House with natural stone exterior details

Natural Stone Exterior Styles

When natural stone comes up in design discussions, it’s often all about the interior. Marble counters, limestone fireplace surrounds, and worn stone flooring are among the many popular uses of this material inside the home.

But natural stone has long been utilized in exterior design as well, and it’s not hard to see why. Whether it’s for accents on doors and windows or as a veneer, natural stone has an abundance of outdoor uses.

As experts on architectural stone, we want to show you how and why to use this magnificent material to stylize the exterior of your home. If you’re looking for inspiration, you’ve come to the right place.

Natural Stone Veneer vs. Man-Made Veneer Stone

The terminology used around these exterior stylings can be complicated, so before we continue, it’s best to clarify to avoid any confusion. The word “veneer” refers to a thin layer of material used as a decorative covering. Natural stone can be applied as a veneer when styling the exterior of a building.

The term “veneer stone” has come into prominence in recent years as a competitor to natural stone. Veneer stone also functions as a decorative veneer, but it is not natural stone. Instead, veneer stone is manufactured artificially from Portland cement, oxide coloring, and various aggregates.1 This mixture is placed into molds to harden, with the end goal of mimicking natural stone.

The two materials have many of the same applications, but they are far from identical. Let’s look at some of the differences between the two. 

Weight & Size

There are three different options for a stone veneer on your home: thin stone veneer, full-thickness stone veneer, or man-made veneer stone. Naturally, the weight of all three varies.

For example, full-thickness stone is approximately 3” to 5” thick, while thin stone veneer is typically ¾” to 1 ¼” thick. This size difference contributes to the mass of the structure and its design dead load. Veneer stone is similar in thickness to its natural stone counterpart but, on average, weighs less than half. While artificial veneer stone may be lightweight, the finished design may not be as sturdy as natural stone construction. 

We always recommend matching the right process with suitable materials for best results. By researching and understanding the individual job requirements, the material selections and applications are easier to identify. Ultimately, the proper veneer for a chimney may differ from the best veneer for a wall, an outdoor fireplace, or a water fountain basin.

Longevity & Durability

Natural stone, when installed and maintained correctly, can last for centuries. Man-made veneer stone, on the other hand, has a shorter life cycle and is often accompanied by warranties as to technical performance.

With interior projects, exposure to the elements is less of an issue. However, suppose you’re planning an exterior architectural stone project such as a veneer, fountain, or swimming pool. In that case, you should ask about the stone’s performance from a freeze/thaw standpoint and its resistance to acid/alkali environments. Some materials react differently than others, which will dictate the best materials for your construction.

Color & Texture

The choices of color and texture are more limited when comparing artificial veneer stone to natural stone. Veneer stone, in most cases, is confined to the colors that are manufactured, which can fade over time. The look of veneer stone also tends to be homogenized, sometimes making an exterior look dull and artificial.

Natural stone veneers come in near-unlimited colors, edging, and veining, with a proven color consistency that lasts practically forever. When you’re looking for beautiful intricacies and imperfections in your exterior design, look no further than natural stone.

Design Flexibility

Natural stone veneers offer many options for creative designs and patterns. Stone materials are diverse, and veneering provides excellent opportunities to bring your vision to life. Any pattern you can think up is doable, from brick bond to herringbone to the most imaginative and free-flowing customization.

The selection of stone products on the market is equally abundant. 

In today’s market, there’s a demand for longer and more monolithic pieces for interior wall construction. You can also create carved architectural components and slabs out of the same stones used in the thin veneers. Artificial veneer stone does not have the same versatility and is typically only useful as a decorative interior or exterior layer.

Natural Stone Exterior Ideas

If you’ve decided that natural stone is the choice for you and you need suggestions, consider some of the following examples. Whether you’re looking for exterior stone veneer ideas, trends, or magnificent embellishments, Materials Marketing has you covered.

Window and Door Surrounds

Are you looking to bring a stately appearance to the outside of your home? Or maybe you’d like to increase curb appeal with unique, ornate embellishments? Stone window and door surrounds are decorative statement pieces built to do exactly that.

Window surrounds are stone structures that frame a building’s windows. From modern simplicity to classical grandeur, a stone window surround draws attention to a home’s large, inviting windows. These features can be custom-made to complement your home’s aesthetic. With an array of colors, materials, and styles to choose from, window surrounds provide a touch of class to any exterior.

Door surrounds take the same concept as window surrounds and bring them to your home’s entryways. The front door is typically the first impression of a home—why not make it stand out? Whether you prefer grandiose Greek pillars or understated stone slabs, a custom door surround invites guests into your abode with sophisticated elegance.

Try placing light stone on a darker home for contrast, or match the color of your window surrounds to your home for a more classical feel.

Outdoor Accents

From an exterior wall to a stove hood, an outdoor fireplace to an outdoor kitchen, a quality stone veneer will help create the right look and feel to capture your vision. Today, brighter colors like our White Danby and our Sienna Limestone are trending. These natural stones can help achieve a sleek, modern look. 

Another intriguing option is a book-match veneer. For this process, we cut the stone to expose its natural veining, then open the stone as you would a book, and the veneer exemplifies a mirrored effect.

In fact, if you’re interested in learning more about stone in landscape design, we cover this topic in great detail.

Stone and Brick

One of the most iconic duos in the exterior style world is brick and stone. Combining these two materials can either recreate classic styles from bygone eras or plant your house firmly in the 21st century.

Mixing and matching natural stone veneer and brick creates a striking, lasting exterior siding. Some homes will utilize stone towards the bottom of the structure and brick towards the top, or vice versa. Alternatively, brick accents pair nicely with a natural stone veneer. Install brick around windows and entryways, as paths, or on pillars to nicely accent a stone exterior.


Natural stone quoins are a time-honored detail that draws attention to a building’s presence. The word quoin means “corner,” and that’s exactly where you’ll find these accents. Quoins climb the corners of a home in alternating large and small stones.

While they sometimes fulfill structural purposes, these days quoins are more typically an aesthetic feature. You’ll find quoins adorning Mediterranean villas and all manner of estates across Europe, and adding them to your home provides a splash of Old World charm.

Contrasting tones reign supreme with quoins. A white stone pairs beautifully with dark or neutral exteriors, while black or grey stone complements a lighter building. 

The Benefits of Natural Stone

Few construction materials compare to the timeless beauty and endurance of natural stone. Take a look at the cobblestone streets of Europe or the stone buildings of the Middle East, and it’s easy to understand that quality stone as a building material has a long and lasting history. 

What’s more, the process of building with stone has advanced over the centuries, and today we have state-of-the-art machinery and manufacturing capabilities. These technologies allow builders to create the most impressive and aesthetically attractive stone exteriors.

These natural stone style ideas should start you off on the right foot, but when in doubt, it’s always wise to ask a professional before construction begins—that’s us! Here at Materials Marketing, we can help you with the design plan and the selection of the best materials, so your architectural stone projects run smoothly and come out looking better than ever.

Visit a Materials Marketing showroom near you to bring your architectural visions to life.


  1. The Spruce. Veneer Stone vs. Natural Stone: Which to Buy and Install?