Easy to learn methods to build a stone wall

July 29, 2015

A stone wall adds so many benefits to your property and it's not as hard to build as it may look. Here are a few steps to help you add a beautiful addition to your yard.

Easy to learn methods to build a stone wall

Shaping the stones to fit your need

Each stone should weigh straight down on the ones beneath it for maximum structural integrity. Stones in a mislaid wall tend to slide out; the higher the stones are stacked, the greater the tendency to crumble. Shape the stones with a hammer and chisel or use small fragments as shims to keep the levels horizontal or tilted slightly inward.

Breaking stones to get the right size

You will need to break large rocks into random chunks in order to get them down to a size that one person can handle. You will need a sledge or stonemason's hammer and wear safety googles to prevent injury. Here are some pointers on how to break large rocks:

  • Use the flat end of the mason's hammer for general breaking.
  • Fiind a clear line of grain and use the wedge-end of the stonemason's hammer to split the stone along that line.
  • When hewing stone, chip the rock away gradually to avoid breaking the entire block.
  • Place the stone on a bed of sand and score with a chisel. Chip off small pieces using the flat face of the hammer.
  • Work from the edge towards the line with steady blows.
  • On hard rock you may have to hammer quite a while before cracking begins.

Mortaring the stones in place

  1. Mortar proportions are one part Portland cement to three parts sand. Add only enough water for a firm mix.
  2. Stones should be clean and surfaces wet. Shape the stone and test for fit in position before laying down the bed of mortar.
  3. Lay the mortar on the stone's bedding face with a ­trowel. Do not smooth. Use only enough to provide firm support.
  4. For effective seating, drop the stone in place from a few centimetres above. Once the stone is set, do not move it farther.
  5. Scrape off any excess mortar and pack it into vertical joints.
  6. Always use a ­trowel; mortar will cause irritation to skin.
  7. Use a tuck-pointing ­trowel to trim mortar.
  8. Clean the stones with a cleaning compound from any building supply dealer.

The slipform method of casting walls

A slipformed wall is sturdy, weatherproof and almost indistinguishable from old-style mortared masonry. If you don't have the time or the masonry skills, the slipform method is a quick and easy way to build up a wall. Here's how it works:

  • Loose stones are packed into removable forms and cemented together by ­filling around them with mortar.
  • An entire layer, or course, is built as a unit.
  • Forms are connected end-to-end and filled.
  • While the mix hardens, a second chain of forms is placed on top of the first and also filled.
  • When the bottom layer has set, its forms are removed and reattached above the second to form a third layer.
  • In this progressive fashion, the wall rises.
  • Properly done, the results are very handsome.

Whether you do it yourself brick by brick or use the slipform method, you can use these steps to construct a beautiful stone wall to add value and style to your property.

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