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Old 03-26-2010, 05:27 AM   #1
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Building Column with Concrete Blocks?


I'm attempting to construct a short column with concrete blocks and need some advice. The photo I'm attaching gives you an idea of what I'm trying to accomplish - crushed stone as the base, pavers on the bottom with four courses of block and sills around the top edges. My rough calculations are approx. 32"-34" tall and 24" wide. My plan is figure out a way to attach a stone address plaque I've recently completed to the front and use stone veneer to cover the column.
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:38 AM   #2
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2nd photo


This is the stone address plaque which I need to attach to the front. It was constructed with Hardiebacker Cement Board. I need advice on what would be recommended to attach this to the column before proceeding with the stone veneer. My husband wants me to just lean it against the column but I'd really like to attach it. We're in the process of building the oak frame which will be painted black and then we'll be treating everything with Spar Varnish.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated for possible methods of attaching the plaque as well as advice for constructing the column. My husband isn't convinced my ideas will work but I'm determined to finish this project!
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:39 AM   #3
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Is the stack of block mortared together with rebar? I don't see how that's going to stay standing up. Is there a footing underneath it?

Follow this idea for doing a mailbox, and instead of a mailbox, just mortar in your tiled board. (In your case it probably would have been better to do the tile after the column was up.)

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/bui...box/index.html
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:48 PM   #4
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Those are probably not pavers but just individual non-structural patio stones and do not provide a structural base for wind, settlement and seismic. - Definitely a DIY low cost approach considering your labor is free, so you can do it right with the proper beginning.

Are you putting it far enough below the surface to resist frost heaving?

Is it tied to the foundation with rebar?

Is the stacked, unreinforced block pier strong enough for wind and seismic loads?

If not planned properly, you can end up with a heavy expensive chunk of concrete with a pretty plaque attached to it that must be replaced when it is crooked.

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Old 03-26-2010, 08:14 PM   #5
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Like others asked, what is going to keep it standing. I would substitute a 4" concrete base in place of the gravel/paver base. If you want the pavers for the look, keep the top of the concrete even with the ground elevation and set the pavers in place with mortar. Before making the base, I would take two metal fence posts (or preferrably 2" sch 40 galvanized pipe) and drive a couple of feet into the ground so that they come up the cells of the concrete blocks to almost full height, then after the blocks are set, fill the cells with mortar or concrte mix.
You can attach the plaque with either masons mortar or thinset (use epoxy thinset if you never want it to come off).
Since this is pretty permanent once the plaque is set into the stone veneer, I would use something besides oak for the trim. Either plastic(Azek or such),or aluminum tube.
I would not recommend varnishing anything exposed to this much weather, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime battle of maintenance.
Nice looking plaque!!

Last edited by troubleseeker; 03-26-2010 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 03-27-2010, 06:10 AM   #6
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More information and more questions...


Thank you so much! The suggestions you've given are extremely helpful.

Aggie67, the link you provided is great but since I'm using concrete blocks I'm skeptical about the "dry" installation method. I had searched for how-to videos without much success but your link provided me with more options and I think this DIY gal is finally on the right track!

Dick, your questions are giving me more food for thought. We're in Virginia and even though we don't have extreme weather conditions I suspect I'll just have to suck it up and do some digging to pour a footing. I was hoping a gravel base would be sufficient but the last thing I want to see is a "chunk of concrete" when the system fails!

troubleseeker - excellent suggestions! I had actually wondered about using rebar placed vertically inside the cells but we have galvanized pipe available that I could use as you suggested. My father-in-law suggested the same thing for the frame - aluminum versus oak. He was also concerned about the maintenance. Now I just need to find the right product to complete the look.

Offering a little more information and then with your help I should be off and running to get this project started soon. My plans are to use the top of one of the cells as a planter and insert a 4x4 in the right cell to attach a lantern to the top. The photo is the rough design I was working with to create the plaque. Initial plans were to fill the "planter cell" with crushed stone, leaving about a foot of free space to fill with soil.

So....from everything you've suggested, I'm thinking my revised course of action would be to dig and install the 4x4 post for the right side, install galvanized pipe for the left side and then pour the footing? With both of these vertical supports in place will it be necessary to fill the cells with concrete or will filling them with crushed rock be sufficient?

I considered laying rebar under the first course of blocks extending just far enough for additional support for the plaque once attached but maybe this isn't necessary? Will the epoxy thinset be strong enough to hold the plaque without any additional support?

Regarding the varnish, I wanted to treat the plaque with something which would enhance the colors of the stones and also hoping it would help prevent the weather from ruining the integrity of the Liquid Nails used for the design. I did use waterproof/weatherproof Liquid Nails so maybe I should just trust that the Liquid Nails will be sufficient? I don't mind having to slap a quick coat of something on this small area occasionally if necessary but if there's a better product you can suggest which would provide the polished look I'm going for and require less maintenance I'd love to know what it is!

I know I've got a lot of questions but I definitely want to take the proper steps to make this project a success.
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:01 PM   #7
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I would not bury a wooden post through the structure; sooner or later, and I promise it will be sooner than you want it to be, it will rot and you will basically have to destroy the structure to replace it. If you have a supplier for pato covers/aluminum carports near you, see how much they want for a 3 x 3 aluminum tube. You can then wrap the visible portion with wood for the desired look. If not,you can get an aluminum square fence post from Loews or HD; it will just take a little more furring out to get the thickness you want.
I would put a pipe in the planter cell also; just cut it below your anticipated dirt level and cap it so it doesn't fill with water, then pack the gravel around it.
It certainly cannot hurt to insert some type of dowel pins below the plaque to support the weight.
Is the lantern just decorative or is it an electric light? If electric, the tube will serve as a chase for the wire.
The varnish will always be peeling and need lots of work to prep for renewing the coats. I would brush on a clear quality waterproofing like Flood CWF or similar. Probably worth a phone call or e-mail to the manufacturer's service # to ask about the compatibility of the sealer with the construction adhesive. You surely don't want it to soften the adhesive.
Use some drainage filter fabric to line the soil compartment, otherwise it will wash down into the stone with each rain. You will also have to provide some type of weep holes at the base of the column to allow water to drain out, as it cannot get throught the poured concrete base.
It will take a minimal amount to fill the lantern cell with concrete, and it will help anchor the column to the base IMO.

Last edited by troubleseeker; 03-27-2010 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 03-28-2010, 06:05 AM   #8
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I'm in a hurry this morning but will be back to digest all of this and see if I still have questions. A lot to think about before I get started and I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out!
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Old 03-29-2010, 06:32 AM   #9
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Okay, wooden post is not a necessity, was going to use PT 4x4 we have kicking around and thought it would serve as an easy option for attaching the lantern and add some vertical support for that side of the structure. The lantern is decorative only, designed to hang but I liked the look for the top of the structure so I'll have to just glue it to whatever I use for attaching on top of that side of the column.

I've already considered the problem with the soil "wash out" and have ground cloth available which I planned to line the bottom of the top cell. However, that was when I was considering filling the cell with crushed stone. Which leads me into my next question....

Quote:
You will also have to provide some type of weep holes at the base of the column to allow water to drain out, as it cannot get throught the poured concrete base.
I think I understand what you mean but this would only be if I filled the cells with crushed stone, correct? If I choose to fill the cells with concrete than will it be necessary to provide "weep holes" for the top cell filled with soil? If so, maybe you could elaborate a little more on what to use to provide these "weep holes". Obviously my knowledge of this type of construction is limited and my husband often thinks my methods are "over kill" but I want to do this right the first time - I'm certainly not planning to reconstruct this project if it fails!

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!
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