Ever wonder how man-made, faux or manufactured stone is made, and why it is so expensive? We answer the questions most asked of us over the last 17 years in the business. And we share with you what can be done to save up to 90% off retail prices for stone.
Can you really make it yourself? Right at home? And it will look like the real thing? And it’s easy to do? And you can build it into a home business at your own pace? — Yes to all.
HOW ARE CONCRETE STONE MOLDS MADE AND HOW LONG DO THEY LAST?
Most molds are made with high-impact, polystyrene, an industrial ABS plastic, or other plastic blends depending on the application and texture retention desired. They are usually about a .060 thickness. We prefer and use Industrial ABS plastic for its strength, flexibility and durability. If cared for per easy instructions, molds can last for hundreds of pours, depending on the style and size of the mold. Should they start to crack in the corners, they can be repaired to prolong their life. In many cases, like with real stone, cracks and other minor imperfections will actually enhance the appearance of the stone, and are very desirable.
WHAT KIND OF FACILITY IS NEEDED TO MAKE A CEMENT STONE?
You really need very little space, and since there is no waste or environmental impact, you can make stone or tile for your own use in a basement, garage, barn, backyard shed, or even outside under normal weather conditions. A wheelbarrow, a shovel, some molds and instructions are the basics.
For a commercial operation, you can get by with as little as 600 square feet (a two-car garage), but we normally recommend about 1000+ square feet if at all possible for an efficient production facility. That size plant will handle normal business growth and production increases for the first year or so. About 1500 square feet is ideal for a commercial sized plant, and will handle typical growth for the first five years.
WHY ARE THE STONE, PAVER, AND TILE MOLDS SO INEXPENSIVE?
Many mold companies have started on a shoestring and are usually small operations with limited products to offer. There are a number of mold companies that fit this model. Most do not have the benefit of over thirty years experience in mold-making and over seventeen years pioneering the consumer segment of the business. When materials are purchased in large quantities and you have had long, ongoing relationships with suppliers like we have, you get the benefits of what is referred to as economies of scale, (See below). As an example, we are a self-funded company— meaning we owe no one anything. We own our buildings, equipment and land, and are a family-run company. We keep our profit margins conservative, and grow and expand only as we can afford to. Thus— we are able to be extremely competitive in our pricing, while offering hundreds of diverse mold products at very competitive prices.
WHAT DOES ECONOMIES OF SCALE MEAN?
The increase in efficiency of production as the number of goods being produced increases. Typically, a company that achieves economies of scale lowers the average cost per unit through increased production since fixed costs are shared over an increased number of goods.
HOW WILL CONCRETE STONE HOLD UP OUTSIDE IN HARSH CLIMATES?
Most concrete stone will hold up fine outside in almost any weather as long as it was made and designed for that purpose. Concrete needs microscopic air pockets so the moisture can expand and contract without affecting the solid concrete parts. Our proprietary mix formula, as do other exterior concrete stone includes air-entrainment agents to help prevent the product from breaking down under freeze-thaw conditions like those found in northern climates. Formulas can be adjusted for extreme conditions and special applications as well by adding extra air-entrainment agent. You want to be at around 5% air content.
HOW MANY DIFFERENT STYLES AND SIZES CAN BE MADE WITH MOLDS?
Concrete stone can be made in sizes from 2×4 inches up to 24×24 inches, and more. They can be made in virtually any color or combination of colors imaginable, and there are many different techniques that can be used to finish them. There are currently over 200 different styles shapes and sizes of molds for stone, pavers, brick and tile, and new stone styles are being added constantly. Mold makers also have the ability to make custom mold styles for producers, should they have a special request for a specific style or size of stone.
WHAT IS THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF FINISHED CONCRETE STONE PRODUCTS?
The expected useful life is one hundred years plus. Stone products have been used for thousands of years, with many of the mortared stone roads of ancient Rome still being used daily. We recommend that our commercial Producers offer a minimum twenty-year warranty on their products as long as they are produced to our normal specifications. When is the last time you saw a concrete sidewalk worn out?
IS A KILN NEEDED TO MAKE FAUX CONCRETE STONE OR VENEER?
No kiln or other high-energy heat source is needed, and the stone does not get fired in any way. Manufactured stone and veneer is cured via a simple technique that extends the hydration period for as long as possible. This is accomplished by covering the stone with plastic to hold the moisture in. Complete technical instructions for curing are free and are also available on our manufacturing training website. There is no need for any special power source to make stone. A standard vibrator table runs on 115 volts, and you can run your mixer, if used, on 115 volts as well. We suggest that you run your mixer on 220 if it has that capability to save on electric and to provide increased motor torque. If you make your faux stone by hand, you don’t need to care about either of the foregoing anyway.
HOW MUCH DOES MANUFACTURED STONE WEIGH PER SQUARE FOOT?
With man-made or faux stone, the weight can be about one-third lighter than real stone, and can be anywhere between four pounds per square foot when poured as a thin veneer, to about a third or less of that for the same size when lightweight aggregate is used in the cement mix. You can use many different stone formulas, depending on where the stone will be used. We normally use a lightweight aggregate to lessen the weight when the stone is being used for a vertical application like walls. Since the lightweight aggregate makes the stone weaker, it cannot be used for a horizontal, or traffic surface though. When it is to be used for a walking or driving surface, we use our standard 4,000-6,000+ psi mix with gravel aggregate added for more strength.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR CEMENT STONE MADE WITH MOLDS?
With more and more do-it-yourselfers making their own custom-colored stone products to save money and to get the colors they want; mold makers will continue to add new molds and make them available for everyone. We constantly add new designs and sizes to our mold line, as do most other mold makers. And by offering these directly to the do-it-yourselfer, it allows them to have new styles of stone for fireplaces, floors, walls, patios and any number of other projects- in the colors they want. The difference in the value added to a home, versus actual cost of the stone used can be staggering! By making the stone themselves for about fifty cents per square foot, they can easily save up to ninety-percent off of normal retail pricing! And the stone products they make will still be there for their great-grandchildren to enjoy and admire. It can be their legacy.
Post time: 11-17-2016