How to Construct a Sandstone Wall

Four Methods:Planning and Gathering SuppliesPreparing the FootingPreparing Your SandstoneLaying the Sandstone

A sandstone wall is one of the oldest walls that can be built in your backyard! This is better done with two people. It includes heavy lifting and meticulous puzzle solving that might frustrate a single person. Give yourself anywhere from two to seven days to complete the job.

Method 1
Planning and Gathering Supplies

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    Pick the Location. Make sure you aren't preventing natural run-off water from the position of the wall and footing. Observe the land in question for a few days prior to doing any work. Pay special attention to the area after it rains. You don't want to disrupt the flow of water so that it floods into your neighbor’s property.[1]
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    Decide on what type of stone. Stone walls come in different shapes and sizes. Some stone walls are similar in cut to an average 8” concrete block. Other stone walls use disproportionate stones to create a rustic look. Consider the time you’re willing to take on this project.
    • The disproportionate stones look the best, but take a long time to install.
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    Purchase footing. Footing is the concrete base that is used as the wall's structure. You can either use dry footing that requires you to mix it with water to activate, or purchase prepared footing.
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    Gather your supplies. This type of project requires a lot of supplies that can be found at your nearest hardware store. Collect these supplies if you decide to continue:
    • Trowel
    • Garden Hose
    • 3/8" and 5/8" Plywood
    • Work Gloves
    • Level
    • Wheelbarrow
    • 100' of Chord
    • Mortar
    • Masonry Chisel
    • 2x4 for Framing
    • Tie-in-Bars
    • Mortar Boards[2]
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    Weigh your options. Be sure you can afford the time it'll take you to construct, and weigh the price difference of hiring professionals.

Method 2
Preparing the Footing

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    Understand footing. Every block of wall needs to be placed on a secure footing, which is made from concrete. Footing should be poured twice as deep as the thickness of the wall and twice as wide. Measure out how large you want the wall. If you're using 8” blocks, then your footing should be at least 16" wide. Footing is formed by using a frame of 2x4s and wooden stakes.[3]
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    Prepare the 2x4s. Double the width of the concrete block with two strips of 2x4s. Hold the 2x4s in place using wooden stakes along the outer wall. The 2x4s should be positioned so that they're secured by the stakes.
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    Pour the base concrete. This will secure your potential wall firmly to the base. Fill the frame up to the edge. Level the freshly poured concrete by running a 2x4 across the top. This will spread the concrete in an even manner. Fill any spots that are low with additional concrete.[4]
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    Wait for the footing to dry. Before you can begin building, you'll need to give the concrete ample time to dry. If you expect the footing to hold a substantial amount of weight, wait up to three days for it to dry.
    • Water the concrete to dry it quicker.[5]

Method 3
Preparing Your Sandstone

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    Lay out your stones. Gather all your stones and practice forming your wall as your footing dries. A large part of forming a sandstone wall if you’re using uneven blocks is patience.[6] This requires the same amount of focus and concentration as being active in completing a 5000 piece puzzle.
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    Organize by size. Once you have a sufficient amount of blocks, create separate piles. Separating the blocks by size could save you a headache when your mortar is wet. You’ll want a few fairly large stones to use as the base.
    • Having an ample supply of smaller stones will also help fill gaps as you work.
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    Determine your base. Lay out your larger blocks along the dried footing and see how many you'll need for the first layer. Don't seal these down. Fit them as close as you want. The beauty of this type of wall is the freedom of using different sized stones.
    • Use corner blocks on the corners if available.
    • Don’t be discouraged by a curved wall. Many sandstone walls constructed from uneven stones can turn out curvy in certain sections. This is an aesthetic choice that can stand on its own, or be cut for a straight wall.[7]
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    Prepare the cement mortar. Take the bag of dried concrete and measure out one dosage. Look on the bag's specifications for the brand you choose. Prepare a container to mix the dried mortar with water. Use a five gallon bucket that you don't mind damaging.
    • Never mix more mortar than you can use.[8]
    • If you have the extra time and patience, you can complete the job without mortar. This can be a painstaking process that is not for everyone.

Method 4
Laying the Sandstone

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    Apply mortar to the corner. Use your trowel to spread mortar along the corner of your wall. The mortar should be 1” thick and be the width of your perspective wall. Have the parameters of the width of your wall laid out and marked before applying mortar.[9]
    • Continue to spread the mortar out to cover the surrounding three stones.
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    Set the initial stones. Build up the corners as you would if you were laying bricks. Use a spirit level to ensure the quoins are vertical. Next, stretch a level line from one end of the wall to the other, 300mm-400mm above the footing. Move the line up the wall as you build and use it as a guide until you reach the finished height.
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    Select the stones. Since you’ve gathered different sized stones, select the necessary stones that will create a level first layer. Place the smaller stones in the gaps in between the larger stones to get an idea what will be level.[10]
    • Remember the order of stones once you find an even pattern.
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    Check the evenness. Use a mason’s level to periodically check the level of your wall. Before mortaring the smaller stones into the larger ones, measure them with the level. This will give you an idea if you need to cut any of the stones that are especially protruding.[11]
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    Set the mortar. After setting the initial stones, apply mortar to the top and sides of the stone. Do not apply mortar to the side that will act as the corner. Be sure everything is even before laying anything on top of the bricks. Use your trowel to apply 1” of mortar to both the sides and top. Smooth the mortar with the trowel and ensure every stone’s mortar application is even.
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    Clean the sides. As you notice the mortar beginning to settle on the sides, clean off the excess. Use a stiff broom or whisk broom to clean the sides of your wall.[12]
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    Use a jointer. If the mortar is partially wet, you can compact it for a stronger finish. Use a concave jointer and run it between the stones. This will also create a cleaner look.
    • Re-brush after using the jointer for a cleaner look.

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Categories: Walls Fences and Decks