Install Stone Veneer

Rock on! Add stone to your walls, fireplaces, and more.

-Welcome to the Do-It-Yourself video, how to install a stone veneer. I'm Kelly Rollings, editor of Do-It-Yourself Magazine and Stone veneer looks like real stone. When you touch it, it feels like real stone, but the product has special characteristics that make is especially DIY friendly. First, it is lightweight. As little as 1/4 of the weight of full-thickness stone. That lightweight makes it less tiring to all hull to worksite and install. The lightweight also means that you can install it on nonloadbearing walls. Second, you don't need special tools to install this product. Preformed trim and corner pieces give you a finished look with very little need for cutting, and third, it comes in a terrific variety of sizes, colors, and textures to suite any architecture. You can make a dramatic transformation with this product. On wallboard, you'll need to put up a moisture-resistant barrier. We used building paper. Use a hammer stapler to attach the paper to the wall. You can operate this kind of stapler with one hand. Just swing it firmly at the wall. There are other prep steps for exterior applications, so please read the manufacturer instructions if you are going to use stone veneer outside. Cover the paper with metal mesh overlapping the seams by 2 to 4 inches. Hammering curved fence staples or curved roofing nails at 6-inch intervals. It takes a little practice to drive in the curved nails, so do not be surprised if the first few go fine, which is a good reminder to wear your safety glasses, and then just pound away. A scratch coat helps the stones mortar adhere to the wall surface. Spread a 0.5-inch thick-coat of mortar over the mesh using a wide plaster trowel. You create texture by pushing the mortar in different directions with the trowel. Use the edge of the trowel or a scratcher to rough up or scratch the surface. Let it dry. Snap chalk lanes across the dry scratch coat to act as guides. This will help the stone march across your wall in orderly rose and prevent the wall from looking like it is lurching to one side. Spread mortar about 0.5-inch thick on the back of each stone one at a time. The mortar must cover the entire back surface of the stone to firmly anchor it. Back-buttering works best for beginners because you can work at your own pace once stone at a time. As you increase your speed and expertise, you can spread a 0.5-inch thick layer of mortar over a 5-foot square area and press the stones into the mortar bed. Apply the larger stones from the top down making sure to maintain a consistent joint size between neighboring stones. Working from the top down helps you avoid splashing mortar on the stones below. Then press the stone into place. Push the stone down firmly into the mortar and wiggle it slightly to set the bond. Once all the large stones are set, you are ready for the smaller pieces to fill in the gaps. If needed, use an angle grinding with a diamond blade to cut the smaller stones to fit. As you position the small stones, back-butter each one and press it into place. Make sure to maintain a consistent grout width and place the cut edges facing away from eye level. Fill the grout bag, which is kind of like a pastry bag used to pipe icing on a cake with mortar. You can color the mortar with iron oxide if you like so that it more closely blends in with the stones. Use a smoothing tool to smooth the joints. This eliminates air bubbles and gives the joints a finished appearance. After the mortar has dried, use a stiff-bristled brush to flick away extra pieces of mortar, and there you have it, a beautiful stone veneer wall that you did yourself.