Monday, September 15, 2014

Putting "Stone" on the Porch Columns

I wanted stone columns for the porch, but my dad said that the current foundation was not a masonry foundation and could not support stone.  I did not want to redo the porch foundation so I looked into fake stone options.  We ended up using a fake stone made of concrete that is sold at Menards.

Once we finally got to this point it was very exciting.  There were so many layers on the columns before we could even start thinking about the stone (see this post).  First up we had to do yet another layer, the wire mesh which one of the most terrible things my mom & I have ever done.  It was so sharp and awkward to deal with:

And then we had to do a base layer of mortar.  It had to dry before we could start putting up stones.  Here is the base layer going on:

Once Corey knew it didn't have to be straight lines it got much easier:

And here is how I played with the stone layouts.  I wanted the layouts ready to go so we could work quickly with the mortar.  We still ended up having to change them a bit sometimes, but it was so helpful to have a solid starting point. 

It was really nice to be able to cut off the cardboard and drag the template over to the column and start laying the stone.  Here is the stone layout on cardboard:

And on the column:

Here it is grouted:

Getting the stones to stay up was tricky.  In the beginning the big stones kept falling off!  We had to learn the best technique which ended up being: gob on lots of mortar to the back of the stone, hold it in place with one hand and/or a clamp, and use the other hand to gob on more mortar around the edges of the stone to really hold the stone in place as it dried.

Once the stones were up and dried we had to grout.  We used the same mortar for the grout as well. I must note here that the mortar shreds your fingers.  We wore latex gloves which helped, but we still ended up with finger pads covered in tiny cuts. Ouch.  Corey's brothers helped with the last couple columns of grout and they know what I'm talking about.

And props to Corey for doing the most difficult column side of all time because the railing was 100% in the way of everything.  He ended up grouting it as he put up the stones on because he was already in there and going back for a second round with the grouting tool would've been so so very difficult.

Now these stone columns have been up for months and have survived many a rainstorm.  Here's to hoping they survive a winter, too.  Then I'll definitely be able to back this product.

They really finished off the columns and I'm so happy we were able to achieve this look without having to redo the foundation.


  1. That nasty sharp-edged metal lath will really hold the mortar base coat on well. I like the layouts for the stones, sketched out when it is easy to change your mind. Excellent technique. I was really curious how you did that, and how many people it took to get it done. Thanks.