Stone Veneer

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Old 12-08-06, 02:31 PM
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Stone Veneer

Does anyone know how to install stone veneer ? What are my best options for purchasing the stones ? I am getting qoutes of about $7 a square foot. Is that average ? Or am I going to pay too much. I am looking to renovate my home and I think stone veneer will look great. It is really popular in my area.
Any help is appreciated. I am new to this but love DIY projects.

Thank you !
 
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Old 12-08-06, 10:25 PM
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I sell the stuff and it's a bit of work, but definitely not out of the DIY realm. Different places have different prices so it's hard to say if your price is out of line or not. Ours goes for about six. The main expense is labor so doing it yourself will save you a bundle. My guess is, your source should have installation instructions. One thing I've learned about it you may not get in the instructions is, if it's going straight to concrete or cinder block, I like to use thin set to adhere it instead of mortar. It sticks better. I had a whole wall sluff off several years ago and redid it with thin set and had no further problems. It may not have been the fault of the mortar, but that's who got the blame. Which style are you considering?
 
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Old 12-15-06, 12:57 PM
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Thanx Smokey. I am considering a ledgestone or limestone. Price is a pretty big factor. The good thing is that I have time. No big hurry here. I plan on putting a few bucks into the old house to raise the value. I ran across a discussion here about making stone veneer yourself. One guy says it's easy, the other, says its not worth the effort. I think he may have a lot more money than me. I have the space to put molds down and make 10-20sqft at a time. That way I can spend money on the stones as I am making them. Instead of shelling out a bunch of money all at once. Plus, I can color them whatever I want. When I am done with the molds and cement mixer, I can put them in the paper for sale. Or, if I move into a fixer-upper I can do it all over again. What do you think ? The other discussion seems biased towards purchasing instead of making. The one person factored their labor rate at $20/hr. This raised the cost per sqft price to like $2.50. But I feel my free time is not that valuable. I am just going to sit and watch TV when I get home from work anyway, right ? So for now, that time is worthless. If I make the stones then my time is actually gaining a worth. I know it sounds like my mind is already made up, but the more info the better. Thanx again for your thoughts.
 
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Old 12-15-06, 02:18 PM
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Stone veneer

As Smokey49 said, you can do it yourself.

The major cost savings with stone veneer is in the installation. If you have very good instructions relative to your specific project AND the time you can do it yourself. Keep in mind you will need more hours than someone with experience that charges more than you think your time is worth. The proper installation is not difficult, but you have to follow the accepted and recommended practices and details.

The good thing about installing it yourself is that you know where to go if it does not look like you want it to (LOL), but YOU do control the technique.

There are many things an experienced installer has learned that are done by instinct and will be hard for you to pick up, no matter how good the instructions are.

Regarding the question of making your own or buying the veneer, it depends on a number of items:

1. How good and reliable the manufacturing instructions are regarding raw materials and availability, proportions, process and the standards you must meet for durability for YOUR SPECIFIC CLIMATIC CONDITIONS. Anybody can copy rock and sell molds. Mother Nature has had had a history of being hard on some siding materials. In a warm, dry climate, you can get by with inferior products that would fail in a season or two in more moist, cooler or cold climates. In any climate, a QUALITY stone veneer will be much more durable than a wood or vinyl product.

2. If you have the time and area to store the raw materials and make the amount of material you need for your project. Because of the nature of concrete products, a certain amount of time is required for setting in a mold prior to stripping. Buying more molds can speed up the process. Chemical shortcuts can severely effect the ultimate appearance (color, fading) and especially the durability.

3. If you chose to blend the full range of products, all veneer units should be available for blending before the start of construction. This helps to minimize the difference in curing caused by temperature and moisture variations.

Concrete is a product that continues to cure over a long period of time. Proven retail product samples are based on manufacturing process controls and experience. Doing it yourself opens up the possibilities of variations in appearance, such as fading of pigments (natural or synthetic iron oxides or organic colors) while curing. Blending will minimize variations. Even manufactured stone manufacturers recommend blending for optimum appearance.

Doing it yourself can give you a lot of bang for the effort if it directed in the right direction. It all depends on if you want to both manufacture and lay or not.

Dick
 
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Old 12-15-06, 02:43 PM
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There is a lot of job satisfaction to doing things your self and, when I was a bit younger, I'd have embarked on making the stones myself in a flash if for no other reason than to see if I could do it. Time has taught me to temper that tendency with a bit of common sense however. If time were really not an issue and I were just watching the tube anyhow, I think I'd try to get a lot more information on how the stone structure needed to be in order to hold up over time without fading and then try making a few. You can mix small amounts in a wheel barrow for the time being and then you're only out the molds if you decide it isn't satisfactory. I think it would bother me if I didn't at least give it a try, but I'd want to be prepared to abandon the effort if it proved fruitless. But, in this stage of my life, no thank you. Let the manufacturers stand behind their warranty if I've done it all and it fails down the road.
 
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Old 12-15-06, 03:49 PM
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One thing to remember is that with 20 SqFt of molds, you will have 20 SqFt of pattern, i.e. very few discrete rocks. This can be very noticable or not, depending upon the particular molds, and how good a jigsaw puzzler you are. For a larger project, this is definietly an issue, not so with a smaller one (which will cost you more to do than just buying the stone anyway).

If you consider your time to be worth less than 20 bucks an hour, I would suggest that you may not have the requisite skills to make your own veneer stone and lay it, otherwise, you can make more than 20 bucks an hour simply by installing veneer stone.
 
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Old 12-15-06, 04:27 PM
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save a buck,
Getting back to the prices of stone veneer, it is expensive but one thing I do is search for people unloading their extras on Craig's List. I recently bought about $500 worth of Cultured Stone brand Profit Ledgestone for $120, and the guy threw in a bunch of similar colored flagstone that I used for a project. You'd be amazed at what you can find on Craig's List when it comes to left over stone, hardwood flooring, etc. and since you have the time, you could check daily to see if any gets listed. I'm in San Diego and the SD version of Craig's List has a ton of stuff like this. I'm not sure on your area but you could check it out.

In San Diego, Eldorado is about $5.50/ft., Cultured Stone is about $7-$8/ft., and Rox Pro is even more than Cultured Stone. But stone veneer is huge out here ...many of the homes and businesses use it.

Steve
 
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Old 12-15-06, 05:09 PM
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Anecdote:

I had a guy come in looking for concrete color. He had bought a mold off the internet for a paver. It was an Escher designed frog that was created to use exactly one 80# bag of premixed concrete per mold. He spent 6 months pouring one paver per night, and it worked well for him. His SqFt cost was double what I sell pavers for, but he wanted his specific color and shape. It worked for him, and I helped and encouraged him as much as possible, but the relevant fact is that he DID NOT save time or money, but he DID get exactly what he wanted.
 
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Old 12-15-06, 07:04 PM
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Rubber molds

Tscarborough -

Since you mentioned frivolous and whimsical concrete products, do you know where I can get a mold for a big (8" x 18") footprint?

My neighbor bought one when he was in Vegas to set in his neighbor's back yard. His neighbor owns a chain of shoe stores.

Unfortunately, it was made for a Vegas climate and it fell apart the first winter (almost melted the during the first freeze), but he wants to make a set of them for a surprise next spring. This time he wants to use real durable concrete.

Please advise.

Dick
 
  #10  
Old 12-15-06, 09:01 PM
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Thank you all.

I guess I came to the right place. It seems like there are some knowlegable folks here. I will do some more research on materials. I am still not clear on what kind of concrete mix I should use, should I decide to do this. I live in Tennessee, so the weather varies. I want to use the same kind of mix that the big guys use.

I might start off with a few square feet of molds to see if I can do it right. I have seen some on eBay and they are fairly inexpensive. I got a few indoor projects that I might be able to use veneer on. That way I really know if it will look right. I am a fairly handy guy so I think I could pull it off. But like I said, if I can't do it I can just sell the molds again on eBay or in the paper.

I will make the small batches so I will not have to invest in a mixer. They make paddles for drills for that, right ?

_________________________________________________________

Tscarborough-
You make a good point with the amount of molds I will need to hide repeating patterns. I actually am a good jigsaw puzzler, but should probably still opt for an extra 10-20sqft in molds if I decide I can do this. That way I can hide repeating stones for sure. How many should I have for an open space of 150sqft.

As far as what my time is worth goes, I think you might have missed the point. The value of my time is not a relfection of my DIY skills. I have taught myself all kinds of neat stuff over the years from all kinds of sources. Now that I found this place, I am going to try to pick your brains for as much info as I can (LOL).

My point is that I am not at my day job during the time that I make these stones. I cannot really count my time as an expense. If I call out of work for a day to do this, than yes, I have to count that as a loss. I hope I am not over explaining myself. My work time is definetly worth more than $20/hr. But I am wanting to do this for fun and experience. I am not interested in laying stones for a living.

Dont' get me wrong, I still appreciate the hell out of your advice.
_______________________________________________________________

If you guys can get back to me on the mix I should use, that would be great.

Thanx.
 
  #11  
Old 12-16-06, 04:46 AM
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Your comment about a concrete mixing paddle for a drill caught my attention. If the concrete is mixed wet enough to be mixed with a drill, then it is far too wet. Wet concrete is weak concrete, unless you add plasticisers to the mix. That's another expense you've got to figure in, as well as what kind and where to get it.
You will probably need a small mixer or perhaps a large wheelbarrow, hoe or rake, and a shovel to mix it by hand. If you use Sakrete, Quikrete, or similar, look at the instructions on the bag as to mixing ratios. If you follow them, you'll be surprised at how dry the mix seems. Adding a little bit more water won't hurt for this application, but adding enough to mix it with a drill will certainly affect the strength.
"Pouring" concrete is a misnomer. Good concrete isn't "poured" but placed. Pouring sounds like you can just pour it into a mold, like liquid. That's not so. The molds will need to be vibrated a bit as well, to get all the "bugholes" and honeycombing out of the piece. there's a lot more to molding concrete than meets the eye.
Dick, about the footprint: it's fairly easy to make your own rubber mold if you can't find a commercial one. There are two mold rubber manufacturers that I know of in Easton, Pennsylvania that sell to the consumer, as well as directions how to use it. A REALLY avid DIY guy could make his own molds for personal use, probably for a lot less $ than commercially made molds.

Pecos
 
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Old 12-16-06, 09:51 AM
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Thank you. I am just going to have to do a little more research on this. You mention making molds yourself, Pecos. I am looking at fireplace mantels and I cannot belive how much $$ they are. Can one make a mold for that ?
 
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Old 12-16-06, 10:12 AM
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One can make a mold of anything at all. It just depends upon what exactly you're going for. The mold rubber is actually fairly expensive in itself, but considerably less than a ready-made mold would be. Having the knowledge to make the molds correctly, and with the proper durometer rubber is the trick.
If you were going for a single use mold like for a mantel, you could make it out of something cheaper like plywood and plaster of paris. It would last for exactly one casting, but would be pretty cheap to make.
I've made molds from many materials including rubber, fiberglass, wood, styrofoam, and plaster. They all work, but some are better for different applications than others. I also happen to have been a fine arts major in college and took moldmaking and sculpture classes. I should have majored in business, which is probably why I'm just a lowly decorative concrete contractor today.

Pecos
 
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Old 12-16-06, 12:37 PM
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Thanx Pecos. I think I stumbled into something more than a simple DIY project here. This is actually pretty interesting and I am going to learn all I can about it.

I am really glad to have found this forum. Everyones advice is going to save me a lot of time and money in mistakes. I will have to change my handle to "saving-a-couple-a-bucks" !! I think I might just go get the basics and give it all a try.

thanx to everyone for your help. "I'll be back".
 
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Old 01-15-07, 09:08 AM
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Another question.

Hi everyone,
I have received the rubber molds needed to create my pre-cast stone venner and I am having really great success. It is not that difficult, but I am using bagged cement. I am considering this as a possible business opportunity at this point. Would you be able to point me in the right direction to procure the basic materials ? I need to find some places that sell lightweight aggregate and Portland cement in the Midwest in wholesale quantities. What is the best and most cost effective aggregate to use ? Also, any suggestions on a quality mixer that will last a long time ? Is there a certain type of vibrating table I should use too ? There has to be an effective way to make my own. For the small batches I have made so far, I have used a hand sander on the bottom of the wood I placed the molds on. I only plan on manufacturing for a few local contractors, so I will not be producing on a very large scale, but would like to be able to expand if I can keep up. Anymore help is always greatly appreciated.

Thanx again !
 
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Old 01-15-07, 09:36 AM
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Stone Veneer

If you want to buy lightweight aggregate, check with a block or large ready-mix supplier. They normally do not sell their inventory, but you may be able to get a truck load if it is convenient for them. Most block producers use lightweight aggregate on a routine basis. Ready-mix is different since they may not carry any inventory and buy it from a distributor when needed. The aggregate used by block producers is finer in gradation than the material used in ready-mix concrete. Because you will use such a small amount, you be limited to what is available locally.

There is a large lightweight aggregate producer in West Memphis, Arkansas, but they usually sell only to distributors in barge quantities (barge loads). Lightweight aggregate for block producers is shipped long distances. As an example, most aggregate used in Minnesota is from either Arkansas or Louisiana. Some people on the east coast use natural lightweight (pumice)from Greece.

You will find out that lightweight aggregate is much more expensive than normal aggregate. The per ton cost may scare you, but keep in mind you get more volume per ton. Lightweight aggregate will have a dry rodded density of 40 to 60 pounds per cubic foot.

If you are tempted to use "bottom ash" as a substitute, make sure all impurities (iron, unburned coal, etc.) are removed or you will have big time problems is a few months or years.

Dick
 
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Old 03-06-07, 06:41 PM
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formula

Concretemasonry, I'm a new member here and have made some stone veneer but I'm curious about what the "ideal" formula would be for a cooler climate using light weight aggregate, air entrainer, type I portland, plasticizer, etc...
Primarily worried about efflorescence and color durability.

I also have some ?'s about curing times and temp's for this application also.
thanks-
 
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Old 03-07-07, 10:08 AM
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Stone Veneer

To get a good mix will take a lot of trial and error and testing if you want to have a quality product. You will never be able to consistantly meet the quality of factory manufactured units.

Lightweight aggregates vary significantly in their color and properties (gradation and density), so suggested weights will have little meaning. You will also be using some natural sand.

When you combine admixtures (air entrainers and plasticizers), the results can be unpredictable. You may be in an area where air entrainment is not necessary. The plasticizer will only give you smoother face if your filling and vibration is not correct. Follow the manufacturers suggestions for dosing.

Just use Type 1 Portland cement and do not mix brands if you want to maintain some repeatability of different shades.

For coloring, use synthetic iron oxide. It is the universal permanent pigment (yellows, reds, browns, blacks) used in the concrete industry unless you are trying to make blues or greens. Do not use any carbon for grays or blacks. Nothing is as permanent as iron oxide - just be careful what you get it on.

The critical curing time depends on the temperature and how the stone strips out of the mold. Only experience will tell you what it is.

As you see, when you are trying to make a "randomly uniform" or "uniformly random" architectural product, it requires a lot of homework and trial and error based on your materials and conditions.

If it was me, I would buy the stone.

Dick
 
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Old 09-28-07, 09:03 PM
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Making stone...not that easy! Please help.

I am attempting to make some stone veneer. I opted to make the molds myself and it saved me alot of money. I bought the rubber and molded the stones that I wanted but I was cautious and only made 2 molds (I have 8 stones between them). I began looking on the internet and calling everyone I could. It isn't easy to get info out of people. I have lofty ideas and want to start manufacturing them (I know Im crazy). Everyone that I show my stones to loves them. They say that they look just like you would buy from any retail place. The problem, Im still not happy with them. I have spent the last 6 months trying to develop just the right stone. Anyway, here are my questions. I have been using vermiculite as my lightweight aggregate. The stones are light which is good, but will the use of vermiculite decrease the strength and or durability? It seems to me that the vermiculite has alot of air in it, will this allow me to NOT use an air entraining agent. I live in a freeze-thaw area. Secondly, should I be adding sand. I don't right now. I use a 50/50 mix of type 1 grey portland and vermiculite. I use iron oxide pigment dye in the mix for my desired color. Is that mix ratio OK? Won't sand weaken the concrete? Can I get away with using less concrete? One problem with the vermiculite though is that it sucks up the water. I need to add more water than I think I should. I have also used perlite in my stones and they don't seem to suck up as much water, but the vermiculite makes the stones look better. Any help would be appreciated. I have been contemplating whether to forego the use of these aggregates and try something else. Im just not sure what to use. I live in SW Pennsylvania. Maybe blast furnace slag? How about accent color on the stone. Right now I use a 50/50 mix of white cement mixed with sand. Then I take about 4-5% of the iron oxide pigment and mix that together witht the sand and white cement. Then I take a dry paint brush and dab the mold lightly. It works pretty good, but it could be better. Does anyone have a different way to try. I learned this technique from a manufacturer. I tried using a flour dispenser, but that seems to get too much powder on the mold and the stone doesn't suck it up. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.
 
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Old 10-11-07, 01:25 PM
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I'm with you man!

I'm with you man. Everyone that I contact on the internet does not want to share any of their info with me(Apparently it's all top secret). I live in northeastern WV and I am sure that I will not be stepping on anyones toes by manufacturing stone veneer here. Most of the people around me have never even heard of a "fake" rock. Anyway, I'm so glad to find someone who is willing to share ideas with me. I have been making rocks for around my house for about 6 months now... from time to time. I have probably made about 400 sq. ft. of southern ledgestone with 20 sq. ft. of rubber molds that I purchased off the internet. I also feel that my rocks look good and just as you say, everyone who sees them thinks that I should attempt to sell them. So, I also have crazy thoughts about making this into a business. As a matter of fact, I can't stop thinking about the idea. There are many things I need to iron out though first. Better coloring, lighter weight materials, and more of a selection of molds. I just ordered rubber yesterday to make my own molds of "West Virginia Mountain Stone". Anyway, I color the same way that you do and currently I make all my rock from quikrete. I have tried a few other "mixtures", but so far quikrete seems to be the easiest... and the results are good. So, anyway... I could go on forever, but I will wait for a reply from you to see if you'd be interested in sharing some ideas with me. I would love to send you some pics of my work and would also love to see some pics of your work.
 
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Old 10-11-07, 02:02 PM
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Stone Veneer

Iron oxide is the only pigment to use for concrete. It is available in colors from yelows to reds and tans and browns. You can even get black. The problem is getting someone to bother with selling something as small as a few hundred pounds. - Do not ever try to use carbon black!

Using vermiculite will eventually lead to failure from the weather. You do need a lighter weight quality concrete. If you want to get lighter than Quikrete use fine lightweight aggregate - either manufactured or natural. Again, few people would bother with the small volume you would need and it is more trouble that what they could charge you. - Avoid bottom ash!

If you want real quality, use a vibrating table.
 
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Old 10-11-07, 05:30 PM
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There is a lightweight, high strength bagged concrete product that is available nationally. It is called Maximizer. On the plus side, it is within the range required for an adheered veneer, weight-wise. The bad news is that it tends to flash set and has a very dark grey color, and it is not cheap.
 
  #23  
Old 10-12-07, 11:15 AM
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weight range

This may be a stupid question, but what is the required weight range for an adhered veneer? I bought veneer from a pretty large manufacturer about 2 years ago, before I figured out that I could make it myself, and they said the average weight of their product was 12 lb/sq. ft. I think that the product I am making from quikrete is within that range (I will have to check for sure) Thanks!
 
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Old 10-12-07, 12:03 PM
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Around 11 pounds. I think it is 11.4# or less per SqFt.
 
  #25  
Old 11-04-07, 04:41 PM
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Smile Why not vermiculite

Why would vermiculite not hold up to weather? Has it been proven? Has someone else tried it? It seems to be working great for me, so if you have a specific idea let me know. I have sent my materials to a lab that deals with just this kind of thing and so far have not had any negative feedback about my mixture. If the stone is sealed why would weather get into the stone at all? I have heard that pumice is the best to use, I will have to look into where I can get some but until then what should I try? Vermiculite is used as a base for swimming pools and you can't get into more "weather" than that, so it is perplexing to me why it wouldn't hold up. Just asking!! I am not a concrete mason so I may be up the entirely wrong path. Also, I understand that I cannot make high quality faux stone veneer in my garage. I never said I wanted to do that. I am researching and developing and when I am satisfied I will begin construction of a production facility. I am here for advice from people with experience, I do not wish to have my dreams of having my own business squashed. Thanks though, any help would be appreciated. My question: Would vermiculite be a good lightweight aggregate and if not why? I am going to send my stones to UL to have them tested and if they pass fine and if not I have wasted my money. So if anyone has info concerning this please feel free to tell me.
 
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