bigfranks84 Reader
1/19/19 10:43 p.m.

So I'm want to stone the lower parts of our house.  Two problems,  first being I am far to cheap to pay for it, and two I've never done it. 

Now I'm more of a jack of trades, can do most things. Done construction on the side with my dad since I was about 7. Masonry was never something we did though. 

I'll be using locally sourced natural limestone rocks ,because it's free and I like how it looks.

I've been researching this for awhile but the more I read the more confused I get on the mortar. I know pure Portland is bad, most use type N, and others say anything with cement is the devil and to only use lime mortar. 

I'm not looking for this to last 500 years but I don't want to have issues while I'm still around and I'm only in my mid 30s with no plans on us ever moving again. 

I know I need to pour footers for the rocks, so that will be step one.  I know I need waterproof membrane on the wall behind the stone (sheeted in t111). 

What I don't know is what type of mortar to use,  and do you need wall ties with the stone facade or not. 

Figure surely there's a stone mason on here. 

Here's some of the stone I'm going to use. 

captdownshift PowerDork
1/20/19 10:19 a.m.

I'm number 384 

SVreX MegaDork
1/20/19 11:10 a.m.

I am not a stone mason. I am a contractor. 

Yes, you need wall ties. 

Portland is not mortar. It is a component of mortar. 

Type N will be fine for what you are doing. It will be significantly cheaper if you don’t buy the pre-mixed mortar, but buy the sand and Portland separately. But it’s a lot more work. 

Lime mortar is completely silly. That’s only for restoration work (and people on the internet are ridiculous). 

And I hope you have a LOT more stone  than that.  That would barely do a small garden plot surround. 

Expect a huge amount of labor. For an amateur to do it alone without help, I would expect a four foot high ten foot wall to take about 3 weekends. 3X as long for any work above 5 feet. 

Good luck!

Jay_W Dork
1/20/19 12:37 p.m.

I've only faced a fireplace with slate and one or two other projects of the sort.  So I ain't no stonemason but svrex speaketh the truth here on all counts.

bigfranks84 Reader
1/20/19 1:15 p.m.

Yeah I have some more stone than in that picture and I have access from a few friends properties with all the rock I will ever need. 

Yeah I know it's going take a lot of work. We completely gutted and changed the floorplan. Added bathroom, rewired the whole house, replumbed the whole house, did blow in insulation in all the walls and attic, and did the sheetrock and flooring. 

So hard work doesn't bother me. We did all the inside first, since that's where most time is spent. 

Now it's time to work on the exterior. I was thinking it be a lot cheaper to make my type n mortar myself. I was planning on buying a mixer to do it. I need to look up the recipe for type N again. I have a couple gravel pits near by I can get masonry sand from real cheap. 

bigfranks84 Reader
1/20/19 3:36 p.m.

Yeah,  even buying a mixer I can see how it's cheaper to make type n. It's about $5 for a 60lb bag. 

Use Type "N" mortar for above grade applications. Mix 1 part cement, 1 part lime, and 6 parts sand

Masonry sand is about $9/ton last I checked. Hydrated lime is around $8 for 50lb bag and $9 for 92lb Portland cement.  Bags were home depot prices, I'll check with the stone shop in town and see what they run.  

Thank's for the advice so far. My wife wants stone all the way up. Plan b is doing from the windows down and metal siding up top. I'll see how much I hate it. Some reason I thought it be a good idea to show my wife pictures of stone houses. 

SVreX MegaDork
1/20/19 4:26 p.m.

In reply to bigfranks84 :

All the way up?  You’ll regret it. 

Plus, you may not be able to do it. Unless your house has very big overhangs, the stone thickness could make the roofline look stupid. 

Also, I’m gonna go out in a limb and say if you are installing stone over 10’ off the ground (like in the gables), it can’t be done by 1 person. It’s a 3 man job as a minimum, and they’d better be big and strong. 

You're gonna be shocked how slow it is. Skilled stone masons only cover about 20 SF per day on the ground. There is a lot of fitting when working with real stone. Thin stone face (90% of new buildings) is much faster. 

SVreX MegaDork
1/20/19 5:50 p.m.

In reply to bigfranks84 :

Here’s why I mention how slow it is...

Being OK with hard work is a good thing. But working alone on a job that is physically strenuous and moves very slow can really take it’s toll. It’s hard to stay motivated and productive when moving a mountain with a teaspoon. 

I’m not discouraging it. On the contrary, I very much support it. But try to avoid biting off more than you can chew. 

I am currently renovating my home extensively. Alone. I’ve been working on it every day for over a year, and I am a professional contractor. There are days that are really hard to keep going. 

If I were doing this, I would start with a plan to do ground level only up to the windowsills. If that went well, I would consider doing the front only (just to see how hard it is working off the ground). After that, I would consider the rest. 

Antihero Dork
1/20/19 6:00 p.m.

Ive done stucco stone, aka fake stone, a bit but not real stone. Looking at that pic youve got huge heavy stone. With that you wont be able to do much at a time anyway because the mortar will have have to setup inbetween runs to support its weight. Youll have to tie it to the wall too, because you arent building a facade with that heavy of stone, you are building a wall. I greatly recommend you not do the whole walls, try a small section first that is fast finished to make sure you even want to continue doing it.

I agree with svrex on lime mortar, i know theres some old timers that swear by it because its more elastic etc but its also weaker and takes longer to set (  google says it cant freeze for 3 months).


If you do want to do it i recommend getting a piece of plywood and staging the rock on it before placing it so you can fit it all together somewhat evenly.

I can say though you might be costing yourself more in the long run by using the free material although fake stone can be ridiculous in price

nutherjrfan UltraDork
1/20/19 6:30 p.m.

i have no real practical advice but in a sense I grew up around building with stone.  lots of abandoned cottages in Ireland so you got to feel the architecture simply by walking the land.  took a night course where they gave you the rundown and left you by yourself to build a wall and you learned it's as much an art form as a practical way of building.  approach it with simple joy and an appreciation of beauty is the best way even for something as important as siding for your main residence.  otherwise your back will never forgive you.  and don't watch that James Spader/Manny Patinkin movie either.  and Charles McRaven might be a good book to pick up for a traditional viewpoint.  smiley

1/20/19 9:43 p.m.

When I was young I worked off and on for years part time for a mason. Doing stone face on scaffolding is a lot of work. This was the last stone face job I did. House was placed on concrete block foundation then faced with stone to look old.

bigfranks84 Reader
1/21/19 12:10 a.m.

In reply to SVreX :

I fully understand that it will take forever. I'm ok with that. 

When we moved down to Texas I had been laid off  in TN. So once we found a place I picked up a part time job (my wife is an RN) so that I would have time to work on the house. I worked 4hours a day at my job,  then 8 hours on the house. This started in July in TX. Took months to get it down.  We would work until we ran out of money. Then take a break and work more. Honestly worst was the 700 sq ft of time.  I can stand and bend all day.  Knees hated that,  but did that as time allowed. Took us about two years to wrap up everything inside. 

If it takes two years to do stone so be it. I'm in no rush. Just spent about 20 hours over couple weekends in my bucket truck picking ball most and cutting dead out of one tree. So long boring projects don't really bother me. If I need a break I got plenty of other projects to work on.  

From what I've read, with the weight of real stone about 2.5ft is all you really want to go up at once.  I figure work across the front sideways and by that time the beginning will be ready. My plan was to go about 8inches below the windows all the way across. My overhangs are about 2ft. 

bigfranks84 Reader
1/21/19 12:14 a.m.

For reference, the night we got the keys. We didn't technically own it to the next morning. 

bigfranks84 Reader
1/21/19 12:32 a.m.

It was a very awkward floor plan . 


I'll have to take some finished pictures. I'm on my third phone since this project started. I have all the pictures I took but they are all out of order and I gave up on going through my 2k pics on my phone.  


But all the work was my wife and I and my dad helped us for a few months (he is retired) before he had to go back and deal with normal husband and grandpa life. My sister lives on the same street as my parents and they have 3 kids so yeah.  

Jay_W Dork
1/21/19 10:16 a.m.

Those pix show great examples of what I consider to be some 


Satisfying work. Looks like you turned a shell into a home.Feels good, don't it? 

bigfranks84 Reader
1/21/19 5:49 p.m.

In reply to Jay_W :

Yeah,  luckily I was raised to do things yourself and not just pay some one to.  

I didn't see that as a kid but am very grateful as an adult to be able to possess the ability to problem solve and accomplish task I've never done before. 

We bought this house as a foreclosure, we knew we would have to gut it and redo it all.  But it was the only way we were going to get a house on 5 acres in our area and we are slowly getting it to how we want it. And no one else wanted it because of the work it needed. Even our realtor didn't really want to show it because of its state. There had to have been at least a 100 realtor's cards on the counter. 


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