Since we manufacture both rubber and plastic molds, we have no reason to recommend one material over the other. The main rationale for choosing one mold material over the other should be determined by what the application or use of the concrete stone mold is going to be. In the last 18+ years in business, we have not been able to find a better material that offers a higher cost versus yield benefit to our customers, than ABS plastic. While rubber molds will last longer, and give slightly better duplication of very fine textures, their price makes their use by anyone other than commercial stone producers impractical and cost prohibitive. They can cost as much as four to five times the initial cost outlay of ABS molds. And in most cases, the original stone used to make the master molds does not provide sufficient texture to warrant the use of rubber for the molds. Most stone, tile, brick, pavers, etc., are fairly smooth anyway... so why not use a less expensive ABS plastic mold to duplicate them? By doing so, consumers can then use the money saved on their concrete and color?
Most ABS molds are made with .060 Industrial ABS Plastic for long life, flexibility, and durability. Most manufacturers use that thickness and material as, like us, they've probably found it works best for the transfer of textures, while offering the long life and cost savings desired. ABS in .060 thickness is pretty much considered the industry standard for cast concrete stone and tile production. These molds are designed to be poured a minimum of 100+ times, and if used properly, will last well beyond that without losing any of their duplication ability.
We Are Often Asked--- What Are the Best Moulds to Purchase--- Rubber or Plastic?
The types of molds, or what they are made with, should be determined by their main use, their application, and the amount of money one wants to invest in them. We have found that high-impact, industrial ABS plastic fills the needs of about 97% of consumers and our commercial customers. They offer a long life at a very reasonable cost, while maintaining true duplication from the master mold for an extended period of time. We refer to ABS molds as, "an inexpensive alternative to higher cost rubber molds".
While rubber molds will last longer, their cost makes them somewhat prohibitive for all but high volume commercial casters, or casters who have items they want to duplicate that involve undercuts in the originals... like three dimensional figures, statues, sharp edged items, etc. Basically the increased yield from a rubber mold comes at an equally high cost of the mold on a comparative basis. Plastic molds allow commercial producers of stone, pavers, tile and brick veneer to acquire more molds for less money up front, thus, they can offer their customers more products as they start out in their concrete and plaster casting business. As for our DIY, consumer, and trades customers, they usually only need a yield of from 50 to 100+ pours from a mold for their projects, so why pay the high cost of a rubber mold that may yield 300 or more pieces of the exact same stone? It's all pretty much a matter of economics and the application of targeted use. The question always comes to mind... why pay for something that will last five-times longer than is actually needed, if there is a more economical alternative that fits the need more closely? Like the old handyman saying... "pick the right tool for the job at hand".
One other benefit of ABS is that the pattern does not wear out as fast as is the concern with some rubber mold compounds. They maintain their ability to pick up a design from pour number one to pour number 50 or 100. The heat generated and abrasion from the aggregates in concrete, as well as the chemical reaction created by the cement is highly alkaline and takes more of a toll on rubber than on ABS plastic.
I guess what it comes down to is your opinion more than anything else. Plastic molds give a pretty good duplication of the original stone they are taken from. Will they give you the tiny grains of sand roughness? No, plastic will not. But consider that those tiny grains of sand protrusions will wear off in exterior applications anyway! As will the fineness of most rubber molds after a period of time of being filled with very abrasive concrete... so you end up with less texture eventually anyway! So much depends on the style of stone as well. Many stones start out fairly smooth. So why worry about the definition, let's say of a River Rock stone? In the case of the Limestone there is a certain amount of texture... but the very fine texture may was not present in the stones used to make the molds. Any really fine texture present can only be seen by the naked eye if you go up really close... and quite honestly, even "care"!
It would be like pulling out some dollar bills when you are paying for a hamburger. When is the last time you looked at the date that the dollar was minted? Do you care? It sure as heck looks like a dollar bill from where you're standing, but you can't quite read all of the printing because it's wrinkled. So is it real or counterfeit? You can see the picture of Washington... but is that really him? If you look fairly close, the "In God We Trust" is there. Basically, you know it's a dollar because... it looks like a dollar! Is it worth it to you to spend an extra dollar or two for a mint copy of a dollar bill from a coin dealer... just so you can read every line on the bill?
Ask yourself this... will you have to tell everyone that looks at your stone to be sure that they get up close and within inches of the stone so they can see the detailed grains of sand that remain??? Hmmmm... I doubt it. They won't care, and will probably think you've lost your mind. Hey Doug... your wall looks great! Good thing those tiny grains of texture were there, or I wouldn't have known it was stone! LOL Obviously, I'm pulling your leg now, but think about it in those terms for a minute. Visit our website, and see if any of the stone installation photos "don't" look like stone.
It all boils down to asking yourself if you want to spend two to three times the amount of money for rubber molds, and get a very limited number of unique and different stones for the money... unless cost is no object. Basically, with rubber molds, you get about one square foot of unique stone per $45.00 invested in molds.
Rubber Molds or Plastic Molds--- An Unbiased Comparison
Should you need...
molds or moulds, colorant, concrete sealer, stains, or other concrete, cement, or plaster supplies for your handyman or home improvement project, please visit our catalogue website at
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to get ideas. If you are interested in starting a concrete stone and veneer, or concrete and cement paver, brick or tile business, visit our Olde World Stone & Tile Business Opportunity website at
for full details, instructions and various stone making and other concrete product making packages. We also offer D-I-Y Packages in our catalogue and on our shopping cart websites.
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