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Old 06-30-2009, 05:44 PM   #1
 
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Can someone help me with mix for manufactured stones?


I'm looking to manufacture my own stones for a retaining wall. I need them to be light weight without looking spongy, and to be able to withstand the freeze cycles here which sometimes reach as low at -15F. I will be coloring them with iron-oxide colorants and sealing after they are fully cured. I understand that without expensive tests, I can not be guaranteed any results like manufactured stone purchased from a large company. I'm just looking for a formula that could be generally "safe" mixture for me. I called my local cement plant and they only sell 1 cement-mix and aggregate and told me they have no idea what "air-entrainment" even is, which surprised me - so I figured I'd check with you guys. Is this something anyone can help me with? Any tips from any of you who have cast your own stones would be greatly appreciated as well, thank you!
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:29 PM   #2
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get a book on making concrete counter tops. You will be using the same methods and materials. Any concrete plant automatically adds air entrainments. But for what you are doing, mix your own cement. possibly invest in a small concrete vibrator since this is critical to make the pieces you want.
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Old 06-30-2009, 09:41 PM   #3
 
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Thanks for the info. Will a mix for countertops be light enough for veneer?
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:28 PM   #4
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Freeze-thaw resistance requires real technical information and background that you can not just get from a site.

First you are looking at an exposed masonry unit. Since you are looking for a light veneer and not real durability, the manufactured stone with a history are probably the best way to go. Experimenting is costly and the replacement of bad veneer is very messy and costly.

The normal guideline for concrete durability are high strength, high density and low absorption, but there are some radical differences based on real testing on actual products.

Some lightweight veneer units are great, but others melt when the sun comes out after a cold night. - That is why the major companies spend millions of $'s on a plant to produce products that work in the end.

If you want cheap and light, just use some sand, vermiculite (or perlite), cement, plasticizers and vibration (vibrators or a vibrating table) for consolidation. - Do not mix too much or the aggregate will disintegrate.

In the end, it is never cheaper to make units yourself if you consider buying more material than you need, transportation materials, and the inevitable mistakes and trial runs. - You will never buy or handle material cheaper than a manufacturer, but some people think they can do it better and a manufacturer should not make a profit because of efficiency and technology.

You will never find the technology on a web site because it is a real value and changes frequently if you can understand it.

Making exposed veneer units yourself is much more costly than trying to buy bags of pre-proportioned concrete mix and then transporting and mixing them to build a patio or a driveway. - Only in the U.S. are people that silly.
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Old 07-01-2009, 12:28 AM   #5
 
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Concretemasonry, I am looking for a light-weight finished stone, but not at the cost of durability. I guess a happy medium between the two. I know my own rock will not match the quality of the big guys, but the company I'm thinking of buying the mold from says they have over 100 customers that have been making their own stones commercially for over 8 years with very little problem. In fact they only sell to commercial manufacturers (minimum order is 100 sq ft worth of mold) but I was able to talk her into selling me a few used molds for this project. Maybe that's a lie and just a marketing trick and I should ask for some contact info to verify that her customers are actually in fact producing and commercially reselling stone that easily. Nevertheless, your post is making me reconsider the idea altogether. The project is not large, a small retaining wall - so on the other hand if the stone does not work out it would not be a major job to redo with professional grade veneer. Thank you for the information, I appreciate your input.
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