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sitting wall

Posted by coollpax none (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 19, 14 at 18:28

I am building a decorative wall in my backyard with seating height(~20"). The contractor has built the wall with 6 inch cement blocks and put 12 inch red brick bullnosed tiles as caps. We are going to do a flagstone facade on the wall, but I am still apprehensive about the 12 inch tile on top of 6 inch wall. I am not sure why he chose 6 inch blocks since 8 inch blocks are more common. I do have a lot of curves in the wall, I am not sure if that is why he choose 6 inch blocks. Anyone have any comment on this? Am I worrying in vain or should I not accept this and get it rebuilt?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: sitting wall

Assuming 1" veneer stone and a 0.5" mortar bed, two-sided wall, 6" block plus 1.5" (face 1) plus 1.5" (face two) = 9". That leaves a 1.5" overhang per side, which gives wiggle room for dealing w/ curves.

If it's a one sided wall, he's either using a thicker stone or you may just want to ask him what's up.


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RE: sitting wall

Thanks for your comment.

This is a one sided wall. I asked him about the overhanging tiles and conveyed my displeasure, he just said that it is ok. He will put extra mortar on the other side. On the front, with stone veneer and mortar, it should be ok. But the other side may be prone to damage if it is hanging. I am not satisfied with his answer. What are the choices as he has already built a very long wall? I was not aware of all the details and am not a very handy person.


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RE: sitting wall

I read through your question, but it wasn't clear what you're specifically worried about. A picture and a detailed question would help.


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RE: sitting wall

If the wall's in, I don't think anyone wins if you have it ripped out and start over. Can you discuss with him the possibility of using a building stone (3-4" typical thickness) for the face stone instead of flagstone? That'll address the overhang issue and, if he knows what he's doing with stone, will honestly look better. Flagstone (if it truly is flagstone you're talking about) as a vertical veneer tends to look like... flagstone glued on a vertical face, I'm not a fan.


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RE: sitting wall

Sorry if the problem was not clear.
The problem is the sitting surface on top of the wall is touching the wall only 6" out of 12" width of the tile.
I have talked to him to pad the back of the wall with extra cement and also use extra cement for the flagstone installation.


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RE: sitting wall

Still, you should show a picture so details are apparent.


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RE: sitting wall

Here are some pictures. The problem is not so evident from the pictures.


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RE: sitting wall

here is one from the front


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RE: sitting wall

closeup of back of the wall


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RE: sitting wall

I think I would settle for a thick wedge of mortar at the back side of the wall. As a seat wall, It doesn't look like it's in any danger from normal use. It would take a serious blow to separate any brick out of the cap. There is probably a near zero likelihood that anything like that would happen.

I like flagstone facing as much as Marcinde. If it hasn't already been purchased, I'd rush on over to the cultured stone store and see what options are there.


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RE: sitting wall

Thanks for your advice. We wanted to have the wall completely flat(no sharp edges or indents for kids' safety). That is why we want to do flagstone. Does cultured stone offer different variety of colors in flat irregular tiles?


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RE: sitting wall

seriously? I'm talking about an irregular stone face, not concrete embedded with glass shards. If you let the kids ride bikes or scooters they're way more likely to get hurt doing that than walking past or sitting on a wall. If you're that worried, just stucco the wall face smooth and be done with it. I mean... how are they going to get any more hurt...? I'm confused.

If the back of the wall dies into a plant bed and will never be seen, I wouldn't even waste your mason's time putting a bead of mortar under the cap on the back. It's not like that mortar will do anything to support the weight of someone sitting on the cap. Backfill against the wall, plant it, mulch it, open a bottle of wine, and call it good.


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RE: sitting wall

Flagstone mortared to that wall face will look hideous.
If you have seen an attractive wall with a flagstone face and a brick cap I would like to see it.
Stucco will be so much more attractive & classier.
Cultured stone screams ticky tacky mass produced cheap crap.
There is no concern with the back of the wall overhang. If the cap was properly mortared it is not going to move.
No reason to run a bead of mortar under the cap. - ditto what Marcinde said.


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RE: sitting wall

"Cultured stone screams ticky tacky mass produced cheap crap." This could not be further from the truth! Only someone who got their head glued into a mortar joint a few years ago would believe this. Cultured stone has advanced to the point where many of the styles are indistinguishable from genuine stone. It's versatile and less expensive. A huge percentage of "stone" used in building today is manufactured stone. Search Google Images to see what's out there.


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RE: sitting wall

Yard, if you can't distinguish lick and stick from the real deal, come on over and we'll play with some stone over cigars and bourbon. There's something about how it sits, if that makes sense... plus, the colors are never as rich. Oh, and word to the wise - used around the opening of a fireplace, lick and stick will glaze like a ceramic tile.

In terms of cost, yes and no. Labor is way less, because it's lighter, uniform thickness, doesn't need chipped to fit with a rock hammer (couldn't be even if you wanted to), and there are ready made corner pieces. There's also less waste, since you buy it in boxes by the sq ft rather than by the ton. But natural stone is about half the cost. If you can find a good mason who does nothing but masonry, you'll probably get a natural stone price that's really competitive with lick and stick. On the occasions when I do spec a cultured stone veneer, my go-to mason usually finagles his pricing so he can use real stone. Whatever, works for me.


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RE: sitting wall

Marcinde, you are arguing only against presumptions that you have added. The believeablity of a finished cultured stone job depends to a large degree on the skill of the mason and details such as mortar color and the joint style selected. Also, it depends to a great degree on the style of "stone" selected. There are some styles produced by some companies that look fake ... just perfect for a mobile home! But these are not the styles to choose when so many others (with rich looking color and believable textures) are available. It's just as true that genuine stone can look bad when the wrong stone and installation details are chosen.


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RE: sitting wall

lick and stick/ un-cultured stone is the equivalent to putting on costume jewlery on a house .

If mass produced, fake and an inauthentic product is what makes you happy with the quality of your work and product, then be my guest.
People usually get what they settle for. Set your expectations low and you'll be fine.

Quailty of craftsmanship and honesty in materials is the cornerstone that defines enduring time honored value.

A wall made out of stucco stone ( affetionately called stink-o stone by masons who appreciate quality craftsmanship + materials) is not going to be a thing of beauty or show pride of ownership 50 to 100 years from now. More than likely it will be torn town , taken to the recycling center, crushed for base rock and rebuilt with quality stone.... if you can still find a decent stonemason.
Stink-o stone / lick and stick 'em is the dumbing down of the masonry trade.


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RE: sitting wall

That's a good attempt to sway a person from looking into other possibilities ... but if they do, they'll find out the claims are exclusively opinion ... and a very outdated one at that. Instead of relying on the opinion of others, it's best that the OP check it out for themselves.


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RE: sitting wall

"Marcinde, you are arguing only against presumptions that you have added" Yard, you said "It's versatile and less expensive." I don't see how discussing where it is and isn't less expensive is arguing against a presumption *I* added. You said it.

This is the internet. If someone doesn't triangulate to find the "truth" (such as it is), if they take one commenter's perspective as gospel, well... PT Barnum liked folks like that. So I don't really see a need to be "fair and balanced" in my opinions.

Good lord I used a lot of quotation marks. There's my quotation quota.

I feel like d-d brings up an entirely separate set of considerations but it's an intriguing point. Would a lick and stick stone clad feature be as valued in five decades (assuming the "stone" didn't basically spall and dissolve, like all the charcoal colored ones on my client's home's facade) as one made of natural stone? Or would it be viewed as less valuable and therefore more disposable? As designers we do need to be mindful of the total life cycle of whatever we specify.


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RE: sitting wall

"Yard, if you can't distinguish lick and stick from the real deal..." ... is an erroneous presumption. About what ... cultured stone vs. genuine stone? Nope.

"So I don't really see a need to be "fair and balanced" in my opinions." ... Is one place where we differ.


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RE: sitting wall

I like expensive, craft whiskey. I'm not going to tell someone Seagram's 7 is the same. It's not.


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RE: sitting wall

I find some of the new 'stone' houses and landscape walls look pretty good - but I can't help but think of 'angelstone' on houses built in the 1960s. I'm sure it looked good to homeowners then given how frequently it was used. In another 50 years, who knows how all these expensive 'stone' houses will be perceived?!


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RE: sitting wall

I like stone veneer, but none of the stone we have locally would be a good match to the caps used here. I think the suggestion for a white rendered wall with a stucco look would be better.

Use of manufactured stone may be more appropriate where local stone does not exist and shipping cost drive up the cost of real stone. I don't have any first hand experience with manufactured stone, but I can see where lighter weight and ease of shaping might make the product attractive for a DIY project.

In my area, it's only a 50 to 100 mile trip to where local stone is gathered from the surface and sold for $85 to $115 a ton. Since it has been exposed to sunlight for decades, there is no worry that the color will fade. I don't think manufactured stone can compete with that and I'm not seeing it used here.


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RE: sitting wall

The wall is less than two feet tall. I think it is too small in area to have anything other than a solid surface; stucco. I think rocks would look too busy.


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RE: sitting wall

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 24, 14 at 1:20

I'd tend to agree that a stucco finish would probably combine better with the red bullnose brick cap, but this is my personal preference. Cultured stone can look okay, but gets too busy looking in combination with brick in my opinion. Flagstone placed vertically on this wall would also tend to look less complementary. Stucco painted to match the house could look great, and is also easily done on both faces.


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RE: sitting wall

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 24, 14 at 1:33

I'd tend to agree that a stucco finish would probably combine better with the red bullnose brick cap, but this is my personal preference. Cultured stone can look okay, but gets too busy looking in combination with brick in my opinion. Flagstone placed vertically on this wall would also tend to look less complementary. Stucco painted to match the house could look great, and is also easily done on both faces.


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