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EricW 10-21-2006 04:11 AM

HELP! Question about Eldorado Stone

My wife and I have a tall brick wall in our backyard that we would like to dress up with 4 vertical columns covered by Eldorado Stone, each column would be about 20" wide, and each protruding from the wall about 4" deep (or so). The height of the wall is approx 10 feet.

Anyway, we've interviewed 2 contractors and each has a different opinion as to how the job should be done.

CONTRACTOR #1 SAID: "Well, since you don't want it to be very deep, I can simply use thinset to affix a column of 2" caps to the wall and then cover it with the Eldorado stone."

CONTRACTOR #2 SAID: "Well, we can take regular bricks, like those that make up the wall... cut them in half... and we'd use rebar, and also dowel the bricks to the wall... and then top with Eldorado stone."

My question is: Is the rebar and doweling really necessary for a column only a total of 4" deep (including the Eldorado stone)? And, re: contractor #1, is thinset strong enough to hold the caps to the wall and also support the weight of the Eldorado stone as well?

Both are licensed masons.

Finally, can someone please give me an idea of how to top the columns? By HOA rules, I cannot go taller than the wall is now. The top of the existing wall is finished with 2" caps with rounded sides.. same color as the brick. I can't figure out how to make the columns look finished without some kind of column cap... but how do you do it with the existing cap already on the top of the wall (which I cannot remove)?? I thought to perhaps cut a column cap in half and simply put it on the top, but it seems that it might look pretty silly with another cap behind it? It's hard to visualize, so I'm sot sure if this is a viable (or smart!) solution.

Thanks so much for your help. All feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated! <HANDSHAKE>


clasact 10-22-2006 06:11 AM

why caint the caps be removed ??????

concretemasonry 10-22-2006 09:14 AM

HELP! Question about Eldorado Stone
Is the wall really brick or is it concrete block? 10' is a little high for brick unless it is quite thick.

I assume you have something to to support the column since 10' of 4" thick masonry gets heavy and could be beyond the abilities of thinset. The suitability of thinset also depends on your climate and location (seismic?).

Just because they are licensed masons doen not mean it is right. It is really quite easy the get any type of any license if you have some experience.

If you can get column caps to cut, that would be the best route.

A picture would help to understand the whole situation.


EricW 10-23-2006 05:21 AM

These photos should help!
2 Attachment(s)
Thank you for your reply.

I live in Palm Springs, CA.

Correct.. the wall is block, not brick. Thanks for clarifying.

The one mason did not mention any support for the columns... only using the thinset and sounded confident it would work. The other spoke of using rebar and doweling the columns to the block wall.

<< If you can get column caps to cut, that would be the best route.>>

Do you mean to use to create the column, or to use as a column cap placed in front of the cap that's now there?

I will attach a photo of a wall that I saw that has the columnar look I like... perhaps it will clarify. I'm also attaching a photo of the block wall in question.

Please let me know if this helps.

Thank you!

EricW 10-23-2006 05:26 AM

Cap stone...
Well, in looking at the photo I attached, I noticed that they used the cap stones on the wall as the cap stone for the column.. in other words, they used no capstone for the column itself. I didnt realize this. However the capstones on the wall in this photo are darker than the blockwall, so it works better than mine would. I could color the capstones on my side of the wall, of course.

In any event, that sort of solves the capstone part of the challenge.

The other... how to affix... remains.

Please let me know if the photos help.

Thank you very much!

concretemasonry 10-23-2006 08:23 AM

You have "slump block" walls, probably made by either Orco, Angelus Block or RCP. They are periodically reinforced with vertical steel rods and have buried spread footings for seismic/wind stability. There should be a relatively shallow footing you might be able set the veneer on that could be found by digging or driving a steel rod.

Since you have an example on the street or public side of you development, you can contact the city to find out what the standard detail for the column and method of support for the manufactured stone is. This would be the best method, but it may be designed for new construction and not an addition. If you are applying the column to a wall that is a outer privacy wall, you may have to comply with any city requirements (public property?). If iy is an interior development wall the city may or may not have control over the construction.

Manufactured stone normally is often installed using thinset for the one layer. Your new column would consist of thinset, a 2" normal weight solid concrete block, thinset and then the manufactured stone.

Adding the extra 2" of solid concrete and another layer of thinset increases the weight, amount of eccentricity and the tendancy to "peel off" with a seismic event or the winds off the desert. The second contractor recognized this and opted for a more positive method of attachement.

I would personally prefer something more positive than thinset considering the minor extra cost. A footing under the column veneer or some attachedment would be a positive attachment. Short pieces of rebar or even wall ties in conjuction with the thinset would be reasonable. The rods or ties would eliminate any excavation.

You may find that the city requirements control all privacy walls. In California, there is always the fear of an earthquake that could quickly cause a high wall to tip on someone near it. The extra weight and eccentricity decrease the seismic stabilty.

There are many examples of walls turned into sidewalks during earthquakes, so the is more concern in California, where it has happened. - Still better than one of the wood fences that rots and burns if even allowed.


EricW 10-24-2006 02:26 PM

Thank you!
Thank you for your very thorough reply.

OK, it is clear to me now that I should use some kind of reinforcement.

Could you please tell me what "Wall ties" are exactly?

Also, I had an idea to reduce the weight and possibly eliminate the need for added reinforcement. How about if the 2" block used was ANOTHER Eldorado stone instead of a heavier "real" block? They make flat end caps which might work. Would this eliminate the need for reinforcement because it would be that much lighter?

Thanks so much for sharing your expertise.


concretemasonry 10-24-2006 03:02 PM

HELP! Question about Eldorado Stone
The wall ties are normally used to attach 4" brick to the wood frame portion of a house. It holds it to the house while something supports the weight. They are corrugated, galvanized 1" wide strips that are nailed to the wall. They are not designed to carry the vertical weight of the brick. Your masons would be familiar with them.

A double layer of manufactured stone would not be that much lighter than one layer of stone and one layer of 2" block since you still have the same heavy mortar/grout. the fact that you are adding 4" to the existing wall instead of just the typical 2" makes it more possible for the column to pull away from the wall. You just moved the weight further from the wall face.


Tscarborough 10-24-2006 04:24 PM

If it were me, I would simply nail lath to the wall, mud a scratch coat, then thinset flat Eldo stone. That will give you a 2" pilaster and will not have much effect on the stability of the wall. You could then use sill units for a "cap".

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