We, as home owners, are always searching for ways to increase the value of our house, improve the beauty and detail without compromising safety and privacy. It can be as dramatic as putting an addition on the house or renovating the basement to installing a new roof. It could be a less dramatic event even, that doesn’t sacrifice importance such as improved landscape or irrigation by adding a fence or erecting a nice and diverse stone wall. Stone walls not only add to the beauty and sophistication of your home but offer privacy, protection, unique border arrangement and increase the value of your home as well.
Before getting started with the project of designing and erecting a stone wall, a plan of action should be devised as well as research the various styles of stone wall that can be employed. It can simply be a row of stones, either erected dry or with mortar, to a luxurious build while getting creative with various textures and colored stones with different elevations and designs within the wall itself. The sky is the limit based on your personal preference, check book and complexity of the wall.
Again, you are going to want to create a game plan to ensure that things run smoothly through the grand scheme of things. You will want to develop a checklist of the tools and supplies you will need. The type of stone is also critical and will need to be given alot of consideration since you will be looking at this wall for a long period of time so it must be made with the proper stone that will compliment your house. Texture, color, size, type and shape of the stone all have an impact on the finished product so you don’t want to skimp here.
Once you have established a game plan, strategy and have collected all the necessary tools and supplies for the job, you are ready to get started. The first thing you will need to decide is whether or not you want to build a dry wall or secure the wall with mortar. This is very important because for those that live in the north country where it gets below freezing, frost will force the stones to shift from time to time. This process could damage the wall if you use mortar, unless you start the wall below the frost line!
OK, the next thing you are going to do is set up grade stakes and string out the inside line of the wall as this is the most important. From there you can string out the outside wall as well. Next will be the removal of the grass, dirt or other earthen material from where the wall will reside. Removal of roughly 8 inches of material should suffice for a good foundation to be achieved. Placing some sand or screenings on the ground where the wall will be erected will help to create level ground for the stones to be placed.
The next step is to start at a corner and work from there. For the corners, you are going to want to select stones that have a 90 degree angle to create the corner of the wall. Start off with larger rocks to help create the most stable and secure wall, incorporating an interlocking and jigsaw puzzle approach to stacking and positioning the rocks to ensure stability and strength. Stacking the stones one layer at a time with interlocking stones so that you don’t have two seems above each other at the same place is ideal. This process is called the one over two and two over one process and is effective for strength and appearance as well. Placing small stones to fill in gaps and holes with the periodic placement of larger stone lengthwise across the wall will also help with the strength of the wall. This process is called “Batter” or “set back” and will help strengthen the wall which is so critical. Often times the use of a chisel or hammer will help out immensely in creating a level stone or trying to accomplish a nice fit within the wall itself. Don’t be afraid to use extra screenings to fill in voids or level out rocks either as they produce a nice and easy way of accomplishing this feat.
One you have erected the wall to the height you desire you will want to top off the wall with large stones, known as “cap stones” to offer weight at the top for stability and added strength.
If you are creative and are looking for some ooommpf from your wall, you add some lighting to the wall using rod iron or other form of lighting material to make the wall stand out and accent the house. A gate can also be added to add to the value and beauty or creating a pillar approach to the top of the wall to add some variety and uniqueness to the flat wall style that is often associated with stone walls.
A wall can really be a nice focal point and add to the value of your property as well, it can be done rather easily and you don’t have to break the bank to accomplish this feat either.
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