Your chimney is an essential part of the structure of your home. Houses are customarily built around the soundness of the chimney. A damaged chimney can cause a weakening of the entire building. Your chimney should stand as an attractive, stabilizing force. Chimneys have traditionally been fortified with brick or natural stone. However, a lot of new homes are now using different materials. These traditional choices have been restrictive to budgets and styles. In recent decades, the cultured stone has become a popular alternative.
Cultured stone is made of lightweight concrete and varied pigments that have gone through a casting process. The result looks much like real stone with realistic patterns, cuts and textures. They are often less expensive and less dense and can be installed in different ways than traditional materials. It has become an attractive alternative due to its range of choices and versatility.
However, cultured stone installation requires caution and care. Without proper treatment, cultured stone attached to a chimney can begin to show wear in fifteen years or less. When exposed to certain deteriorating conditions, life expectancy can be as little as five to ten years. Stay ahead of the dangers of deterioration by following these three precautions:
Install a Custom, Full-Sized Chimney Cap
Chimney caps are protective coverings over the top of your chimney. Stainless steel or copper is the primary component and can come in a few different styles. Caps help protect your home from downdrafts and rain that may seep into the flue liners. But the main reason we recommend them is to protect your chimney crown from excess water that can get behind the veneer of your chimney. Specifically for cultured stone, it keeps the water from getting behind the stone, freezing and loosening the stones causing them to fall off or deteriorate quickly.
Select a concrete crown or real stone crown that is overhanging your cultured stone. This step will fortify the chimney against cracking, which can lead to leaks and damage to the entire structure. Leaks from a roof can cause a never-ending cycle of detection and repair and should be avoided at all costs.
Be sure your cap is made of durable material and extends one to two inches beyond the surface of the cultured stone. It must be installed by those who have perfected the process.
Invest in Proper Flashing
Chimney flashing is a sheet of metal around the area where the chimney meets the roof. Flashing serves to ensure the connection between the chimney and the roof is airtight. Proper flashing in masonry ensures that the application of any cultured stone products is being done with sound building practices.
Apply corrosion-resistant flashing overall wall penetrations. The flashing type must meet standard building codes of the area. The chimney type, the amount of exposure to water and salt, determines the selection of the correct flashing. In addition, we also consider the weathering effects of direct sunlight. If incorrectly installed, the flashing may incorrectly divert water run-off over finished surface areas. This run-off will eventually set up the cultured stone for staining. Over several seasons of the freezing and thawing cycle, deterioration will occur. Areas that endure the assault of heavy snows and storms are the most vulnerable without this precaution.
Keep it Sealed
Sealers are helpful in the prevention of staining and deterioration due to soot, smoke, water and dirt. Many manufacturers don’t recommend sealing cultured stone initially because it is usually built-in during the casting process. However, this initial sealer wears off within a few years.
Choose a sealer that is breathable and silane or siloxane-based. One great example of a recommended selection is the breathable Siloxane P.D. Sealer. A skilled application of a workable sealant can help buy time and extend the life of the cultured stone.
With proper care, cultured stone is a viable, versatile alternative to natural stone. The vital steps of capping the chimney, applying proper flashing and sealing this material requires right timing and expertise. You need the support of highly-skilled masonry to get the most out of your investment.
Call on the professionals of Ray Arnold Masonry. We understand that chimneys are of utmost importance to the home. Therefore, chimney repair and maintenance is our first priority. Our masonry specialists offer you over seventy years of experience in serving the Northeastern Ohio region. Established in 1952, we have built a strong foundation of training, skill and attention to detail. We are a family-centered business that aims to give your family the attention you deserve.
Contact us today for an inspection. We will assess your particular situation and create a plan that is right for you. We guarantee our work and we follow-up on all of our jobs. Get the guidance and attention you need with the Ray Arnold Masonry team.