The Do’s and Don’ts of Caring for and Cleaning Your Natural Stone Products 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Caring for and Cleaning Your Natural Stone Products 


Last Updated:


You decided to get beautiful, natural stone products on and around your home. Now how do you keep them clean?

You decided to get beautiful, natural stone products on and around your home. Now how do you keep them clean?

You may already know that natural stone is one of the most durable products on earth because it comes from the earth. If you have natural stone veneers or Aura natural stone landscaping products, here are some tips for care and maintenance.

Keep It Simple to Clean Natural Stone

We consulted Instone’s Territory Sales Manager and A-Team member, Jake Alicandro, to find the best ways to care for your natural stone. He says just ol’ soap and water will usually do the trick.

“I always recommend starting slow, and if you need something a little more aggressive, going up from there,” Alicandro says. You can use any type of mild soap detergent, such as dish or hand soap, and mix it with a little water. Wet the stone first, and then use a bristle brush and soap solution to wipe the stone clean.  

The last step is to make sure you rinse thoroughly. “You don’t want to leave any cleaner on there because once it dries up, it can cause hazing on the stone,” he says.

What Not to Do

Alicandro said maintaining natural stone is pretty straightforward. “It’s more a matter of what not to do than what to do,” he says. One big “don’t” to remember is, never use a product with acid, particularly muriatic acid, in it.

“I’ve been to multiple job sites where people put it on, and it literally burns the stone,” says Alicandro. “It turns it brown, like rust spots on granite or any light-colored stone. After spending all this money on getting beautiful natural stone, you don’t want to ruin it.”

He also advises people to steer clear of sealing natural stone. “Natural stone is as tough as it possibly gets. It’s much tougher than a manufactured stone. If you have a patio made of concrete, I’d recommend using a sealer,” says Alicandro. “But for natural stone, I would not recommend using it. You don’t need it, and it can cause problems with the stone.”

Bring on the Power

If you need something a little stronger, Alicandro says you can use a power washer to clean natural stone. He says there are two things to watch out for: One is to be cautious of any joints between the stones that are filled with polymeric sand.

“Stay away from that with the power washer because it can cause it to come out,” says Alicandro.

He also warns about the sheer force of your power washer and not to put yourself or anyone else in the path of the stream. “If you put your finger in front of a power washer, that thing will rip your skin open—unfortunately, I know that from experience.”

Conquering Stains, Moss and Efflorescence

Alicandro says there are three issues to look for that require specialized cleaning products beyond soap and water.

The most common issue is staining from food around outdoor kitchens or dining areas. Grease and oil stains are common when cooking and serving food over stone veneers and Aura pavers. Alicandro recommends cleaners such as  Prosoco Restoration Cleaner.

“Restoration cleaners aren’t overly aggressive. They won’t damage the stone.“ There are several different restoration cleaners, so be sure to check to make sure it can be used on your type of stone.

Another issue to watch for is moss and mildew; for that you can use organic cleaners. 

Lastly, an uncommon issue worth noting is efflorescence that can form when moisture is underneath or behind a stone.  

“It can cause a white calcium to come out on the top surface of it and make the stone look streaky,” Alicandro says. For that, he recommends efflorescence cleaners. “You use it by diluting the product, putting it on the stone, and it’ll take off the white, calcium substance,” he says.

Natural stone is an investment worth making, not only for the beauty of the look on your home but also for the easy upkeep, thanks to its durability. With some simple care and maintenance, you can keep your stone veneers and landscaping looking good for years to come.

Summer is the Perfect Time for a Pizza Party with the ISO’ven

Summer is the Perfect Time for a Pizza Party with the ISO’ven


Last Updated:


Pizza recipes, cooking tips and more
from our resident pizza experts!

Give your outdoor kitchen a fun upgrade – just in time for outdoor summer parties.  If you want a knockout addition to your back patio space for entertaining friends and family, an outdoor pizza oven is the perfect choice! Here’s what you should know about having a pizza oven:

The Difference is In the Taste

Isokern, the maker of high-end fireplaces, offers the ISO’ven Outdoor Wood Burning Oven, for making pizza and other dishes over a wood burning flame. What makes cooking in the ISO’ven different from your regular indoor oven is the taste.

“The wood-flamed cooking experience is outstanding,” says Instone’s President and CEO, Kevin Grotke, who uses his ISO’ven on a regular basis. “We cook pizzas and do cooking in cast iron skillets to finish off dishes such as macaroni and cheese, lasagna, roast, bullion sauces and red sauces. The richness of flavor from the wood cooking is amazing and so unique. You can make the kind of pizza you would get at a high-end pizzeria in your own backyard.”

The Entertainment Value Alone is Worth It

An outdoor wood-burning pizza oven creates an entire experience for you and your guests.

“It’s a really fun appliance to have,” says Grotke. “It’s a whole event to build the fire, keep the fire going, managing the heat, making the pizza, turning the pizza in the oven while it cooks.”

Not only does the experience set an outdoor oven apart from an indoor oven, but the pizzas cook very quickly – about four minutes when the oven is up to full heat, which is between 750 and 900 degrees as opposed to a conventional indoor oven that maxes out at 500 degrees. 

Building the fire and getting it up to full heat is a ritual in itself, which takes about an hour. It’s the perfect time for a pre-meal happy hour!

Because the fire is in the back of the oven, turning the pizza to cook it evenly becomes an interactive activity that adds to the fun. Since the pizza cooks quickly, guests can make their own individual pizzas and have them ready at about the same time. That’s definitely a pizza party in the making!

Easy Installation

Grotke says the ISO’ven is relatively easy to install because it comes in components. “A medium-skilled DIYer could do it themselves in a couple of hours. Then you would add the stone veneers or whatever finish for the look you want.” He says outdoor cooking and entertaining has definitely become more popular over the last few years. A pizza oven in your backyard can provide a fun focal point for your next party.

 Wood Burn or Gas Starter – Your Choice

While the ISO’ven is intended to burn solid wood fuel, a gas starter is also available. We recommend using cherry, applewood or hickory wood for added flavor.

How to Make a Great Pizza

Our resident pizza expert at Instone, CIO Jim Palatine, offered some tips and recipes for making a great pizza. He says he got into making pizza when he saw a shop that made beautiful granite slabs and decided to have a pizza stone made for himself and to give away to friends. He started experimenting with making pizzas at home and trying recipes from what he refers to as the ultimate pizza recipe book: “The Pizza Bible: The World’s Favorite Pizza Styles.”

He shares some of his best pizza making tips:

The Key to Great Pizza Crust

“The difference between run-of-the-mill pizza and extraordinary pizza comes down to the dough,” says Palatine. “You really want dough that’s been fermented for three days in the refrigerator.  You can make it with any recipe or buy it frozen. Just make sure it is pizza dough, not bread dough. Then put it in the refrigerator and cover it with a film wrap and let it sit for three days. That will give you a really nice elastic texture and it’s easier to make a nice round pizza crust that will have a nice chewy and nutty taste to it. It’s a real game changer.”

Typically, dough is sold in one-pound balls.  Cut the ball in half and make two smaller half-pound balls.  Separate them on a plate dusted with flour, and loosely cover with a plastic bag or anything else so the surface doesn’t dry out.  Leave out at room temperature for at least an hour prior to making pizza.

The Key to Using Ingredients

“Less is more—and use good quality,” Palatine advises. “People often tend to put too much sauce and too many ingredients on a pizza. When you put the sauce on, spread it very thin and sprinkle the other ingredients on. Always use good quality ingredients. If you use mozzarella cheese, use whole milk, don’t skimp with low fat. Get good pepperoni in a natural casing and don’t slice it too thin.”

Some of Jim Palatine’s Favorite Recipes

TIP: Use either corn meal or “Wondra” brand flour, between the pizza peel and the pizza. This enables the dough to slide off pizza peel when putting it into a hot oven.

Cheese, Pancetta and Arugula White Pizza (The Palatine Pizza)

  • Have the raw dough in front of you.
  • Put a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic down.
  • Add a light coating of shredded mozzarella cheese. Then sprinkle a little feta or goat’s milk cheese.
  • Sprinkle some matchstick slices of pancetta.
  • Cook in the oven until brown and crispy.
  • Dress a bowl of arugula lightly with olive oil and red wine vinegar; put it on top of the hot pizza and let set.

Cheese and Sausage

  • Have the raw dough in front of you.
  • Put down a thin layer of tomato sauce (canned tomatoes in a food processor with salt, pepper and olive oil).
  • Add a light coating of mozzarella cheese.
  • Cut uncased Italian sausage into dime-sized pieces and sprinkle on top.

Cheese and Onion

  • Have the raw dough in front of you.
  • Add a light coating of mozzarella cheese.
  • Add goat’s milk cheese.
  • Sauté onions with a little bit of sugar until brown.
  • Sauté mushrooms.
  • Sprinkle the dough with the onions and mushrooms then drizzle with truffle oil.

TIP: Use cherry, applewood or hickory wood in your wood-burning oven for added flavor.

To learn more about the Isokern ISO’ven Outdoor Wood-Burning Oven, visit the Isokern page on the Instone website.

What’s your favorite pizza recipe?

We want to try it! Send your recipes to the Instone team by filling out the form below!

Instone Presents: InBuilding Design A New Online Show For Pros and the DIYers

Instone Presents: InBuilding Design A New Online Show For Pros and the DIYers


Last Updated:


At Instone, we sell rocks. But what does that mean? If you’ve ever wondered, then we have a show for you!

Instone introduces the InBuilding Design Series, a new show that gives you a backstage look at Instone’s products and hot tips for installation for both professionals and at-home do-it-yourselfers (DIY). Plus, there is some fun trivia and we have friendly competitions between the Instone team and their expert guests.

Launching June 23, the show stars Instone’s COO, CMO Rob McKay, as our resident pro, and Video Producer Ken Czechanski as the “new guy” asking the questions you might have been afraid to ask. 

The show’s format is similar to a relaxed afternoon out in the garage sharing a beer with some neighbors.

“At Instone, people always ask what we do for a living, and sometimes it’s hard to explain without getting too technical,” says McKay. “People don’t typically see our type of product in Home Depot like they do paint and flooring. Our goal is to talk about the products in a casual, friendly way over a couple of drinks and demystify the whole thing.”

The show will focus on a separate product for each of the upcoming nine episodes. They also bring in an expert on that product.

“The idea is to provide education, but also keep it light, so it’s entertaining,” says McKay. Guests participate in games, knowledge tests and various challenges around the product. Will they rise to the challenge? You’ll have to tune in to find out! 

The show is designed to appeal to both the professional and the DIYer by providing information about Instone’s products and just being a fun show to watch.

“This isn’t a corporate training video,” says McKay, “The professionals don’t really need training, but they will walk away possibly having learned something about the product they didn’t know—and it’ll be entertaining.”

For Czechanski’s role as “the new guy,” he represents the curious neighbor who might want to know if they could use an Instone product in their DIY project. “I speak for the guy who might be wondering, ‘can I do this myself?'” says Czechanski. “I’m there to fill in the gaps for people who may not understand everything and make sure they say it in layman’s terms.” Czechanski also brings in the comedic element. “I’m an improviser, so I’m used to looking at things differently. I like to bring out who the guests are as people. There’s some good-natured ribbing going on.”

Whether you’re a professional or a homeowner DIYer, the InBuilding Design Series has something for you.

“Ultimately, I want to make the products more accessible for people,” says Czechanski. “I want them to feel more confident about using the products because if I can figure it out in the 15 minutes of the show, then there is hope for everyone!”

And while you’re getting to know Instone’s products, here are some fun facts about the team:

Rob McKay’s Fun Fact: He was Santa Claus and the Easter bunny in his local shopping mall for four years. People lined up and waited for an hour to see him. And he has the photos to prove it!

Ken Czechanski’s Fun Fact: He can sing! We just may ask him to show off those pipes on a future episode!

So crack open a cold one and sit back and enjoy InBuilding Design with your friendly Instone team!

Instone Presents Isokern Fireplace Training

Instone Presents Isokern Fireplace Training


Last Updated:


Are you a dealer or sales representative who would like to add Isokern fireplaces to your next quote but you just don’t feel comfortable selling it? Then Instone has your solution!

We offered complimentary training live-streamed on Thursday, June 16 10 a.m. CT / 11 a.m. ET for you to learn everything there is to know about Isokern fireplaces and accessories so you can sell them with confidence.

Together, Rob McKay, Chris Miller and Samantha Espino demystify the process of putting together a complete Isokern system and make you more confident talking about the features and benefits of an Isokern over a traditional fireplace. 

“We’re trying to make the product more familiar,” says McKay. “Our sales reps say, ‘It’s a fireplace, I don’t want to say the wrong thing.’ But they shouldn’t be scared of it. It’s pretty straightforward and we’ll show them how.”

What Is Isokern?

If you don’t know about Isokern fireplaces, they: 

  • Are made from Icelandic volcanic pumice, the most energy-efficient material on earth, which has incredible refractive properties, reflecting heat into the room instead of absorbing it like other site-built concrete, metal, and masonry fireplaces.  They will last a lifetime.
  • Can be installed in less than a day.
  • Are less expensive than traditional masonry fireplaces.
  • Are available in wood-burning and gas, vented and vent-free.
  • Can be set up indoors or outdoors.
  • Come with complementary products like firebrick/fireplace stone, flues, and Isoset mortar.
  • Come in different design styles.

Think of the ways you could add this onto orders for new home construction and additions happening this summer. If you’re selling stone veneer, you can easily add on a fireplace. “It adds more value for you and your customer,” says McKay.  It’s a win-win!

The Training Features Three Segments:

An overview – What are Isokern fireplaces? What are they made of? What are their key selling points?

Competitive analysis – How do Isokern fireplaces compare to similar products on the market and what makes them better?

Quoting how-to – A walk-through of how to work with a blueprint of a home, what measurements to take, and how to put together a quote for a customer.

McKay says this new livestream approach to Instone University training makes it instantly accessible to their sellers and dealers. In addition, the training session will be recorded and available for playback on Instone’s website. “We used to go to a lot of locations and do live training, but a lot of times people forget what they heard. This way, they get the live experience but they can also go back and watch it for things they might have missed or forgotten.”

And of course, it wouldn’t be Instone without the friendly and welcoming attitude they are known for. “We’re very professional, but we’re not buttoned-up,” says McKay. “We’re proud of being the best at what we do, but we also keep it open and very natural. It’s casual in the sense that you can come to us and ask any questions.”

The goal is to establish Instone as a resource for dealers and sales representatives to get to know the product offerings and the best way to sell them so they can better serve their customers. As McKay says, “We want to be the knowledge center of all the products we sell from the product basics to the installation.”

Learn more about
Isokern Fireplaces

Avoid Stone Veneer Failures: Get up to Speed on Building Code Requirements for Rainscreen

Avoid Stone Veneer Failures: Get up to Speed on Building Code Requirements for Rainscreen


Last Updated:


For a contractor living in the Eastern half of the U.S. or along the West Coast states, you know the issues you can have with moisture getting into your projects. Rain and humidity can wreak havoc on stone veneers when any bit of moisture settles in behind the masonry and causes a leak or mold situation.

For that reason, the International Building Code passed a requirement for the incorporation of a drainage plane behind stone systems. Frequently referred to as “rainscreen,” this space or drainage material needs to be no less than 3/16 inch depth behind the stone. Rainscreens are available in a range of materials including entangled mesh and plastic or foam products with drainage avenues.

Dell Nolt, field service representative of Westlake Royal Stone Solutions recently provided an educational workshop to professional contractors in order to educate them on this new requirement. He covered the official code, where contractors can find its official language, why it’s important, the materials on the market that are compliant with the code and how to install it.

According to the code, adhered masonry veneer will follow the 2018 Section R703.12​. Its installation will refer to the 2021 Exterior Plaster section:​

  • R703.71—installation of lath and all accessories​
  • R703.7.3—water-resistive barrier including a rain screen drainage space

Best practices to achieve this rainscreen include:

  •     Sheathing​
  •     WRB​
  •     Drainage medium​
  •     Mortar screen/WRB​
  •     Lath​
  •     Scratch coat​
  •     ACMV.

Nolt says there is often a lack of education in the industry when a new code requirement comes out. Contractors just aren’t hearing about it. He hopes Westlake Royal Stone Solutions can be a resource, informing the industry on how to stay compliant with installations.

“We’re trying to help you protect your business so you can utilize this information and pass it on to your clients,” Nolt explains. “As an industry, we want to make sure we’re doing the best thing for our clients so they can enjoy the longevity of the product and it performs as it’s designed to.”

He adds that it’s not hard to understand the logic behind the code. “If you Google stone veneer failure, it doesn’t take long to see a lot of horror stories about drainage issues and stone systems that have leaked for various reasons. We need great moisture management behind these systems to prevent bulk water intrusion or any other capillary failure that results from moisture getting trapped behind the stone system. It eliminates the potential for mold remediation or leak remediation.”

Moisture management is not something new. Nolt says that most contractors are already doing exactly what the code requires and the code is really just catching up with the science that’s been around for a while. “It’s not just unique to stone veneer. If you’re in the exterior cladding business, whether that be stone, cement, board siding or other types of veneer, moisture management is super important,” he says. “The code just makes sure that the industry addresses it from a universal standpoint.”

While this new International Building Code came out in 2021, Nolt says there is always some lag time in the adoption process.  Pennsylvania was the first state to adopt the process but it’s required in all states that fall into the moisture zones on the climate map. This is Moist Climate A, which includes the Eastern half of the U.S. via a line split down Minnesota through the center of Texas and Marine Climate Zone C, which runs along the West Coast and Pacific Northwest including Washington and the California coast. The only states not requiring this code are in Dry Climate Zone B, which includes Nevada and Colorado.

While adding an extra step is not something contractors always want to hear, Nolt says it’s not really that much additional work or monetary inconvenience. “We’re talking about an ancillary type of product. The cost is not significant; it’s really just a few cents on a square foot. The significant cost comes if there is a failure of the product if moisture gets in. So this is really a kind of cheap form of insurance to prevent that.”

There are already products on the market to help contractors address the code and with the new requirement, Dells predicts more products will become available as the demand increases. One product already available is made by Cultured Stone, called Drain-N-Dry™, a pre-rainscreen material that provides moisture drainage, and it has an added feature many others do not provide.

“It has some technology behind it to address air circulation behind the wall system. It creates some airflow to become a ventilated type of system for moisture drainage,” Nolt explains.

For contractors looking for information or solutions to comply with the code requirement, they can contact Instone.

As the old saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By adhering to the code and adding a rainscreen to stone veneer projects, it helps the industry as a whole ensure against moisture damage and have many happy customers with beautiful stonework on their homes and commercial properties for years to come.

Boost Your Home’s Value with Pangaea® Natural Stone for Added Curb Appeal

Boost Your Home’s Value with Pangaea® Natural Stone for Added Curb Appeal


Last Updated:


Curb appeal. We’ve all heard about it, but how do you get it and what’s the best way to increase curb appeal while getting a great return on investment when you decide to sell? The front of your house greets guests and passers-by alike. Its appearance can turn heads or make heads shake. Your house’s exterior beauty, or “curb appeal”, is one of the biggest factors that determine your home’s value and street cred.

A home’s entrance featuring Pangaea® Cambrian Fieldstone.

Curb appeal is especially important for those considering selling or being compliant with homeowners’ association maintenance regulations. It also plays an important role in just being a responsible neighbor, keeping the neighborhood looking nice, and raising property values.

For a quick and easy way to boost your home’s curb appeal, let us introduce you to natural stone veneer. Our Pangaea ® veneer can instantly add an attractive finish to a home’s entryway, siding, walls and columns. It is made from real stone, cut thin and designed to be affixed to vertical surfaces, giving the appearance of full-bed stones.

What a difference one choice makes. WestCoast® Fieldstone makes the entry stand out!

We spoke with Andrew Everleigh of Environmental Pools, who has completed dozens of home improvement and masonry projects using Pangaea® stone to enhance a home’s appearance. He said one of the biggest reasons to go with Pangaea® was the look of the stone. “The way the stones are cut and the tightness of how they look together. I get a lot of feedback on how people like the simple, modern look that Pangaea® gives them.”

He says the quality is also a benefit, “There’s a lot of thin veneer out there. If someone is looking for a high-end stone veneer, Pangaea® is it.”

The Difference Between Natural Stone and Manufactured Stone

While it may be hard to detect by the untrained eye, there is a difference between natural stone veneer and manufactured (aka cultured) stone. Natural stone comes from Mother Nature herself, quarried from the earth and thinly sliced to make a veneer instead of using a full-bed stone. Because it’s created by nature, it’s naturally sustainable, can withstand weather conditions and gives a unique appearance with textures and tonal variations that look aesthetically beautiful.

Manufactured or cultured stone is man-made and designed to mimic natural stone in appearance. It is usually made of concrete and aggregate materials and is stained or painted to look like natural stone colors. Therefore, it may not be as durable as natural stone and can fade or erode over time or in harsh weather conditions.

The difference may be in cost. While cultured stone may appear to be lower cost upfront because it’s not as durable, it may need to be replaced down the road. Because natural stone is made to last by the earth, the value is in its durability. However, Pangaea® natural stone veneers are comparably priced to cultured stone right at purchase, so it’s a win-win!

How to Use Pangaea® Natural Stone Veneers on Your Home

Everleigh and his team often use Pangaea® for applications where they are not able to do a full-set or full-bed stone; it provides a lighter weight, sleeker finish than bigger stones. It’s also more cost-effective to use veneers versus full-bed stones. While Pangaea® comes in a number of finishes, he said his team uses a lot of Ledgestone and Ashlar and sometimes will mix it with Castlestone for a unique look.

For a homeowner who’s been looking at their same house for a number of years, sometimes it’s hard to know where to make improvements for aesthetic value. That’s where Everleigh’s team or a landscape architect comes in to provide guidance.

“Either our team or a landscape architect would work with the homeowner to create a design and color palette and then we would come in and build it.”

A light post at the entrance to a driveaway featuring Pangaea’s® Diamond River 3 Course Ashlar.

He says the first step is taking a look at the architecture of the home and the overall layout to the outside environment and determining the type of Pangaea® stone that will work best. For example, for more of a country-style, old-fashion feel, they would use the Fieldstone. For a more modern look they would go with a Ledgestone. The homeowner would determine the color palette they like best—greys or tans, or a mixture based on the overall theme of the property.

Everleigh said each area has a prominent type of architecture. New England is generally a lot of grey and brown tones, while more of a Tuscan style may be popular in other areas. He says it’s best to turn to the guidance of an expert rather than DIY to make sure the design matches the architecture of the house. “They can help you narrow down the color and source samples so the homeowner can see and feel the choices available,” he says.

Pangaea® comes in a large variety of color and style options to fit the design you want to create. View our selection here.

Where to Use Natural Stone Veneers to Improve Curb Appeal

One of the benefits of using Pangaea® thin stone veneer is the way stone veneer can transform and upgrade the look of the home. Here are a few ways to use it for better curb appeal:

Entryway: Thin stone veneer can provide a completely new look to your home’s front door area and create interest and contrast.

Garage: Cover garage structures for a unique look. You can also match it to your entryway to unify your look throughout your home’s exterior.

Columns: Columns provide a stately look to any home. Ones made from stone veneer provide interest and color to the front of your home.

Stone Walls: Set borders around your home for protection or simply aesthetic value by adhering to walls. Pangaea® thin veneer is easy to install with beautiful results.

Chimney: If your chimney is visible from the front of your house, wrapping it in Pangaea® natural stone veneer will give it visual interest and a rustic look.

Contact us today for more information, to locate a dealer in your region, or to become a Pangaea® dealer.

Most Frequently Asked Questions at the 2022 Northeast Hardscape Expo

Most Frequently Asked Questions at the 2022 Northeast Hardscape Expo


Last Updated:


The Instone Team enjoyed meeting all of you at the recent Northeast Hardscape Expo. We shared our products and signed up recruits to our Instone Army. We look forward to interacting with our new Stone Soldiers in the coming weeks!

In the meantime, for those who were there, and those who couldn’t make it, here are some of the most frequently asked questions from the expo, answered by our experts.

Q: We saw you have a product called Pangaea®. What makes it so special?

Like our saying, “We Make It Easy!,” Pangaea® makes it super easy to do your job. This product is ready for application right out of the box. Each stone is pre-cut, tooled, trimmed and fitted together. All you have to do is apply it just like it’s laid out in the package, saving you time, money and product waste.

Q: How much Pangaea® square footage is in a pallet? 

A: It depends on the type ordered, but in general, flats will cover 200-240 sq ft with a ½” joint, and corners will have about 50 linear feet in every pallet. To find the exact number for the profile you’re interested in, go to our website. In the top navigation click “Check Stock.” Click on the product you’re interested in. Click on the specific style. The description will list how much is available in each warehouse. 

Q: How does the cost of Pangaea® compare with other similar products? 

A: You’ll find Pangaea’s price point comparable to other quality products. It may appear slightly higher, but you get extra value in the time you save and the elimination of waste thanks to the unique features of Pangaea, which include:

  • Gripset® the pre-scored grooves on the back of each piece for quick and easy application and no slippage.
  • Pre-tooled, trimmed and fitted pieces so you can cover more square footage than the competitors (less waste). 

Q: Can I pick up my orders? How do I get product? 

A: Instone works directly through a dealer network to ensure the lowest freight costs possible and the quickest delivery. Our route trucks deliver material 2-3 times a week, so you can be sure your material will get to you in a dependable and timely manner.

Q: I didn’t know you had landscape products too. What can you offer, and is it in stock? 

A: We have patterned flagging, steps, treads, caps and coping readily available in a variety of materials. Our Aura Natural Landscape products include granite, limestone, pebbles, quartizite, sandstone and travertine selections in a variety of finishes. In addition to what we have in stock, we can also do custom fabrication for those one-of-a-kind projects. 

Q: How do I find a dealer near me? 

A: Contact our customer service team at (708) 371-0660 or Let us know the product you’re interested in and your  location. We’ll set you up with someone nearby who’s knowledgeable and ready to help.

Q: How can I find out what’s in stock?

A: That’s easy! Navigate to Check Stock on the top navigation bar on the website. From there, you can see the availability of our products in your area, whether you’re a homeowner or dealer. 

Q: Which stones will be the most readily available this year?

A: That’s a great question. We can’t always predict the demand of a particular stone. However, we strive to keep a full complement of stone types and colors in stock. If one stone isn’t available, we’re consistently sourcing new materials that can fill your needs if stock runs low in one area. We utilize our entire network to ensure complete coverage and availability. If you don’t see what you want, please ask. We may be able to offer alternatives and get them to you quickly.

Q: What is the Instone Army and how do I join?

The Instone Army is an elite group of stone soldiers who receive exclusive educational information, new product notifications, chances to earn and win tools and gear. Each new member gets a FREE Instone Army t-shirt! Sign up for our Army here.

Again, thank you all for coming out to the Northeast Hardscape Expo. We hope to see you at the next event!

Our Superstar Women in Construction

Our Superstar Women in Construction


Last Updated:


Construction and landscaping are two fields traditionally thought of as male-dominated. But more and more women are entering the industry and proving to hold their own and bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the table.

Instone is proud of the women who work at their company and wanted to put the spotlight on them so you can get to know them.

Cathy Fluharty, Warehouse Lead

Cathy has been with Instone since 2019 and works as a warehouse lead. Growing up with two brothers, she was used to spending time around the males in her life. “I used to play peewee baseball and lots of sports with the boys.” She says. “It wasn’t an unusual thing for me.” She says she enjoys the challenge of showing them up a lot of time!

She began working in the construction industry by taking manufacturing and warehouse jobs, “I hadn’t ever thought about stone. I was going to go into nursing but decided that wasn’t for me. I think the products we have are pretty cool. I like seeing the fireplaces and things people put together for their houses.”

Cathy admits when she started her first job in the industry, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to cut it, but now 24 years later, she proudly exclaims, “I’m still here!”

Her motto is “work smarter, not harder”. She credits that with seeing her through any challenges, especially when asked if women have any disadvantages in the industry, such as physical strength. “If you do things smarter, it’s not hard. We move a lot of cartons. If it’s too heavy for me to lift, I just use a forklift or slide it over and let gravity do the work.”

After surviving several layoffs with her previous company, she says she loves the security she has at Instone. “In the past, we were always waiting for the ball to drop. Here we’re growing. Things are good. I have a family and the security means everything.”

Christine Quersher, Fabrication Manager

Christine has been with Instone since 2019 and quickly went from working in estimating to fabrication manager. It’s a career path she never expected to be on. “I worked for 20 years in human resources and left my job in 2015 to stay home with my son.” She said staying at home wasn’t for her, so she took a temporary part-time administrative job to keep busy. “The company I was with at the time offered me a little more, and it went to full-time. I kept growing and training and went on to be an estimator. Instone bought that company out, and I then went from estimation to fabrication.” Now she’s responsible for the fabrication shop and its three team members.

Working with stone wasn’t something Christine ever thought about doing, but now that’s she’s in the business, she finds it very interesting. “It’s completely different and wide variety of products. My brother just renovated his house with an addition and a walkway. I was able to point out and name all the stones!” she laughs. “It’s so beautiful. I really enjoy it.”

When she started in the industry, she was only one of two women at her company. With Instone she says it’s about 50/50. She said she never felt like that was holding her back. “I went to two hardscape shows and there were a lot of other women. It gave me a lot more confidence. It’s a great environment. I’ve never been in a situation where I wasn’t taken seriously.”

Christine wants to encourage other women to consider the construction and landscaping industry and see for themselves. “Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t apply for these jobs. When I was first thinking of applying, I thought it was mainly men. Why would they want a female? But you can’t face life that way. You have to be confident in yourself. That was my approach and it’s worked well for me. I don’t think anybody I’ve worked with in this business has looked down on women. I think women should challenge themselves and try different industries. Reach out, give it a shot!”

Nicole Blackburn, Senior Estimator

Nicole joined Instone three years ago ad works as a senior estimator. She holds a degree in mechanical engineering and didn’t really think about stone until a recruiter reached out to her after she worked as an estimator in the plastics industry. “It was something that piqued my interest. I never thought I’d be in this field coming from mechanical engineering, but I always wanted to build things and create and see something come to life that I created.”

Her job consists of working on custom stone projects, sourcing materials from across the globe and seeing projects through with clients from start to finish. Although she works in the construction industry now, she says she doesn’t look the part.

“I have a girly look.” Adding that she also wants to appear educated because in past jobs, men felt the need to explain things in laymen’s terms or assumed she didn’t know how to do things like measure on a tape measure. But she’s quick to clarify that doesn’t happen at Instone.

She’s not surprised it happens, citing that when she started in the engineering field, she was only one of two women in her graduating class of 100. “And the other woman was my twin sister!” she laughs. “So from the beginning, I’ve been outnumbered. Anything to do with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has very few women.”

Nicole feels women bring a different perspective to traditionally male-dominated industries that is needed. “I think women are naturally calmer. When I deal with customers, and they have an issue, they automatically calm down speaking to me. They’re not as defensive.”

The collaboration she has with her partner Zak [last name] at Instone is what really makes her love her job. “It’s great coming to work every day and working with someone who understands you and your ideas.”

She just hopes other male-dominated industries will one day be more of a level playing field. “You always have to fight harder as a woman. That’s probably always going to be that way. But maybe it’s a good thing. We always want to be the best we can be.”

Are you interested in working for Instone? Check out our LinkedIn page to learn more about our company culture and job openings.

We Pity the Fool: Meet The Instone A-Team at the Northeast Hardscape Expo

We Pity the Fool: Meet The Instone A-Team at the Northeast Hardscape Expo


Last Updated:


“We Pity the Fool Who Doesn’t Sign Up”

Meet The Instone A-Team at the

Northeast Hardscape Expo

Need a stone? We got it! Supply issues? Not a problem when these guys are around!

They can get what you need fast as lightning.

It’s the Instone A-Team!

Members of the Instone A-Team will be at the Hardscape Expo.

Come stop by Booth 500 and meet them.

Get to know a little about them here:


Jake Alicandro

Jake is the Territory Sales Manager for New England, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He’s been with Instone for four months. He says one of the best things about Instone is the customer service. “We’re a very personable company. I think a lot of people think bad about big corporations, but Instone is one of the best corporations around. The CEO and COO are very hands-on and very one-on-one with the customers.” Jake also loves to rave about the products to his clients, “The products are top-notch. I tell people, ‘They aren’t the best in Massachusetts, they aren’t the best in New England, they are the best in the world!'”

A typical day for Jake consists of going by the office to pick up new samples, then being on the road most of the time, visiting customers. He says what he loves about his job is being out and about and seeing customers face-to-face. “I don’t like being in the same office. I like being active and creating connections.”

Get to know Jake:

When Jake’s not working, he likes to: I watch an excessive amount of sports. My favorite sport is whatever season it is! When it’s nice outside, I’m a big golfer. I like to go on hikes.

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite food: Cheeseburger

Most amazing place traveled to: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Favorite band/ type of music: Classic rock, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Favorite beer: Corona

Pets: A cat and two dogs at my parent’s house

He collects: No collections

What he loves about where he lives: I live in Boston, and I think it has an elite sports environment. Us Mass-holes love our sports!

Secret skill: I’m a good impressionist of my peers.


Justin Alicandro

Justin is the VP of Natural Stone Products. He works nationwide getting natural stone established across the country. He also travels the world looking for the next products to establish in the United States. He says one of the biggest benefits of Instone is they offer a wide range of products and they’re easy to order on the website. “I like to find alternatives to popular stones, so when they’re not available, we always have something we can offer right away. I like bringing in new color ranges that had never been available before, like browns and tans.”

A typical day for Justin consists of visiting various regions, finding out what colors work in that region and finding stones to bring in for them. He says what he loves about his job is selling a product he loves. “I love natural stone, I’m very passionate about it and I have a job where I get to help pick out the stones and sell them. I’m selling something I love, so it’s a dream job.”

Get to know Justin:

When Justin’s not working, he likes to: I like to watch sports. I enjoy watching my kids grow up playing sports. I coach as many of the sports they play as I can. I enjoy being with my family, going on vacations, going out to eat. I love food. And I love my animals as much as my family. I love golf, being outside, being on the water, the ocean and lakes. I like to cook.

Favorite food: Italian

Favorite color: Green

Most amazing place traveled to: India

Favorite band/ type of music: Country, Toby Keith, Luke Combs, Luke Bryan

Favorite beer: Used to be IPA, now it’s Coors Light

Pets: Two golden retrievers 

He collects: I actually throw everything away! I do collect sports ticket stubs and the things my kids make for me.

What he loves about where he lives: I live in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and it’s a great community. My grandfather lived there growing up, and it was always a dream to live there. I didn’t think it would be possible, but I got lucky and found a house 20 years ago and lived there ever since. It has an amazing school system and great people everywhere, there’s nothing bad about it.

Secret skill: I can predict what the next great natural stone is going to be. I stay one step ahead of the competition! And I can do 50 pushups at the drop of a hat!



Bob Baxter

Bob is a Territory Sales Manager covering southern New York, New Jersey, southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. He’s been with Instone for seven years and says one of the primary benefits of stone products is the aesthetic look it gives a home. “It gives people a sense of worth for their home or building. It’s the exclamation point on top of things.”

A day in the life for Bob consists of being out in the field, stopping at job sites, meeting with mason installers, builders, architects and designers and all the channels that either use or specify Instone’s products.

He loves to tell people, “I sell rocks!” with tongue firmly placed in cheek, but what he loves most about his job is his interaction with trades. “I grew up in this industry doing some form of building since I was 10 years old with my grandfather. I love interacting with the trades or educating people who don’t know about the products we have. There are so many unique differences between the products, whether it’s a natural material or manmade. I have 40 years of experience and I try to identify expectations. Then I can give recommendations on the products and the esthetics.”

Get to know Bob:

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite food: I’m a health and fitness guy, but I love pizza

Most amazing place traveled to: Ireland

Favorite band/type of music: Foo Fighters

Favorite beer: I don’t drink beer

Pets: Two dogs – A Labradoodle and American Bulldog

He collects: Legos

When Bob’s not working, he likes to: I like to spend time with my family. I build really challenging Legos. My hobby is work when I’m not working. I love to build things. During the pandemic shutdown, I built a massive pavilion with a fire pit in my backyard.

What he loves about where he lives: I live in New Jersey, and it’s great because we’re incredibly close to the ocean.

Secret skill: ping pong


Dan Pichan

Dan is the Vice President of Sales for Instone. He oversees territory managers, outside sales and inside sales customer service teams. He’s been with Instone for four years and says they truly live up to their motto of: we make it easy. “We’re a two step-distributor that specializes in the mason industry selling thin veneer stone both natural and manufactured. We sell only to dealers and then our contractors buy through the dealers. We’re all challenged with Covid these days but we’re respectful of how people want to meet now. I just enjoy being with people.”

A typical day in the life for Dan consists of working with the sales teams to provide support. He says what he loves about his job is working with his teams and his customers. “We have the best team out there.”

Get to know Dan:

Favorite color: Deep blue

Favorite food: Spicy Thai

Most amazing place traveled to: Thailand

Favorite band/ type of music: Classic rock, Aerosmith

Favorite beer: Bud Lite

Pets: A Golden Retriever named Norman, “The Dog of Leisure.”

He collects: Baseball hats

When Dan’s not working, he likes to: I enjoy my family life. I’ve been married 37 years and I have two boys. In the winter, as a family, we like to downhill ski. In the summer, we like to boat and water ski.

What he loves about where he lives: I live in Michigan, and I love all sports teams, I always have a Michigan hat handy, even though people like to tease me because they all stink. But I love them all!

Secret skill: I like to work with my hands. I do very good mason work. I find it very therapeutic. I recently made a plant stand for my office out of natural stone.

Stop by Booth 500 and meet our

Stone Superheroes – the Instone A-Team.

Maybe you have something in common?

They’ll be happy to show you our products and give you a free T-shirt!.