Dress Up a Block Wall with a Rock Wall
Rather than hiding a poured-concrete or block foundation with landscape plantings, show it off with stone veneer.
Synopsis: Making a rock wall is easy, right? Lay down some mortar, put a rock on it, and then keep doing the same thing all day and you’re done. But that’s not the whole story. In this article, North Carolina stonemason Cody Macfie guides us through the tough parts — manipulating a stone to fit a particular spot, making space to work, and making the right mortar recipes. A design gallery and materials list including cost information will help you plan your project.
In the old days, foundations of rock or brick were the norm. They looked good and were fairly easy to build. Nowadays, concrete block or poured concrete is the foundation method of choice because they’re much faster to build. This newfound speed, however, comes at an aesthetic cost: Concrete is ugly. But you can make a plain-looking block wall into a great-looking rock wall by veneering it with fieldstone. The tools and materials needed are few, and the payoff is huge.
The techniques for veneering are the same for block, poured concrete, or even a wood-frame wall, as are the requirements. Make sure you have sufficient support below the stone (a solid footing), and attach the veneer to the wall with wall ties. If the veneer is a retrofit, you may need to pour an additional footing, usually about 6 in. wide. And for wood-frame walls, you need to add a moisture barrier, such as peel-and-stick roofing membrane or #30 felt paper, to the wood. Wall ties are easy to install if you’re laying up a new block wall. For concrete walls or existing block walls, the ties can be attached with a powder-actuated nail gun or with masonry screws.
Although veneering an entire house is best left to a professional, a short foundation veneer is…