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How to Cover a Concrete Wall with Stone Veneer

Dressing up a block wall with stone-veneer panels, with This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook

In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook dresses up a block wall with stone-veneer panels.

Steps for applying stone veneer:

  1. Use a pressure washer fitted with a paint-stripping tip to blast the concrete wall clean of all stain, paint and dirt.
  2. Remove any remaining stain or paint from the wall with a right-angle grinder fitted with wire brush.
  3. Thoroughly dry the wall with an electric leaf blower.
  4. Use 3-inch paintbrush to apply bonding agent to the bare concrete wall.
  5. In a wheelbarrow, use a shovel to mix together one part of masonry cement with three parts of masonry sand.
  6. In a five-gallon bucket, mix water with an acrylic polymer. Pour some water/polymer into the wheelbarrow and use a shovel to mix it thoroughly into the mortar and sand. Add more water/polymer as needed.
  7. Scoop mortar out of wheelbarrow with pointed brick trowel and place onto a mortar hawk.
  8. Spread a ½-inch-thick layer of mortar onto the concrete wall using the smooth edge of a ½-inch-notched trowel.
  9. Smooth the freshly mortared surface with a wet trowel.
  10. Use the notched edge of the trowel to rake horizontal notches into the mortared surface. Start at the base of the wall and work your way up to the top of the wall.
  11. Snap a level chalk line onto the wall 6½ inches above the driveway. This will create a ½-inch space beneath the 6-inch-wide stone-veneer panels.
  12. Start installing the stone veneer at the wall corner. Wipe the back of the panels with a wet cloth.
  13. Spread ½-inch of mortar onto the back of the stone-veneer panel and press it to the wall.
  14. Slide ½-inch-thick wood shims under the veneer panels to hold them even with the level chalk line.
  15. Tap the stone panels to the wall with a rubber mallet. Repeat to complete the first course of stone-veneer panels.
  16. Repeat to install the remaining courses, making sure to stagger the end joints from one course to the next.
  17. If necessary, use a circular saw fitted with a diamond-impregnated blade to cut stone-veneer panels for the top course.
  18. Spread a thick layer of mortar along the top of the wall and set the capstones in place.
  19. Tap down the capstones with a rubber mallet, leaving about ⅜-inch space between the ends of the capstones.
  20. Fill the spaces between the capstones with mortar.