How to Make Your Yard More Eco-Friendly … and Save Money Too  

How to Make Your Yard More Eco-Friendly … and Save Money Too  

eco-friendly-homes Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Your yard is an extension of your home, and making it a beautiful, family-friendly place to hang out is a major goal of many homeowners. However, environmentalism is definitely making headway on the home improvement priority list for homeowners … so finding ways to improve that outdoor space without sacrificing the Earth is a definite must. Add to that the priority of cost-effectiveness, and you’ve got quite the tall order!

Today, we’ll talk about 6 ways to make your yard more eco-friendly and more enjoyable to hang out in. Plus, you can save greenbacks while making it greener. It doesn’t get better than that, right?

1. Be Water-Wise

If the experts are to be believed, water will be the great commodity of the 21st century. That makes it crucial to respect this most valuable of resources to the best of our ability. What can you do? Become water-wise. That might mean installing drip hoses in your vegetable garden, or letting your lawn go brown in the summer. You can also plant low-water species like cactuses and succulents, which require much less moisture to thrive.

2. Plant Native Species

Native species are much more likely to do well in your area, which means they will require less water, less fertilizer and less overall tending. Usually this means using less total resources to keep them alive, and adding fewer chemical inputs to groundwater. You can check online or quiz your local garden center to see what’s native to your area.

3. Install Stone Exteriors

While you might associate stone veneers with fireplace stone, it can be used for many different purposes. Putting stone veneer on your home not only gives your home a cheerfully updated look, it also insulates your home. Exterior stone keeps rooms cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, lowering your bills and reducing your impact on the environment. If you buy the right stone veneer, manufactured in an eco-friendly way, which reduces quarrying and the environmental impact that brings, even better.

4. Use Rainwater

Rainwater is a much more available and replenishable resource than groundwater. Any time you water your yard from the hose, you’re drawing on aquifers that take a long time to refill. Any time you use rainwater, however, you’re leveraging a renewable resource. Install rain barrels under your downspouts to collect water during rain, then use a watering can or a siphon to water your yard with it. Many communities in the Northwest Suburbs are offering FREE rain barrels or reimbursing residents for the purchase of rain barrels.

Libertyville Rain Barrel Reimbursement Program

Arlington Heights FREE Rain Barrel Application
Mount Prospect FREE Rain Barrel Application
Greater Chicago Rain Barrel Program

Know of more rain barrel programs in the Chicagoland area? Post in the comments or on our Facebook page and we’ll be sure to add it to the list!

5. Make Up-cycled Yard Décor

Up-cycling is all the rage. Perhaps you solder cute faces to metal watering cans, plant a water lily garden in an old claw-foot bathtub, or use toy wagons as planters. Using otherwise useless objects instead of buying new items at the store or online is always the green – and frugal! – way to go.

6. Prevent Erosion

The washing away of topsoil due to rain and wind is a serious ecological problem, but halting this problem can start right in your front yard. Plant cover plants that spread across the top of the soil and anchor it in place. If you have room, plant trees with wide-sweeping canopies, which indicates they will have equally wide root systems, which also help keep soil in place. Avoid leaving graded surfaces like hills and embankments bare, because the rain will just wash the soil right off of them.

Greening up your yard is pretty simple, in the end. Next time you’re wondering how to do Planet Earth a solid and make your outdoor living space even better, try one of these tricks and watch the magic happen.

Stay tuned for more eco-friendly ideas for your home & yard and some more great tips on how you can use Stone Veneer in and on your home. And don’t forget to take a look at the first article in our latest eco-friendly series: 5 Environmental Benefits of Exterior Stone Siding

Adding Value To Your Home With Stone Veneer

Adding Value To Your Home With Stone Veneer

Stone Fireplace Stone Interior Stone Veneer

As a homeowner, you probably look for ways to add to your home’s value and your overall satisfaction with your home on a regular basis. Not all “home improvement projects” are created equal, though, as some are more worthwhile than others. One home improvement project that will yield the most return on your investment is adding stone veneer to your home in some form. According to Yahoo Real Estate, you can yield up to a 92.2% return on your investment when you incorporate veneer siding into your home’s facade. Now that you know it’s a worthwhile investment, you might wonder how to go about adding stone to your home. Thankfully, we can help you with this. Read below for some ways to incorporate stone into your home:

Exterior Stone Siding:

In most cases, you can easily have stone installed on the exterior of your home. This creates a rich look that exudes class and luxury, while dramatically improving your home’s curb appeal. It will also help your home stand out from the others around it that feature plain vinyl or clapboard siding. Moreover, it creates the illusion that your home is built out of stone, increasing its value and appeal.

Keep in mind, exterior stone doesn’t have to be only in the form of siding. You can instead use veneer stone as an accent on your home’s exterior. You can do this by creating stone pillars on the porch, having a stone accent wall added to the front of your home, or use it to cover up unattractive foundation. The idea is to incorporate stone into your home’s exterior in small amounts. Doing this will break up the long lines of a ranch or add style and flair to an otherwise dull exterior. In other words, it gives the exterior of your home a little boost.

Fireplace Stone:

Another way to incorporate stone into your home is adding a fireplace and using stone veneer to cover the visible parts of that fireplace. You can install beautiful fireplace stone in your living room or can create an outdoor patio fireplace using stone. This trend of creating an outdoor fireplace is extremely popular right now. Of course, you could add both versions for even more appeal. Just imagine yourself sitting alongside a crackling fire enjoying a pleasant evening at home. What is more relaxing than that?

A fireplace will also give you the benefit of heating your home without the use of electricity, and in Chicago, that is a huge selling point. However, if the idea of a true wood burning fireplace doesn’t appeal to you, you can always add an electric or gas fireplace that provides warmth and gives the illusion of a fireplace.

Veneer stone is ideal for electric or gas fireplaces, as it gives it a more authentic look. This will make your electric or gas fireplace easily mistaken for a real, wood burning fireplace, but you won’t have to deal with the hassle associated with those units. Furthermore, adding a fireplace, whether it be wood burning, gas or electric, is a good move when it comes to increasing your home’s value, since according to a National Home Builders report, fireplaces rank in the top three desired amenities by homebuyers.

Adding stone to your home in some form or fashion is a great way to improve your home’s curb appeal and to increase its overall value. It also will ensure you love your home more than you ever have before. Therefore, the next time you are thinking about improving your home, consider adding stone through one of the methods listed above.

Exterior Stone Veneer Q&A With A Valued Customer

Exterior Stone Veneer Q&A With A Valued Customer

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

We had the wonderful opportunity to ask some questions about an exterior stone veneer installation we recently completed in Gurnee, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Read on to see what was involved in this homeowner’s decision making process about choosing and installing stone veneer on his home’s exterior and find out how his home has gained value within the neighborhood. 

 

Question No.1:

What was your thought process about changing the look of your home’s exterior?

After living here for the pasted 23 years Donna and I thought through the process of possibly moving to another home with a more modern exterior look. After much debate we decided to stay here and give our home a much needed face lift. We love our 1/2 lot, the cul-de-sac location, our proximity to the toll road and all off the local services.

When we built our home it was the typical tract style approach where you picked from a number of models and had one build. As a result most of the homes in the area ended up looking pretty much the same. This new face lift has definitely set us apart from the other homes in the area.

 

Question No. 2:

Why did you select using stone veneer versus say a different color siding, stucco or maybe brick?

We wanted a more modern look. When we drove through the newer neighborhoods with the up scale homes we could see the use of stone building materials rather than the typical aluminum siding and brick facades. As you know we aren’t finished yet. We plan to have you wrap the remaining lower portions of our home and we plan to change the remainder of our siding to the new wood styled cedar shakes. Once completed, we hope to have a much more craftsman styled exterior look.

The stone has given our home a custom look. It certainly set us apart for all the other homes on our street, all of which used the more traditional aluminum siding and brick facades.

 

Question No. 3:

Why did you select North Star Stone to supply and install stone for your project?

After extensive research, we discovered that your quality of materials and expertise in this field were second to none and once again you’ve confirmed all the great reviews I’ve read.

 

Question No. 4:

Please share any comments about the installation process and the final outcome.

As you know I’ve owned my own industrial contracting business for the pasted 30 years and I tend to watch the quality of the installers very closely as I do my own people.

Your installers were very professional, very courteous and most of all they were extremely clean. Even though they worked very late in the day and they still had to drive a great distance all the way back to the shop, they didn’t seem at all to be in any hurry to run off!!!  I’ve experienced this with other installers and I know that feeling when someone just wants to finish the installation and leave as quickly as possible.

I might also add that they’re to a very large degree “artist”! This is a very specialized type of installation. This isn’t like stacking bricks with the same mortar line, etc. This requires much more of artistic approach and your guys do it as though they’ve been doing it for years!!!!

 

Question No. 5: Would you recommend North Star Stone to others considering an exterior facelift?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

If anyone is looking to break away for the typical cookie cutter look this is the way to do it! If you love your home, your location, not to mention the hassle of moving and you really don’t want anything more than a fresh exterior look “THEN WHY MOVE”!

We are the talk of the neighborhood! I still can’t believe I’m driving up to the same house and I can’t wait to finish the process!

 

Seven Things You Should Do To Vet a Contractor Before They Work On Your Home

Seven Things You Should Do To Vet a Contractor Before They Work On Your Home

Home Improvements Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

Remodeling your home and (like getting a new or updated stone fireplace) is an investment, but it’s one that will pay off over the long-term. Your property’s curb appeal increases, making the whole street more appealing. If you ever decide to move out, the improvements made could increase your home’s resale value. However, the difference between a gorgeous residence that should be on the cover of a home improvement magazine and one that looks shoddy and poorly-done is the contractor who does the work.

If you plan on hiring a contracting company to give your home a makeover, you have to be careful. You want to ensure that the work is quality and something that you can proudly show off for years to come. By asking the right questions and doing some research, you can find a reputable contracting company renowned for its work.

Here’s Seven Ways To Vet A Home Remodeling Contractor

1. Create a Plan of Attack — Home remodeling can be a project that goes on for weeks or months. Your life is going to be somewhat disrupted in the middle of the work. However, no one needs to be woken up bright and early at 6 a.m. on a Saturday because the construction workers are here. Make a plan. Ask whether your contractor will work during weekday mornings, afternoons, and nights and whether they will be here on weekends.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate — The contractor themselves won’t always be on-site working on your property. They have other clients. However, you should always be able to reach them. Before any work begins, ask if it’s best to contact the contractor by phone, email, or even text message. Communication should occur regularly, daily if not weekly, to let you know how the work is progressing.

3. Keep the House Safe — In the middle of the work, walls, floors, fireplace stone, and other parts of the home may be exposed. Besides that, you don’t want your family breathing in dust or tripping over debris. The contractor should have a good plan in place for keeping exposed items covered and your family safe.

RELATED: 4 Great iPhone Apps For Home Improvement

4. Get an Early Quote — You shouldn’t have to nervously guess how much your home construction will cost once the project is underway. Your contractor should offer you a quote before any work begins so you can decide whether this project is within your budget.

5. Plan for Emergencies — Even if you never have an emergency situation on your hands, you should be able to get in touch with your contractor once their company has closed up shop for the day. Don’t forget to give them your personal phone number if they ever have to call you. There were no Copyscape matches found.

6. Ensure There’s Room on the Street — Do your next-door neighbors work from home each Tuesday and Thursday? Does trash day clog up your street? If there’s going to be a reason the contractor and their team can’t get their truck on your street, you need to let them know so they can figure out an alternate parking situation.

7. Discuss Access When You’re Not Home — You can’t possibly be home for the duration of the project. How will the contractor get inside? Maybe create a spare keypad access code or let them know where you keep your extra key.

Source
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/25030494/list/10-things-to-discuss-with-your-contractor-before-work-starts, http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/14602570/list/10-things-to-ask-your-contractor-before-you-start-your-project

Stone Fireplace Mantels- More Than Just A Shelf

Stone Fireplace Mantels- More Than Just A Shelf

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Perhaps the most important and necessary accessory associated with a home’s stone fireplace is the mantel. Nothing completes the fulfilling picture of a welcoming hearth more than that focal point that can be created by what is showcased on a mantel. While the family photographs and other personal items that grace this special shelf can tell the story of a home’s occupants, the way a mantel is constructed and the materials with which it is constructed can also speak volumes about a home, its occupants, and the homeowner’s personal sense of style and design.

In an effort to learn more about mantels, specifically handcrafted, wood mantels, North Star Stone recently spoke with Gerry

Gerry, in our Libertyville Stone Fireplace Showroom

Gerry, in our Libertyville Stone Fireplace Showroom

Hamm, owner of G.H. Woodworking and Sawmill, Inc. in Wauconda, IL. Self-taught, Gerry is a mantel expert as well as skilled carpenter and craftsman who we regularly recommend to North Star Stone customers seeking the perfect mantel to compliment the exquisite look of our highly customizable stone veneer products.  Gerry’s beautifully constructed mantels can be found in homes all over the Chicagoland area. 

Choices are many when it comes to selecting and or designing the perfect wood mantel. Personal tastes vary and fortunately there is a wood option out there for everybody. One may prefer the outdoorsy look of rugged, reclaimed timber while something more traditional and refined like Cherry or Alder is more in step with a home’s decor. When it comes to creating mantels for his clients, Gerry utilizes his 25 years of experience as well as his love for reclaimed materials such as repurposed wood. Gerry is also a fan of white oak (Quercus alba), which comes from the tree of the same name.  Indigenous to the United States, Gerry likes working with the white oak because of its versatility, beauty, and weather resistance. Never one for taking the easy road when it comes to constructing his one-of-a-kind pieces, Gerry finds that the more challenging a piece is to create, the more satisfying it is.

Check Out Some Of Our Stone Fireplace Mantel Options

 

White Oak Tree- Gerry's Favorite Type Of Wood For Fireplace Mantels

White Oak Tree- Gerry’s Favorite Type Of Wood For Fireplace Mantels

When it comes time to design or purchase the perfect mantel for your home Gerry has some practical advice to share. According to Gerry it is important to realize that the mantelpiece “is a focal point and should be in contrast to background – so it sticks out!” Fortunately, when paired with stone veneer, which allows for an abundance of color customization, it is easy to ensure your mantel stands out beautifully. Working with a designer can also ensure the mantel you select is unique to you and your home and not of the cookie-cutter variety. Additionally, even though a mantel can be as long as one wishes, Gerry explains that a typical mantel is between 60 and 66 inches in length. Widths can also vary depending on one’s needs. Gerry also suggests that if you plan on placing your television on or near a mantel to make sure that a “power source is available.”

Taking the time to find a quality, beautifully crafted fireplace mantel will not only help bring your own personal seasonal expressions to life but will also add charm and character to your home for the rest of the year as well. If you are interested in adding a custom mantel to your new stone veneer fireplace, call our stone experts at North Star Stone at 847-996-6850.

 

More Than Masonry – The Beauty and Versatility of Pre-Fabricated Fireplaces

More Than Masonry – The Beauty and Versatility of Pre-Fabricated Fireplaces

Home Improvements Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

Fireplaces aren’t just for homes with brick and mortar chimneys and hearths anymore. In fact, homes that do not even have chimneys can enjoy the beauty and comfort of a fireplace. With skilled assistance the options for installing and owning the fireplace of one’s dreams is easier then one might think. To learn more about the versatility of today’s wide array of fireplace options and accessories, we took a moment to speak with Neal Kaplan of Fireplace Plus. Founded on the idea that the public deserved higher-quality fireplace options, Neal and his family have owned and operated Fireplace Plus in suburban Vernon Hills, Illinois for 25 years, with another location in Downtown Chicago. Here at North Star Stone we have had the pleasure of being able to collaborate with Neal, who has helped us beautifully bring to fruition some of our customized stone veneer fireplace projects. Neal graciously took a moment out of his busy day to share with us his knowledge and experience in the sophisticated and highly creative world of fireplaces.

For decades, Neal and his team have been providing the Chicagoland area with the extremely safe, high quality pre-fabricated wood burning, direct vent and vent free fireplaces. One of the amazing benefits of pre-fabricated fireplaces is that not only do they install quickly but they allow homeowners to have the look and feel of a beautiful fireplace without the expense of having to construct a brick and masonry chimney to support the smoke and other exhaust that comes with a fire. What is even more amazing about these pre-fabricated fireplaces are the great options available:

Wood burning. Heating power and sophistication are considerations when selecting the right wood-burning fireplace. Wood burning fireplaces allow users to take advantage of a renewable resource while also enjoying the pleasant aroma of burning wood. Design options exist to fit every taste. Fireplace Plus specializes in products by IHP/Superior. Nothing goes together better than the warmth of a roaring wood fire and the luxury of a dignified stone fireplace.

Pre-fabricated firebox

Pre-fabricated firebox

Direct Vent

A direct vent fireplace is a fully enclosed chamber that draws combustion from outside air. Natural gas or propane is used to keep the fire burning. Beautifully complimented by a stone fireplace, there are many styles and sizes of direct vent fireplaces available; classic or modern, the choices are endless. When it comes to trusted brands, Neal at Fireplace Plus prefers Napoleon. For those considering the direct vent route, recent government safety mandates have made it a requirement that all fully enclosed, direct vent fireplaces have a safety screen in place.

Pre fabricated stone fireplace

This is direct vent and has gas and logs.

Vent Free

Vent free fireplaces, like their direct vent cousins, also use natural gas or propane. However, they do not require a chimney or vent, which makes them quite unique. Generally compact, a vent free fireplace can go almost anywhere in your home. Styles and sizes are also plentiful. If shopping at Fireplace Plus you can find vent free fireplaces from Lennox Hearth, Napoleon and Empire.

stone veneer fireplace wood

Non masonry firebox that burns wood

Custom Doors

The fun doesn’t end once the fireplace has been selected. Next comes finding the perfect doors to compliment your new fireplace. Fireplace plus specializes in doors and offers an extensive variety from custom and semi-custom to premium. When it comes time to selecting the right door, Fireplace Plus will come out to your home and measure your space at your convenience.

Other Options

Once your perfect fireplace has been installed, don’t forget to beautify your fireplace even further by adding stone veneer. Not only does stone veneer act, feel and look like real stone – it is highly customizable. Pick from a palette of colors and stone styles to add elegance, sophistication and charm to your home’s fireplace. When considering stone veneer, remember that North Star Stone and their highly experienced staff are happy to assist you with your stone selection and installation needs.

There is nothing more natural than gathering around the warmth and light of a beautiful fire. So why shouldn’t every home have that special space to call their own? If you are considering adding a fireplace to your home, why not call Fireplace Plus? To learn more, visit their web site at: firesidecollection.com. And don’t forget to visit North Star Stone when it comes time to complete that look of distinction and refinement that comes with a custom stone fireplace.

4 Great iPhone Apps for Home Improvement

4 Great iPhone Apps for Home Improvement

Houzz- NSS Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

You may find that like many iPhone enthusiasts you just can’t get enough of all those cool apps currently available for the iPhone. Additionally, if you’re a homeowner or a do-it-yourselfer then North Star Stone is here to share with you 4 fun and helpful iPhone apps that you might find useful for those around-the-house projects you find yourself facing in the near future. Even better – most of the apps we discuss can be downloaded for free! Keep reading to learn more about these useful tools that can all be accessed by the touch of an icon.

 

Houzz Interior Design Ideas by Houzz Inc.

Bring the beauty and expertise of Houzz.com to your iPhone or iPad. Houzz leads the world of home design assistance with its near endless database of over 7,000,000 photos. From stone to stucco, plants to pillows create a virtual idea book where you can save your favorite pictures and products. Intuitive and convenient, this invaluable app provides users with several ways to find what they are looking for. If you need a little help executing or narrowing down your design vision you can join the Houzz community where you can share advice, ideas and more. Even better, this app is free!

The Woodshop Widget by Grand Unified LLC.

If carpentry work plays a part in your home improvement plans then check out the Woodshop Widget. The Woodshop Widget offers users various utilities to make working with wood easier. For $3.99 users gain access to tools that help determine wood’s movement or if it may grow or shrink depending on certain environmental facts, another option helps convert decimal measurements into fractions or vice versa and even more useful is woodworkers can investigate various species of wood before selecting the right one for the job – the Woodshop Widget has information on 288! But it doesn’t end there; if your phone isn’t handy, the Woodshop Widget even has an online companion site and can be found at woodshopwidget.com.

 

The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius by Readers Digest

The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius just might become your go-to app when it comes to getting a little extra help around the house with those DIY projects. Need some advice on how to better clean your gutters or maybe you need a little help picking out the perfect paint? Have a plumbing or appliance question? No problem with the DIY Tip Genius! Can’t figure out how to keep your stone mulch clean? Then Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius has you covered – in addition to providing help with many other outdoor or landscaping tasks. You’ll also find useful videos. Download this app for free and gain access to free tips or you can download the full version for $4.99 where you will be able to access more information.

 

Stanley® Level by Black & Decker

Next time you have to hang a picture or ensure that mantel overlooking your stone fireplace is straight, just grab your iPhone and access the Stanley® Level app. Trusted for their quality products, Stanly® has joined the app craze. After a simple calibration your level is ready to use. You can even change the color of your level to fit your personality.  What makes this app even better is that it can be all yours for free!

 

We hope you find these apps make your future home projects easier if not much more fun to tackle. If beautifying your home with highly customizable stone veneer is on your home improvement or DIY radar, then take a moment to visit North Star Stone and see what we have to offer. Tell your home’s story by selecting the perfect stone for your home’s interior or exterior. To learn more about what many homeowners in the Chicagoland area have already discovered call: 847.996.6850 and speak to one of our custom stone veneer experts.

And don’t forget to follow us on Houzz!

5 Reasons Why You Should Hire an Interior Designer For Your Stone Veneer Project

5 Reasons Why You Should Hire an Interior Designer For Your Stone Veneer Project

Stone Interior Stone Veneer

According to the Council for Interior Design Qualification, “Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive.” In other words, an interior designer brings with them a set of skills that allows him or her to make your home flow better and be in harmony with what you desire for your personal environment. Stone veneer provides the beauty and elegance of stone yet is lightweight, customizable and easy to install. To us, designing expertise and stone veneer sounds like a match made in heaven. As a result, we recently thought about what would make hiring an interior designer helpful when it comes to undertaking stone projects. Here is what we discovered.

You can save money

When it comes to the thought of hiring an interior designer many individuals instantly assume that it is way too expensive and one of those luxuries that is financially out of reach. Believe it or not, this is not generally the case when hiring an interior designer. In fact, by utilizing the expertise of a skilled design professional you will probably save money. Why? Because a designer will help you avoid the costly mistakes like over-shopping or buying the wrong materials, that can sometimes occur with inexperience. Additionally, designers typically have access to materials and merchandise that the general public does not have access to. Moreover, at the end of your completed stone project, chances are if you used the skills of an interior designer, you are going to end up with exactly what you wanted and not something that you are going to have to redo.

You will stay on task

Another benefit to hiring an experienced interior designer is that they will help you and the project stay on task. Because of experience and specialized training, a good interior designer will help save you time with your project. A project you assume could take weeks or more may actually take much less time. A designer will do all the research so you do not have to. In most cases it is your designer that will be working with vendors and contractors to complete your project in an efficient manner. In terms of projects requiring stone, like transforming a den into a peaceful sanctuary or adding stone to a specific room like a kitchen or bathroom, your designer will be the one who teams up with the stone supplier to make sure the colors not only fit your personal aesthetic but work with your homes color scheme. Next, your designer will coordinate with the contractor in making sure installation adheres to the design plan.

Resourcefulness

A skilled designer will also bring resourcefulness to your stone project. With their experience comes the ability of finding the right materials and people to complete your objective. Instead of having to search high and low for a skillful contractor or finding a trusted stone veneer supplier who will be able to source your project with high quality materials, a knowledgeable designer will know where to go or should know how to find what you need easily.

Create the Desired Effect

Once completed, if you have used the special skill-set of an experienced designer, you should be able to step back and go wow! In other words, with a qualified designer you will have achieved exactly what you had hoped for. In many cases, a good designer, with their ability to work with particular spaces, will probably have exceeded your expectations by pulling the whole project together in a way that a novice, do-it-yourselfer may not be able to.

Increase your Home’s value

Mountain Ledge Stone 015Many homeowners find, especially those with the plan to someday sell, that hiring a designer in addition to adding stone veneer, have been shown to provide an excellent return on their initial investments. The expert work a designer does can actually increase the value of one’s home. The smooth transitioning of one room into another in addition to creating a harmonious layout for your spaces, are two elements a designer can work with you on and are both qualities a potential homebuyer will appreciate when trying to find an ideal home. While stone veneer, on the other hand, adds strength, beauty and timelessness. It is easy to see how combining design skills and stone can result in two value-added benefits.

Here at North Star Stone we can help you transform your home with the beauty and elegance of stone. We regularly work with designers to help homeowners execute that unique aesthetic that can only be created with stone. What makes North Star Stone special is how highly customizable it is, which means you can find just the right color, shape and size of stone to meet your home beautification needs. Moreover, North Star Stone is lightweight and easy to install so your project can get off the ground quickly and be completed in a relatively short period of time. If you would like to learn what homeowners in Libertyville, Arlington Heights, Long Grove and other Chicagoland suburbs already know about North Star Stone, please call 847.996.6850 or contact us at info@northstarstone.biz.

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 info@northstarstone.biz.

 

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.

diy-stone--fireplace1

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 info@northstarstone.biz 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.