On this page I’m going to talk a little bit about the stone installation process, and point out a couple differences in quality stone installation and how some contractors cut corners.
First off the basic surface must be a standard scratch coat, with scratches running horizontal. If the current surface is anything but, then tar paper and lathe most likely need to be applied before the cement scratch coat.
After the scratch coat has dried for a day or more bonding agent is rolled onto the entire surface. The majority of stone companies out there do not use any bonding. Bonding is crucial in allowing the cement enough time to cure (prevents it from drying out too fast). Bonding also prevents cracks and acts as a glue. (It literally is a type of glue.) Not only do we roll bonding onto every surface, but we also add it to every bucket of premix cement. The blue color that you see in many of these photos are of the bonding layer.
After the bonding we apply another layer of cement, a skim coat. On top of the skim coat goes our final layer of mud. Again, the majority of companies do not put a skim coat layer, or a final layer of mud. Most companies put mud on the back of the rock and apply the stone directly to the scratch coat without a layer of bonding, skim coat or thick layer of mud. Our method of installation ensures that the cement has time to cure, ensures that every stone has 100% contact with wet mud, and reduces the number of cracks and stone falling off the wall.
You may have also noticed that all of the stone is laid out. Many companies work directly from the box, but this is against the recommendations of the stone fabricators. The majority of stone varies in color and shape throughout the box. By laying all of the stone out before putting it up on the wall I’m ensuring a variety of colors and shapes throughout the project. A level is used when needed, and we always take the time to step back now and then to make sure everything looks natural.
A wet saw or a grinder is used for all cuts, and every effort is made to integrate and hide all cuts. Wet saws are used for natural stone and stacked stone, to keep with the clean looking edges. A grinder is used for rough or jagged edges. All mud is mixed from bags of pre-mix material to ensure quality, consistency and color throughout the entire job.
We have multiple stories worth, and different types of scaffolding, and are able to accommodate all residential, and the majority of business sized projects. When scaffolding is required, stone is laid out on every level.
After all the stone is applied all of the edges are finished and all of the grout joints are scraped and brushed smooth. Many companies skip this step, mostly because there is not enough mud that has squished out around the stone. Our stone is always securely anchored and individually cleaned.
Finally, the majority of the stone work is done by one of three people in my company; Myself, my wife or my daughter. I’ve been doing stone work for more than 20 years and my wife and daughter have been working with me for more than a decade. You can rest assured knowing that the stone is being installed by skilled and experienced workers that strictly adhere to this quality installation process.
All the pictures represent the custom work done by Thomas Wernz, Owner of Ocala Faux Finish, LLC.