Stone Veneer Siding vs. Natural Stone Siding: What’s the Difference?

Stone veneer siding accents near a front door of a home

Understanding the Stone Siding Choices

Ever found yourself staring at a home’s exterior, wondering if that gorgeous stone facade is genuine or a manufactured stone veneer siding?

Or perhaps you’ve been contemplating a renovation and are torn between the allure of authentic stone and the practicality of its contemporary counterpart?

In this post, we’ll delve deep into the world of stone veneer panels, manufactured stone veneer, and natural stone siding, comparing their features, benefits, and applications.

By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision for your home’s siding installation in Ashwaubenon, WI, ensuring it not only looks stunning but also stands the test of time.

What is Stone Veneer Siding?

A home with stone veneer accents

Stone veneer, often dubbed the “chameleon” of the construction world, is a marvel of modern engineering.

Also known as manufactured stone veneer or cultured stone, stone veneer has been crafted to resemble the beauty and texture of natural stone closely but at a fraction of the weight and cost.

The creation process of stone veneer is meticulous.

It begins with a blend of Portland cement, aggregates (like pumice or shale), and iron oxides.

This mixture not only gives the veneer its stone-like feel but also imparts various colors to mimic different types of stones.

Once the blend is ready, it’s poured into mold panels, which are often created from real stone.

This ensures that the veneer captures the intricate details, textures, and patterns of genuine stone.

For instance, consider a homeowner in Ashwaubenon, WI, who wants the rustic charm of fieldstone for their home’s exterior but is concerned about weight and cost.

Stone veneer can offer the same aesthetic, capturing the irregular shapes and varied colors of fieldstone without the associated challenges.

However, it’s also crucial to differentiate stone veneer from faux stone veneer, also known as vinyl stone siding.

A home with vinyl stone siding, also known as faux stone siding

While both aim to replicate the look of stone, their composition is vastly different. Faux veneer stone is made from a high-density polymer.

At a glance, it might look like stone, but a simple touch reveals its true nature.

It’s much lighter, almost foam-like – a stark contrast to the cool, hard surface of real stone or stone veneer.

That being said, as you can see in the image below, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference in appearance between vinyl stone siding and stone veneer siding.

A close up of vinyl stone siding, also known as faux stone siding

The Pros and Cons of Stone Veneer Siding


  • Lightweight: One of the standout features of stone veneer is its weight. Being significantly lighter than natural stone, it doesn’t require heavy-duty support structures. This makes it ideal for applications like interior walls or facades where weight could be a concern.

  • Easy to Cut: Unlike natural stone, which requires specialized tools and expertise to shape, stone veneer can be easily tailored using standard tools. This is especially beneficial for spaces that require custom cuts, like fitting around fixtures or creating unique patterns.

  • Readily Available: Given its rising popularity, especially in areas like Ashwaubenon, WI, stone veneer is widely available. Whether you’re looking for a specific color, texture, or pattern, there’s likely a stone veneer that fits the bill.

  • Versatility: Its adaptability is unmatched. Whether it’s an exterior wall, a kitchen backsplash, or a fireplace, stone veneer can elevate the space with its stone-like charm.


  • Uniform Appearance: One of the trade-offs for its consistency and ease of use is that stone veneer can sometimes lack the unique character of natural stone. Especially in larger installations, patterns might repeat, giving away its manufactured nature.

  • Color Fading: Just like any other material, prolonged exposure to harsh elements, especially direct sunlight, might cause stone veneer to lose some of its vibrancy over time.

  • Brittleness: While it’s durable, stone veneer isn’t invincible. It can chip or break upon impact, so care should be taken, especially during installation or in high-traffic areas.

What is Natural Stone Siding?

Stylishly Contemporary Residence with two-car garage, Sleek Architecture, and Natural Stone Details with Light Blue Siding

Natural stone is nature’s masterpiece, a testament to the artistry of our planet.

Formed over millions of years under the earth’s crust, it’s a product of intense heat, pressure, and a myriad of geological processes.

When we talk about natural stone, we’re referring to materials like granite, limestone, marble, slate, and sandstone, among others.

Unlike manufactured products, natural stone is quarried directly from mountains, earth beds, and other natural sources.

Each slab, tile, or block of natural stone tells a unique geological story, marked by distinct mineral patterns, colors, and textures.

The Pros and Cons of Natural Stone Siding


  • Distinct Appearance: One of the most captivating features of natural stone is its uniqueness. No two pieces are identical. Whether it’s the deep blue veins in a slab of marble or the golden flecks in a piece of granite, each stone showcases its individual journey.

  • Durability: Natural stone has withstood the test of time. Ancient civilizations used it to build structures that still stand today. Its resilience to weather changes, especially in areas with extreme conditions, makes it a preferred choice for many homeowners.

  • Color Retention: The colors in natural stone aren’t just surface-deep. They run through the entire material. This means even with wear and tear, the stone retains its original hue, unlike other materials that might show discoloration with age.


  • Weight: One of the challenges with natural stone is its weight. This means installations often require reinforced support structures, especially in applications like wall cladding.

  • Cutting Difficulty: Shaping natural stone isn’t a task for the uninitiated. It demands specialized tools, like diamond-tipped saws, and expertise.

  • Sourcing Challenges: While some stones, like limestone or granite, are relatively abundant, others are rarer. This can make sourcing specific types or colors a challenge, sometimes leading to longer lead times or higher costs.

Primary Differences

Stone veneer siding being installed on a garage

While stone veneer has made significant strides in mimicking the appearance of natural stone, there are still subtle differences.

Stone veneer, especially premium varieties, can replicate the intricate patterns and textures of real stone.

However, natural stone has a unique charm, with each piece offering a distinct look and feel that’s hard to replicate fully.

Let’s take a closer look at the various differences between these two siding materials:

Structural Use

When we talk about structural use in construction, we’re referring to the ability of a material to support loads without compromising its integrity or that of the overall structure.

Stone veneer, while visually appealing, is primarily a decorative facade.

It’s designed to provide the look of stone without the weight or structural capabilities.

Think of it as a “dressing” for a building, much like a coat of paint or wallpaper.

For instance, if you were to build a retaining wall in your Ashwaubenon, WI backyard, relying solely on stone veneer would be ill-advised. The veneer wouldn’t have the strength to hold back the soil.

Natural stone, on the other hand, has been used for centuries in structural applications.

From the pyramids of Egypt to the majestic cathedrals of Europe, natural stone’s strength and durability are evident.

Its ability to bear significant weight and withstand environmental stresses makes it a preferred choice for foundational work, load-bearing walls, and other structural elements.

Size, Weight, and Thickness

The dimensions of a material play a crucial role in its application.

Stone veneer, being a manufactured product, is designed for ease of installation.

It’s typically thinner, often ranging from half an inch to two inches in thickness.

This not only reduces its weight but also makes it more adaptable to various surfaces.

For a homeowner in Ashwaubenon, WI, looking to add stone accents to the front of their home’s exterior, the lightweight and thin profile of stone veneer would mean a quicker, less labor-intensive installation.

Natural stone, in contrast, is heftier.

stone wall texture

Its thickness can vary, but it’s not uncommon to find slabs that are several inches thick.

This weight, while giving it a solid and authentic feel, also means it demands stronger support structures.

For instance, if you were to install natural stone accents to your home’s exterior, you’d need to ensure the side of the home could handle the additional weight.

Appearance and Aesthetics

The world of design is ever-evolving, and with advancements in technology, stone veneer has come a long way.

Today’s stone veneers can mimic a plethora of natural stones, from rough, textured fieldstones to the smooth, veined appearance of marble.

The use of iron oxides in manufacturing allows for a wide spectrum of colors, ensuring that there’s a stone veneer to match every design palette.

However, as the saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

While stone veneer flatters natural stone by trying to replicate its beauty, the original is in a league of its own.

The depth, the play of colors, the unique patterns formed over millennia – natural stone is not just a material; it’s a piece of art.

Installation Procedures

Installation can make or break a project, both in terms of aesthetics and longevity.

Stone veneer, with its lightweight nature, is a favorite among DIY enthusiasts and contractors alike.

It often comes with interlocking features, making it akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Moreover, its flexibility means it can adhere to a variety of surfaces, from plywood to concrete.

Natural stone, while unmatched in its authenticity, poses a different set of challenges.

Its weight requires careful handling.

Natural stone siding will require special support

The installation of natural stone often involves mortar, metal ties, and sometimes even mechanical anchors, especially for larger stones.

Specialized tools, like wet saws, are needed to cut and shape the stone.

For someone in Ashwaubenon, WI, looking to install natural stone siding, it would be wise to consult or hire a professional with experience in stone masonry.

Cost Considerations

When contemplating a home renovation or a new build, budget often takes center stage.

The choice between stone veneer and natural stone siding is no exception.

Both materials have their own set of financial implications, and understanding these can help homeowners in Ashwaubenon, WI, make an informed decision.

Stone Veneer: The Economical Choice

Stone veneer, especially manufactured stone veneer and faux stone veneer, is celebrated for its cost-effective nature.

Its lightweight nature translates to easier handling, transportation, and installation time, all of which can lead to savings.

For instance, manufactured stone veneer typically falls in the range of $10 to $15 per square foot, while the even more affordable faux stone veneer can cost between $8 and $10 per square foot–not including labor.

Moreover, the installation of stone veneer is often quicker, especially if you’re considering the mortarless stone veneer siding variety.

This can mean reduced labor hours and, consequently, lower labor costs.

Additionally, the preparatory work for stone veneer, like adding a vapor barrier or installing a metal lath, is straightforward and doesn’t usually break the bank.

You can learn more about how much stone veneer siding costs in Ashwaubenon, here.

Natural Stone: An Investment in Authenticity and Longevity

On the flip side, natural stone, with its inherent beauty and durability, is often viewed as a long-term investment.

The cost of natural stone will vary widely based on the size of your natural stone siding project, as well as the type of stone you select.

Generally speaking, costs for a natural stone siding installation will start around $50 per sq. ft., not including labor costs.

While its upfront costs are higher than stone veneer, it offers unparalleled authenticity.

Just like natural wood siding, each slab of natural stone tells a unique geological story, marked by distinct mineral patterns, colors, and textures.

But it’s not just about aesthetics.

Natural stone is robust, weather-resistant, and can last for generations with minimal maintenance.

Over time, this durability can translate to savings.

Think fewer repairs, replacements, or overhauls.

Moreover, natural stone can add significant resale value to homes, making it a favorite among homeowners who view their properties as investments.

Versatility in Design

Stone veneer siding being installed by Urban Exteriors professionals

Both stone veneer and natural stone offer incredible design flexibility, fitting into diverse design themes.

However, stone veneer’s ability to adhere to various surfaces may give it a slight edge over natural stone when it comes to design versatility.

Natural stone, with its timeless appeal, remains a favorite for those seeking a classic, enduring look.

Urban Exteriors: Your Stone Siding Solution

Whether you’re leaning towards the modern marvel of stone veneer panels, the ageless beauty of traditional stone siding, the durability of LP SmartSide, or a more cost-effective option like vinyl siding, one thing’s for sure: Urban Exteriors has got you covered.

With our expertise and commitment to quality, we’ll ensure your Ashwaubenon, WI, home’s curb appeal stands out and stands strong.

Ready to transform your home’s exterior and boost its curb appeal?

Fill out our contact form today, or give us a call.

We’re here to make your home siding dreams a reality.