Thin Stone Veneer vs. Full Stone Veneer

thin stone veneerStone veneers open up tons of possibilities to many home and business owners looking to enhance their homes. With both full stone and thin stone veneers, many people desire the benefits that natural stone has to offer.

While both are excellent options, many people find themselves wondering whether a full stone or thin stone veneer is the best solution for their individual needs.

Because we receive so many inquiries on this matter, we’ve assembled this post to break down the differences between full and thin stone veneers, their pros and cons and advice for selecting the right materials for your home improvement project.

Full Stone Veneer At-A-Glance

Sometimes referred to as 4-inch veneer, full stone veneer has long been a popular option for homeowners who love the look of natural stone but, whether due to financial or practical constraints, are not able to complete a full construction with stone.

The stone veneer creates a magnificent facade that will provide lasting beauty and building protection for many years.

Detailed texturing and visual intrigue are the hallmarks of full stone veneers. Larger in size, you can expect the materials to be heavier than thin stone veneers. Full stone also hives you the option to shape and texture it, whereas thin stone will likely break and crack when you attempt to do this because it is only 1.5 inches thick.

The weight of a full stone can vary per square foot depending on the type of rock it comes from, different stones have different densities. For example, granite has a higher density than a sand stone. It is important to make sure that the plans allows for the weight of the full stone you select.

The price of a full stone veneer project will depend on the type of stone that is selected, any customization and the overall size and scope of the work to be completed. Based upon a square foot value, full veneer costs less than thin veneer, but other project needs and specifications could cause the final cost to fluctuate.

It’s best to consult with an expert before beginning work to better estimate how much you’ll need to budget.

Thin Stone Veneer At-A-Glance

It may seem like a no-brainer, but as the name suggests, thin stone veneers are cut much thinner than their full stone counterparts. These sleek veneer materials are much lighter in weight than 4″ units which can make it very easy to work with – especially in small areas where it would be difficult to use larger stones or in cases where weight restrictions would prevent the heavy full stone veneers from being structurally sound or practical.

Although extremely popular, thin stone veneers have only been around for a short time, truly emerging within the industry about a decade ago. Advancements in diamond blade technology can be attributed with our new ability to cut the full thickness of a stone down to a thinner unit for construction and veneering purposes.

As in the case of full stone veneers, thin veneers are manufactured from a large selection of stone types, so that users have the freedom to select a material that will suit their individual needs and tastes.

The material is known for being very easy to work with, making for quick, efficient and affordable installations. As mentioned previously, the cost per square foot of thin veneers can be greater than that of full veneers, but other factors such as labor and installation costs can bring your overall expenses down, so be sure to take all things under consideration when making plans for your project.

Full Stone Veneer Pros

Full stone veneers have been around for so long for a reason – they have a lot to offer. People who work with full stone veneers can expect benefits like:


Of course the main reason that people love full stone veneers so much is that they offer such a robust beauty to any home or place of business. The thicker nature of the stone adds to its depth and dimension, creating an even stronger illusion of a building that has been entirely constructed with stone or masonry materials.

There are a wide range of different types of stone available, making it easy for users to achieve the right look for their properties. Whether your sense of style is modern and cool or traditional, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.


Due to the fact that the stone veneer is larger and thicker than its thinner counterpart, full stone veneers can be much more easily customized in terms of how it is cut and shaped. Manufacturers can be more flexible in this area because there’s more stone to work with and the material isn’t as fragile as thin veneer.


In many instances, a larger, full stone veneer is simply more practical for a large area of wall that needs to be covered. Full stone veneers will have a better range of larger sized pieces than thin veneer. This is because thin stone veneers work better in smaller sizes in order to reduce breakage in both fabricating and handling.


Perhaps one of the greatest advantages to working with full stone veneers has to do with the fact that the material is so strong, durable and resistant to the elements. The thickness of this particular type of stone comes with all sorts of benefits.

When care has been taken to ensure that the materials have been installed correctly, you’ll find that it’s very unlikely that moisture will penetrate full stone veneers or its mortar joints.

It’s sheer size and mass is capable of protecting itself from problems with rain, snow and ice, but when an unrestricted space for ventilation and drainage is allowed behind the veneer, you can fully enjoy the peace of mind that that any wood framing or wood sheathing will be fully protected.

Larger, full stone veneers are also less susceptible to damages that may be inflicted by freeze-and-thaw cycles. Even when the seasons change and temperatures fluctuate, your veneer will continue to look stunning and function perfectly.

The weight and size behind these particular stones also help to prevent against any unwanted blemishes inflicted by Mother Nature. It will not easily crack, chip or scar when faced with heavy winds, rain or even hail. Very little maintenance is required on this type of natural stone veneer.

Thin Stone Veneer Pros

Full stone veneers aren’t the only viable option, though. Those who choose to install thin stone veneers will enjoy:


Looks mean a lot to home and business owners. After all, it’s the outside of their building that creates the esthetic property value that they desire while also satisfying their own needs. Fortunately, thin stone veneers have a lot to offer in terms of their appearance.

Although they may not be as thick or have the same depth as their full veneer counterparts, the way that the thin stones are cut can create the illusion that each unit is actually a lot fuller than it really is. By this measure, it will give the effect that the structure has been constructed entirely of stone.

You will find that you’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to the types of thin stone veneers that are available for purchase and installation. A large variety of natural stones can be cut down to this thin size, providing you with your choice of coloration, textures, dimensions, etc.


Thin stone veneer projects offer home and business owners a great deal of flexibility when it comes to style, design and the nature of the work itself. Due to the fact that the stone is lightweight and thin, it can be placed anywhere. Think of thin veneer like wall paper, it is applied to the wall and does not require any structural support beneath it.

There are no weight restrictions involved with this type of installation, so even if there isn’t enough of a support base for the structure beneath to handle heavier full stone veneers, a thin stone can be applied without any problem.

There are also no restrictions in terms of the height that can be installed in a single period. You’ll also be happy with your options for all of the places that a thin stone veneer can be used.

Whereas full stone veneers are generally best suited for outdoor use, thin veneers can be used for both interior and exterior projects. You might want to cover up an unwanted or unattractive facing on your fireplace or chimney, or completely transform the look of your home’s exterior walls. In either case, thin stone veneers can and will get the job done.


Because of its thin nature, thin stone veneer is naturally lighter than 4″ stones. This is particularly advantageous because it means that the materials can be applied to just about any surface, anywhere you’d like it. You won’t have to stress about reworking your plans because the veneer is too heavy or bulky to work in the context that you require.

In addition to this, lightweight thin veneers are also much easier to handle than other materials. They’re easy to lift and there’s a reduce risk of injury during the process. Any cutting, trimming or setting that is necessary during the project can be completed much faster because of the lowered physical strain and demands placed on the installer.

In fact, the light weight and size of thin stone veneers can reduce transportation and installation expenses. For those who are working with a professional contractor for the installation process, you can expect to pay less in terms of time and labor.

Full Stone Veneer Considerations

An important thing to keep in mind is that full stone veneer can only be used in applications where its thickness, weight and size have been carefully addressed and calculated by an architect. In many cases, this means that a proper footing or shelf needs to be present, or the special strengthening of a floor.

If you are unsure about whether or not full stone veneers will be supported by your structure, it’s in your best interest to have a professional evaluate your property and consult with you about the right type of veneer to use.

The last major consideration to be aware of is that the weight and size of full stone veneers makes it somewhat challenging to work with. Obviously, it is heavier than thin veneer materials and thus will take more time and effort to lift and install. In many cases, the process of trimming and sorting stones to make the pieces fit correctly can be time-consuming.

Of course, there are also limits to how much height can be safely constructed in one work session. For example, should a mason install all of the full stone veneer without taking the time for the mortar beneath layers to set, the facing could actually collapse under the weight.

All of this is important to keep in mind not only because you need to know the proper methods for installing full stone veneers, but also because it can impact pricing. Even though the materials cost per square foot is less than that of a thin stone veneer project, you should anticipate spending more on time and labor.

Thin Stone Veneer Considerations

The biggest issues that may be associated with working with a thin stone veneer have to do with moisture penetrating the system.

Although this is not a factor when installed inside of the home, exterior projects will demand careful consideration – especially in cases where the material is being applied over a wood frame or sheathing and will be directly exposed to the elements.

In the case of homeowners through NJ and other northeastern states, this factor cannot be overlooked. The good news is that water doesn’t necessarily have to be such a troublemaker.

Certain steps and precautions can be taken to ensure that both the thin stone veneer and any structural elements beneath are protected. It is important to keep in mind that thin stone veneer does not require any structural support and should be applied to an existing facade.

First, you and your contractor will need to be mindful of the fact that the joints between stones are only as deep as the stone itself. As a result, these joints absolutely must be filled in properly. If they are not, they can easily let water in which can result in the growth of mold, mildew and other issues.

During cold weather, that water can freeze and produce major cracking both to the veneer and the wall behind it. In addition to making sure that the joints are filled in, there are other things that should be done. First, a moisture barrier like Tyvek or tar paper needs to be applied over the woodwork.

Next, a galvanized wire lath should be attached over the moisture barrier. The lath will need to be scratch coated with a layer of cement or mortar and given time to set. The thin stone veneer can then be adhered to this surface. The final step is to apply a water repellent seal to the veneer for total protection.

Full Stone vs Thin Stone Veneer – Which is Right For You?

With all of this information in mind, we can finally begin to address the question of whether full stone or thin stone veneer is the right fit for your project.

Although we’ve covered a lot of ground and taken a good, hard, objective look at both types of veneers, the decision-making process can still seem overwhelming. To make it easier, you simply need to ask yourself a few questions:

Where is my project located?

One of the first things you should think about is where your work will be taking place – indoors or outdoors. Indoor projects are often a lot smaller and simpler in nature. It may be something small like covering up an outdated brick fireplace or creating an elegant wall covering for your wine cellar.

This type of work lends itself to thin stone veneers. This is because the stone can be installed very quickly and easily, even by the average homeowner.

If your project will be completely outdoors, on the other hand, you may want to evaluate whether the structure can handle the weight of a full stone veneer which will best be able to withstand the elements. If not, a thin stone veneer is still do-able, but moisture barriers must be in place.

Are their any weight restrictions?

This is where a thorough and accurate assessment of your home or other building needs to be completed. We would advise that you hire an expert to walk you through this process so that there is nothing left to question.

A professional will be able to tell you whether or not the structure will be able to withstand the heavier weight of full stone veneer materials or if the entire project or specific project areas would be better suited to something more lightweight.

Never move forward with a full stone veneer (no matter how much you like the way it looks) if you have been advised against it. This will only create expensive problems for you down the road.

Will I be completing the work on my own or hiring help?

The “who” of your project completion will make a big difference in the type of veneer that you select. Even if your project passes the test for being able to handle the load requirements of full stone veneers, you might want to rethink your choice of materials if you plan on completing the work on your own.

Skilled do-it-yourselfers might struggle with handling the larger and heavier stones, as well as taking the time to lay them out in such a way that everything fits snugly and precisely. This type of planning and labor is best completed by a contractor.

If you truly don’t want to hire outside help, we would strongly recommend that you work with thin stone veneer.

This type of veneer is much easier to work with, allowing for a higher success rate in your project. We recommend hiring a skilled mason, who like an artist, they all have their own different styles and techniques, so one should see the work that they have done in the past before hiring them.

Spending the extra money on a highly skilled mason can save you money in the long run should problems arise with water, chimneys, etc.

Where to Buy Stone Veneers in NJ

Braen Stone is the leading supplier of veneers throughout NJ and its surrounding areas. We are proud to carry a full inventory of both full and thin stone veneers that cater to a variety of different needs. Our customers can choose from numerous designs, colors and styles based upon their unique tastes and preferences.

Our team of experts is happy to work with you to discuss which material is right for your home or business, and how to determine how much you’ll need. All of our veneers are available at competitive rates and can be picked up or bulk delivered to locations throughout NJ, NY, PA and CT.

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