Instone Army: Where Building Communities Builds Rewards
Work Hard, Play Hard, Get Rewarded
At Instone, hard work, dedication, and building strong relationships are top priorities, and the Instone Army ambassador program reflects that culture.
This program has been instrumental in fostering customer loyalty, boosting sales, and providing valuable insights. Let’s face it, our people are busy with boots on the ground, outside hard at work from sunrise to sunset, so we needed to create something that was as easy to participate in — and almost as rewarding — as cracking open a beer at the end of a day.
As an Instone Army Ambassador, you can look forward to exciting benefits, giveaways, and partnerships that will enhance your experience and help you grow your business.
Instone’s COO/CMO Rob McKay shares his thoughts on the Instone Army’s bright future.
Has the Instone Army helped the company to make business decisions based on customer insights, requests, and behavior?
Yes! The program has helped us better connect to both our dealer customers and the craftsmen that install our products. We have begun to create a community that shares ideas, shows off their incredible work, and offers insight into what is important to our customers.
We’ve taken the approach of listening to the community, discovering new products, creating solutions that fill the voids, and solving challenges.
What benefits are there of being part of the Instone Army Community?
The community is a place where contractors, masons, and builders can come together and share their ideas, projects, and expertise. Through the Instone Army community section, they can submit activities, share their projects, and tell us what they love (and don’t) about what we do.
We’re all about team building and transparency and the community helps us stay true to those roots.
How do you see the Army growing and changing?
I’m excited to see how the Army will continue to grow. The goal is to create a community that helps grow, strengthen, and educate all within the masonry and hardscape industry. We expect if we deliver on that commitment that others will want to join and contribute, resulting in an even stronger community that helps and benefits all.
What does the program have to offer in 2023?
There are benefits to joining; members can earn points that can be used to claim some great rewards. As Army Ambassadors engage with our content, share their projects, and complete missions, they increase their point earning potential.
Rewards range from sweet Instone gear, to cool personalized swag, and tools like an iQ saw. As the reward program grows, there will be potential rewards to include a professional video/photo shoot with our talented InDigital Team that can be used to promote Army Member businesses and much more!
How does The Army reflect the culture inside Instone?
It’s a direct reflection of the culture here. Based on the idea of “Work Hard, Play Hard,” our community is focused on being the best in the industry. From providing the best quality products and supporting our network with the highest level of service and professionalism. And when the day is done, we ensure that we leave time to have fun with our team and work on building the relationships that will reinforce the strength of Instone and the Instone Army.
P.S. New to the Army? You can earn extra points by commenting on why you signed up! Comment below & use the app to claim your points.
A Model for Minimizing Environmental Impacts in Stone Veneer Production: Pangaea® Natural Stone
Pangaea® Natural Stone was named after a supercontinent that existed millions of years ago, when all of Earth’s lands were united. So it makes sense that while its industrial base is in India, Pangaea operates with environmental standards that recognize it’s part of one connected world.
“I don’t think there’s a finish line to sustainability,” said Pangaea President Sanjay Nikhanj. “There’s no goal you end up crossing and say, oh wow, I’m officially sustainable. It’s a goal that we continually work towards as a company and simply try to get better every year.”
Instone customers may know Pangaea for its pre-cut, tooled and trimmed stones that seamlessly fit together, making life easy for masons. They may know Pangaea for pallets that come pre-arranged with an optimal balance of colors and sizes, saving time and money before the first stone is even installed. Fewer would know the lengths the company goes to ensure its work leaves the environment in as good a condition as they found it.
Long Term Sustainable Development
Nikhanj said Pangaea is demonstrating that sustainability is not just the right thing to do, but a profitable exercise. The greening measures taken at its plant could be considered a model for the industry globally, but are especially above and beyond for Jaipur, the northern Indian natural stone industry hub where it’s located.
A solar array on the facility’s roof produces 530 KW of energy, enough to cover 50 percent of its manufacturing needs. Pangaea hopes to bump that number up in the future to further reduce energy consumption, but for now is constrained by the local infrastructure, as the power grid can’t handle any more input from the site.
Covering 35,000 square feet, it’s India’s largest building-integrated InRoof system to date! The 530 kWp InRoof solar panel system, designed by @ornatesolar, is powered by microinverters from @enphase.
With this revolutionary InRoof system, we have saved 124,968 kg of CO2 that would have been emitted in the production of the 35,000 square foot steel roof. Our installation will help us meet our sustainability goals by offsetting 18,346 tons of CO2 emissions! You can be confident your stone veneers are being manufactured sustainably and responsibly.
Further, Pangaea is the first company in India to install an in-roof solar array. These solar panels aren’t mounted to the roof – they are the roof. Nikhanj notes that this building method reduced Pangaea’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need to produce steel or other building materials.
A Recycling Innovator
The solar roof requires a significant amount of water to keep it clean and produce power at an optimal level. However, Pangaea has faced this problem by instituting an innovative water recycling system. Water that runs off the roof is quickly captured and filtered by three on-site water treatment plants.
“Saving water is the right thing to do, but in this case, it’s not profitable,” Nikhanj said. “It would be cheaper to waste that water and fill up the tanks again, but not recycling and wasting millions of liters weekly doesn’t make any sense. Where we are is a desert environment and water is a challenge.”
Even its manufacturing byproducts are recycled adding to their environmentally friendly processes.. The leftover chips from cut stones are donated to communities to use for the foundations of buildings and infrastructure projects. Wood shavings leftover from assembling the shipping crates are compacted and made available to families to burn for home heating and cooking. This has the added impact of saving trees that would have been cut down to fulfill their needs, Nikhanj said.
The packing crates are specially designed to thwart the spread of invasive pest species. The pine used is inspected to ensure that its moisture levels are too low to harbor any insects that would bore into the wood. Each crate is International Plant Convention (IPC) certified and stamped.
“We’ve had huge problems globally as a result of foreign species that have no natural predators attacking vegetation,” Nikhanj said. “It’s devastating forests. I live in British Columbia and when you drive up north, there are places where it literally looks like there’s been a forest fire.”
An Infinite Mindset
Nikhanj said Pangaea’s leadership takes all of these steps because it subscribes to an “infinite mindset” – a belief that a business can serve a higher purpose than just making money. It extends to how it treats employees and the communities that surround it.
Pangaea is a generous donor to charities that rescue stray dogs and provide educational resources for children, especially young girls. Nikhanj said many female students in the region are underprivileged and don’t have access to the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
The company’s website asserts its commitment to safe working conditions, fair wages and equality for workers. It seeks to promote women in the workplace, even though in India, they’re still few in number in the industry.
To Nikhanj, the key to making an infinite mindset yield tangible results is surrounding yourself with people who see the big picture. He said business leaders too often see themselves as sports coaches obsessed with winning and losing rather than as value creators.
“We’ve never had a sales goal in our last 20 years of existence,” he said. “I don’t even know what a sales goal looks like. We are constantly competing against ourselves. I couldn’t tell you what the competition is doing. I hope whatever they’re doing is right by the environment, right by the community and right by the people.”
7 Ways Instone Makes It Easy for Dealers to Succeed
“We Make It Easy” isn’t just our motto, it’s the very foundation that Instone was built on. But we’re going to let you in on a little secret – making it easy for our dealers to get the products they need for their customers faster than other outlets isn’t actually easy. We’ve spent the past 30 years building a nationwide network of warehouses and distribution centers, creating a digital system for faster service, and helping dealers build their businesses.
For the first time, our Chief Operating and Marketing Officer Rob McKay shares the secrets behind Instone’s success in delivering for our dealers – and their customers.
Secret #1. What You Need When You Need It
It all started in the mid-1980s when Instone founder Gordon Strout started buying Cultured Stone and realized how difficult it was to get it from where it was manufactured in California to the East Coast. He designed a truck routing system that’s still in place to this day.
“The dealers tell us what they want, and we get it to them,” says McKay. “That way, they’re not sitting on inventory, taking up space, and tying up cash. They just buy what they need when they need it,”
The route trucks take the guesswork out of deliveries with pre-scheduled weekly lanes servicing customers from Instone’s distribution centers. Dealers get their product within days, not weeks.
Secret #2. What You See Is What We’ve Got
Every company these days has a website. But it’s what’s on Instone’s website that makes the difference: inventory information.
“We show our inventory availability without having to log in. So, when a sales rep gets a request from a customer, they can look at our website and see what we have in stock. They can order it today and get it tomorrow. It’s super easy,” says McKay.
And an upcoming site update will tell dealers when the next shipment of a particular product is coming in. “If we don’t have enough of something in stock that day, you will know when we will,” he says.
Secret #3. A Digital Organization System
We know that the faster a dealer can get a product, the quicker an entire project can go. That comes down to knowing where the product is in the first place. And that’s why all of Instone’s products are barcoded and entered into a digital system.
“We can put anything anywhere, and the system will tell us where it is,” says McKay. “We can utilize space differently and store more materials and diverse products to serve our customers better.”
Nothing is more annoying than wasting time looking for something, other than not finding it at all. And companies without a robust digital system like Instone’s run the risk of losing track of what they have, where it is, making it impossible to get it to you.
Secret #4. Offering Way More Than Thin Veneer
As a product fulfillment company, inventory in multiple locations across the service area is key for fast delivery. Instone recently expanded the number of its warehouses by acquiring sites in the Ohio and New England areas to allow for more diversification of products.
“We started as a strictly thin veneer company. Now we’ve become more valuable to our dealers by having a broader offering of products,” says McKay. “And we’re always looking for new products within those product lines and the next big product itself.”
Secret #5. Information At Your Fingertips
Instone is proud to offer support that goes the extra mile to dealers. One of the ways we do that is through the information we include on our website.
“The dealers don’t have to be experts on every product,” says McKay. “They can sit at the counter, have our website up and know everything there is to know about the product. They have all the technical information and what’s in stock.”
We know that if people don’t feel knowledgeable about a product, they can’t sell it. “You can feel comfortable selling our products compared to other products that you’re not as familiar with and shy away from. We’ll make you look like a stud!”
Secret #6. Here to Help You Sell More
We believe customer service isn’t just about getting the dealer what they need; we want to help them build their business. Our competitors have a lot of inventory, but it’s just a pile of goods and that’s it. We’re here to provide any training, education, or support that you need to take your business to the next level.
“We want to help dealers sell the product,” says McKay. “We want to educate them so they can get more business. We want to bring them leads, get them involved and trained. We’re always doing training sessions. Our sales team partners with the manufacturers. We want to ensure everyone who comes in contact with the product is comfortable knowing how to sell it.”
McKay says the next step is teaching the businesses we work with to market themselves. A lot of these businesses have been family-owned for decades, and the dealers are great at what they do. But they’re not marketers. They want to do more, but they don’t know how. We’re here to teach them how to do marketing so they can grow their business.
Secret #7. We’re Not All Business
The Instone team enjoys coming to work because of the environment we’ve created.
“We’re very inclusive, and we treat everyone like a winner,” says McKay, who stresses that we value everyone’s ideas because we’re all part of the team. Even the idea for our brand of beer came from an employee. “That came from one of our customer service reps. He said, ‘Hey man, we should have a beer!” And we made it happen.”
This attitude includes how we interact with dealers and customers.
“We have an openness here, and that makes people relaxed. They can be real. But we’re all working our tails off!” says McKay, who adds the company has a “Work Hard, Play Hard” approach.
Taking 'The Traction Test' to a whole new level!
Ken puts his best foot forward to ‘test out the traction’ on @aura_natural_landscapes' Silver Ridge Granite, and it looks like the stone passed with flying colors!
Perfect for those who like to dance their way through home improvement projects!
Visit the link in our bio to learn more about Aura’s products.
#auranaturallandscape #instoneco #instoneteam #instonearmy #instone #naturalstone #usenaturalstone #paverstone #funatwork #stonepavers #patiodesign #homeimprovement #backyarddesign
Like Michael Jordan’s legendary slam dunks, Instone’s services are crafted with precision, expertise, and innovation to make your projects a breeze.
Trust our dedicated teams to bring your vision to life. Contact us today at the link in our bio.
#wemakeiteasy #instonemakesiteasy #instoneco #buildingsupplies #stonework #hardscapers #landscapers #masonry #stonemason #instoneteam #instonearmy #marchmadness
See you at the @northeasthardscapeexpo in West Springfield, MA!
Join us today and tomorrow for a chance to meet our crew and get expert assistance with your upcoming project.
Come visit us at booth #245 and be sure to ask for our latest products and services!
#hardscapers #instone #instoneteam #instonearmy #hardscapelife #hardscapebrotherhood #hardscapersofinstagram #northeasthardscapeexpo #nehexpo2023 #constructionlife #hardscapedesign #hardscapedesigner #stoneveneer #landscapers #landscapersofinstagram #landscapeconstruction #instoneco
@pangaeanaturalstone WestCoast® Fieldstone veneer has a timeless feel that helps complete the look of this Tudor-style facade.
Visit the link in our bio to learn more about these high-quality stone products and discover how Pangea's industry-lauded packaging and pallet organization can save significant time and effort on the installation.
#pangaeanaturalstone #instoneco #instoneteam #naturalstone #usenaturalstone #stonemason #masonry #landscapersofig #curbappeal #exteriorstone #modernhouse
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“We like to have fun. We have lunches together, and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. And we invite customers to sit in with us at meetings and offer feedback. Those relationships are important to us. That’s just who we are.”
Partnering with Instone means having access to all these benefits and more, giving you and your business the tools you need to grow. So why wait? Contact Instone today and see how easy we can make it for you to succeed.
Backyard Makeovers: What You Must Know Before Planning a Backyard Project for Summer
The Do’s & Don’ts Of Planning a Backyard Makeover
Dreaming of summer already? Even though the weather outside may be too chilly for dining al fresco or a dip in the pool, the winter is actually the perfect time to start planning your backyard makeover projects. We recently interviewed Paul Saladino, owner of Stone Creations of Long Island, who shared his dos and don’ts to make sure that your project goes as smoothly as those summer days you’re day dreaming about while the snow falls. Whether building a pool, patio, fireplace, outdoor kitchen or the full works, Saldino will set you on the right path to completing your build in time for outdoor fun and entertaining with family and friends.
DO Have Inspiration
Saladino says the first question he always asks his customers is, “what inspired you to do this project?” Is it something you saw on social media, something at a neighbor’s house?” “Years ago, everyone got their ideas from catalogs. Now it’s all social media,” says Saladino. “Once they tell me the idea for what they want, I can start a design and work in the different elements.”
If you don’t have an inspiration yet, there is a wealth of content online, from Pinterest to Instagram, to get ideas for your backyard stone project. You can even check out our very own Pinterest page for some more backyard makeover inspiration.
Still have a creative block and need some help getting started and inspired? Our good friends at Tilly Design can hold your hand through the design process.
DO Build in Phases
Creating a backyard oasis sounds like a dream come true. But it’s a big project and investment. Saladino suggests setting the expectation of doing your backyard amenities in phases. “You don’t want to go and spend a quarter of a million dollars and get yourself deep in debt. Phase it out. Start with a pool, then a patio the following year,” he says.
Saladino says one of the most frustrating things he experiences as a builder is when a customer comes to him with a request for pool in May, expecting the project to be installed in two weeks. Contractors book jobs far in advance, and summer is their busiest time of year. If you want a pool in time for summer entertaining, the winter is the ideal time to get started planning. “I always say two seasons out. Give yourself six months to get your inspiration together, get the permits, get the contract done, check the liabilities and insurance of the people doing the work, then book them,” he says.
DO Make The Time
There’s no set amount of time a job will take. It depends on the project’s complexity and also making allowance for bad weather days when the project needs to be paused. Saladino says to expect about two weeks for each phase.
DO Your Research
A must is to check out the company that is doing the work and make sure you get along with them. Check references, check licenses and check insurance. Saladino says to ask to see their paperwork, don’t just take their word for it. “Some guys are like, ‘yeah, yeah I got it,’ real nasty about it when asked for papers. These are not people you want to work with. Tell them you want to see it. Any licensed contractor would be more than happy to show their papers.”
A liability contract is important with coverage of a million or two. Also, make sure every worker on site is covered under the company’s workman’s comp. “You want to know they’re not just picking up workers on the corner,” says Saladino. And check that the state attorney licenses your contractor.
Most importantly, get everything in writing. “You want to have the contract, the warranty and go over every single detail,” Saladino says.
DON’T Go with The Lowest Bid
Backyard makeover build projects can run from affordable to luxurious. The cost depends on the size of the project, the materials you use, the labor, and the job’s complexity. Saladino says whatever you do, don’t try to save money. “You’ll get prices that are on the high end and the low end. Try to stay in the middle. Never go with the lowest bid and try to save money. Those contractors will try to skimp on the materials they use and cut corners. Skip a few dinners, save your money and get it done right,” he advises.
He adds to also plan for a little extra in case something comes up that will increase the cost of the project. “If a contractor gives you an estimate, add 10% just in case. If you don’t spend it, great. “You don’t want to get halfway through a job and run out of money. Put a little extra in the cookie jar.”
DON’T Disappear During the Job
When you have builders doing work on your property, it’s your responsibility to check the work daily and ensure the work is going according to your plan. “Don’t go on vacation with the idea that when you come back, you’ll have a pool,” says Saladino. All the decision makers in the household should also be looking at the job daily to make sure it’s what was agreed upon by all. Revisiting any work will cost you more money, time, and aggravation.
DON’T Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Saladino says you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions before or during a build. “Check progress daily to ensure everything is going as planned. Sometimes they miss things and you’ll want to catch any mistakes right away. Morning meets are often the best time to connect with your contractor. “
Checklist for Homeowners When Planning an Outdoor Project
Pinterest is a wonderful platform to explore for outdoor project inspiration. Search for terms like these to explore boards and starting pinning your favorites……..
There are many online sources to help you create a vision or plan for your backyard oasis. Here are a few from Instone:
Make sure your backyard makeover ideas and materials are appropriate and available for your area. Instone can assist you and your contractor/builder with locating a dealer in your area. Contact us here.
Start planning your backyard makeover project in winter to break ground in spring/summer.
Plan for larger projects in phases and anticipate two weeks for each phase of work.
Check that you have the space to accommodate your project(s).
Find out what building permits are needed.
Review bids and consider the quote that comes in the middle, never go with the lowest bid to save money.
Check out the license and insurance of the company you want to work with.
During The Build
Make sure you have the money to pay in full when the build starts and anticipate that the cost can go up as the project moves along.
Put it on your schedule to be home during construction.
Review the work daily to maintain good communication with your builder and to ensure there are no mistakes that would cost you more money and delay the project.
Stone Samples – Ask your local dealer for stone samples to pair with other finishes and colors and to perform your own tests. Place the samples in different areas in the stone installation area to see how it changes in various lighting and with different conditions (i.e. when wet, dry).
Square Footage – Learn how to calculate the area for your stone project to set realistic estimations and a budget before you meet with your contractor. The calculation at its basics is length multiplied by width, but this can get a little tricky if the space is not perfectly rectangular or square. This means there may be times where you need to get approximate square footages instead. There are other variables as well of where you may need to subtract from the area like if there was going to be a firepit, water feature or flower beds in that area. This work will help save time and effort on everyone’s part. It will also help you to determine if that material you fell in love with is a fit for your project.
Stone Fabrication – Seeing, understanding and approving of your backyard design before it is sent to a fabrication shop is key to ensuring that your project meets your expectations. You may also learn more about the wide-variety of finishes, edge profiles (split face, eased edge, bevel), and the cuts that can bring your project to life and in line with your vision.
When Instone’s Fabrication and Design teams receive a plan (or drawing) set of a full backyard design, takeoff and stone schedule, they then provide an estimate to your local stone distributor. Once the quote is approved, the shop drawing process begins for each stone. It includes the type of stone, dimensions, finish and fabrication work such as edging and placement according to the stone schedule. Instone works closely with local distributors, landscape designers and contractors to ensure the shop drawing is perfectly constructed and accommodates the needs of their projects.
Technical data – Instone will give your contractor the technical data including the stone’s stocking sizes and country of origin, as well as mechanical properties such as density, water absorption, and rupture compression strength. This information is helpful so you can have a conversation with your contractor when they reference the materials you select for the backyard makeover project. For example, will the stone you use around your pool be slip resistant and suitable for a salt water or chlorine? Will the stone be warm or cool on bare feet? What are the care and maintenance considerations? These are all good questions to ask when sourcing your project materials.
If you have questions or need assistance sourcing material or a dealer in your area, contact Instone today. Start planning in the winter months for a fun-filled summer in your new outdoor space.
Guide to the Home’s Hottest Natural Stone Colors for 2023
The start of a new year is the ideal time to gather inspiration for those exciting outdoor living spaces and home exterior upgrades. In recent years, homeowners have claimed more outdoor space than ever before, transforming neglected square footage into thriving year-round outdoor spaces for entertaining and dining. Many homeowners also boosted their curb appeal and property value with easy exterior stone siding. But let us not forget those interior updates as well, where stone fireplaces and feature walls can make all the difference in your home’s wow factor. Make a resolution to update your home, inside and out, in 2023 with Instone’s hottest stone colors and styles on the market.
So what’s trending in stone colors and style? To find out, we spoke with Justin Alicandro, Instone’s VP of natural stone products, who shared the most popular stones from the Midwest to the East Coast.
Blues and Grays Dominate
Beautiful blue and gray tones and tints have been extremely popular along the East Coast for years. The demand has almost outpaced the availability, which is why Alicandro brought Aura’s Blue Mist Granite to Instone. It quickly became a best-selling product. The timeless elegance of the bluestone wash mixed with the grainy grays of granite makes this stone pleasing to the eye. The blue tones pair nicely with homes with a cooler color palette. Alicandro says the blue and gray colors will continue to dominate along the East Coast for years to come.
Looking to go with blues and grays for your home’s exterior siding or outdoor renovation project? Here are some complementary stone veneer colors, styles and brands available through Instone:
Make Way for the Buffs
Look out blues, there’s a new color in town! Alicandro says buff tones are gaining traction as a popular look for landscaping, with Aura’s Phoenician Buff leading the charge.
This stone features pale speckles and veins of gray and pink mixed with beige-buff coloring to create beautiful texture and movement with a gentle warmth.
Another buff stone is Aura’s Oxford Buff Sandstone, which Alicandro says is relatively new, but quickly gaining popularity. “It’s really catching the eye of homeowners,” he says. The taupe beige sandstone is speckled with darker tones of black and brown for a classic neutral that will go with warm color palettes.
When planning your project in buff tones, here are some complementary colors, styles and brands available at Instone:
Lighter Colors Are In
Lighten up! At least in your backyard space. That’s what Alicandro says is trending at the moment. “I see the lighter colors coming on strong. We have some travertines that are ideal for these palettes.”
Silver Travertine has become in high-demand for pool stone, says Alicandro. “It’s popular because it’s light, and doesn’t get as hot in the summer, so people won’t burn their feet on it.”
As for granites in lighter colors, Alicandro recommends Silver Ridge Granite. “This is really a nice, light granite with a lot of character and movement throughout. It’s very unique,” he says, adding that the product is exclusive to Instone and recommends placing orders this winter for those spring and summer patio and pool projects.
Alicandro says Gray Granite is in the same color range as Silver Ridge but without the movement. “This is a more formal-looking, light-colored granite.” Here are some complementary pairings for a light- color project palette:
Warm Up The Indoors With Cultured Stone Manufactured Stone Veneer
Winter is coming. With the chilly temperatures driving us indoors more, wouldn’t it be nice to visually warm up your home so you can feel extra cozy in the months ahead? Cultured Stone is a manufactured stone veneer (MSV) product that looks like natural stone at a fraction of the price and with a lighter weight for easier and faster installation.
Not only is Cultured Stone the longest running MSV maker on the market, they are leading innovators when it comes to their production process and selection of design styles.
“A big part of their success is their constant innovation of colors and textures,” says Tim Wood, Stone Division Manager at Best Block Company. “And they do a very good job with consistency. If you want to put an addition on your home that was built 10 years ago and you want to use the same stone, chances are very good it will match.”
Cultured Stone Has More Varieties of Colors and Textures Than Any Other Stone Product
For Wood, the key selling point of Cultured Stone is that they always have something new to offer. “They really drive the industry forward as far as their colors. When they come out with a new color, everybody else scrambles to make something similar,” he says. “Their whole design team really keeps up on trends for shapes and textures and colors, which no other company does. As a supplier, we really like that because having something new gives us an opportunity to get out in the market and update people.”
Take a look for yourself at some of the options of Cultured Stone:
Cultured Stone Is Readily Available
Like many products during the pandemic, supply chain issues slowed availability and extended lead times. But Wood says that these days everything is pretty much back to normal.
“Cultured Stone inventory levels are good, freight availability is good,” he says. “We’re able to get Cultured Stone within a few days of lead time.”
The trusted name in manufactured stone veneer is back and better than ever and we just had to show our appreciation.
Cultured Stone is Eco-friendly
When it comes to being environmentally aware about products for a home, natural stone just sounds like it would be an obvious choice. However, a big part of going down a more environmentally-friendly path is looking at how products are made and sourced. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that natural stone is a finite resource that is extracted from the earth, resulting in damage to our landscapes during acquisition and damage to the environment in processing the raw materials.
It also requires more energy to transport because of its weight.
With manufactured Cultured Stone veneer products, architects, builders, and homeowners can reduce their energy and sourcing footprint without compromising strength, durability or aesthetics. Cultured Stone products contain an average of 58% pre-consumer recycled content. The company also uses low-emitting materials and manufacturing processes in the production of its products, including a closed-loop system for water consumption.
Unlike much heavier natural stone, manufactured stone may not require concrete footings for support. Cultured Stone products can weigh as little as eight to 12 pounds per square foot.
Because of its sustainable manufacturing footprint, architects and builders using Cultured Stone can earn LEED® credits for indoor air quality and recycled content.
As a dealer, Wood says he always tries to mention the environmental aspect. “We try to throw it out there to our builders and their clients. It’s another added bonus. And homeowners can mention at their dinner parties that their house uses green products. It’s kind of a cool thing to be able to say.”
Uses for Interior Design With Cultured Stone
Fireplace surrounds: If your fireplace is out of date with tired brick or tile, give it a natural stacked stone look without building a whole new fireplace.
Accent feature wall: Warm up a plain space with the natural charm of stone. The rich colors and textures add interest and create a cozy environment.
Home office Zoom wall: Make your office setting reflect your personality with the color and texture of natural stone, delivering the perfect background wall for your Zoom meetings.
Kitchen backsplash: You look at your kitchen backsplash every day when you make meals. Make it aesthetically pleasing with the look of natural stone in a color and texture that speaks to you.
Wine cellar: Create some old-world character in a room where slowing down and enjoying a good glass wine means living the good life.
Cultured Stone Home Exterior Ideas
If you’re planning your summer project ahead of time during the winter months (which we highly recommend), consider Cultured Stone for the following areas:
Outdoor fireplace surrounds
Posts, pillars and lampposts
Cultured Stone Is Easy to Maintain
One of the biggest tests of Cultured Stone versus natural stone is durability. Yes, it’s true, natural stone is extremely durable because it comes from the earth and can withstand extreme conditions for exterior use. But it turns out that Cultured Stone is no slouch in the durability department either, especially for interior use. The only caution is not to chip it because the color is only on the surface and not all the way through the cement interior. However, even if you accidentally bump something against it hard enough to chip it, you can check with your dealer to assess the damage. They have tint kits for an easy fix.
Keeping it clean is simple and easy. For interior use, you only need to do occasional dusting as you would any surface. If it really needs a clean, such as on exterior uses, a mild detergent with some water and a stiff bristle brush is all you need. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to get off any soap residue.
You should never use chemicals or power washing on Cultured Stone since the color is on the surface; it may take the color off. Sealants are also not needed.
The look of natural stone can bring a little bit of Mother Nature’s beauty into your home, add interest and aesthetic appeal, and make your home feel more warm and inviting as you snuggle in for the winter months ahead.
Creating a Decorative Fireplace With Stone Veneer This Holiday Season
‘Tis the season when your home becomes the focal point for holiday gatherings. There isn’t a better centerpiece than your fireplace for making memories with family and friends. But is your fireplace looking a little drab? Give it a makeover with stone veneers.
The look of a natural stacked-stone fireplace adds charm to any space, and it’s easy to do. Thin stone veneers can be adhered around an existing fireplace made of brick or tile. The industry term is a “fireplace surround,” because that’s exactly what it does to give your fireplace a new look.
Installing a Thin Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround
Like the name sounds, a fireplace surround includes all the elements surrounding the firebox itself, which includes the area inserted into the wall where the fire lit. Thin stone veneers can be installed around the firebox and up to the mantel area or all the way up the ceiling to give the look of a natural stone chimney.
Cultured Stone Echo Ridge Country Ledgestone
Thin stone veneers are natural or manufactured stones usually about 1-2” thick that can be attached over an existing brick fireplace. Because thin veneers are lighter in weight, they are faster and easier to install than building a new stone fireplace, saving you time and labor costs. Not to mention not having to take on a messy demo project in your home before the holidays. Not only will you achieve the look of a full stone fireplace, you’ll have the same durability and low-maintenance care.
If you’re handy around the house, you could DIY your fireplace surround. Puzzle lovers will enjoy the process of putting the pieces together in place. If you’re unsure of your DIY skills or you’re in a time crunch to get it done before a holiday party, it will be easier and faster to contract a professional mason or contractor.
Stone Veneers for Your Fireplace Surround Makeover
Dress Up Your Stone Fireplace for the Holidays
Once you have your new stone veneer fireplace done, you’ll want to dress it up with some holiday cheer.
Start With Greenery
A big staple for your fireplace decorating is the lush greenery. Place garland across the mantel and perhaps drape down the sides of the firebox area (be sure to keep all décor from getting too close to the fire and heat.). Within the garland, the possibilities are endless to nestle fairy lights, figurines, ornaments, fruit such as cranberries, flowers such as poinsettias, pinecones and more. Perhaps, hide an Elf or two.
Pick a color theme and coordinate your holiday décor. It could be traditional Christmas colors of red and green, more frosted wintery shades of blue, white and silver or even something offbeat such as pink. If you put up a Christmas tree, you can match your fireplace décor with your tree décor by using bauble, ornament, ribbons and candles in matching colors.
Match Your Décor Style
Is your style ultra modern, vintage/retro or farmhouse? Make your holiday décor match your design style in your home, or give it a style all its own. Modern style may use sleek ornaments, metallics and high-contrasting colors, while farmhouse leans to soft neutrals or all-white with black trim. Mid-century modern has become very popular, with more of this type of décor hitting the market in playful colors of pink, teal and orange.
Once the stone veneer is set and garland is hung, all of us at Instone wish you a joyful season by the fire with loved ones.
Ready to dress up your fireplace with stone veneer? Make your wish list and contact us for samples of Pangaea, Cultured Stone and Dutch Quality stone veneers.
Why Stone Veneer is a Natural Fit for Siding and Interior Projects in the Winter
Be.On® Stone is the Product of Choice for Exterior Stone Siding Projects in the Winter
When the cold weather hits, many building and home improvement projects come to a halt. But not stone veneer projects using Be.On Stone. This manufactured stone veneer product is applied as a mechanically fastened screw-on panel that doesn’t require mortar (which is temperature sensitive). Installation involves a starter strip, and the panels are set in place.
“The nice thing about Be.On Stone is you don’t need a mason to install it,” says Chris Miller, Instone’s territory sales manager. “If you’re a little bit handy, you can do it yourself. There’s not much to it. And it looks great.”
If you’re worried about moisture getting behind your stone veneers and creating mold issues, you can forget about it with Be.On Stone. The panels come with a D.Rain moisture management system, a track gutter system behind the stone. Any water, humidity, rain or snow that gets behind the stone will just drain right out the bottom.
“You’ll never have moisture damage to any of your sheathing or house wrap, which is awesome!” exclaims Miller. “And it will save you money because typically, with a mortar application of natural stone, you need three or four different types of water barriers on the house, which can get expensive. With Be.On Stone, you only need one.”
Because of its mortar-less application, Be.On Stone can be applied anywhere, even in freezing temperatures. “We’ve had guys out there in negative 15 degrees installing it,” says Miller. “I don’t recommend that, but it can be done!” The screw-on application and z-shaped edges that allow it to be put together seamlessly and form inside and outside corners without separate corner pieces also make for a quicker install than a mortar install. “We’ve had crews install around 200–400 square feet in a day. With a mortar product, you’re looking at only 20–50 square feet a day,” says Miller.
Also be sure to check out our Be.On® Stone Inbuilding Design Episode Below!
Interloc is One of the Fastest Installs of Natural Stone Siding
Another product option for installing stone siding in the winter months is Interloc. Unlike other stone siding veneers that are loose pieces that need to be applied one at a time, Interloc is made out of pre-cut panels that fit together and can be installed very quickly, saving time and money.
It begins with a starter strip on the top or bottom of the install area. Once that is in place, it creates a straight line on which to lay the rest of the panels and corner pieces, which lock together with hidden joints to create a straight, seamless look.
“It can be assembled and installed very quickly,” says Miller, “It’s designed
to get teams off the jobs faster, which saves the homeowner money on labor costs.”
Interloc New England
Interloc is applied with mortar, so be aware that the outside temperature needs to be above 40 degrees to avoid bonding issues. Interloc can be applied in winter in areas with temperatures that fluctuate between freezing and above. Plan the installation for when at least a week of above-40 temperatures is forecast. Some installers will also build a tent around the install area to maintain the right temperature. We recommend hiring a professional to install Interloc.
Want To Learn More About Interloc Products? Check Out Instone’s Jake Alicandro Break Down the Installation Process Below
Be.On® Stone and Interloc for Wintertime Stone Veneer Interior Projects
Have you imagined how you can add a little extra something to your home interior décor? Use all that time indoors during winter to fix up your home and add some character with stone veneer. Both Be.On Stone® and Interloc can be used indoors for a variety of home improvement projects, such as:
An accent/feature wall
A Zoom background wall
As mentioned previously, Be.On Stone’s easy install can be done by a handy DIYer. We recommend hiring a professional when installing Interloc, since it requires a mortar application.
So don’t give up on your home during the winter. Use the time to improve your curb appeal and resale value by adding the charm and beauty of stone veneer siding.
Cottagecore Style: Bringing Nature Indoors with Stone Veneers
As winter moves in, if you’re looking for ideas to cozy up your home, look no further than the cottagecore trend. This lifestyle aesthetic celebrates the slow-paced, romanticized aspects of countryside living and bringing elements of nature indoors. Cottagecore began with streams of photos on social media around 2018 and really gathered steam during the pandemic for those wanting to embrace staying home and sheltering from the fast-paced, modern world. The look is now hitting the mainstream as an interior design style that provides balance from the hustle of life as we begin post-pandemic normalcy.
What is Cottagecore Interior Design Style?
Rustic, farmhouse and antique furniture, vintage collectibles, handmade items and decorative textiles, fresh and dried flowers, warm tones of aged and well-loved pieces are just a few of the elements you’ll want to incorporate to create this vibe in your home.
If it looks familiar to you, it may be because it borrows elements of other popular design trends such as shabby chic, cottage, granny, and English country. The idea is to strive for simple pleasures and comfort with a focus on nature and sustainability. A large aspect of cottagecore is using and repurposing items you already have—or have gathered from your own rural property—such as produce and flowers and handmade items. It also involves bringing in vintage or antique items, rather than those that are mass-produced, to produce a sense of calm and tranquility.
For Tara Kelly, whose blogs on The Art of Cottagemaking and Instagrams are filled with English-cottage style decorating tips, handmade how-tos, recipes and gardening inspiration, she says cottagecore is about creating a lifestyle that speaks to you, “I grew up on a small farm, so it’s about getting back to my roots and country life,”. she says. “Cottagecore embodies a slower way of living, less reliance on modern technology and appreciating the little things, as little or ordinary as they may seem. It’s about how I choose to go about living life: engrossed in nature, putting myself and my family first, and creating things that feed my soul.”
How to Use Stone Veneers for the Cottagecore Look
Adding elements of stone to your interior and exterior environment is a seamless fit for this design style to reflect nature and old-world charm. There are several ways you can use stone veneers to easily and instantly create the cottagecore look of a quaint home in the European countryside.
Add a stone feature wall: Create interest on a bare wall by using stone from top to bottom for a feature/accent wall. This wall could be anywhere in the home, from enhancing a headboard behind the bed in the bedroom, to a living room or a dining room. The look of natural stone will warm up the space with texture and color (not to mention it will look great for Instagram photos and videos or as a backdrop for Zoom meetings.) If you don’t want to commit to a full wall, stone wainscoting can also add some natural-looking texture to a space.
Do your kitchen backsplash in stone: A big part of the cottagecore lifestyle is spent in the kitchen. If you look at any cottagecore content creator’s social pages, you’ll find photo after photo of people baking pies and pouring tea. So the kitchen is the perfect place to incorporate stone into your backsplash, making you feel you’re cooking in an authentic English country kitchen.
Redo your fireplace surround with stone: If your fireplace is outdated and just not giving snuggly vibes, you can use stone veneers to basically wrap your existing fireplace and make it look like it was built with authentic stacked stone to add character and a vintage look.
Home exterior: Spice up the entryway of your home by using stone veneer for a textured, timeless look. Use it around doorways, posts and lampposts or as a wainscot siding.
Design Inspiration: Cottagecore
Need some more inspiration? Check out our mood boards:
What Stone Veneers Work Best for Cottagecore Décor?
We suggest these stone veneer options for your cottagecore home upgrade:
Cultured Stone – a manufactured stone veneer that is made with eco-friendliness in mind by using an average of 58% pre-consumer recycled content.
Dutch Quality – a manufactured stone veneer inspired by nature. It is made using art and technology for an authentic natural stone look.
Install a stone accent in your home, gather some wildflowers from the field and you, too, can be like an Instagram cottagecore influencer pouring a long, slow cup of tea before you tuck into a freshly baked pie and crack open a vintage book in front of your stone fireplace.
Ready to go cottagecore? Make your wish list and contact us for samples of Pangaea, Cultured Stone and Dutch Quality stone veneers.
When selecting a stone veneer for your interior and exterior designs, the question often arises: natural or manufactured stone veneer? There are benefits to both, but the biggest considerations are: how does it look and how much will it cost?
What is Manufactured Stone Veneer?.
Manufactured stone veneer, also known as MSV, is a lightweight building material used as a decorative wall covering for exterior or interior surfaces. Produced by using a concrete mixture that’s poured into a mold and colored using mineral pigments – its porous and light weight properties make it easy to cut and handle, creating compared to natural stone.
Manufactured stone veneer originated in 1962 by a pair of brothers in Vallejo, California. They developed a concrete mixture to cast in flexible molds that were created from natural stone to give it a realistic size and texture. They began distributing this stone into the market under the brand name Cultured Stone®. Today, Cultured Stone remains the industry-leading brand offering premium manufactured stone veneer (MSV) products.
How is Manufactured Stone Veneer Used?
Manufactured stone veneer as a decorative architectural element that can be used on a variety of project applications. It is applied to the wall using lath, scratch coat, mortar, and grout. Manufactured stone veneer is lightweight, does not require ties or footings, and offers panelized systems for easy installation. This makes it a great alternative to natural stone.
The varied shapes, sizes, colors and textures of manufactured stone veneer provide design versatility that’s perfect for creating an inviting space. Range of applications include
3 Reasons Cultured Stone® Is A Great Choice
For homeowners, installers and dealers, there are three solid reasons to choose Cultured Stone MSV over a natural stone.
1. Manufactured Stone Veneer Can Save Homeowners Money
For homeowners choosing Cultured Stone, one of the biggest benefits is cost savings. Since the stone is made from cement and not quarried, it’s less expensive to produce compared to natural stone, and the savings are passed on to the consumer. However, not all manufactured stone looks natural. Cultured Stone has created an intricate process to create the most realistic-looking stone product on the market and offer a versatile range of styles.
A manufactured stone veneer product can cost as much as 50% less than natural full bed depth stone. Another cost saving comes in the form of labor. Read on about the installation process for Cultured Stone and how its light weight features means faster install times and lower labor costs
2. Manufactured Stone from Cultured Stone® Looks Like the Real Deal
Cultured Stone is made from a mold of actual natural stone so it has the shape and texture of a quarried real stone. Before cement is poured into the molds, each stone and brick is literally hand painted piece-by-piece by highly-trained artisans. Using only the highest quality natural mineral oxides, the stone’s surface is infused with rich, authentic tones, offering an unmatched depth and variation in color.
This attention to detail gives consumers an authentic look of natural stone. It also means that Cultured Stone provides a wide range of finishes and styles that are consistent in shape, color, and availability.
According to Joel Ginsberg, branch manager at Hearth & Home Technologies, which sells manufactured stone veneer for interior projects, consistency in color is one of the biggest selling points of Cultured Stone. “If you ever need to replace it or add more to your project down the road, it will be the same color you bought previously. With natural stone, you’ll get whatever color is cut out of the mountain, which may be different from another piece cut somewhere else or at another time.”
The range of offerings with Cultured Stone includes:
Think you can tell the difference between natural stone and manufactured stone? Watch our recent episode of “In Building Design” to see how hard that can be:
3. Manufactured Stone Veneer Is Easier and Faster to Install Than Natural Stone
If you’ve ever held a piece of natural stone in one hand and manufactured stone in the other, the first thing you may notice is the difference in weight. Cultured Stone’s products are made of lightweight aggregate materials and are approximately one-quarter the weight of natural stone.
For installers, this means it’s easier—and therefore faster—to install. There isn’t as much worry or challenge with the stone sliding down the wall as you install it, so your project can be completed more efficiently in less time. Cultured Stone is available in a variety of stone types, including individual pieces and modular, panelized profiles. While panelized profiles offer a quicker installation, individual stone profiles allow for more customization in application and grout technique that can enhance overall design.
Some of the benefits of installing Cultured Stone include: