Chimney Liners & Stone Fireplaces – What You Should Know

Chimney Liners & Stone Fireplaces – What You Should Know

Stone Exteriors

One evening while enjoying the warmth of your stone fireplace, you notice what appears to be clay tile littering the floor of your firebox. After a phone call and a visit from your local chimney repair company, you find yourself being told that you need to have your chimney liner repaired or even replaced. Maybe up until that point you didn’t know what a chimney liner was or that you even had one. Perhaps what makes this situation even more frustrating is that because you cannot see the inside of your chimney, you are unsure of whether or not the expensive repair work you are told that your chimney requires really needs to be done. Should you get a second opinion or should you get the work done as soon as possible to avoid further “deterioration”? If you find yourself in this situation or fear that you might some day, continue reading to learn all about chimney liners.

What Is A Chimney A.K.A A Flue And What Should It Do?

Before we get into what the job of a flue liner is it is probably a good idea to briefly discuss exactly what the role of a chimney is. First off, it is important to know, so that we avoid any confusion, that the word chimney and the word flue can be used interchangeably because they essentially mean the same thing. And now we get to what the exact purpose of a chimney (or flue) is: The job of a chimney is to act as an exit duct for gasses and smoke that are produced by a wood fire, gas heater, furnace or other fuel-burning source. So why would you need a flue liner? Continue reading to learn why..


What Is The Job Of A Flue Or Chimney Liner?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, “A flue lining in a masonry chimney is defined as “A clay, ceramic, or metal conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” Although building codes vary from one state or locality to another, the installation of flue lining has been recommended since the early part of this century, and indeed most fire codes now mandate liners.”

To be more specific, the Chimney Safety Institute of America states that a flu liner serves 3 purposes:

“The liner protects the house from heat transfer to combustibles” In other words, it prevents things like creosote or gases, which are both combustible materials from igniting into flames.

A flue liner protects the masonry of the chimney from breaking down due to smoke, gasses and other byproducts of combustion. Furthermore, a liner will also help prevent gases, such as carbon monoxide, from leaking back into your home, where it can potentially cause great harm or even death.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America also explains: “Liners provide a correctly sized flue for optimum efficiency of appliances. Modern wood stoves and gas or oil furnaces require a correctly sized flue to perform properly. The chimney (flue) is responsible for not only allowing the products of combustion a passage out of the house, but the draft generated by the chimney also supplies the combustion air to the appliance (fireplace). An incorrectly sized liner can lead to excessive creosote buildup in wood burning stoves, and the production of carbon monoxide with conventional fuels.“

Additionally, a damaged or poorly maintained flue liner can also break down and cause damage to your home or even your health. Things such as bird’s nests, plant material and excessive creosote buildup (from the burning of logs) can cause chimney fires or force carbon monoxide to back-up into your home.

As you can see, the job of a flue liner is pretty important when you consider what can happen without one. And if you are being told that you need a new liner or you need to repair the one you have, the person recommending the liner is going to suggest at least one of the following materials:

Terra cotta, the original material used as chimney liners. Terra Cotta is still used today in new construction and typically comes in 24-inch clay sections, which are held together by a mortar joint. Although they perform their job well, a terra-cotta liner can also crack and break over time (hence finding pieces of terra-cotta in the fireplace) and have a typical longevity of 50 years with routine maintenance and cleaning. Replacing a terra-cotta liner, which as mentioned above, is made up of 24-inch segments of terra cotta connected by a masonry joint, can be difficult if not impossible. Tearing down all or part of your chimney may be required in order to get the new terra-cotta liner fully installed.

Aluminum and Steel – either flexible or rigid, this particular liner system has been tested and approved by the Underwriter’s Laboratory. Depending on the installer some prefer one metal to the other. Steel is particularly popular. By using metal flue liners such as aluminum or stainless steel, you can re-line existing flues or run an entirely new one. These are great because they are generally flexible and work well with offset chimneys. Metal liners can also be damaged due to extreme temperatures, weather or other factors. Fortunately, these are typically easier to replace than terra cotta. Metal liners, in most cases, require insulation around them.

Cast-in-place – Liner is essentially cast within your current chimney or an old flue liner using a castable cement material and an inflatable bladder. Once the cement is dried the bladder is removed having created a cylindrical chimney flue. When the cement is poured it is able to fill in cracks that may have formed and thus improve the structural integrity of the chimney or other surface it is lining.


What Should You Do If You Are Told You Need A New Flue Liner?

Chimney repair scams are not uncommon. Unscrupulous individuals have talked many an unsuspecting and trusting homeowner into unnecessary and expensive repairs. It is a good rule of thumb to get several estimates. Using a tool such as Angie’s list, which utilizes crowd-sourced reviews, can be helpful. On Angie’s List, individuals are able to rate and detail their experiences with various contractors such as chimney sweeps. Subscribers to Angie’s List can also find the contractor’s contact information, hours of operation, helpful coupons and deals. Talking to friends, family and neighbors who have also had reliable work done on their chimneys is also a decent place to start. Finally, when seeking out your chimney care professional it is a good idea to make sure that they have been certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) who’s mission it is to “advance public awareness while educating and certifying industry professionals.”

How Much Do Chimney Repairs Cost?

Depending on numerous factors including but not limited to:
Size and length of your chimney
How many flues you have feeding through it (furnace, fireplace, other appliances)
Materials required to complete work
As you can see, the price of repairs or replacement of a flue liner can vary, which is why it is important to find a reliable chimney sweep. For example, one company we asked explained that the cost of a steel flue could vary. With some work capping out at $1000 while other work can cost much more.

Helpful Resources:

If you are interested in learning more about flue liners, chimneys and the work of the professionals who maintain these items take a moment to visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s web site at:

We hope that you found this blog post on chimney liners helpful. Please join us next time when we discuss the importance of regular chimney maintenance and cleaning. Once your chimney is in tip-top shape and you can once again enjoy your fireplace, why not consider updating this important focal point in your home with elegant stone veneer? Versatile and highly customizable, not only can you add the timelessness and beauty of stone to the hearth that warms your home but you can also enhance your home by adding stone veneer to your chimney’s exterior. Discover what homeowners in Arlington Heights, Long Grove and Mount Prospect already know about stone veneer and learn more by contacting North Star Stone at 847.996.6850 or visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page and Stone Fireplace FAQ Page.

Should I Seal My Stone Veneer?

Should I Seal My Stone Veneer?

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

You have recently decided to improve the appearance of your home by adding stone veneer. You have decided after some research that you would like to seal and possibly enhance your new manufactured stone but you’re not sure where to begin. Fortunately, North Star Stone is here to help. Continue reading to learn a bit more about stone sealers and enhancers.


What is a stone sealant?

Sealant is a product that is typically brushed over stone in order to provide a protective layer against things such as salt, weather, moisture, stains and potential color deterioration. There are several brands on the market that can be purchased at retail stores like Home Depot and Lowes as well as on the web. It is recommended that you avoid products with acid and use a silane or siloxane-based sealant that is penetrating yet provides breathability. Eagle Natural Seal or The Armor SX5000 WB are two brands available at Home Depot. At Lowes you can find Eco Advance Concrete/Masonry Siloxane Waterproofer.


What is a sealer + enhancer?

Like the name implies, a sealer + enhancer does the job of sealing as well as enhancing the stone, which essentially means it works to bring out the natural character of the stone and to essentially make it more vibrant. It is important to make sure when selecting a sealer + enhancer that it is safe to use on manufactured or man made stone such as stone veneer. Just like with sealer, it is always a good idea to do a spot check in an inconspicuous place to see how your stone reacts with the product. 511 Seal & Enhance by Miracle Sealants is safe to use on manufactured stone and can be found at Home Depot.


Why should I use this product?

The general rule where sealing stone veneer is concerned is, if the stone darkens when a drop of water hits it then it can also be stained by other materials in the environment like oil, dirt or plant residue. Furthermore, the up side to sealing your stone is that it makes stone veneer even more easier to clean and will provide protection against the environment and color fading. Additionally, depending on the weather conditions and climate where you live, in order to protect your stone’s appearance and longevity, the relatively short time it will take you to seal your stone is well worth it. As a result, applying a sealant to your stone is most likely a good idea. Many stone veneer manufacturers will often say their stone does not require sealing, which essentially leaves the choice with you. Most sealers can be applied to stone on the interior and exterior of your home, so keep that in mind for any stonework beautifying the inside of your home as well.


Things to Know about sealers


  • Certain sealers may make your stone appear wet, slightly darker and or vibrant.
  • Always test a small portion of your stone with the sealer or sealer + enhancer product first in an inconspicuous place before applying it all over. This will help you know how your stone will respond to the product.
  • The more porous the stone the more coats required. Read instructions carefully.
  • Check with your stone veneer supplier to make sure the product you purchase is safe to use on your stone.
  • Sealing or enhancing your stone is something you will need to repeat periodically. Check your product information for details.
  • Make sure you are applying your product under the right weather conditions, as it may not perform correctly.



If you aren’t at the sealing and enhancing stage of your stone projects yet but are still considering stone as a way to update, accentuate and add character to your home – why not contact North Star Stone? Our experts are here to help. You too can see why homeowners in Chicagoland suburbs like Libertyville, Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect have chosen North Star Stone as their source for expert stone veneer fireplace and exterior stone siding selection and installation. For more information please call 847.996.6850 or email


How To Easily Clean Stone Veneer

How To Easily Clean Stone Veneer

Home Improvements Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Interior Stone Veneer

Like many homeowners, you have made the decision to beautify your home with stone veneer. Maybe your have decided to add stone to the exterior of your home to various accent points or perhaps to highlight some of your home’s unique features. Or maybe your stone veneer is in your backyard where you chose to use it to help create a tranquil sanctuary. Here your stone can be seen on retaining walls, railings, or an outdoor fireplace. Then again, your stone might be inside your home where it is adding beauty and value to your kitchen, bathroom, or wine cellar. Either way, inside or outside, a time will come when you are going to need to wash your stone veneer. Despite the elegant complexity of how your stone appears, we are happy to tell you that cleaning your stone is far from complex and is actually quite easy. Keep reading to learn more.


What you will need:

Mild dishwashing detergent: It is very important to never use harsh cleaning materials or products that contain acid, ammonia, bleach or the like. Products containing these ingredients are way too harsh and can damage your stonework. Lastly, concrete cleaner is not recommended for stone veneer. An important note on cleaning products containing acid: cleaning products containing acid should always be avoided as they can easily strip the color from your stone and make it look dull.

Sponge or cloth: Use what works best for you. Remember to use soft products as not to scratch your stone.

Bucket: Fill your bucket up with water and use it to mix your cleaning solution and help rinse your sponge or cloth. Make sure to use clean water when rinsing

Backyard hose: Fortunately, to keep your exterior stone veneer clean, you do not need to rely on a heavy-duty pressure washer; for your stone veneer a simple garden hose is all that is needed.

Soft bristled brush: Never use a scrub brush with metal bristles as this kind of brush can easily scratch and damage your beautiful stone. A soft-bristled, nylon brush will do the trick. Remember to never apply hard pressure when using a brush for cleaning.

Ladder or step stool: For those hard to reach places

Rubber gloves: Optional

What to do:

Read these instructions thoroughly before you wash your stone veneer.

Fill a bucket with clean water.

Add some mild dishwashing detergent to create a gentle cleansing solution.

Use a clean cloth or sponge containing the solution to thoroughly wipe down your stone. Use a brush to gently remove any dirt or mud. Keep in mind this mild solution will not remove stains like tar or oil that may have gotten on your stone during be other home improvement projects.

Rinse your stone with the hose.  If indoors, use a clean cloth or sponge to remove any of the cleaning solution.

Let dry.

Important – A note on how to clean newly installed stone: If your stone is newly installed and wet mortar or grout has gotten onto the face of the stone, let it dry to a point where you can easily scrape it off with a masonry brush. If you try to wipe off wet mortar or grout it will smear and will be extremely hard to remove completely. Do not use water. On the flip side, if you wait too long, you will not be able to remove the grout or mortar, so make sure to remove it the same day as the installation of the stone veneer.

How often do I need to clean my stone? As often as you feel cleaning is needed.

Clearly the ease of cleaning stone veneer is just another reason why this highly versatile and customizable product is such an excellent option for improving the home. If you would like to move forward with your stone projects then give North Star Stone a call and see why Chicagoland has chosen us for their stone veneer needs. For more information contact us at or call 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new interior or exterior stone.

Watch the North Star Stone blog next week we will discuss sealers and enhancers.

5 Things You Can Do With Stone To Turn Your Backyard Into a Sanctuary

5 Things You Can Do With Stone To Turn Your Backyard Into a Sanctuary

Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

With temperatures in the Chicagoland area already getting into the 80’s, like most people, you are probably eager to spend more time outside soaking up the rays and getting your daily dose of vitamin D. The only problem is, that after years of harsh Midwestern winters your backyard is looking a little rough around the edges (and maybe even the hedges!). But don’t be dismayed because there is hope! Many homeowners have discovered that stone as well as stone veneer is a great way to revitalize this space while transforming it into a natural and relaxing sanctuary. Continue reading to gain some helpful ideas on how you too can turn your backyard into that perfect outdoor living space.

Stone Patio

If that old wooden deck is getting up there in years and looks like it has seen better days, why not replace it with a new stone patio? Unlike wood, stone requires less maintenance to keep itself looking great. Strong and dependable, your new stone will also handle the snow, rain and sun much better than your old wooden deck. The variety, sizes and shapes of stone also offer numerous ways in which you can design your patio space. Make it as little or as big as you want. Better still, because of its enduring qualities and timeless beauty, your stone patio will be looking fabulous for years to come!


If you are tired of having to constantly weed your yard then laying gravel might be just the thing. Simple and fairly quick to install, gravel can go virtually anywhere in a backyard. Swap out the old wood chip mulch in your flowerbeds with gravel and add some decorative grasses or planters containing your favorite flowers. You can also use gravel to create a walking path or two on your property. Another plus of gravel is that it is hardy and will withstand pet urine unlike grass, which can die with regular exposure to Fido’s bathroom breaks.

Add an Outdoor Fireplace

There may not be a better way to make outdoor living more inviting and enjoyable then by installing a fireplace in your backyard. Who doesn’t like the idea of cozying up to an outdoor hearth with friends on a cool summer night? Your fireplace can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Many homeowners go one step further and enhance their outdoor fireplaces by adding simple-to-install stone veneer. Because of the varieties of stone veneer available, it is really hard to go wrong. Your only problem might be selecting which stone you like the best among the many gorgeous varieties available.

Update or Add Stone to Fences, Walls, and Railings

One of the more simple projects to consider might just be updating or adding some stone veneer to any cement fences or walls you may have in your backyard. Turn a plain cement fence or wall into one with beautifully cut decorative stone. If you do not have any walls in your yard, consider adding a wall or two with a lovely distinctive stone veneer. Go a step further by complimenting your newly updated stone walls by adding coordinating or matching stone veneer to railings. Doing this will revamp and revitalize ordinary railings by giving them a natural yet stately presentation.

Create a Pond

Water has many wonderful qualities. Listening to the gentle ripple of water as it flows over stones is a wonderful way to relax and unwind. The simple act of peering into a pool of water can help ease the stress of a taxing day. So why not install a small pond in your backyard and have the therapeutic benefits of water available anytime you wish? By using stone you can really personalize the size, shape and appearance of your pond. One word of advice is to add a pump or other device so that water can flow constantly as you do not want mosquitos getting the wrong idea and using your watery haven as a breeding ground.

As you can see, stone and stone veneer are extremely versatile materials that can really do wonderful things for the appearance of your yard and the surrounding exterior elements of your home. If you think you might like to add stone veneer to beautify your backyard please visit North Star Stone. You, too, can learn why homeowners in Chicagoland suburbs like Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Barrington and Mount Prospect are so happy with their new stone products. Also, please visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page or contact us at or call 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new exterior stone.


RELATED: 3 Things to Consider Before Undertaking a DIY Project

3 Things to Consider Before Undertaking a DIY Project

3 Things to Consider Before Undertaking a DIY Project

Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

With the internet and numerous DIY television shows telling us that do-it-yourself projects are not only simple but take practically no time to complete, it is hard not to jump on the bandwagon and find ourselves willing and eager to undertake many home improvement projects ourselves. Remodeling a bathroom, finishing a basement or breaking down a wall to create an open floor plan all seem so easy and straightforward when the guy on television does it, right? Well, before you take a sledgehammer to that decrepit bathroom floor you detest or hop in your car and head down to your local home improvement store, you may want to consider a few of the following…


Can you afford it?

Being able to afford your particular project is probably one of the biggest things to consider. After all, you need money to be able to buy the equipment and supplies to complete this endeavor. You may want to ask yourself, is this a project you can save up for, like swapping out unattractive light fixtures? Or will you need access to funds right away to address something that requires immediate attention like replacing rotting drywall? What you might think a project will cost could be a far cry from what you end up paying. Remember, not only will you need the materials to transform your particular space but you may also need to rent or buy the tools in which to carry out your project, both expenses can add up quickly.


Have you done your research?

Research will vary for every project and skill level, but you will want to make sure that you feel confident in being able to carry out your project from start to finish. Things you may want to investigate are:

  • Have you consulted with experts or talked to friends who have done a project like what you are planning?
  • Have you set up a contingency plan if something derails your project like an illness or running out of money to pay for it?
  • Do you know where to get your equipment and supplies?
  • Do you now where to access these materials if your main source runs out?


Set realistic expectations

Don’t expect that you are going to be able to do what the guys on television have done on your first try. We’re not saying you won’t be able to complete a beautiful project — but the folks on those shows are on them because they are very good at what they do and have created a reputation. Also, make sure to keep in mind that what appears to take a day on your favorite HGTV show could take you a week, two weeks or even a month to finish. If undertaking a project in a bathroom or kitchen be sure you have a backup plan for food storage and water usage. Many projects in these rooms require you to turn off electricity, water and remove appliances. For example, if you only have one bathroom and that is the room you are gutting for a new and improved bathing spa complete with beautiful stone accents, make sure you have somewhere to go when you need to go.


Next week we will continue with this topic when we discuss: 3 More Things to Consider Before Undertaking a DIY Project. If you are from the Chicagoland area and one of your DIY projects consists of adding stone to your home, call or visit the experts at North Star Stone at 847-996-6850. With years of experience stone is their passion. If you still have questions please visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page or contact us at

5 Weekend Projects That Will Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

5 Weekend Projects That Will Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors

Who says you have to take on a huge project on the exterior of your home in order to add curb appeal? Not us! In fact, by doing a few relatively inexpensive and simple things you can update and add value to your home in as little as a weekend.


Spruce Up The Front Door

Take a look at your front door. How is it looking? A little faded or abused from a harsh winter or maybe a hot, dry summer really did a number on it? Maybe the doorknocker, doorknobs or kickplate is getting a bit worn? Believe it or not, your front door can send a significant message to visitors about you and your home and how you hope to present it.  Adding a fresh coat of paint or changing the color of your door can make a world of difference. Even getting new hardware (such as the aforementioned doorknocker, doorknobs and kickplate) can greatly improve your door’s appearance. Your door can tell your guests a lot about your home’s personality so make sure it is saying the right thing.


Add Some Lights

Not only will proper outdoor lighting provide you with a well lit walkway and the security of presenting a well maintained home, you can also use properly and decoratively placed lights to accentuate your home’s features. You can also choose to use lighting to highlight unique and beautiful landscaping elements that you are proud of. Some homeowners choose to use lights to highlight ornate stonework, their house number or artwork on their property.  There are numerous lighting options available from adding a new outdoor light post to hanging a new light fixture over your door. Solar powered lighting is a frequently used and excellent option because of its ease of installation and the variety of styles available. Go one step further and hang a well placed light in one or more of the trees in your yard, doing this looks gorgeous and actually replicates the effect of peaceful moonlight.


Plant a Tree

If no tree is available to hang lighting in, why not plant a tree or two? Adding trees, bushes and other greenery can really add beauty and dimension to your front yard. With spring on the way, now is a great time to decide what trees and other plants you feel would really add that extra something special to your property’s curb appeal. Before planting any trees make sure that you will not be digging near any electrical, gas or phone lines. Most areas have a special 1-800 number that can be called to check that none of these utility lines exist in the area you will be digging.


Rejuvenate with Stone

With stone you can be as elaborate or simple as you like. Depending on what you decide, you can complete your stone project in less than a weekend. For example, by placing slate stones over sand you can create a simple yet beautiful rock path within a few hours. Tutorials for a project of this scale can be found online. Or you might choose to go one step further and completely re-do your current walkway or driveway and replace it with brick or another stone option. This choice may require you to get some estimates and hire some experts and could take more than a weekend to complete, but the end result will truly be worth it! If you are content with your walkways and paths you could go one step further and add stone veneer to your home’s exterior. With stone veneer you have the flexibility of choosing your own color as well as cut and style of stone. Homeowners who have gone this route have been overjoyed with the elegance and prestige that stone has brought to their home’s appearance.

unnamed (19)

Replace Your Old Mailbox and Post

Replacing your old mailbox and the post it may be housed on is a quick project that you can complete within a few hours. You may even find that you have time left over to finish another project! A new mailbox can really add an extra touch of sophistication especially when it is paired with an elegant stand. Cast stone is a great option when considering a new stand because of the colors and varieties available. Another material commonly used today is a strong polymer plastic that is made to look like iron. A post can be found to fit every home’s personality from ornate scrolled posts to pedestal mount posts. Fortunately, these newer materials are virtually maintenance free and weather resistant and thus won’t succumb to time and the elements like some of the materials used in older mailboxes and posts.


These small projects are just a few of the many things that you can do to add some special touches to your home’s appearance. Why not plan something soon? If a larger scale project is in your future, like adding stone veneer to highlight some of your home’s features, consider calling North Star Stone. Their experts are here to help you design and plan ways you can add beauty and value to your home through stone. To learn why home owners in Chicagoland suburbs like Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Barrington and Mount Prospect are so happy with their new stone products, visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page or contact us at or call 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new exterior stone.

Choosing Colors For Your Home’s Exterior Stone & Siding

Choosing Colors For Your Home’s Exterior Stone & Siding

Stone Colors Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Selecting a color or colors for the exterior of your home might seem like a pretty straightforward, simple task. You just pick the colors you like, right? Well, there is a little more to it than that, especially if you want your home to make a statement while still seamlessly adding to the beauty and character of your neighborhood and surrounding landscape. To make this task easier, we at North Star Stone thought we would put together a mini guide to make the process simpler.

Do Some Research

Before you head down to the paint store, talk to a contractor or check in with your local exterior stone expert, do a little homework. By following a few steps first, the task of selecting colors for the exterior of your home can go a lot smoother. We recommend that you:

Consider your environment; is your home situated in an urban, suburban, or more forested area? This can guide your exterior color choices.

Head down to your local library or bookstore and take a look at some architectural books and magazines to see what the experts have done.

Drive through the neighborhood and see what those in your community have done with color to keep their homes looking fresh and renewed.

Check out some of the helpful decorating and home design software that is available on the market. This software allows you to play around with color first and see what your home will look like.

Consider your home’s design. Is it modern or historical? Being able to determine these qualities about your home will help you select a color palette from which to begin. Perhaps you want to maintain your homes classic look or switch it up and do something bolder?

Think Top to Bottom

Another good way to approach selecting colors for you home is to start with the roof and work your way down. Here is what we mean:

Related: Thinking of Buying a Home with Synthetic Stucco? What You Should Know



You should choose either a cool or a warm color when considering your roof. Warm colors include brown, orange and tan. Cool colors are greys, blacks, blues and so forth. If unsure about warm and cool colors, consult a color wheel. They can be found on the Internet, paint stores and places that specialize in home decorating and improvement. If you go with a warm roof, go with warm siding. If you go with a cool roof, go with cool siding. If your roof and siding or main body of the house do not coordinate, the appearance of your home will not appear balanced.



Siding can be the best vehicle in which to add new colors to your home. Fortunately, when it comes to selecting a siding there are many exterior options to pick from. These include, stucco, stone veneer, Hardie Board, wood, vinyl siding and aluminum siding, and of course stone veneer. Your siding will cover the largest surface area of your home. Make sure it does not clash with other homes in your neighborhood. Also, keep your particular landscaping in mind. You will want your color choices to work with shrubs, trees, rocks and other plants and elements in your yard or on your property. Classic colors, like those found in varying shades of white, are always a safe bet. Keep in mind that a lighter color house will appear larger and a darker color house will appear smaller and remember your siding should coordinate with your roof. A warm roof looks more cohesive with warm siding and a cool roof looks better with siding that utilizes a cool palette. Also when it comes to your exterior and picking your new colors, keep in mind parts of the home where the color will not be changing, like your foundation. It is generally a good idea to keep your siding the same color as your foundation or go darker.


We Custom Color Every Batch of Stone Veneer


Trim and Windows

Think of the trim and windows of your home as a team. They should work together! When considering a color you are going to want to go either two shades lighter or two shades darker than your siding. Or, if you want to take the guess work out of selecting a color you can always go with a crisp bright white, which would fall into the cool category or an off white, which would actually fall into the warmer color zone. Remember, you can’t really go wrong with white when it comes to picking a color. Just remember that if your trim and your windows are in extreme contrast to your siding your house might look artificial. One interesting thing to remember when it comes to a white window trim is that it will actually reflect the light from outside and bring that light into your home. There really is nothing not to like about white window trim.

Garage Doors

Garage doors can take up a significant amount of surface area. If your garage is closer to the street you will want it to match the siding of your home. However, if it is set farther back you can select a color that contrasts, by a shade or two. Make sure to highlight details like window trim and decorative elements that may adorn your garage door.

Front Door

Think of your front door as setting the tone for how you want to represent your home. Moreover, your front door inevitably is responsible for making a first impression. Feel free to give it some personality. Be creative with windows and window panels that may flank either side of your door. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Think back to homes you may have seen that had doors in an eye catching blue, dashing red or vivacious turquoise. Color can leave a lasting impression!

Railings and Porches

A good rule of thumb is to paint your railings and any porches or steps you may have the same color as your house’s trim. You can also choose to paint these elements the same color as your siding if it is a neutral color. Keep this in mind too if you choose to do stone steps as well.


Accessories include things like shutters, window boxes, mailboxes, and the hardware you use on your doors and windows. Coordinating colors that complement the trim are a good way to go.

Some Important Information Regarding Stone

Stone veneer is a beautiful and flexible option when considering a color change on the exterior of your home. One of the great benefits of stone is how flexible and creative you can be when selecting a color because you can choose to have your stone custom colored to your specifications. Keeping in mind the importance of pairing warm colors with warm colors and cool colors with cool colors will help make the color selection process more streamlined. However, if you have fallen in love with adding a distinctive grey stone to your home, consider adding a warm accent tone to the trim or even the door. By doing this you are offsetting grey’s potential for looking dismal in some instances. Also, it has been recommended that when your exterior is stone or brick you should pick at least two colors for your home’s exterior.


A Few Important Notes

Try to blend in with the neighborhood – You should still be able to do this while maintaining your home’s distinction and unique character.

Monochromatic colors work well if you are trying to blend in with a forested, natural environment.

Cream and taupe blend more naturally into an environment than a stark white.

Track how much light your home gets. Depending on the time of day and position of the sun in relation to your house, your home’s exterior may look slightly different. Keep this in mind when selecting new exterior colors.

See Our Stone Veneer Styles & Colors Here!

Selecting new colors for the exterior of your house should be a fun opportunity to explore new options for your home. Fresh, new exterior colors can literally transform your home’s appearance and personality.  With a new color palette you can create that look you have always wanted for your home but weren’t sure how to execute. Also, don’t forget the amazing variety of exterior options, like stone veneer, on which to carry out your color plans. Fortunately, there are experts ready to help you decide what will look best.  If stone veneer is one of the ways you want to incorporate new color onto your home, check out and see why homeowners in Chicagoland suburbs like Libertyville, Arlington Heights, Long Grove and Mount Prospect have chosen stone as a way to liven up their home’s color. If you have questions, please visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page or contact us at or call: 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new exterior stone.

Thinking of Buying a Home with Synthetic Stucco? What You Should Know

Thinking of Buying a Home with Synthetic Stucco? What You Should Know

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors

Here at North Star Stone we are passionate about quality housing exteriors, which is why we take such great pride when installing our stone veneer products. Strong, professionally installed exteriors are what we do. In our line of work we have come across housing materials such as synthetic stucco, also commonly known as EIFS or Dryvit, that have caused much distress for the homeowners who are now finding themselves with expensive repairs due to an improperly installed product. To help keep you informed, we thought it would be helpful to talk about synthetic stucco and what it might mean to you as a homeowner or potential home buyer.

What is Synthetic Stucco? A brief history:

Synthetic Stucco, also commonly known by the acronym “EIFS”, which stands for exterior insulation and finish systems, was first used in the manufacturing of homes in Europe in the early 1960’s. Although it looks like stucco, EIFS is actually made of three layered components:

Layer 1: Insulation board
Layer 2: Base coat
Layer 3: Finish coat

EIFS worked well in Europe for several reasons; it provided great insulation and weather protection and it installed nicely on European buildings which tend to have masonry walls, to which the EIFS adhered nicely. In the States we tend to use wood or gypsum, which must have a good moisture barrier for proper installation. Another reason EIFS installed well in Europe is because the materials in the base coat of the EIFS product are slightly different from what was eventually used in the United States, which allowed the European product more flexibility and better waterproofing. In the early 1970’s, an American company by the name of Dryvit Systems introduced EIFS to the American construction market, where it is often referred to as Dryvit.
First used in commercial building, EIFS would eventually make its way into the residential housing industry. Builders were excited about its energy efficiency qualities, which equated to being friendlier on the pocket book. As common sense might suggest, for a product to work the way it is supposed to it must be assembled correctly. This same idea holds very true for EIFS. Unfortunately, along with its introduction into the American housing market came the common practice of cutting corners with EIFS installation. What resulted was not pretty. By the late 1980s Inspectors, homeowners and other interested parties began to notice that many EIFS clad homes were showing extensive signs of water damage. In some instances the damage permeated right through to the framing of the house. The result: a lot of expensive repairs due to mold, dry rot and structural damage. Additionally, EIFS affected homeowners were angry to find themselves facing an unwanted and unplanned expense, while frustrated homebuyers encountered a housing market with limited buying options because of structurally queastionable properties.

Why is EIFS a Problem for a Homeowner who may want to sell?

Due to the following factors, many EIFS homes encountered problems which were later to be faced by their unsuspecting and now quite unhappy homeowners. Because it is a barrier type system, a perfect water barrier is required during EIFS installation over the wood or gypsum sheathing to prevent water from getting into places like windows, doors, roof flashings, deck flashings and vents, to name a few. Because this did not occur, water was able to get in and cause extensive water damage to the wood or gypsum sheathing. Furthermore, homeowners were not aware of the damage because it is hidden and thus not recognizable without a more involved and oftentimes costly inspection by an individual who knows how to inspect EIFS. Those left with improperly installed EIFS are finding themselves with expensive repairs. And lastly, homeowners trying to sell their EIFS clad homes may find themselves with an unsellable property because of water damage they may not have known existed until a home inspection was carried out.

Why Is EIFS a Problem for Home Buyers?

Because water damage can be hard to detect with EIFS without an invasive inspection, the homebuyer may be unaware that water damage exists on the property. Worse still, if the home was improperly inspected and has been purchased, it could be quite a while before water damage due to poorly installed EIFS becomes apparent, which could result in the new homeowners finding themselves with a very expensive repair job. Also, the time, tools and training required by an individual familiar with doing a thorough EIFS inspection can be expensive and invasive, which could be a cost a potential homebuyer is not willing to pay.

Stone Veneer & Stucco 06

Stone Veneer & Stucco

What to do if you are trying to sell your EIFS clad home

Be proactive.

-Be prepared to pay for repairs caused by improperly installed EIFS, should repairs be needed. A potential homebuyer may insist on this in the contract and before completing their purchase of the home.

-Consider replacing the EIFS with a stone veneer, Hardie board, actual stucco, or a combination of these materials. Note: before adding new materials to the exterior of your home you may need to replace any damaged sheathing first. This can add to the expense.

-Have your home thoroughly inspected by a certified EIFS inspector.

-Have your home certified if it passes an EIFS inspection.

-Include a warranty on the EIFS for the buyer.

-Be prepared to potentially take a loss on the property. Only the seller can determine if that loss will be worth it.

-Keep accurate records of any repair work done.

Stone Veneer & Stucco 12

Stone Veneer & Stucco



What To Do if You are Thinking of Buying an EIFS clad home

-Do your homework. Be familiar with what synthetic stucco is. Understand that a prospective home with EIFS should be thoroughly inspected by a qualified inspector.

-Request a warranty from the seller. Make sure the warranty is paid for.

-Request that the EIFS on the home is certified problem free.

If you like the look of EIFS, consider passing this home up for a home built with real stucco or other exterior like brick, Hardie board or vinyl siding. Finding a different home may be worth the headache of worrying about an EIFS clad home having problems later.

There is a stigma attached to EIFS and this can make it much harder to sell your home later even if it is certified.


Other Options

Although some claim that EIFS have come a long way and many of the problems uncovered with the product in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s have been resolved, there is still a stigma attached to homes finished with synthetic stucco. Fortunately, there are other options on the market today that are customizable, attractive and enduring. Stone veneer, stucco and Hardie board are excellent options and work beautifully when combined with each other. Many people are choosing to go with these highly customizable materials when updating their current home or when in the market for a new home. Homeowners who have needed to replace EIFS on their homes are also turning to Stone veneer and other materials like Hardie board and stucco because of the great flexibility and personalization they offer.


If updating your home with timeless and elegant stone sounds like a promising option to you, consider North Star Stone’s custom colored stone veneer. The experienced professionals at North Star Stone would love to talk with you about this beautiful product. We are also eager to share with you what happy Chicagoland homeowners in Libertyville, Arlington Heights, Barrington and Mount Prospect, are saying about their new beautiful housing exteriors. For more information about adding stone to the exterior of your home, visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page or contact us at or call 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new exterior stone.

Is It Time to Replace Your Exterior Siding?

Is It Time to Replace Your Exterior Siding?

Home Improvements Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors

Throughout the year the exterior of our home can take quite a beating. Rain, hail, ice, wind and snow are all environmental elements that can put a strain on the outside of your home. After years of this regular abuse, it is not uncommon for many homeowners to decide to repair, change and or update the exterior of their home. And as most experts will tell you, the best time to begin a home improvement project like this is in the spring, which all of us in Chicagoland know is just around the corner! Fortunately, there are some exciting options available that can completely transform the exterior of your home, like stone veneer for example. Continue reading to discover some options you may not even know existed.

exterior siding 06

Vinyl Siding

Used on many homes, vinyl siding has come a long way in terms of its strength and versatility. Many homeowners like vinyl siding because of its cost effectiveness and the color options available on the market. Easy to install and available at home improvement stores, vinyl siding is popular with do-it-yourselfers. But beware; education is a must if installing yourself. If installed incorrectly, in addition to water damage, other damage can occur to your home and you might find yourself in need of some costly repairs.

exterior siding 03

Hardie Board (cement board)

Is the aluminum siding that has graced the exterior of your home for twenty years a little beat up and let’s face it, looking a bit blah? A versatile product, Hardie Board might be just what you are looking for. Unlike aluminum siding, Hardie board is literally quite hardy. Known for its strength, Hardie board comes in a variety of colors and has been engineered to withstand even the harshest of weather. Hardie board also comes in a plethora of widths and textures, so customizing the look of your home is going to be fun and easy. Better still, Hardie board is a cost effective product and has been a top choice for millions of homeowners. If Hardie board sounds like the right option for you, why not consider pairing it with stone veneer? This beautiful combination will make your home look elegant, refined and distinguished.

exterior siding 02

Wood Siding

Often offering a homey, country feel, wood siding is also a viable option and has been a choice for many homeowners. Wood siding comes most commonly in a shingle, clapboard and shakes style, which allows people who choose it a few unique options in terms of thickness and texture. One important thing to keep in mind is that wood siding requires routine maintenance to check for water damage and even insect damage and infestations such as termites and carpenter ants. Wood siding also may need to be painted and treated on a regular basis.

exterior siding



Believe it or not stucco has been used in architecture since ancient Greek and Roman times. And although it has been improved upon, the general idea of stucco remains the same. Perhaps it is the timelessness and endurance of stucco that makes it such a highly regarded option when considering the exterior of one’s home? Stucco is a mortar mixture containing among other things, cement. Resilient and versatile, stucco has a great track record when it comes to protecting the outside of your house. Make sure not to confuse stucco with synthetic stucco also known as EIFS (exterior insulation and finish systems or Dryvit). It may look the same but has a history of responding quite differently to the sometimes harsh forces of nature bombarding the exterior of your home. Frequently used on larger homes, the color options for stucco are near limitless and it pairs beautifully with a coordinating and custom colored stone veneer. The resulting look is classic and stately and defines the term curb appeal.

exterior siding 01

Stone Veneer

Stone veneer is quickly rising in the ranks of being one of the most popular choices for the exterior of one’s home. There is very little not to like about stone veneer. A home with stone not only exudes dignity but a classic beauty that can only come with a stone facade. Typically at a higher price point, stone veneer is usually paired with other exterior options like stucco and Hardie board while still maintaining the grand presence of being the feature element of the house’s exterior. A major bonus to stone veneer is the variety of stone options available. Custom colored to your specification, there is a stone shape and cut for every discerning taste. For a look that will totally transform your home, stone is one of the preferred options.

exterior siding 04If updating the exterior of your home sounds like a springtime project you would like to undertake, remember there are many options available today. Why not consider the beauty, elegance and charm of stone veneer with a complimentary pairing of Hardie board or stucco? Established in the greater Chicagoland area, North Start Stone has brought their sophisticated brand of exterior products to Libertyville, Arlington Heights, Barrington, Mount Prospect and Long Grove, just to name a few and they are excited to bring them to you.

For more information about adding stone to the exterior of your home, visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page or contact us at or call 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new exterior stone.

Using Cement Board and Stone Veneer Together

Using Cement Board and Stone Veneer Together

Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Cement Board + Stone Veneer = Great Combination

Time to select new siding for your existing home or new construction? Architects are frequently specifying the use of fiber cement board because it offers a balance of good looks, durability, maintenance and affordability. Combining the cement board with a complimenting stone veneer creates a finished look, increased home value and added curb appeal.

View Our Stone Veneer Colors & Styles

Cement board is an excellent choice for siding since it is primarily made from Portland cement and offers the strength and performance of masonry including the benefits of minimal upkeep, fire protection and termite proof. A vendor such has James Hardie or Certainteed offer many styles and colors of siding to showcase your home. Other suppliers of cement board can be found at the big box stores such as Home Depot or Lowes.

Learn More About The Costs Of Exterior Stone Veneer

Stone veneer can really add highlights to your home and create visual interest when you are adding a product like Hardie Board Cement Board. It is important to find the right mixes of stone veneer and the exterior siding.  Think of stone as the accent to highlight the home. Look for focal points on your home like a front entryway, columns, chimneys, knee walls and peaks to add stone.  Since manufactured stone veneer is lightweight and thin, the product can be easily installed with your siding installation.

An additional benefit in using man made stone veneer other than it’s cost is the ability to fine tune the color of the stone to coordinate with your siding color. North Star Stone, Inc. in Libertyville, IL custom manufactures every order of stone to work perfectly with your exterior stone project.

The following pictures use cement board and our Cobble Stack stone in the color of Barrington Hills. The color of the stone is deep with rich intensity using the colors of charcoal, varying tones of brown and some cream color.  To learn more about exterior stone veneer click here or call us at 847-996-6850.