Step 4: Add the Scratch Coat

add the scratch coat to clad concrete steps in stone
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Mix mortar to the consistency of warm, creamy peanut butter, and use a finishing trowel to apply it to the lath. Pull the mortar downward to fill the cups, then work in a fanning motion to create a ½-inch-thick layer. Now use the notched side of the trowel to comb the mortar horizontally, creating grooves. Allow the scratch coat to dry at least overnight—24 hours is best.

TOH Tip: To divert water from the house, run self-adhesive flashing from the lip of the threshold down onto the landing. At the sides, tuck it under the shingles by several inches.
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    Tools List

    • utility knife
      utility knife
    • flat prybar
      pry bar
    • circular saw
      circular saw to cut the trim board
    • metal cutting snips
      tin snips to cut the steel lath
    • powder actuated nailer
      powder-actuated nailer and nails (Masonry nails may suffice on newer, softer concrete)
    • hammer
      hammer
    • masonry hoe
      plastic bin and hoe for mixing mortar
    • garden hose
      hose to rinse the mixing bin between batches
    • notched trowel
      finishing trowel with a 3/8-inch notch
    • angle grinder
      grinder fitted with a diamond masonry blade
    • mason's chisel and maul
      mason's chisel and maul
    • brick hammer
      brick hammer
    • Natural-bristle chip brush
      chip brush to apply acrylic bonding agent
    • mason's trowel
      brick trowel
    • grout bag
      grout bag
    • masonry striking tool
      striking tool
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level
    • mallet
      rubber mallet

    Shopping List

    work gloves for handling steel lath and stones

    2½-gauge steel lath

    stone veneer mortar

    acrylic bonding agent

    self-adhesive flashing

    canvas drop cloth and painter's tape
    for creating the layout stone veneer Get about 20 percent more than you need for the risers and sides of the steps.

    bluestone treads Add 1½ inches to the finished width of the steps (including lath, mortar, and side veneer stones) for the overhang at each end. Have your supplier "torch" the ends and front edge of each tread for a more finished look.

    bluestone pavers Measure the landing and have your supplier help size the stones to include the correct overhangs, grout lines, and a gap against the house.