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North Hills

Stone can add an ageless, rugged look to homes

| Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, 1:09 p.m.
Prolific architect Thomas Garman designed many Tudor Houses throughout the Pittshurgh region, beginning in the 1920s. This house in Mt. Lebanon was patterned after stone manor houses in the Cotswolds in England -- an area famous for its stone.
John Conti
Prolific architect Thomas Garman designed many Tudor Houses throughout the Pittshurgh region, beginning in the 1920s. This house in Mt. Lebanon was patterned after stone manor houses in the Cotswolds in England -- an area famous for its stone.

At six feet tall and a couple hundred pounds, I am not what most would consider a small guy. But last summer, standing next to a former Pittsburgh Steeler in my store, I felt like a mouse. His shoulders were broad and square, his waist trim. The shirt which clung to his muscular upper body was a “fitting” accessory. He looked sharp and undeniably stout.

In football player years, the guy was old, over the hill, well past his prime. But to the rest of the world, he was fit, powerful-looking and as ageless as any human could aspire to be.

Most of us will never be a professional athlete, but all of us can appreciate their physiques. We are naturally inclined to respect things which are robust and strong.

Perhaps that's why, when we see some of the homes around Pittsburgh, those which have stood the test-of-time, we can't deny their appeal. Often it is the stone houses which really impress us and it's not hard to understand why. Like the ex-Steeler to whom I sold a can of WD-40, those homes are tough looking and undeniably durable. They aren't all huge but they somehow manage to make other homes appear small.

Trending now are new stone products. They are made from concrete, they look real and they are pretty awesome. The addition of a stone façade, pillars or foundation adds a level of toughness to a home. While paint whispers “clean and fresh,” stone clears its deep voice and announces “strong and durable.”

In addition to their utilitarian and more masculine qualities, both natural and engineered stone are flat out pretty. Clean lines and colors mesh with rich dimension to create a palatable and easy to accessorize look, making shutters, doors and shingles a quick match.

Make no mistake, stone is expensive; the cost of some stone products is eight times that of other sidings. For that reason most projects — new construction or remodel — are not complete stone jobs. Instead, it is used somewhat sparingly in ways that punctuate and define the look of a home.

Wherever it is used, I like it. I have used real and engineered stone on a handful of projects at my house and even my store and they turned out pretty nice. Both of those structures qualify as old, over the hill and past their prime. But like the ex-linebacker who looked like he was actually chiseled from stone, those buildings will stand the test of time and become ageless.

Ed Pfeifer is the owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc., 300 Marshall Way, Mars. If you have questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.

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