| Stone Veneer

Hether you use natural or manufactured veneer, wet each stone, and then apply mortar to the back before pressing it onto the mortared wall. Wetting and mortaring a stone (called buttering) results in maximum adhesion between the stone and the wall. The challenge is to arrange the stones so that large and small stones and various hues and shapes alternate across the span of the wall.

This project is designed for installing veneer stone over plywood sheathing, which has the strength to support layers of building paper. If your walls are covered with fiberboard or any other type of sheathing, ask the veneer manufacturer for recommendations.

Note: Installing from the top down makes cleanup easier since it reduces the amount of splatter on preceding courses. However, manufacturers advise bottom-up installation for some veneers. Read the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully before you begin.

| Quick Tip ►

Find the square footage of veneer stone required for your project by multiplying the length by the height of the area. Subtract the square footage of window and door openings and corner pieces. It’s best to increase your estimate by 5 to 10 percent to allow for trimming.

Tools & Materials ►

I [ammer or staple

15# building paper


Mortar color




IV2” (minimum)

I loe


Square-end trowel

Roofing nails or

Circular saw

Heavy-duty stapli

Dust mask

2×4 lumber

Stiff-bristle brush

Angle grinder with

Wide-mouth nippers

Diamond blade

Or mason s hammer

Eye protection and


W’ork gloves

Jointing tool

Veneer stones

Veneer stone mortar or

Type S mortar mix

Mortar bag and

Grout bag

Spray bottle

Whisk broom

Expanded galvanized

Metal lath

(diamond mesh,

Minimum 2.5#)

A splash of manufactured veneer stone, with its variations in color, tone and shape, can set your home apart from many of today’s cookie-cutter designs.

Rujii: illlll

Cover the wall with building paper, overlapping seams by 4". Nail or staple lath every 6" into the wall studs and midway between studs. Nails or staples should penetrate 1" into the studs. Paper and lath must extend at least 16" around corners where veneer is installed.

Stake a level 2×4 against the foundation as a temporary ledger to keep the bottom edge of the veneer 4" above grade. The gap between the bottom course and the ground will reduce staining of the veneer by plants and soil.



Spread out the materials on the ground so you can select pieces of varying size, shape, and color, and create contrast in the overall appearance. Alternate the use of large and small, heavily textured and smooth, and thick and thin pieces.


Use a square-end trowel to press a % to ‘// layer of mortar into the lath called the scratch coat. To ensure that mortar doesn’t set up too quickly, start with a 5-sq.-ft. area. Before the mortar is set, use a brush or rake to roughen the surface. Allow to set hard before moving onto the next step. Tip: Mix in small amounts of water to retemper mortar that has begun to thicken.

Install corner pieces first, alternating long and short legs. Dampen and apply mortar to the back of each piece, and then press it firmly against the scratch coat so some mortar squeezes out. Joints between stones should be no wider than W’ and should remain as consistent as possible across the wall.

Quick Tip ►

Polymer-modified veneer stone mortar is recommended for drystack stone applications. Drystack stone is primarily bonded on one edge, requiring twice the bond strength of regular mortar.

Set the first course of block into mortar, following the basic techniques shown on pages 126 to 129. Cut blocks as needed for the door openings. Lay the second course, offsetting the joints with the first course in a running-bond pattern.

If mortar becomes smeared on a stone, remove it with a whisk broom or soft-bristle brush after the mortar has begun to dry. Never use a wire brush or a wet brush of any kind.


Use wide-mouth nippers or a mason’s hammer to trim and shape pieces to fit. Do your best to limit trimming so each piece retains its natural look.

You can hide cut edges that are well above or below eye level simply by rotating a stone. If an edge remains visible, use mortar to cover. Let the mortar cure for 24 hours, and then remove the 2 x 4 and stakes, taking care not to dislodge any stones.


Once the wall is covered in veneer, fill in the joints using a mortar bag and tuck-pointing mortar. Take extra care to avoid smearing the mortar. You can tint the tuck-pointing mortar to complement the veneer.

Smooth the joints with a jointing tool once the mortar is firm. Once the mortar is dry to the touch, use a dry whisk broom to remove loose mortar—water or chemicals can leave permanent stains.

Updated: 21.05.2013 — 17:25

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