From Stucco to Stunning
Manufactured Stone Veneer Adds Charm & Value to California Homes
by Bob Heath, market development leader, Owens Corning Cultured Stone®
Stucco can make for beautiful exteriors. At times, however, it can be a bit, well, plain. This is especially true if all the homes in the neighborhood are stucco. Two Southern California homeowners recently discovered how adding manufactured stone accents could transform their homes from average to exceptional. In a study, fielded by Gilmore Research Group, the added value was double the average cost of such an enhancement and equated to at least a 3% increase in the perceived value of the home.
While few homes will feature an entire exterior of full-thickness stone, brick and stone finishes are popular because they add character and value and can dramatically upgrade a home’s appearance. Siding replacement is consistently listed among the most popular home improvement projects and with residential remodeling continuing to trend up the opportunity to explore new blends of color and texture will expand as well.
The remodeled homes featured in this article belong to Lisa and Don Bennett and Lu and Beth Lyall. Both live in Coto de Caza, a planned community of about 4,000 homes in the hills of Southern Orange County, Calif., just east of Mission Viejo. The two couples started their remodeling projects with visits to Sepulveda Building Materials, Laguna Niguel, Calif., a Southern California masonry dealer, and both came to the conclusion that manufactured stone veneer would add just the right touch to their homes.
The Bennett home AS SEEN ON COVER
When Don and Lisa Bennett bought their home in February, it had everything they were looking for, a great neighborhood, good architecture, and a large backyard with a pool. There was only one problem. “It was very plain,” said Lisa. “It was stark white stucco. It reminded us of a medical building.”
Still, the Bennetts knew the house had potential, so they bought it and spent a few weeks remodeling the exterior before moving in. Their previous home was custom built and featured manufactured stone accents, so they knew how stone veneer could improve the look. “Because the house was all white, you couldn’t see the structure of it, where it began and where it ended. It needed something to make the details pop out,” Lisa said.
After drawing sketches and viewing product samples, the Bennetts decided to go with Cultured Stone Chardonnay Old Country Fieldstone. “We’ve always loved Mediterranean/Tuscan architecture and we wanted to give our home that same Old World feel,” Lisa said. She noted that the Chardonnay color blended well with the existing red brick in the walkways and roof tiles. The Old Country Fieldstone texture featured large stones that created an authentic look.
Sepulveda Building Materials connected the Bennetts with Joe Baron of Baron Construction, Laguna Niguel, Calif., a mason experienced in installing Cultured Stone products. Baron says that manufactured stone has come a long way during his 25 years as a mason and he frequently recommends it to his clients. “Manufactured stone looks great and it’s very cost-effective. Whereas natural stone must be cut and laid out to fit right, manufactured stone comes ready to apply so it takes about half the time to install,” said Baron.
Because of manufactured stone’s light weight, footings are not required and it can be applied directly to unpainted stucco. On the Bennett home, Baron simply added a scratch coat to the existing stucco and applied the stones using a layer of specially blended mortar on the back of each stone. To create an authentic Old World look, Baron colored the mortar a golden yellow and applied it using an “overgrouting” technique.
In all, Baron and two crew members installed 1,200 square feet of stone veneer. The project included sections of three-foot-high wainscoting and a full-height wall surrounding the front door and back patio door. In the back yard, stone veneer was applied to the barbecue area, to a 100’ long retaining wall, and to a short wall that provided seating near the pool.
In addition to creating a beautiful home for the Bennetts, the exterior improvements may have increased the value of the home, should they ever decide to sell. “I would say it’s increased the value of our home,” said Don. “Just the other day our real estate agent was showing a couple the homes in our neighborhood. The buyers pointed at ours and said they wanted that one, but our agent said we just moved in and wouldn’t be selling anytime soon.”
Visit the Owens Corning Cultured Stone website: www.culturedstone.com