Many faux-stone products are made with molds of natural stone and are hard to distinguish from the real thing. Veneers for interior or exterior installation are available in many Long Island home centers for about $7 a square foot. Most projects are within the scope of seasoned DIYers.
Manufacturers of cement-based veneers like StoneCraft (stonecraft.com) and Ply Gem (plygemstone.com) post complete installation instructions on their websites for preparation of the wall and application of individual stones. Manuals also are available at retailers and should be consulted before purchase.
AirStone (airstone.com) -- a new, ultra-lightweight composite stone veneer product for interior and exterior applications made of recycled plastic -- has the look and feel of real stone but requires no preparation of a wall that's in good condition and made of Sheetrock or other materials that do not flex and buckle. Stones are secured with a special adhesive and can be cut with a hacksaw. Nonflammable with a "Class A" fire rating, the material is safe to use around typical fireplaces. As with any veneer product, it's important to read the manufacturer's instructions before proceeding.
HOW TO APPLY
Here are the basic steps for applying AirStone on interior surfaces:
Equipment: putty knife, hacksaw, level, premixed adhesive (use only approved brand)
1. Measure the entire project area in square feet and purchase the amount of stone needed all at one time, checking that each package carries the same lot number. Different batches of products can vary in tone and even slight differences in color will show on the finished wall. Each package covers eight square feet. If there is a corner in the project, matching preformed corner blocks are available. Each package covers six linear feet.
2. Clear the host wall of dust and loose or crumbling Sheetrock, plaster or flaking paint. Remove old wallpaper. Use a carpenter's level to check that the floor or baseboard is level. If not, place the level about 4 inches above where the lowest course will start and use it to draw a level guideline on the wall.
3. If the project turns a corner or if the installation ends at a corner, adhere a corner block over the corner first and then butt the flat stones against it. A length of molding at the corner can substitute for the corner block, if preferred.
4. Work horizontally with one stone at a time. Using the trowel, butter the back of a stone with a generous amount of adhesive and press it firmly against the wall following the guideline. Repeat with the next stone, pressing it against the previous stone's edge. No grouting is needed as stones are designed to fit snugly. Any adhesive that oozes out can be wiped clean with a damp rag. Adhere the entire first course before proceeding to the next one.
5. Avoid vertical seams by cutting the first stone so that the seam is not directly above a lower seam. Use the hacksaw to cut the stones face up to minimize chipping. Odd-size cut-off pieces can be inserted randomly in subsequent courses.
6. Shelves and mirrors can be hung by drilling screw holes for fasteners. Do not use a hammer and nail to make the holes because it could crack the stone.