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Stone Veneer a Problem


randynavarro
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Randy, I 've been meditating about this very subject. I'm seeing poorly adhered stones & quality of workmanship. Moisture detected in yesterday's inspection beginning from upper level front wall elevation and extending through two finished levels before emerging in OSB in cripple wall in basement.

How is it possible to have much confidence that the out of sight moisture-resistant barrier was properly installed when you look at the cladding? The dry stacked look itself presents tons of places where moisture may enter and remain. Anyone see any kickout, diverter or counter-flashing when this product is used? What about the long term effects on wood components of windows and doors with all those gaps? Random falling stones hitting cars or people? Okay, maybe I'm taking this too far. [:-hspin]

A few pics. It would be nice to see pictures from others too!

Ineffective attempt to caulk gaps to stop water:

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Moisture in basement cripple wall (three levels down):

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Gaps above window with loosely installed stones:

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What's going on with this intersection of roof, wall and gutter?

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Good pics.

Those are a great example of so many obvious defects, it doesn't take much assuming to know what's underneath is all messed up too.

Its tough in our area because all the stone veneer usually looks so nicely installed - no visual blunders so to speak.

So without more visual evidence of something wrong, I just usually give it the once over and move on without saying anything, (actually, I always write lack of weeps/drainage at the bottom - that's easy to see).

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Hi,

I don't think it's the un-grouted dry-stacked look of that cast stone that's the problem; the problem is the way that it's been installed out over the roof, lack of kickouts and lack of head flashings above that window. If that product is installed right, it drains nicely; just like veneer brick or a conventional stucco wall. When it's installed tight to a roof like that it's wrong and I'd bet a Hershey bar that it hasn't been properly flashed properly under/behind the veneer. The water that blows through the face and in around that window will simply drain into the wall and is probably getting behind the underlayment. If there's a layer of house wrap behind that cast stone, instead of two layers of felt, any water that gets behind the wrap can't dry to the exterior, is trapped and gets absorbed into the OSB and causes it to rot.

Looks like just another rotten wall lawsuit on the horizon.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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In my area I see a lot of Owens Corning Cultured Stone. They publish a best practices for flashing guide that can be found at:

http://www.culturedstone.com/technical/flashing.asp

More often than not these stone products are installed no where close to this guide. One of the major offenders I see is improper flashing where the stone meets vertical and horizontal wood trim at windows and walls. Owens Corning calls out J mold, backer rod and sealant. What I see is mortar, which by the time I see it has cracked and or separated away from the wood trim. This joint is no longer water proof.

I refer all of my clients to this web page if they have any doubt about proper instalation. I've been in a couple of heated discussions with builders over this topic. I've had one builder tell me his installers were "trained" and "certified" by Owens Corning and yet they still did not follow the OC best practice guide.

I agree with the prediction that these fake stone products will be the next EIFS. At a recent association meeting a building defect lawyer told us that he is already seeing claims against this stuff.

Keep your eyes on the prize!

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Good pictures guys. Here in GA, I find it necessary to knock on a representative number of stones to see if they are loose.

Another inspection with larger flatter stones:

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Thermal imaging scans accompanying pics from first post:

Water intrusion at gutter with no kickout:

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Scan from interior side of wall:

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

When two layers are required then the Tyvek stucco wrap should be immediately behind the lath, right? Otherwise whats the point.

Chris, Oregon

That's my call.

I didn't read the article; did JLC say building paper over Tyvec stucco wrap? I hope the article spec'd shingling tyvec over base flashing.

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did JLC say building paper over Tyvec stucco wrap?

Yes.

According to Dupont the building paper promotes uneven curing of the base coat which leads to cracks.

According to the JLC article, because cultured stone can load up with moisture, that its performance is less like stucco, and more like brick; therefore, it needs a good drainage plane behind it with weep screeds and the whole bit.

Like Scott Wagar said, all I see around here is the stuff buried in the ground and mortared to the windows.

Chris, Oregon

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Also the JLC article shows the bottom flange of the window caulked with what I assume is a continuous bead of caulk. The whole bottom detailing isn't quite right. There's no way for water that gets to the sill to drain out.

IOW, the detailing only accounts for draining water that makes it thru the cladding, but does nothing to deal with the water that makes its way thru defects in the window.

The home has Tyvek covered with building paper. I think the problem was that the window installation was messed up. But the problem still is if the window installation is messed up, then you pretty much have to start over and remove the wall cladding.

Chris, Oregon

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I've had one builder tell me his installers were "trained" and "certified" by Owens Corning and yet they still did not follow the OC best practice guide.

We had the OC rep come talk at an association meeting and that was a point I brought up. What's the point of publishing the detailing, telling us about it, then not backing us up in the field?

His attitude seemed to be that the detailing was not really needed except under worst case situations. They clearly just want to sell product and the installers bitch about having to do all of the detailing cause they assume it's a stucco system, and they have been installing stucco without all the detailing for years, etc.

Well, it's really not performing like stucco is it. I guess we'll have to wait and see who's right.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by SWagar

Owens Corning calls out J mold, backer rod and sealant. What I see is mortar, which by the time I see it has cracked and or separated away from the wood trim. This joint is no longer water proof.

Scott,

I've read the same thing in other manufacturer's instructions, but was unable to locate it in the ten or twelve OC docs I looked at. Can you point me in the right direction so I'll be properly loaded with ammo next time I bust one of these installations?

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John,

This link will go directly to the Best Practice guide:

http://www.culturedstone.com/technical/flashing.asp

The page has bubbles with numbers on it, each number is a different situation e.g. 1.13 is vertical wood trim.

Just click the number you want to know about and a diagram will appear to show you their Best Practice. Happy reading.

From what I can tell there are no direct building codes or even ASTM standards that directly apply to this material. So sometimes it is a bit o a p!$$ing match when it comes to giving code references for mis-installed product. Especially when another brand like Rogue River is used.

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I guess I need to take back what I said about Tyvek stucco wrap. Joe Lstiburek in an JLC article back in March 2003 said that their testing showed that stucco wrap performed the same as regular Tyvek. Stucco bonds so tightly to Tyvek that there is "capillary continuity", and water (were not talking moisture vapor, were talking water) sails right thru it. However when any old cheap building paper was used over the grooved stucco wrap, the building paper acted as a bond breaker allowing the grooved stucco wrap to perform very well.

Chris, Oregon

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Chris,

Tyvek (the regular kind) covered with felt is the method used by the better builders I know, but I see a lot of jobs with two layers of tyvek. There is a new condo project not far from here that is about 80% Crown Hill Stone, and it is being installed over two layers of a house wrap that looks like a cross between lumber covers and landscape fabric, think Typar, but so thin that you can see the OSB through both layers from the street. Some people never learn.

Tom

Tom

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

For those who have a subscription to JLConline, check out the thread going on about Mark Parlee's article.

Mark replied yesterday that the mfg.s installation instructions are wrong, that all cultured stone installed that way will leak and that the failures will be worse than EFIS.

Interesting.

Chris, Oregon

I doubt that the failures will be worse than EIFS for two reasons:

1. We don't clad entire houses in fake stone. (Well, at least not very many houses.) Most of the time, the stone is used as an accent so the area on a house that's available for failure is smaller than it was with EIFS, which tended to cover the entire house.

2. The stone & its mortar are porous and dry to the exterior. EIFS doesn't. So the damage under stone is likely to be concentrated around the specific areas where water enters instead of being spread out over vast swaths of wall as it was with EIFS.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I doubt that the failures will be worse than EIFS for two reasons:

1. We don't clad entire houses in fake stone. (Well, at least not very many houses.) Most of the time, the stone is used as an accent so the area on a house that's available for failure is smaller than it was with EIFS, which tended to cover the entire house.

2. The stone & its mortar are porous and dry to the exterior. EIFS doesn't. So the damage under stone is likely to be concentrated around the specific areas where water enters instead of being spread out over vast swaths of wall as it was with EIFS.

My concern is that they so sloppily put the stone veneer on (no tooled joints, lots of voids, lots of non-uniformities, inevitable cracking of the substrate), and in a number of the cases I have seen, they are doing so over plastic wraps, which leak. Also according to Joe L. & others the stuff is performing just like brick. IOW's, if you spray it down it leaks, and leaks profusely, so under conditions of wind driven rain it's going to repeatedly wet the sheathing thru that supposedly water resistant plastic wrap. On top of that there is evidence that it is just as susceptable to solar vapor drive as brick, and maybe even worse.

Compared to EFIS & stucco, stone veneer I believe leaks like a sieve, and unlike EFIS it is much more vulnerable to solar vapor drive.

My worry is not so much on the non-weather sides of the home as I believe it will perform like you say, but on the southern exposures exposed to wind driven rain & the sun, I believe it will be a problem.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Here is an interesting thread on faux stone at JLConline that started at the end of 2007.

Faux stone thread at JLConline

Chris, Oregon

Put me down in InspectorPete's camp. I like Martin and I admire what he does but, in my opinion, he relies on theory to a very great degree. There's a lot to be said for learning by getting your hands dirty.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

. . . My worry is not so much on the non-weather sides of the home as I believe it will perform like you say, but on the southern exposures exposed to wind driven rain & the sun, I believe it will be a problem.

Perhaps. But faux stone has been with us for about a decade now and the only failures I've seen or read about have been related to bulk water entry -- leaks & wicking. So far, I'm not seeing entire walls rotting because of solar vapor drive.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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