| Repairing Stonework


Amage to stonework is typically caused by frost heave, erosion or deterioration of mortar, or by stones that have worked out of place. Diy-stone walls are more susceptible to erosion and popping while mortared walls develop cracks that admit water, which can freeze and cause further damage.

Inspect stone structures once a year for signs of damage and deterioration. Replacing a stone or repointing crumbling mortar now will save you work in the long run.

A leaning stone column or wall probably suffers from erosion or foundation problems and can be dangerous if neglected. If you have the time, you can tear down and rebuild dry-laid structures, but mortared structures with excessive lean need professional help.

Tools & Materials ►

Masonry chisels Wood shims C arpet-covered 2×4 Chalk

Compactable gravel Replacement stones Type M mortar Mortar tint Eye protection and work gloves

Stones in a wall can become dislodged due to soil settling, erosion, or seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. Make the necessary repairs before the problem migrates to other areas.

Tips for Repairing Popped Stones ►


Return a popped stone to its original position. If other stones have settled in its place, drive shims between neighboring stones to make room for the popped stone. Be careful not to wedge too far.

Use a 2 x 4 covered with carpet to avoid damaging the stone when hammering it into place. After hammering, make sure a replacement stone hasn’t damaged or dislodged the adjoining stones.


Study the wall and determine how much of it needs to be rebuilt. Plan to dismantle the wall in a V shape, centered on the damaged section. Number each stone and mark its orientation with chalk so you can rebuild it following the original design. Tip: Photograph the wall, making sure the markings are visible.

Capstones are often set in a mortar bed atop the last course of stone. You may need to chip out the mortar with a maul and chisel to remove the capstones. Remove the marked stones, taking care to check the overall stability of the wall as you work.

Rebuild the wall, one course at a time, using replacement stones only when necessary. Start each course at the ends and work toward the center. On thick walls, set the face stones first, and then fill in the center with smaller stones. Check your work with a level and use a batter gauge to maintain the batter of the wall. If your capstones were mortared, re-lay them in fresh mortar. Wash off the chalk with water and a stiff-bristle brush.

Tip for Erosion ►

If you’re rebuilding because of erosion, dig a

Trench at least 6" deep under the damaged area, and fill it with compactable gravel. Tamp the gravel with a hand tamper. This will improve drainage and prevent water from washing soil out from beneath the wall.

Updated: 29.05.2013 — 06:01
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