No Mason? No problem! GenStone Engineered the Labor out of Installing Stone
Just as all automobiles are not equal, neither are all faux stone products. There are many competitors, but GenStone, with headquarters in Denver, stands out from the rest, says the company’s General Manager Matt Leake. “In fact, we consider ourselves to be the Tesla of faux stone.”
You love the look and feel of natural stone. It is the stuff your long-cherished dream home should be made of, you think. But then, you are faced with the reality of masonry work, which is both expensive and not at all DIY-friendly. There are serious weight-bearing issues to be considered, which require professional engineering. Weather-related delays and shorter building seasons in the northern U.S. and Canada create delays because the temperature must be ‘just right’ for the mortar to stick, and labor costs are substantial because a mason can only complete twenty square feet per hour.
However, a homeowner equipped with some do-it-yourself skills and cutting saws could cover one hundred square feet in the same time using faux stone panels, all while realizing an overall cost saving of fifty percent.
Faux stone panels are also a boon for general contractors who can increase their profit margin by installing the panels themselves without having to subcontract a mason. And finally, both home owners and contractors can feel good about using faux stone since it doesn’t have a negative environmental impact.
So, you decide to turn to faux stone, but the problem is that, while there are many products on the market, most appear to be exactly as the name indicates – not only faux but très faux. Certainly not the stuff your long-cherished dream home should be made of!
GenStone came about, Leake says, “because there was no truly DIY-friendly or eco-friendly stone product out there. What was available looked like plastic, was not durable and was not engineered specifically for exterior or interior use. It was something people needed and wanted and GenStone’s designers spent over a decade working on proprietary designs and products that can be applied to any flat sub-strait: existing brick, cinder block, plywood, foundation over cladding or ICF foam.”
GenStone’s high density, closed-cell polyurethane is cast in molds made from quarried stone, natural rock or brick, making it possible for it to retain the texture and shape of those masonry styles.
There is stacked stone which simulates the shapes of stone found in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula; random rock patterns which simulate quarried stone, cut and dressed in squares and rectangles; brick which achieves the vintage appearance of tumbled brick with recessed grout; and river rock which simulates the smooth, rounded stones found in the rivers of Alaska or the Canadian north.
And GenStone is not just about texture. Its color is hand-painted in the factory with twelve layers to capture the depth and subtle variations of natural stone. Shades range from a light ‘Desert Sunrise’ to dark and dramatic charcoal colored ‘Iron Ore.’ There are traditional pink-reds, deep red bricks and mixes of gold-brown, terra cotta or blue-gray quarried stone as well as an almost white polished river stone.
“Everyone wants to know how we do it, but they don’t want to spend the money that we do on quality materials. If you put our product side-by-side with our competitors, you can tell the difference immediately, but if you put it next to natural stone, you can’t tell which is which,” he says.
While aesthetic appeal is a definite attraction, there are practical considerations that make GenStone the leader in exterior siding. It has an R-value of 3.6, so it provides good insulation, reducing heating and cooling costs. It is insect and mold resistant and easy to clean with a garden hose and a mild soapy solution. It also comes with a twenty-five-year warranty.
It has been manufactured to the highest standards, including those set by the Canadian Construction Materials Centre. The organization operates within the National Research Council of Canada and provides an evaluation service for all types of innovative building construction materials, with even more stringent standards than its U.S. counterparts.
The product is durable, having been rigorously tested in independent laboratories, including EXOVA Labs, a leading test facility in which it exceeded the requirements for acid rain resistance, fastener pull-through, wind load resistance and impact resistance.
At GenStone’s own facility, it tests its own and the competition’s products. Faux stone products have been subjected to such tests as being run over with a 5,700-pound Jeep, attacked with a sledgehammer and dropped from a balcony. Guess which product survived and which didn’t? If you enjoy watching faux stone being tortured, you can even watch the videos.
GenStone is always looking to improve its product line and has just introduced the ‘Dimpled’ line to the Canadian market. This line is designed so that only twenty percent of the panel is touching the substrate and is advantageous as “there’s a lot more room for water to escape from behind the panel,” Leake says, and the design eliminates the need for strapping behind the panel.
The company is also proud of its distinct line of interior faux stone paneling. Although there was a demand for its exterior paneling to be used as fireplace surrounds and feature walls early on, GenStone refused to put it on the market for that purpose until a separate line of interior paneling was perfected that surpassed Class A fire code rating in independent third-party testing laboratories.
GenStone has both residential and commercial applications, including new builds and renovations, apartment complexes, schools, restaurants, churches, hotels, gas stations, baseball stadiums, interior office spaces, patios, hot tub surrounds and, of course, the steel buildings for which it was originally intended.
“We even did a government housing project in Georgia and our solution was so surprisingly affordable compared to what they thought they wanted to do that they did the entire neighborhood and it looks great,” Leake says.
For those wondering what a home or commercial property would look like with GenStone’s faux stone siding, the company can show attractive results with either full or partial coverage in which the faux stone panels have been combined with vinyl siding. Potential customers can also touch and see samples at national distributors, including Lowes, Home Hardware and Home Depot.
In addition, the company’s Visualizer program allows homeowners to download a photo of their home and try various colors and combinations. Color arrangements within the panels can be various shades of the same color, pulled from opposite sides of the color wheel for a bold statement or a range of three colors which sit next to each other on the color wheel to give a sense of harmony. The Visualizer program is also a useful tool when seeking permission from homeowners’ associations.
Because there is a range of over twenty colors in four styles, choosing the right one may be the most difficult and time-consuming part of the project. Installing the ten-piece system consisting of full-sized panels, half-panels, inside and outside corners, trim, ledgers and column pieces is easy, if you know how to measure and cut a straight line.
For the DIY enthusiast, the website includes instructional videos showing how to draw a plumb line, cut the lightweight panels with a table saw and work from left corner piece to the right, attaching the panels to the substrate with adhesive and a screw gun.
Et voilà! Your dream home is a reality –an aesthetically pleasing, durable and affordable reality. Moreover, it is the envy of your neighborhood. How cool is that? Lightweight, easy to install but with the look of genuine stone, GenStone’s unique patented, proprietary product is revolutionizing the faux stone industry.