Man-Made Vs. Natural Stone: An In-depth Study from Indiana Limestone Company

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Detailed, annotated report considers why purchasers select one material or the other.

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Indiana Limestone Study: Man-Made vs. Natural Stone

Field dressing cast masonry exposes non-color or texture matched aggregate.

A new study from the Indiana Limestone Company examines the distinctions between cast stone products and quarried limestone. The firm is a premier provider of natural limestone, for many decades a preferred selection for stone facades or accents.

The highly detailed, annotated report considers why purchasers select one material or the other. According to the study, quarried limestone is a lasting choice, renowned for its durability, versatility, and exceptional natural beauty. Indiana Limestone, the study said, is also an economical long-term option, rewarding initial investments with minimal expenses for maintenance and upkeep over the course of many years.

“While cast stone is available at a lower initial cost,” the report explains, “Indiana Limestone requires less cumulative investment as the natural product is far more enduring than its man-made counterpart. This is due to the fact that Indiana Limestone, and indeed any natural stone, requires minimal maintenance. This consideration is often overlooked as the immediate cost is often perceived as the be-all and end-all, when in actuality the permanent structure will demand future investment, the level of which depends on the building product used.”

As described in the study, cast stone has been selected for its color range and control, perceived cost advantages at purchase, and possible suitability for non-structural or minimally load-bearing applications. Though it may initially resemble natural stone, this is actually a cementitious product, having more in common with concrete than quarried stone.

Quoted in the current document is a report created by Matthew C. Farmer for the Building Envelope Technology Symposium, 2007: “There are a number of common problems that can occur with cast stone. While some of these occur in cast stone produced using both wet cast and vibratory dry tamping methods, the majority of problems observed in modern construction are associated with the dry tamp method of manufacture.”

Such problems include cracking, soiling of difficult-to-clean-cast surfaces, and crazing, which is a network of interconnected hairline cracks also known as map cracking because they resemble the network of roadways on a map.

In summary, the report says, “With cost an influential factor on architects’ purchasing decisions, cast stone has grown in popularity. However, while cast stone can reduce short-term building costs, maintenance costs can accumulate, although this is often not acknowledged at the time the decision to use cast stone is made. Indiana Limestone has a track record of less deterioration and therefore lower maintenance cost over the span of a building’s existence.”

“Not only are we cost competitive versus cast masonry solutions,” said Ben Wojcikiewicz, the company’s Product Manager, “but there are additional benefits to installers using our natural Indiana Limestone material. Field dressing cast masonry exposes non-color or texture matched aggregate. All natural Indiana Limestone is made of one thing. You don't have to worry about hiding an ugly edge or spending time sorting material by size so that you don't have to cut it. Whether it's our sills, thin veneers, or full-bed masonry material, it all has this same characteristic and installers love it.”

A downloadable copy of the report is available at https://www.indianalimestonecompany.com/dealers/dealersresources/tools-services/case-studies/.

About Indiana Limestone Company
Indiana Limestone Company is unmatched as the premier supplier of Indiana Limestone in a range of beautiful and lasting building products. Founded in 1926 (with predecessor firms that had been quarrying limestone since the mid-1800s), ILCO today remains the provider of choice for this internationally renowned natural stone. Throughout an illustrious history in which its stone has made such iconic structures as the Empire State Building, National Cathedral, and the Pentagon, ILCO has reliably provided the highest quality products and services carefully tailored to the needs of the market with an environmental, natural focus.

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Duffe Elkins

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