We had great weather today and were able to work on our tans, which is always a plus! I made good progress in capping the wall, but we were slowed down by a feature of this project. The owner requested part of the wall rise above grade so the stonework would be visible from the driveway. The challenge here was to transition from a retaining wall to a 2-sided wall.
Today we worked on the drystone retaining wall in Daisy Ridge. Walls like this are different, and much more labor and stone intensive, than a mortared or veneer stone wall. The reason is that the wall has to be structural, as well as look good, so the stones have to tie back deeper into the backfill and be fitted much more carefully.
Yesterday we finished the chimney for http://kingfishcabin.com and our next project is a stone retaining wall in the Daisy Ridge development of Valle Crucis. The owner had a wall built from pressure treated 6X6 and it was rotten and starting to fail after 15 years. Our job is to replace the wall and build a smaller wall to stop water from flowing down a set of steps during a flood.
Establishing the footing course. We use the biggest, roughest rocks in the footing because they provide a solid base for the rest of the wall. The white fabric is a soil separator I use to keep dirt out of my gravel so water drains freely through the wall. Also we use the scrap stone from trimming as fill because it settles and moves less than gravel.
We finished up the stonework for highcountryrenovators,com yesterday; the owners said it looked fabulous, and their designer was amazed at how well we matched the style of the original masons. After capping off the wall the final challenge was to weave together the two different surfaces of the original patios and to slope the stones so that the water flows towards the arches. Unfortunately, I neglected to get a picture of the grouted and cleaned patio.
Then today we started on a chimney repair in Seven Devils. This chimney is over 30 feet tall, so one of the major challenges is to build a safe and secure scaffold and to get materials up and down.
This chimney had major issues due to an almost nonexistent cap. Water got behind the stones and froze, causing a large section to pull away and some stones to fall to the ground. The owner was very concerned about safety and theliability, as this cabin is in a rental program.
My solution for this situation is remove all the loose stones and old cap. Then I pour a new, steel reinforced 3" thick overhanging cap. This ensures that no water can get behind the stones. Then we reattach the stones using "Stonehold", and acrylic fortified type S mortar.
Coming soon: we pour the cap and reattach the stones!
After a rocky start to the week, we have made significant progress at our current job. We expanded a patio and faced the challenge of matching some existing stonework, and part of the project was to build arches to allow water to flow away from the patio. Two arches with two sides each and filled solid stone in the middle. The crew has grown with the season and now we have myself, two other masons, Josh and Tom, and a helper, Tyler.
One of our other challenges was to source the stone to match the existing. The original masons used Rich Mountain stone, which was usually collected from fields near Howard's Knob or Rich Mtn. With no source for that, I chose to use Black Regency from Blue Ridge Quarries in Marion. The stone has been tumbled, which I think helps it look more weathered. I would challenge anyone to find where the old work ends and the new begins.
Tomorrow we will cap off the wall and begin the flagstone part of the project.
Last week we started a project in Blowing Rock for High Country Renovators. The owners of the house wanted to expand a patio by tearing down two walls and rebuilding them to provide access to the patio from the front of the house.
We began by removing the existing stonework one piece at a time, being careful to separate the stone from the rubble and save them for when we rebuild the walls.
One the demolition was complete, we excavated for footings and built a form for the new section of patio, ensuring we placed lots of steel to reinforce the concrete.
Then my concrete truck arrived, we poured the 2 1/2 yards, and now we're ready for stone!
Finally got my truck back today, $1800 later. Tomorrow we have an appointment to clean up at StoneGarden guesthouse because I finished there Thursday.
I have also been busy carving, and I am having way too much fun with that (I think Im obsessed).
William Waller, owner Living Stone Masonry