are in place, grout the gaps between them using mortar to give the project a clean, cohesive, and finished look.

    Carefully fill the joints with Veneer Stone Mortar using a grout bag. Be sure to grout only the gaps, not the stones’ surfaces. For colored mortar, add Quikrete Liquid Cement Color to the gray mortar before grouting. This provides a decorative accent matching or contrasting the stone color.

    9. Tool the Mortar Joints

    Once grouted joints are thumbprint hard, use a joining tool to remove excess mortar and smooth the joints for a clean, professional look. This also compresses the mortar tightly into the joints. 

    Key Tips for Installing Stone Veneer Siding

    Follow these tips and tricks to ensure your stone veneer project succeeds:

    • Work in small sections for the easiest mortar application and stone adherence
    • Vary stone sizes, textures, and colors for a natural look
    • Ensure veneers have a rough backside to grip the mortar
    • Keep mortar joints less than half an inch wide
    • Allow proper curing time between steps
    • Thoroughly brush and tool all mortar joints

    How To Maintain Stone Veneers

    Stone veneers need very little maintenance once properly installed. Here’s how to keep them looking new: 

    • Annually inspect for loose or damaged pieces
    • Reapply mortar to any gaps appearing between veneers and wall
    • Use a stone cleaner/sealer product yearly for protection
    • Avoid pressure washing, which can damage mortar joints
    • Re-point mortar joints as needed to prevent moisture issues
    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Quality stone veneers can last 50 years or more with proper installation and occasional maintenance. If you need to repair mortar on your veneer, use Quickrete Zip & Mix Repair Mortar.

    So, Is Stone Veneer Siding a Good Choice?

    Stone veneer siding is an excellent choice for homeowners who want the natural beauty of stone at an affordable price. The lightweight veneers install much easier than full natural stone. Focus on selecting quality veneers with depth and color variation for a realistic look and take time to properly plan the arrangement and install each veneer.

    If you have the tools, materials, and time to devote to the project, go for it. Just carefully follow each step. Or, hire a professional installer to ensure proper adhesion and longevity to save time and effort. Either way, enhancing your home with stone veneers increases curb appeal and property value — and you’ll have a home you love and enjoy.

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    FAQs About Stone Veneer Siding

    What is the best stone veneer thickness?

    1 to 1.5 inches is ideal. Thinner veneers are more prone to damage, while thicker ones are excessively heavy.

    How is stone veneer attached?

    Veneers adhere to walls using mortar, similar to tiles. Don’t use nails since they can crack natural stone.

    How long does stone veneer installation take?

    Professionals can usually install stone veneers in 2-3 days. DIY projects typically spread across two weekends or longer.

    Does stone veneer add value?

    Stone veneers can increase the house’s curb appeal, which increases value.

    How much does stone veneer siding cost?

    Stone veneer siding costs $10 to $50 per square foot installed. The cost depends on the veneer type, accessibility, labor, and other factors.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Doug Sluga

    Doug Sluga

    Doug Sluga is a professional roofer and carpenter with ten years of experience in residential and commercial construction. His expertise spans the breadth of the roofing trade from minor repairs to laying shingles to framing trusses. These days he spends most of his time writing about roofing and the roofing industry.

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    Lori Zaino

    Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

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