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Question DetailsAsked on 7/14/2016

What is the average labor cost for just install of cultured stone with no removal or material cost

Instalation of cultured stone to a block wall with materials provided per sq foot

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1 Answer


Depends a lot on whether interior or exterior installation, and on the weight of the material per square foot (i.e. is this just a thin veneer or a heavy slab), whether individually pieced (like tile or stacked or strip veneer) or sheet product, how many cuts are needed, etc. You also did not say if the labor includes the labor costs in the making of the measurement template (if needed) or for prep of the stone - cutting and shaping which is normally done in the shop, and sometimes edge shaping done on-site - that can at times be half the labor cost.

Also - depends on what thpe of "cultured stone" you are talking - some people include only resin products (easily field cut and shaped and worked) in that phrase, others include synthetic stones including concrete and resin/stone dust or chip products and fused mineral products which can be very difficult to cut or work in the field so generally require shop fabrication.

Could run from (subject to probably about $250 minimum) $5-10/SF labor for simple mastic-applied large-format thin-sheet material such as would commonly be used for a backsplash or entry sideframing, to more like $10-15/SF probably for heavier backsplash type installation requiring anchoring, to probably in the $15-25/SF range for block (commonly 2-4 feet in dimension) like is used commercially (and sometimes residentially) in foyers and entry areas and around elevator shafts and such, to $20-40/SF for complex interlocking cuts, patterned multi-color designs, or "pattern-matching" where the pieces are made for the "stone" pattern to match up continuously from piece to piece - that can be a very time-consuming effort to cut and grind to get an acceptable match. Ditto for that range for pieced stone - similar to ceramic tile or stone veneer surfaces.

Be cautious on the "materials provided" thing too - not only that you actually provide enough (taking into account cut wastage) but what happens if one or more pieces are broken in handling/installation (which would normally be a contractor cost but not clear who's risk it is without specific contractual terms), and also incidental materials that would normally be needed such as consumable bits and sanding/polishing materials, adhesives or joint matching materials, smoothing and final polishing materials, fasteners, shimming and undersupport materials as needed, etc. Be sure to specify in the contract exactly what you are providing and that the contractor is responsible for all other materials and tools needed for full prep and installation.

Also - MAJOR item - who is doing the field measurements and the cutting and any special edge treatments - is that coming from the factory (meaning you are fully responsible for it exactly matching site measurements where it has to go). Normally, the contractor (or sometimes supplier) makes a field template out of thin plywood and/or strip stock that is fastened together to make a full-size template of the exact shape of the space, reflecting non-perpendicular walls and sways and bulges in walls, etc - this template is then used by the shop to cut the material, or with poured cultured stone products, sometimes to "swage" the adjustable, flexible forms to make the poured product fit the desired shape.

Bear in mind it is pretty rare for a customer to provide cultured stone products - sometimes high-end natural stone, especially if imported, but curtured stone is commonly measured on site by the contractor, manufactured to measurements and delivered to the site, and contractor does insatall, seaming, and any "continuous" edge treatment like edge routing that goes around a corner and is sometimes better done on-site after installation rather trying to get both factory joints and routing to field-match.

Also, bear in mind a goodly portion (or nearly all) the profits for a countertop contractor come from the product sale itself, so you could find yourself paying more than expected for the labor. Plus the fact you are buying the materials yourself (unless a very major purchasee for a commercial building say) might indicate to the contractor you are penny-pinching so he might up his charge assuming you are going to be a difficult person to work with.

One other warning - if this is a block wall which might pass moisture from the outside (like a solid block wall with no exterior siding or insulation) be sure the mounting method accounts for that - because that condition can cause many adhesives and mastics to fail, as can freeze-thaw conditions if an outdoors location. Epoxy adhesives can overcome this but costs more because the epoxy is expensive plus more hassle to do the install - and more materials wastage if the adhesive gets on the surface of some products, because it has to be ground/sanded off in most cases, which is a lot of labor, and with some products (especially the "goo of death" super-bonding blue and purple polyurea based adhesives) penetrates so much any surficial contact of note might require replacing the piece of material.

You would have to get several bids from Countertop contractors to find out the applicable cost for your specific job, based on your specific square footage, type of material and thickness, and configuration of how it is going in.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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