Supporting stone veneer wall - Footing??

landscapenewbAugust 28, 2010

Hi all!

I am in the process of building a small knee wall around my front porch. The porch is about 4'x6' and there is an awkward 22" gap between the porch and the house which I am trying to make useful.



The wall itself is about 19" wide all the way around and 34"-40" high. I am building it with a treated 2x4 frame, covered with stone veneer. I figure each side will weigh about 500 lbs all said and done.

So my question is what kinda of support do I need?? I was planning on sinking a cinder block at each of the corners for support, possibly driving in re-bar and then filling the blocks with cement. The other thing I considered was somehow attaching to the existing concrete porch with masonry nails/screws. I am concerned about the weight distribution and whether I am making a mistake by not digging a footing 3-4' deep or whatever. Do I even need any support?

What are your thoughts?


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1- where are you located in the country (determines frost movement)
2- how are you addressing the siding?
3- are you at all concerned at how closed off the columns will make your front porch feel? I'm assuming you have the standard 36-39" builder walk?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 9:16AM
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Thanks for the reply. To answer your questions:

1-Southern Ohio, zone 5a i think...the frost line is 32" in my county.

2-I didn't want to attach the wall to the house. I think I would need permits at that point, whereas I just envisioned this as a decorative wall. So the plan was to basically make a freestanding wall with the stone coming close, but not quite, to the house. Then I would just put a couple white trim pieces to cover the gap. Is this bad? Should I spend the time and pull permits and remove siding and attach the wall to the house?

3-I am slightly concerned. I am split whether it will make the porch "cozy and inviting" or "small and closed off". I think the columns add interest and curb appeal to the entry area, and I like that it will also provide seating. Might is be better to move the columns to the corners??

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 9:32AM
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If you leave a gap there's a good likelihood of water finding its way in there. I live in a 100 year old house- trust me, I know how water loves finding any and every crack and crevice.

I can't speak as to the "right" way to do a stone veneered, 2x4 framed porch add-on because I've never seen it done that way. It's not how I would do it. Where I've seen structures built with framing, backer board, and veneer is usually outdoor kitchens (and they use steel studs anyhow). They can work because they're all supported on a poured slab, so even if the slab moves/settles, it's all doing it together.

If I were building this, first of all I'd be ooked out by the idea of wood framing in contact with the ground and tied into the house (because removing the siding and attaching to the structure is what I would do). Then I'd also be concerned about how I'm supporting the walls and columns without them shifting or settling differentially. To be honest, I would do footers to frost depth (or deeper if it's a new construction home), and at that point I may as well use CMUs (concrete block) for the structure. And then if I was going through all THAT, I'd just jackhammer out the stoop and start from scratch so it was all one piece and I didn't have to worry about independent parts moving.

But again, I'm looking at this through the lens of how I would approach this as a pro. As a homeowner job where you're accepting all your own liability- it could work, I guess. Maybe.

As far as the design end of things, I always think in terms of having Thanksgiving at your house. With your existing porch Sid, Myrna, and their three kids can't all stand on the landing while you come to the door, but there's still kind of a connection between the up and down spaces. with what you have drawn, it's almost like mom and dad are in the vestibule and the kids are still outside.

But that's just one person's thought; I'm sure others will disagree. Yay internet!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 1:08PM
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Thanks again for your help
I guess an outdoor kitchen is a good example of the construction method I was thinking. I found instructions on ThisOldHouse:

Based on other websites, it sounds like I should be fine building a concrete patio, and then the wall (or "kitchen") can be freestanding. I will make it approximately 6" deep on top of a gravel base, and be very careful to grade the patio away from the house.
I redesigned the layout as well, so the columns are at the corners. I think it does make the patio feel more open, but yeah, the kids will always be on the outside. I may consider lowering the portion of the wall next to the step a little more....

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 7:40PM
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Here is my two sense:

What your proposing is isn't creating a large load on the area if you remove the corner feet(20 psf bearing pressure). Use pressure treated wood. You should think more of the quality of construction. Making sure it doesn't twist and move laterally. I would make a full plywood bottom floor between the 2x4s with drain holes(screened to keep critters out)to make the structure rigid or some strong diagonal bracing or both. The side plywood panels and top stone might not be enough. How will you fasten the stone on top since people may sit on it waiting for you to answer the door. You might think about moving the wall to the right to outside your stoop and the front part another two feet toward the front yard, pour additional stoop and cover with tile to hide the seams. This give you about a 6 x 9 area. Keep the opening the same for symmetry with the front door and entry walk. JMHO Aloha

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 11:36AM
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Thanks for the input. Yeah I agree, I don't like the internal structure of the diagram I posted. I am framing the walls like you frame a house. That should make it plenty strong. The concrete caps I was planning to set in a bed of mortar.
And I understand the comments about making the porch bigger. To me, it just seems like a lot more work without adding too much value. That's my feeling. I do have a sitting area in another part of the front yard for lounging, so the porch really is just for entry/exit. I'm never going to be putting furniture or anything on it. I definitely can see your point though!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 6:36PM
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The only other thing I can think of is to make sure you have drainage away from the house along the stoop and house or a short piece of Z flashing that comes out of the house siding and protects the wall/house seam. Aloha

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 10:57PM
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