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Cultured Stone


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Jill's Forum Posts: 39

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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 5/16/2006


Does anyone have any tips for installing cultured stone? Ours arrives Thursday, and I would appreciate any good pointers from those who have already done it and know!
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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 5/28/2006


Okay, so I am just going to answer my own question now for anyone who might be headed down this route, now that I have experience...

First, make sure the mortar is the right consistency, which is kind of like cake batter, but maybe a pinch wetter. The first time around we had three stones fall off, and I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown -- until we wet the mortar more, and then it was fine.

Next, make sure you put enough mortar on the wall and on the stone, and smash it flush to the wall, wiggle a little in all directions, and then wait like 25-30 seconds.  This part stinks, because you get impatient and want to go on, but for serious, wait the 25 seconds or so. This is where it pays to have entertaining friends around. 

Finally, however long you think this project is going to take, multiply that times about five! And get plenty of snacks, drinks, and beer for all the friends and family who are helping!

Ours looks like a million bucks (I'll try to post some photos tomorrow), and some of the tradespeople I spoke to were going to charge us between $5-$7 a square foot to install-YIKES. We probably got about 150-175 sq. ft. installed yesterday in about four hours with four of us. My husband and the "crew" he rounded up are going back today (I have to work!).


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 5/29/2006


Hey Jill,

Please post photos. I'm going to put up 2.5 ft x 150 ft of cultured stone around my foundation. Any ideas on how long that might take?

Any other pointers you can give. 

Thanks,

Peter


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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 5/31/2006


I imagine that will probably take four or five days of about five hours of work each day with two people. 

If it is along the ground, bring some kind of cushion to sit on, like a gardener's knee pad or something, just to cushion your seat. Also, spray yourself with bug spray and spray the ground around it... it seems a lot of dang spiders hang out around the bottom of foundations!

Will post photos tomorrow :)

 


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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 6/10/2006


Well, that took more than a day to get the pics up, but sheesh, this house building thing is taking up a lot of time!

There are three of our cultured stone efforts, and one of the inside before the plastering was complete.

 


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By Randy in Dunlap, TN on 6/11/2006


Jill,

    Can you mention your costs for cultured vs. actual stone?

Randy


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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 6/11/2006


I didn't compare the costs, only because I had heard working with real stone was pretty difficult and heavy, and would probably require a mason. The cultured stone is much lighter, the color can be controlled more, and it is flat and really porous on the back, so it sticks much easier. Since we were going to do it ourselves, I wanted to get the best looking, yet easiest to work with. Our cost was about $5 for the flat rocks (per sq. ft.) and $6 for the corner pieces. Total for stone, sand, mortar, grout bags, and equipment for about 500 sq. ft. was $3,100.


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By Randy in Dunlap, TN on 6/11/2006


Jill,

Thanks for the info, your stone looks great! Has anyone subbed cultured stone out lately? Just wondering what the going rates have been. Have a quote for actual stone work that's about $15 a square foot (very high-quality stonework), but wondering what cultured would cost to have it subbed.

Randy


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By LaTanya in Stafford, VA on 6/23/2006


Randy,

It sounds as if you are doing pretty well, because here in Stafford I got two quotes for cultured stone, for $18-$20 per sq. ft. I am going to keep looking, since it seems that I won't need it yet again for another two weeks.

Good luck!


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By Alvin in FL on 7/14/2006


I just finished my fireplace, which was my first project with cultured stone. Jill has it right. It takes at least five times longer than you think. It takes a lot of time selecting the stones that look good and fit correctly in the space. It especially takes longer if you are going for the dry-stacked look that has little if any space between the stones. Fit is very critical here. If you plan on having a wide mortar joint between the stones, shape and fit are not as critical.

If you are working an area that has to be reached by ladder, it will take 10 times longer than you think, since you have to climb up and down the ladder at least two times for every stone -- once to see if the stone you picked will fit, and then again after you apply mortar to it. Very rarely will you find the right stone that fits the space the first time. Plan on several trips up and down for each stone.

I too found that your mortar has to be mixed very, very wet or the stones fall off the wall. It needs to be so runny that it almost runs off the trowel. For some reason, this helps achieve the suction that is needed to hold the stones on.

It gets easier once you get the hang of it. Now I just need to figure out how to get me and all of the stones up on my steep metal roof in order to stone my chimney.

Below are a couple of pics.


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By Eric in johnson city, TN on 3/30/2007


Here in Tennessee, the really nice cultured stone (Centurion Stone) is $11 a square foot installed. A really good mason installing real stone is $21 a foot

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By Texas Redneck in Central TX, TX on 6/29/2008


Wow, I don't know where y'all live but those prices are outrageous! In Texas you can get stone for $75 and up per ton, covers about 35-40 sq feet. A good mason runs about $3 a foot. Plus sand, mortar and ties. Runs about $6 a foot. Real stone.

Don't know about cultured stone. It cost more per foot for materials but I think the labor is cheaper as its easier to install. ALWAYS best to source your own materials then sub out labor. Why have subs mark up materials that you can EASILY get yourself?

In these parts, cultured is not popular. Maybe because real stone is not that expensive, actually not much more than brick! I think the real reason is because fake stone ALWAYS looks like fake stone. I can spot it a mile away. Nice? Yes, but NOTHING beats the real McCoy. I hate fake stone. Actually hate fake anything!

Course, one advantage of fake stone (why call it cultured stone, its NOT cultured, its FAKE stone), is its light weight; thus less support is needed. Fake stone is OK, but it's just not for me.


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By Scott in Wanatah, IN on 9/10/2008


Alvin hit the nail on the head. We did a dry stack too, and it was a nightmare. We ordered 30% more stone to make this work, as every piece was super critical. We knew we were going to use the extra stone and then some on the outside, and we were lining the exterior of the chimney as well. Take your time. We actually drew a layout of the fireplace on the floor in front of the scaffold and my wife and kid laid them all out so they could hand them to me to fit up. It worked out fairly well, but a lot of work. Saved ourselves around $2,800 though. Good luck!

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By Long in Sacramento, CA on 9/10/2008


Another thing you can do is buy a glue additive (it's milky white) that can be added to the mortar mix to get a stronger and better adhesion. 
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By Faye in Marseilles, IL on 9/12/2008


If you are doing the type that requires filling between the stones -- I just found and purchased a grout gun made by Quikpoint. It attaches to a drill and has a hopper on top. If it ever quits raining, I'll let you all know how well it works.
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By Tyler in Burlington, VT on 2/23/2010


To make mortar more sticky, add lime or thinset as a small percentage of your mix and your stones won't fall off the wall. Also, use metal lath behind the stones.

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