Know the building blocks for repairing a dilapidated wall
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