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


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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.

Most Frequently Asked Questions at the 2022 Northeast Hardscape Expo

Most Frequently Asked Questions at the 2022 Northeast Hardscape Expo


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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 customerservice@instoneco.com. 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!