What to Consider When Your Exterior Needs Stone Re-facing


The prospect of engaging in a stone re-facing project involves some pre-planning to insure a superior result.

It is therefore important to do one’s research on a number of subjects in relationship to the work involved.

Step number one is to determine the location and size of area to be covered in stone; and to identify the existing exterior facing materials.

This is important for determining the preparation requirements for installation of new stone materials. It may also be required that structural reinforcement will have to be part of the installation procedure.

The second step involves determining if such an improvement is allowed, based on the home’s location.

For example; if the home has a heritage designation, or is in an architecturally controlled subdivision; permission may be required to engage in the work, and or the type of materials that can be used.

When undertaking most exterior construction projects, it is important to verify whether a building permit is required. The installation of stone re-facing could be construed by some municipalities as a structural change to the property.

Once all approvals, permits and or drawings are sorted out, the fun step of choosing and sourcing a stone material can begin. There are numerous options, with quarries throughout Ontario offering regionally sourced products.

Some stone re-facing projects can involve the mason hand splitting stone to create custom surfacing materials. Quarries can supply pallets of stone in varied sizes or stone can be cut to fairly uniform sizing; more typical of modern architectural designs.

A further option includes cultured or faux stone, which is considerably lighter, and may be less expensive, but may offer limited design choices and colours.

Once materials have been decided upon and sourced, and correct quantities of materials established; the mason can begin the installation process.

Common procedures involve removing and disposing of existing exterior wall materials, to expose the substrate beneath. In the case of a wood exterior wall, it should be checked for rot, and corrected as required.

Once complete an appropriate air barrier such as Tyvek building wrap, and or water-proofing materials such as Blue Skin, can be applied to the wall to help retain thermal value, and to resist the infiltration of water behind the finished stone wall. It may also be possible to add exterior rigid thermal insulation to increase thermal resistance, if it is appropriate for the circumstance of the home. Such work is not required if internal insulation levels are satisfactory, and are meeting building code requirements.

Once the substructure is deemed sound, air tight, and water tight; a galvanized mesh material cn be installed to accept a scratch cat of base mortar.

The mason will typically layout a sample stone pattern on the ground to test fit different sized pieces of stone so the colour, texture and pattern are correct. This process relies on the experience of the mason whose overall vision is to create a somewhat uniform or cohesive appearance in spite of using irregular sized natural stone materials.

It should be noted that where a home has brick on block construction; a decision needs to be made whether  an existing brick surface is in sufficient condition to accept a stone veneer, or whether brick repairs or removal, will be needed to accommodate the new stone re-facing materials.

As the process of laying the stone courses from the foundation sill begins; only a few  courses can be laid, and allowed to set up, before proceeding with additional courses.  The process can be time consuming and is well characterized as labour intensive.

If incorporating stone piers or columns as part of the stone re-facing process; it is typically necessary to begin pouring a base concrete form, and then laying cement blocks to create a sub structure for the eventual stone materials to be adhered to.

The incorporation of stone sills on top of piers or half walls provides a proper finished appearance, and sheds water away from the stone beneath. Stone sills should be laid with a slight camber to shed water. Often the incorporation of metal flashings are required to prevent water from entering where the transition of a stone wall surface may meet a different siding material.

A critical step when engaging in a stone re-facing project is to select a highly skilled masonry team that has the proper experience for such work. Relative to laying bricks or blocks, stone work requires a particular expertise , and an ability to measure correctly and judge by eye, the appearance of the courses  as  they are being raised.

Other considerations which need to be accounted for when engaging in such work, include any requirement to insure water-proofing is in order below grade where the stone facing is being completed, the finishing of trim details where the stone facing may meet areas such as soffits, overhangs, and adjacent wall surfaces having different materials. Also no note are such considerations as water taps or electrical components which may be located bend the wall and which may heeed re-location or modification.

When the stone facing is being installed, a systematic process of filling the mortar joints and tooling such joints to a neat finish  becomes part of process. The tinting of mortar to be consistent throughout the project, and to appear correct in consideration of the colours of the stone, is an important step to having a  beautiful finished appearance.

Once the finished stone work has had time to cure, it may result in morar shrinkage as a result of larger mortatr joints contracting as the mortar dries. Minor touch ups may be required, but do not signal poor work, simply the nature of the beast.

The beautiful finished result will add value and considerable curb appeal to any home. Designs can vary for rustic to contemporary to modern, all based on the stone products that are selected. Stone re-facing adds a warming charm which is hard to replicate with other materials, but can accent may different architectural styles.

To learn more about stone re-facing, and other masonry related services; visit: www.avenueroadmasonry.com or contact us through FACE BOOK.