There are two general types of exterior stone claddings. One is a traditional, natural stone such as fieldstone which is applied to a masonry or wood framed wall over building wrap on a metal wire mesh with adhesive that is troweled on the back of the stone. The other is manufactured stone veneer which is also known as “cultured” stone. Manufactured stone veneer is much thinner and more brittle than natural stone. It is typically about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick and is applied on masonry or wood framed walls in much the same way as natural stone.
Problems are associated with stone claddings: in our experience, the problems associated with either type of stone cladding are the same. First, the building wrap underneath the stone must be lapped correctly by the contractor who installs it. The first course of building wrap must be applied on the bottom with successive rows of paper partially lapped on top of each other like scales on a fish. Otherwise, instead of water flowing off of the paper, it will infiltrate behind the paper and likely cause significant damage.
Second, it is critical that the system be installed in such a manner that water that gets behind the stone can drain out of the bottom of the system. That means the bottom needs to be kept open or a starter track or some other kind of casing bead must be used to allow water to get out. If water becomes trapped inside the walls, mold and other damage to the sheathing and framing often follows.
Third, detailing the interface between stone and other cladding materials is of critical importance in ensuring the proper performance of the cladding system. For example, it is very common for stone to be used in conjunction with stucco, EIFS, brick or vinyl. The interface between the two cladding materials requires a joint that is detailed in such a way that it allows incidental moisture to be evacuated from the system. A flashing detail may be necessary to ensure proper drainage.
A careful evaluation of the building by a qualified expert is necessary in order for you to understand the condition of the building, the causes of any deficiencies in design, materials or construction methods, and the extent of the damages resulting therefrom. Once that information is compiled, counsel can help you determine what your options are for recovering your damages and getting your building fixed.