The Advantages of Natural Stone Vs. Cast Stone

While advances have been made in cast stone and other faux stone alternatives, there is still simply no comparison to the durability, beauty, longevity, and value of natural stone. A natural stone fountain, statue, planter, etc. will last much longer then a cast stone counterpart that will eventually chip, crack, and crumble due to exposure to natural elements, especially in cold weather climates where freezing and thawing cycles allow water to seep into the porous surface of concrete and expand to create damage.

Carved Stone Creations uses granite for most of the outdoor fountains, statues, window and door surrounds, trim, and cladding we provide because it is virtually non-porous, is resistant to fading, and requires little maintenance. Regardless of whether you call it patina or weathering, the aging and damage caused to cast stone by the elements is still deterioration! (The following photos are of a concrete fountain that only lasted less than 3 years in a Michigan installation.)


This fountain located in Michigan is only 3 years old!



Significant chipping and poor patching

While many cast stone companies claim that their product meets ASTM standards for withstanding freeze/thaw cycles, what they don’t tell you is that these tests represent a really small cycle time in comparison to what most fountains or other outdoor stone elements would face in a single winter. ASTM standards call for withstanding a 100 cycle freeze/thaw test.

Think about how many times that fountain could freeze and thaw in a single day if temperatures peak over freezing during the day and drop into the teens or below zero temperatures at night! It should also be noted that certain natural stones are also susceptible to damage from freezing in cold weather climates but they pose no concerns in warm weather climates.

Limestone is porous enough to absorb moisture and potentially cause damage due to freezing and thawing. Travertine has naturally occurring air pockets within the stone which could create structural issues if water were to collect in these recesses and freeze. Certain types of marble also have a potential for damage if they contain a large number of veins. For this reason Carved Stone Creations works mostly with Granite for outdoor stone applications where cold weather may be a concern. 

While much older, this fountain showed significant damage. The owner is considering a natural stone reproduction.


Modern techniques for faux stone casting have created more believable textures and colors through the use of ground stone mixtures and pigments but there is no substitute for the beauty of the natural color, mineral deposits, veining, crystalline facets, and texture that natural stone provides. Hundreds of years of water, heat, and pressure combined give natural stone a unique composition and aesthetic that pigments can’t duplicate. Stones like limestone and sandstone which have uniform texture and color may be easy to simulate, but stones such as marbles, travertines, and onyx are difficult to replicate in a convincing manner.

It is also difficult to match the color of the faux finishing in the event that the cast concrete is damaged or needs to be cut down during installation for fitment. In addition to the durability concerns, casting does not yield the same level of detail that carved natural stone has. There’s only so much detail and complexity to what you can capture with a mold and the end product is only as good as the mold you make it from.

Our artisan sculptors are capable of capturing amazing detail in our sculptures due to the hardness and density of natural stone, especially in marble. Our sculptors can carve life-like hair or fur, clothing, facial features, and muscle tone from natural stone.

Non-uniform color and weather related discoloration issues

This bowl might not last much longer with that large crack!

cracks and chips in the surround as well
Cracks and chips in the cast stone surround as well.


Make the investment in natural stone and rest easy knowing that it will last a lifetime. Although cast stone may be a less costly alternative the disadvantages of its lesser durability and longevity can leave you disappointed. Don’t set yourself up for the frustration of having costly demolition and replacement down the road. Need some proof that Granite is a superior choice? We are so confident that our Granite outdoor fountains are capable of standing up to cold weather that we run our fountains into the freezing winter!

Subjecting a cast concrete fountain to this kind of constant freezing and thawing cycle would almost guarantee to cause it damage in only a winter’s time.

Our Granite fountains held up to this test just fine. Looking for a stone fountain or other custom exterior stonework for your home? Contact us today to see what we can do for you Carved Stone Creations is located in Kaukauna, WI and we are a reasonable drive away from many Midwest metro areas including Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Davenport, Des Moines, St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Columbus, etc. Visit our showroom to see first hand what we can design for you.

Our convenient centralized location also means we can bring all of the tools and heavy equipment we need to tackle any installation job. We understand the affect our harsh Midwest winters can have on exterior stone work and we design and install architectural stonework like fountains, statues, exterior stone veneer, etc with those factors in mind. We’ll make sure the stone work we install for you stands up to the weather and the test of time! Outside of the Midwest? We can install there too. We have done work from New York to Florida to California as well.


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