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Height Considerations for Stone Veneers

There are several dimensional factors that will play some role in your selection of a stone veneer for any part of your property, and height is definitely on this list. Stone veneers tend to look great in tall formats, but are there limitations to how high a given veneer can be built? What else do you need to be thinking about in terms of veneer height?


At Harristone, we're here to help answer these and numerous other questions from our clients throughout Portland and nearby areas, to whom we provide the very best stone veneers and other products engineered to look exactly like natural stone (but with some additional man-made benefits). What are some considerations for stone veneer height as you're considering your options? Here are some important areas to be aware of.




General Rules for Veneer Height

Based on guidelines from industry leaders like ASTM, plus International Building Code standards, the general maximum height for residential stone veneers is 10 feet. This isn't necessarily the pure maximum for any structure -- we'll discuss possible exceptions in a moment.


To qualify for any veneer at 10 feet or shorter, first and foremost, a few basic conditions of the existing structure must be met. For one, the wall system must be at least a 2'x4' stud frame wall, with standard 16" spacing or greater. Furthermore, the wall must have a proper water-resistive barrier (WRB) installed, and drainage must be ensured. Finally, the home or building must be inspected by a qualified engineer to ensure that it is capable of supporting the additional weight of a stone veneer.


If your property doesn't meet these requirements, there may still be some hope; veneers can be installed with special engineering and design work.


Exceptions to the 10-Foot Guidelines

Now, as we noted above, there are many cases where the 10-foot maximum guidelines for stone veneers can be worked around. Many commercial buildings, lobbies, and even religious buildings (particularly those with cathedrals) see much taller veneers installed.


To qualify for such a specialty veneer installation, there are a few factors that need to be considered -- and we'll go over those in our subsequent sections.


Stone Veneer Thickness

One of the key factors to keep in mind if you're attempting to install a taller veneer is the thickness of the stone itself. There are both "thin" and "thick" varieties of manufactured stone veneer that can be ordered -- thin veneer options tend to weigh less than 15 pounds per square foot, and with no dimensions exceeding 36 inches, square, while thicker veneer options weigh much more and often have larger dimensions.


As our savviest readers may already have guessed, thinner veneer products tend to work better for taller installations, as they're less likely to cause too much additional weight on the structure. Keep in mind that even a thin veneer installation will still likely weigh more than 12 pounds per square foot; if you're unsure whether your building can bear that kind of load, it's best to consult with a professional engineer.


Thicker veneer products often require their own footers or other foundational support, which can add to the complexity (and cost) of an installation.


Wall Construction

We mentioned the construction of your existing wall above, and it's worth taking a deeper look into here. Specifically, are you working with a frame construction (a wood or metal frame, with spacing in between) or a concrete masonry unit (CMU). These are two different types of wall construction, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks when it comes to installing a stone veneer.


Also important is the way the wall in question is supported, as this will have a direct impact on how much weight the veneer can bear. If you're unsure about your wall's construction or support, it's best to consult with a professional engineer before proceeding with a taller veneer installation.


Possible Structural Changes

In some cases, it may be necessary to make some modifications to the existing structure in order to support a taller stone veneer. This could involve adding additional footers or supports to the wall or even making changes to the framing or roofing of the building.


It's important to note that these modifications will add time and money to the overall installation process, so it's best to consider them early on and budget accordingly.


Permitting

Permits won't always be required for a stone veneer installation, but in some cases, they may be necessary. If you're planning to install a veneer that's taller than 12 feet, it's likely that you'll need a permit from your local municipality -- so be sure to check with them before beginning any work.


As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider when looking at taller stone veneers. By understanding the implications of height on the installation process, you can make a more informed decision about whether a taller veneer is right for your project.


For more on this, or to learn about any of our great stone veneer products in Portland or any other nearby area, speak to the team at Harristone today.


Note: The information provided is intended to supplement but not supersede the ICC-ES, ESR-1593 report.


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