Know the build­ing blocks for re­pair­ing a di­lap­i­dated wall

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Residences South -

Ques­tion: I moved into a house that has a 3-foot-high con­crete-block wall around a pa­tio.

The wall is in good con­di­tion, but it looks bad.

What can I do to spruce up its ap­pear­ance (on my lim­ited bud­get)?

An­swer: Con­crete-block walls are of­ten used for re­tain­ing walls, as in your sit­u­a­tion, or just as an ac­cent to sep­a­rate land­scap­ing ar­eas.

If laid prop­erly, they can last a life­time.

As you have no­ticed, though, they are not par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive, es­pe­cially in an area such as a pa­tio, where you might want to en­ter­tain guests.

The two ba­sic op­tions you have are to 1) paint the con­crete blocks with ma­sonry paint or 2) cover them with a stone or tile ve­neer. Paint­ing is the quick­est and eas­i­est way to jazz it up a lit­tle.

How­ever, to cre­ate a very at­trac­tive wall around your pa­tio, use a stone ve­neer over the blocks. It will not only look great, but it will add weight and sta­bil­ity to the wall.

You are lucky that your wall is only 3 feet high.

This is about the max­i­mum height for us­ing a sim­ple method to in­stall a stone ve­neer.

Be­fore be­gin­ning any such pro­ject, you should, of course, con­sult your lo­cal build­ing in­spec­tor to make sure that your de­sign will meet code.

If a piece of stone fac­ing came loose and fell from 4 or 5 feet, it could cer­tainly hurt some­one’s foot (or, de­pend­ing on his or her height, some­one’s head).

The stone ve­neer must rest on a foot­ing or other sup­port and not rely solely on the ad­he­sion of the mor­tar to the block sur­face.

If there is a foot­ing that ex­tends out un­der the wall, dig down to it.

If not, bolt a metal an­gle to the bot­tom of the block wall to sup­port the stone ve­neer.

Put flash­ing over the an­gle or foot­ing to keep rain­wa­ter from back­ing up un­der it.

You will have to at­tach metal wall ties to the block walls.

These are the same types of ties that con­nect a brick ve­neer on a house to the un­der­ly­ing frame struc­ture.

Drill holes in the blocks; then at­tach the ties with ma­sonry screws. Us­ing a ham­mer drill will speed up the process sig­nif­i­cantly.

Space the holes so that you have one tie for each square foot of wall area.

Mix a bag of­mor­tar with wa­ter in a wheel­bar­row. Its con­sis­tency should be sim­i­lar to that of mashed pota­toes. Don’t make it too wet. Dampen the wall sur­face. If it is dry, the wall will pull (i.e., “wick”) the mois­ture from the mor­tar and make it too dry to ad­here well.

Us­ing the trowel, ap­ply a onequar­ter-inch-thick coat­ing of mor­tar to the wall. “But­ter” the back of the piece of stone with an­other one-halfinch-thick layer of mor­tar. Press the stone against the wall, start­ing at the bot­tom, and wig­gle it back and forth just a lit­tle.

Af­ter you lay the first course, work your way up un­til the en­tire wall is cov­ered. Fin­ish the top with nar­row hor­i­zon­tal stone pieces for a pro­fes­sional ap­pear­ance. Af­ter the mor­tar sets up and be­comes slightly stiff, use the tip of the trowel to smooth and dress the mor­tar joints be­tween the stones.

— cour­tesy of Cre­ators.com

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