Types of Stone Veneer

Understanding the Different Types of Stone Veneer

Stone veneer refers to the method of installing stone over a pre-made structure, as opposed to building the structure out of the stone itself.   Landscape walls are often made fully from stone, but these days most any stone wall having to do with a building or structure is made from stone veneer.  The two main types of stone veneer are Full Bed Stone Veneer and Thin Stone Veneer.

Full Bed Stone Veneer:  

Full bed stone veneer means using full, natural stones to veneer a vertical surface.  A full bed stone veneer is usually 6-8″ thick and can be done in countless different styles and with many different types of stone.  It all depends on the mason doing the work and the local stone that is available.   

The stones are still stacked with structure in mind so that the stones below support the weight of those above.  The stones are mortared to the wall and then also secured with steel ties that are dispersed throughout.  These ties are screwed to the backing wall, and then embedded in the joints/mortar of the veneer stone.

Full bed stone veneer gives a very authentic look but takes a lot of skill, time, and requires lifting and shaping of heavy stones.  When dealing with heights, using full bed stone veneer can be especially challenging.  The stone itself however is a lot cheaper than sawn veneer.

full bed stone veneer

full bed veneer

full bed stone veneer

full bed veneer

Thin Stone Veneer (Sawn Veneer):

Thin Stone Veneer or Sawn Veneer is a fabricated stone.  Natural stones are taken and sawn down to a certain thickness (usually about 1″), making them very easy to shape and handle.  The thin veneer stones are then stuck directly to the structural wall with a highly adhesive mortar in a similar way to tiling.

Thin stone is easy to handle (light), easy to cut and shape, and can be used in more instances where there isn’t enough room for a full bed veneer. 

Thin stone veneer is becoming increasingly popular with its ease of use, availability, and labor cost savings.  There are a variety of different styles to choose from which we will go over next.  The names will vary somewhat supplier to supplier but we will use the most common terminology in this New England area.

Fieldstone or Round:

Fieldstone or Round Veneer is cut from medium sized, roundish fieldstones.  The idea here is to mimic the natural fieldstone walls of New England.  The stones are round in shape, but also in depth.  That’s to say the face is not totally flat, it is rounded.  The natural outside face of the stone has been preserved to make these veneer stones. 

Fieldstone Round Veneer

Fieldstone Round Veneer

Mosiac: 

Mosiac stone veneer is more angular in shape and flatter on the surface.  These stones have been split in half to make flat but rough stone surface, and then sawn to the desired thickness.  This results in a more consistently flat wall, less depth, and often tighter joints than the round veneer.  

Mosiac Veneer Stone

Mosiac Veneer Stone

Ledgestone:

Ledgestone veneers are generally long and thin.  The ledgstone mimics the style of stacking flat stones.  Ledgestone is easier to fit tightly with no mortar showing in the joints.

Ashlar: 

Ashlar veneer is similar to the Ledgstone in shape but is larger in size.  Often we will use a mix of Ledgestone and Ashlar to achieve a more authentic looking mix of sizes.

Stone Veneer Fireplace - Acton, MA

Ashlar Veneer

Square + Rectangle: 

Square + Rectangle veneer is similar to the Ashlar but has been selected to be even more squared in shape.  This type of veneer also mixes well with Ashlar and Ledgestone.

Square + Rectangle Veneer

Square + Rectangle Veneer

Dimensional:

Dimensional stone veneer has been sawn thin, and then cut into rectangular pieces on all sides.  This means it still has a stone face but the edges of the stones are cut straight giving a more modern, manufactured look.  These can be fit very tightly like tiles with minimal effort and no cutting or shaping.

Dimensional Stone Veneer

Dimensional Stone Veneer

In Conclusion

Natural stone veneer is a great way to enhance exterior and interior walls, foundations, fireplaces, chimneys, columns and various other applications.  If you’re thinking about a stone veneer installation for your home please CONTACT US for a consultation.

 

Stone Retaining Wall Repair – Carlisle, MA

Stone Retaining Wall Repair, Carlisle, MA

At this home in Carlisle, MA the stone retaining wall that runs along the driveway is bowing out and on the verge of collapse.  The existing wall was built ~15-20 years ago.  And though it was dry-stacked, it wasn’t built with adequate backfill + drainage and has deteriorated over the years.  Take a look at this video of the wall coming down.  You will see the wall only has one row of stone with soil right behind it.

After we take down the existing stone retaining wall we then gather all the stone.  The original wall was built with nice local fieldstone that has grown lichen and moss over the years.  Since there was no mortar used it is perfectly re-usable and even more desirable than newer stone.

Next we dig out the base and back of the wall to make room for plenty of crushed stone base and backing.   We also install a layer of filter fabric to separate our material from the dirt behind.  The means the dirt will never work its way into the wall, and our crushed stone will remain clean with good drainage.

Stone Retaining Wall - Excavation

Stone Retaining Wall – Excavation

After the prep is done we start building the wall.  The stones are stacked without mortar.  That means we run the heft off the stone back into the wall for sturdiness, and use a full mix of sizes and shapes to tie it all together.   Given this wall is over 4′ in height, we give the wall a ‘batter’ for even more strength.  This means the wall leans back towards the hillside instead of going straight up.  In the end we stretch a cap line and meet it as closely as possible.  We save large flat stones for the top to give it a sturdy, clean looking cap.

The result is a classic New England style stone retaining wall that will hold up for many years to come.  All in all the work takes only a few days and results in a big improvement.

Stone Retaining Wall - Concord, MA

Stone Retaining Wall – Carlisle, MA

Stone Retaining Wall - Concord, MA

Stone Retaining Wall – Carlisle, MA

Stone Retaining Wall - Concord, MA

Stone Retaining Wall – Carlisle, MA

Stone Retaining Wall - Concord, MA

Stone Retaining Wall – Carlisle, MA

  

Stone Retaining Walls in Belmont, MA

Stone Retaining Walls in Belmont, MA

After a recent addition to this home in Belmont, MA, the owners are looking to address their landscaping.  As is, the yard has a heavy slope and various grades that are un-retained and eroding.  There is also a large excess of dirt and rocks left over from the previous excavation.

Landscape Installation - Before

Stone Retaining Walls – Before

Landscape Installation - Before

Stone Retaining Walls – Before

 

The plan is to surround the perimeter of the property with dry stacked stone retaining walls.  The retaining walls will allow us to raise the grade at the low end of the property, and cut into the grade at the higher end to produce a much flatter front and back yard.  A granite stairway will also be added to transition between the two grades. 

Construction 

To build the walls we first bring in the excavator to cut the grades and dig out the base.  The base of the walls are dug below ground and get filled with crushed stone.  The crushed stone gets compacted and serves as a sturdy foundation while allowing drainage and some flexibility. 

Behind the walls we install a layer of landscape fabric or ‘filter fabric’.  This fabric goes at the very back of our excavation against the dirt.  It will allow water to drain through but prevents dirt from filtering into the wall over time.   The reason we don’t want dirt in the wall is that dirt holds water and also promotes plant growth.  If dirt gets into the wall it will freeze and thaw, and let roots grow through which will deteriorate the wall over time.

Stone Retaining Wall - Prep

Stone Retaining Wall – Prep

Stone Retaining Wall - Prep

Stone Retaining Wall – Prep

 

After the prep work is done we bring in our fieldstone.  This job will take ~80 tons of fieldstone to complete.  To obtain this amount of stone we source our stone directly from a farm owner in MA.  The stone is picked from the fields and from old boundary walls resulting in a nice mix of weathered, local stone. 

Fieldstone Supply

Fieldstone Supply

 

Next we are ready to build the walls.  The stones are dry stacked without mortar.  We use the weight and placement of the stones to create a sturdy structure that drains freely.  Each stone interlocks with one another with the heft of the stone tied back into the wall.  Gravel backfill goes behind the fieldstone adding even more mass to the system as well as good drainage.  As we near the top of the wall we stretch a line and install large, flat stones to cap the wall.  These cap stones create a clean line visually and also help hold everything together.

Stone Retaining Wall - Construction

Stone Retaining Wall – Construction

 

Completion

The completed wall and steps come together nicely.  We are able to create several different distinct levels with easy access in between.  The yard is no longer sloping and eroding into/from the neighboring properties, and there is a clear separation with more usable space for.   We are able to use all of the excavated dirt to level and fill the grades so that no extra material needs to be hauled in or out.

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls

Completed Stone Walls