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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 3/26/2016

I've made good if admittedly slow progress over the last couple of weeks repairing the shoddy work I discovered a couple of weeks back that the stone setters did.

I had thought going into this that I had rather more of this stone facing rock than it actually turned out that I did. I had a small pile on the edge of the main patio and a bunch of rock under the front porch, but when I dug into those piles nearly all of them turned out to be remnants leftover from cutting and such that they just discarded (something else they weren't supposed to do). I had thought there were nearly all full pieces but as I began sorting it turned out there were rather fewer of those than I'd thought.

Still with the rocks that had fallen and what I scavenged from the various piles I was able to pick together a decent selection to chose from. I'd decided that if I was going to redo part of this there were a couple of areas I thought were a bit sloppy (another sign I guess) and that I could surely replace the rocks that were there with something that fit together a bit tighter. It took much trial and error but eventually I got a suitable selection for above the fireplace, which is what I tackled first.

I had gotten some proper quickset mortar and quickly got the stones up. The good thing about this mortar is that it doesn't set up instantly, so you can do some gentle moving around of the stones if things aren't quite right when you step back to examine your handiwork. I did this of course, working very slowly that first day as I was learning how much to apply, how deeply to press the stones, etc. I did end up using some shims to hold the stones in place (I was worried the wet mortar would let them slide out of place).

Things look quite good the next day, so I tackled the stones below the fireplace ledge. When the rocks above gave way they smashed several tiles along the ledge and then took a couple of stones below there with them on their way to the floor. Having had a bit more experience now I quickly tried various stones to get as natural and tight a fit as I could, then up they went. I reused the shims I'd used before of course (the upper stones were properly set by then).

The realities of work kept me away for a couple of weeks, but I was eventually able to return to the task today. I happen to have several 12-packs of the tile used for the ledge out in the garage, so I fetched one and sorted out what I wanted to put where the smashed tiles were. I had quite a bit of cleanup to do first--chipping out the older mortar and smoothing down the surface so the tiles would be level turned out to be more of a chore than I thought it would be. But eventually I got them in there properly, slid them around slightly to get the grout gaps correctly sized, then stacked a whole bunch of unused tile and buckets of mortar and stuff on them so they'd set "down" and not float.

The only thing I've got left to do now is to grout. Colleen says she believes they just used plain grout (no coloring) and I have a half bag of that left out in the garage as well. If she's wrong I'll go ahead and get the grout in anyway, and then will apply a grout stain to all of the fireplace ledge grout to darken it (I think black or gray will work there better than the natural sand-ish color anyway). We'll see....I might do that anyway.

Going forward I'm going to properly grout between all of the stones up, down, and around the fireplace. The stone workers didn't do that either (another sign they were having a fight with Builder Dale that I somehow didn't pick up on) and I think it'll put the proper "finishing touch" on the whole thing. Besides, the extra grout will help hold any loose stones I miss where they belong and of course that's a plus. This will take most of the summer and probably well into the fall, as I may want to take advantage of the scaffolding I'll be getting to help hand the chandelier anyway. We'll see.

Great golly always something to do at Tanglewood!

Steven in Colorado

My Construction Website

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