What is cast stone?

Cast stone is a man-made material that mimics the appearance of natural cut stone. It is made by pouring a mixture of cement, sand, water, and other additives into molds. Once the mixture sets, the cast stone is removed from the molds, cured, and then finished to look like natural cut stone. Cast stone is less expensive than natural cut stone, but can be crafted to have a similar appearance. At Marcstone we’ve set out to produce the highest quality and most durable cast stone on the market.

Cast Stone vs Natural Cut Stone

Natural cut stone is quarried from natural sources, such as granite, limestone, and sandstone. It is cut and shaped into desired sizes and shapes using traditional tools, and then used in construction. Natural cut stone is highly durable, has natural variations in texture and color, and is considered a high-end building material.

Cast Stone vs Precast

Another common type of manufactured stone product for Precast is a wet cast structural material with lower performance specifications than cast stone. It is made by pouring a mixture of cement, water, and other additives into molds. Precast stone is cured in the molds and then removed and transported to the construction site for installation. Precast stone is less expensive than natural cut stone.

Cast stone, natural stone and precast stone differ in their manufacturing process, appearance, and properties, making each ideal for different structural and aesthetic applications. Selecting the ideal material requires a thorough knowledge of the unique characteristics of available materials, including price, compatibility, appearance and longevity. 

The following guide provides general information about cast stone, including its applications, cost, benefits, and limitations.

Cast Stone History

As you probably know, cast stone is a refined precast concrete building stone that simulates natural cut stone. It is the most aesthetically advanced type of concrete currently available and has been used as a masonry product for architectural ornamentation and functional features on buildings and other structures since 1138. Cast Stone was first extensively used in London in 1900 and in America around 1920. The Cast Stone Institute was established in 1927, and since then, cast stone has become widely accepted in the architectural community as a suitable replacement for many masonry materials and natural cut building stone.

Shape, Texture and Color

Cast Stone can be manufactured in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, making it a popular choice for architects and designers who want to achieve a specific aesthetic. It can also be made to match the color and texture of natural stone, allowing for seamless integration with existing structures or nearby buildings.

Many cast stone manufacturers rely on part standardization to achieve manufacturing efficiency. This is where Marcstone stands apart. Marcstone’s goal is to give architects design freedom by providing custom cast stone of any shape at a similar price point to the standard shapes of the past.


Cast Stone is typically the most labor-intensive among all concrete products during the manufacturing process. To ensure the success of a project, the detailer assigned to a Cast Stone job must possess knowledge and experience in architectural styles and designs as well as the manufacturing and setting techniques used by the masonry contractor.

Manufacturing Process

cast stone finishing during the manufacturing process

The mold shop uses the most sophisticated modern tools to produce sophisticated custom molds for each job. Molds are the patterns from which cast stone is produced and can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plaster, fiberglass, rubber, clay, gelatin, gypsum, styrofoam, plastic, concrete, and sand.

Marcstone uses a sophisticated casting process and advanced hydration technology to ensure the highest integrity bond in every batch. Our process is designed to exceed industry standards.

Technical Specifications

Cast Stone units have a higher compressive strength (6,500 psi or higher, as tested by ASTM 1194) and a lower cold water absorption rate (6% or lower as tested by ASTM 1195) than natural limestone or normal concrete. Due to its inherently lower water/cement ratio, the manufacturing method typically yields higher compressive strengths than low-slump concrete. The production system involves the vibratory ramming of earth moist, zero-slump concrete against rigid formwork until it is densely compacted and ready for immediate removal from the form. Thus, many pieces can be cast from a single mold in rapid succession, making it highly applicable for industrial production. The only design requirement for a cast to be produced in this manner is that each piece is designed with one flat, unexposed side.

Cast Stone in the Elements

Cast Stone is also more resistant to damage from environmental factors such as freeze-thaw cycles, acid rain, and air pollution, making it a more durable and long-lasting option for building facades, balustrades, columns, and other architectural elements.

What are the typical applications of cast stone? 

Cast stone is commonly used in various architectural applications for decorative purposes. Some of the typical applications of cast stone include:

Exterior Veneer: Cast stone is often used as an exterior veneer to replicate the appearance of natural limestone, marble, or granite. It can be used to cover and enhance the exterior surfaces of buildings, giving them an elegant and sophisticated look.

Architectural Features: Cast stone is utilized as architectural features to add decorative elements and visual interest to buildings. It can be found in the form of columns, pilasters, cornices, arches, and pediments, enhancing the overall design and aesthetics of the structure.

Trim and Ornamentation: Cast stone is used for trim and ornamentation purposes. It can be applied as base moldings, bandings, sills, headers, water tables, and other decorative details that enhance the visual appeal of windows, doors, and other building elements.

Door and Window Surrounds: Cast stone is often employed to create beautiful surrounds for doors and windows. These surrounds can be intricately designed with various architectural motifs, providing a refined and elegant touch to the building’s entrances and openings.

Coping and Quoins: Cast stone is used for coping, which is the topmost protective layer of a wall, providing both functional and decorative benefits. It is also utilized for quoins, which are decorative blocks placed at the corners of buildings, adding visual interest and accentuating the architectural style.

Decorative Pieces: Cast stone can be molded into various decorative pieces, such as balusters, balls, finials, and other intricate elements. These pieces can be used to adorn façades, gardens, fountains, and other outdoor spaces, enhancing their aesthetic appeal.

It’s important to note that the applications of cast stone are not limited to the above examples, and its versatility allows for creative and customized uses in architectural design.

How much does cast stone cost?

The cost of cast stone depends on several factors, including the size of the individual piece, piece design, repetition of the individual profile, ornamentation, and the desired color. The ideal unit cost is achieved when individual piece sizes are between 1.5 to 2.0 cubic feet, and the ideal length for straight pieces is between 4′ to 6′. Including one flat unexposed side in the design of the piece reduces production and curing time, resulting in lower costs. Ornate designs require complex molds, which increases production cost.

To request a quote for an upcoming project, please email bids@marcstone.com or call (651) 437-7972

Advantages of Cast Stone

Cast stone has many advantages, such as the ability to replicate natural stone at a lower cost, offer precise colors, and form a variety of shapes consistently. It can also be easily cut to length in the field, simulate the look of natural stone, and deliver a time-tested freeze-thaw durability.

Cast stone also has limitations. It cannot be used in place of structural precast concrete or for large panels due to the limitations of the dry tamp method of production. The typical panel size is around 2′ x 5′, with a maximum size of 3′ x 8′. A qualified masonry contractor should perform all work related to cast stone, including ordering, installation, washing, and patching.