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Do It Yourself Guide, How to Install Manufactured Stone Veneer to a Wall

Stone veneer can be applied to ANY STRUCTURALLY SOUND SURFACE. No foundation or structural changes are necessary, as stone veneer becomes an integral part of the surface to which it is attached, and is not considered a structural member.

In most cases, installation over an existing sound concrete, stone, concrete block, brick or stucco surface does not require additional surface preparation. It can be applied directly over that surface using mortar, or a mixture of mortar and thin set. Personally, I like the addition of the thinset as it aids in the initial adhesion on vertical surfaces. A premix mortar may be used, but they may require the addition of cement as some contain too much sand. We like to add some thinset to our mix, but this is a matter of choice

Surface Preparation:
Cover entire surface with 3.4 expanded metal lath, overlapping the joints using 1-1/2"- 2” nails. Over an existing wood surface, nails should be six inches (6”) apart in every direction, with extra attention to being sure that nailing is through all existing studs . Overlap all joints and at all corners, and never leave a lath seam at a corner. Overlap at least 6" on vertical seams, and 2" on horizontal seams. Use tin snips to cut lath. BE SURE TO KEEP THE LATH TIGHT.

Scratch Coat:
A sand and cement mortar mix will then be applied over the metal lath, as thin as possible, but making sure that the lath is completely covered and that the SURFACE IS LEVEL. Scratch up the plastered surface while it is still wet using a leaf rake, hand rake, or mason's scratcher, so that the surface is not too slick or smooth. Most codes require the coat to dry 48 hours before applying the stone.

Trim to Fit:
Most stone veneer, including that made with our instructions , is easily shaped or cut as desired. This will enable you to “fit” stones easily into place to insure a natural looking wall with tight mortar joints. Cutting or shaping can be done by using a circular saw with a masonry blade, a wet saw, a hatchet, maul and chisel, or wide mouth nippers, (horse hoof nippers).

Apply Mortar to Stone:
Butter the Stone. Using a trowel, apply approximately 1/2" to 3/4” of mortar to the back of each stone piece, covering the entire back. Butter one piece at a time, just prior to applying the stone piece.

Applying Stone to Wall:
Starting at the top of the wall, push the stone firmly into place on the wall and “wiggle” the stone slightly to set the bond. YOU SHOULD PUSH FIRMLY ENOUGH SO THAT THE MORTAR IS SQUEEZED OUT AROUND THE EDGES OF THE STONE. If sliding or slipping occurs, the mortar may be too thin, or you may be using too little, or too much mortar. You'll get the “feel” of it quickly. We have found that adding some thinset to the mix will help make it more "sticky".

Approximately 1/2 hour to 1 hour later, when the mortar is no longer wet, push the mortar deeper into the joints, and at the same time, rake out any excess mortar using a rounded stick or the handle of a wire brush. If it is found at this state, that by raking out the joints the mortar smears over the face of the stone, wait an additional half hour or so until the mortar has set up further. After the above procedure has been completed, wire brush any excess mortar from the face of the veneer, and clean up joints at the same time with the wire brush and a whisk broom.

If you plan to grout around the stone, use a grout bag. Fill the bag HALF FULL. Roll the bag tightly (forcing your knuckles into the side of the bag), then squeeze the bag with your other hand, forcing the mortar out of the bag and deeply into the joints. (IF ONLY WATER COMES OUT OF THE NOZZLE, ADD MORE LIME OR MORE CEMENT). The hole in the bag should be approximately 5/8” wide.

NOTE: If grouting is to be delayed to another day, make sure that ALL JOINTS are left clean of excess mortar, and that the surface of the stone is free from any splashed mortar. Always remove any excess mortar with a stiff wire brush on the same day the stone is installed.

1 part cement
2-1/2 parts fine (plaster) sand
Or use a premix mortar which is available at all building supply stores.

stone wood stove


1. PLACING STONES: Starting at the top and working your way down, apply large stones first, covering a fairly large area before adding the small fill-in pieces of stone.

2. CUT STONES: When applying stones with cut edges, try to place the “cut” edge down when the stone is below eye level, and place the "cut" edge up when it is above eye level.

3. TIGHT JOINTS: Try to keep your stone close together on the wall surface. A wall with tight mortar joints normally looks more attractive and natural. (Small grout lines)

4. CONTRAST: This makes a good-looking stone job. Put large stones next to small ones, heavy textured stones next to smooth, thick stones next to thinner stones, darker stones next to lighter colored stones, etc.

5. NATURAL LOOKING: A good-looking stone wall is a natural looking stone wall. Always try to remember what an expensive natural stone wall looks like, and act accordingly.

6. COLORED MORTAR: Consider putting some concrete colorant in your mortar when grouting to achieve a closer color blend between mortar and stone.

7. MORTAR MIX: You can use either Pre-Mixed mortar or mix your own. If you mix your own, use regular Portland cement. If you use Pre-Mixed mortar, you may find that you need to add a little more cement for the mix to come out of the grout bag more easily. To check if proper amount of water was used, put some mortar in the bag. If it runs out too fast with no pressure being applied to the bag, it is too thin (add cement or sand). If it is difficult to get it to come out through the nozzle, it is too thick (add water).

8. LATHING (Wire): Over painted concrete block you should use 3/4" steel hardened concrete nails. Over exterior painted stucco, use 1-1/2" - 2” steel hardened concrete nails. If concrete surface, concrete block, stucco, or other stone or brick has not been painted or waterproofed, no wire is necessary.

9. SCRATCH COAT: Required when surface is rough, (lap wood siding, sheet metal, or painted masonry, etc.), or when wire is not flat... (improperly nailed). Also scratch coat can be used to fill in recessed foundations in wood framed exteriors.