DIY Garden Stone Edging

Do you want to give your garden a formal appearance? Do you want to have a flower bed that is of quality? If your answers to these questions were ‘yes’, then you should consider installing a stone edging. Having one installed will give your garden a natural finish. It also provides a natural barrier around your garden which helps keep mulch in place. Mowing will also be made easier with a stone edging as the flower beds are protected so the mow can go around the garden without worrying about destroying the flower beds. If you are ready to have one done, here are the steps:

Step #1: Plan. It is important that you plan before you start working on your stone edging. Use a rope to mark the place where the stones should be laid. After you have laid down the rope markers, step back and see the outline. Decide whether you are satisfied with how the product would look like when the edging is done.

Step #2: Chalk It. After laying down the rope borders, grab a chalk to mark the lines. Once this is done, you can remove the rope, or you can do so as soon as you finish one line. After chalking the entire area, measure the perimeter around the garden area. You will need this when you decide the size and kind of stone you will need for the project.

Step #3: Pick Your Stone.  The third step is choosing the right stone edging for your garden. Find a stone that best suits your style. Before you go to the shop, make sure that you have the measurement you took in the previous step. With the size of your preferred stone, you will be able to determine the number of stones you need for the project. When you have determined the number of stones needed, make sure to add a couple of pieces.

Step #4: Prepare Your Garden. The next step you need to take is to prepare your garden. This can be done by digging out a trench where the stone will be placed. The depth of this trench should be as deep as the stone edging and should be wide enough for the stone to fit. When digging out the trench, make sure that the bottom is as level as possible. This will give you a leveled stone edging when done.

Step #5: Gravel. Once the trench has been dug out, you can then pour gravel over it. An inch of gravel over the trench should be enough. This will help give your stone edging a solid foundation. Before you put in the stones, make sure that the layer of gravel is leveled.

Step #6: Placing the Stone. Piece by piece, place the stone edging on top of the gravel foundation. Because you have added one inch of gravel foundation, your stone edging should be one inch above the ground. This will give your garden bed the protection it needs and the natural barrier around it. When placing the stone edging, make sure that you do it one piece at a time. This will help make sure that the pieces are leveled. You can continue doing so until the edging is done. Make the first stone edging piece as your point of reference as you continue to build stone walls around your garden and flower beds.

With these easy steps, it should be possible to give your garden a more formal look. Building a stone edging around your flower beds will help increase the quality of your garden and increase its aesthetic value.

How To Budget For Your Outdoor Kitchen Project

Before you start constructing and planning for your outdoor kitchen, it is important that you go through budgeting. With a set budget, it will be easy for you to work around it. If budget is not a problem, then you can start planning for your outdoor kitchen in terms of materials and tool to use.

With an unlimited budget, you can spend whatever you want on your outdoor kitchen. But for budget-conscious homeowners, you can spend from $500 to start your outdoor kitchen plan and maybe spend up to $25000 for an outdoor kitchen with a side cart, entertainment zone, stone countertops, built-in appliances, and outfitted cooking. Your imagination and budget is your only limit. A lot of homeowners find their perfect outdoor kitchen somewhere in between the two extremes.

To start your own budgeting, here are the things that you need to think about:

Your Location

Where you live should also help you determine your budget. If you live in a place that is mostly cold, then you’re probably only going to use your outdoor kitchen three or four months of the year. But if you live in a sunny state, you will be able to use your kitchen all year round. How often you use your kitchen should tell you how much you will be spending on your outdoor kitchen.

Set Your Priorities Straight

Are you going to use your outdoor kitchen for grilling burgers and hot dogs? Will you do more than just grill those? Spending on a super-sized grill with dual fuel, side burners, rotisserie, and infrared searing zones will be too much if you only use your outdoor kitchen to do minimal grilling. You will be spending more on the things that you don’t really need. Make sure that you prioritize your budget on the things that you need, rather than what you want. Set your priorities.

What Others Are Doing

Doing what others are doing in your neighborhood will increase the value of your home when it comes to reselling it. This will also help if you are planning to apply for a mortgage loan. Doing what your neighbors are doing does not mean that you are copying them. It is all about protecting your investment and increasing the value of your home in the process. Your outdoor kitchen should not be the only one that is mid-range or the most expensive. You have to stay at par with others.

Factor-In Tax Increase

If building your outdoor kitchen requires building permits and other papers, then it is more likely that the value of your home will be reassessed in the process. This means that your property tax will also increase along the way.

Once you have considered all these factors, then you will be able to start with your plan and budgeting. Enjoy the process and enjoy your new kitchen.

DIY: 6 Steps To Repair Your Stone Wall

Most of the time, masons don’t give time shaping a stone to replace one that is broken or damaged. Instead, they rely on coloring agents and patching compounds to remedy the situation. However, doing so will result in a patchy and mismatched stone wall. It is for this reason that some homeowners tend to lean towards repairing the stonewalls themselves. If you are one of the many who wishes to go the DIY-route, here are the steps that you can follow:

Step 1: Check The Damage

This part of the process is a matter of judgment. You don’t necessarily have to repair every stone on your wall when it comes to repair. Determining which portion of your wall needs repair will help you cut down your repair cost. Thus, it is an essential process that you check and assess the damage on your wall. If it is not necessary to remove a slab of stone off your wall to repair it, then don’t do it. You can just remove the damaged portion and fit the space with a new piece. If a stonewall is not too damaged, then better leave it alone.

Step 2: Look For A Match

Once you have assessed the damage that needs to be repaired on your stonewall, it is time to find a matching stone to replace any damage. You can find replacement stones in quarry sites. But before you do this, make sure that you ask permission to collect some stone samples to replace your stone wall. If you cannot find a matching stone for your wall, you can visit architectural salvages sites or stores where you can find an array of raw stone blocks to replace your damaged wall.

Step 3: Remove Damaged Stone(s)

To remove any damage stone, you can use a circular saw. In the absence of a circular saw, you can use an angle grinder with a diamond blade to cut the stone with ease. Do not use the same equipment to remove the mortar joint. Instead, you can use a tooth chisel. Saw a horizontal outline on the face of the stone that you want to repair. With the use of flat-blade chisel and a hammer, split the piece off the stone. Continue this process until you are able to cut back at least 4 inches of the stone (maximum of 6 inches). You can clean the surface using a point chisel. This will help give you a clean cavity that is ready for a new replacement. Make sure that the space you create is angled at 90 degrees. This will make fitting a new stone easier.

Step 4: Cut And Fit A New Stone

You can use a diamond-blad saw and a grinder for this process. When cutting a new stone, make sure that you leave space for the mortar. To achieve a 5-inch deep cut, you can use a partner saw. Alternatively, you can also use a circular saw. You can cut on one surface up to a depth of 2 ¼ inches, and the remaining depth from the other side of the stone. If your stone wall has a flat surface, providing a buffer on your stone will not be necessary. However, if your stone wall is ragged, then you may need to provide a buffer so you can chisel the face of the stone to achieve a uniformed look.

Step 5: Work On The Surface

Once you have fitted the new stone, the next thing you need to do is to achieve the same look for your wall. Determine which type of surface you have on your stone wall. The work needed to be done would depend on the type of surface you have. You will either have a split-face surface, a margined split-face surface, a pointed surface, or a tooth-chiseled surface. The surface of your stone replacement can be made to look like the existing stones using a chisel and flat blade. It is recommended that you practice on extra slabs of stones rather than doing it directly on the replacement stone.

Step 6: Set The New Stones

Once you are able to achieve the desired surface of your new stone, then you would be ready to set it on the wall. You can use a mortar to do this. However, you should also make sure that you are able to mimic the original mortar to keep everything looking uniformed. Before you apply the mortar on the wall, make sure that everything is damp. This will make the mortar cure slowly but surely. In case of adjustments, you can use a wood shim to do this. Once everything is in place, you can leave the new replacement to dry. You can remove excess mortar a few hours after the installation.

5 Different Types Of Home Stone Sidings

One of the many things that you can do to give your house a different look texture is by installing stone sidings. However, deciding what type of stone should be used to do achieve a specific effect and transformation to your home should not be taken lightly. This means that you have to familiarize yourself with the different types of stone sidings that you can use to give your home a unique feel and look. With that in mind, here are the different types of stone sidings that you can choose from:

  1. Solid Stone Siding. This type of stone siding has been used for hundreds of years. The reason for this is because it offers great durability. It also offers a unique natural look for the house. It is for this reason that these types of stone siding are now commercially being produced. The only drawback of this stone is that it is on the heavier side. The amount of work needed to harvest them has inspired different stone siding innovations, which leads to manufactured stone sidings.
  1. Manufactured Stone Siding. Two of the required features of an alternative to the natural occurring stones are its durability and its looks. Does it look natural? Can it last for a very long time? The good news is, manufactured stone sidings have these features, and then some. One good reason why this type of stone is popular is the fact that it weighs less than its natural counterpart. It can be installed the same way as the solid stone siding, but it weighs less and it costs less.
  1. Polyurethane-based Foam Panel. This type of stone siding is also known as faux stone panel siding. This is made with polyurethane, which makes this type of siding very lightweight. Installation of this type of siding is pretty straightforward. It does not require to be installed stone-by-stone as it comes in a panel. In terms of appearance, a person will only know that the panel is not made of real stone when a person touches it. It still looks like a natural stone, only made lighter. And just like the other two materials, it is also made to last and withstand different weather conditions. 
  1. Natural Stone Cladding. Natural stone cladding also offers a natural look for your homes. This type of stones is cut from a bigger stone slab. This is popularly made out of granite slabs. Granite slabs are naturally resistant to cracking, and it is for this reason that most of the natural stone cladding is made of granite. The surface of this stone material is seen as ragged and irregular, which is also seen in traditional masonry. However, the bottom side of this stone is smooth, which makes it easy to place against a flat surface. The installation of this stone siding is done in a staggered pattern, which can also be found in brick walls.
  1. Stone Veneer Panel Siding. This type of stone siding can be said to be the combination of all other types of stone sidings. This is made out of real stones, which are designed to seamlessly fit together like a puzzle piece. You will still get the benefits of having real stones in terms of durability and look. But, the installation is an easy process. Because they come in panels, you can install this material like the polyurethane foam panel – one big panel at a time. You get the ease of installation plus the natural effect of real stones in one.

Giving your home a unique look has never been this easy. From one solid stone cladding comes four other varieties of stone sidings. Thanks to innovation!

Fireplace Cleaning Tips

In the previous article, you have read about the things you need to consider when constructing a fireplace in your own backyard. This article is a continuation of the last one. Here, you will learn how to properly maintain and clean your fireplace after you have used it. This is very applicable to all homeowners now, especially when the winter season is almost over.

Wood-Burning Fireplace

  • Wood. The type of cleaning that is required for this type of chimney depends on the kind of wood that you use to heat up the fireplace. It is for this reason that burning well-seasoned firewood is recommended to avoid dangerous and dirty creosote. Creosote buildup can lead to chimney fires, which is something that you don’t want to have for your home or backyard.
  • Removing Ash. If you are burning wood in your fireplace, then it is right to expect ashes in it after using the fireplace. However, you don’t need to remove the ashes from the fireplace every time you use it. You only need to do this when the ashes have become smelly or if it is obstructing fire from building. When this happens, you only need a shovel to have them remove. A small one would do. Put the ashes in a trash bag and dispose of the bag properly. If you see remaining ashes around the hearth and through the metal floor of your firebox, you can remove them by using a vacuum. Just a heads-up! You can remove the ashes from your fireplace three days after you have used the fireplace as the ashes may still contain burning charcoal or wood from the last time you used it. Hot charcoal and burning wood can start a fire, especially when you dump it in a bin full of light materials.
  • Soot and Smoke. When using your fireplace, make sure that the flue damper is open so smoke can freely go out of the chimney and that soot will not start to build-up. However, if you see soot around your fireplace, you can clean the soot out of the fireplace by using a masonry cleaner. Wear gloves and use a stiff brush when doing this. If you have glass doors for your fireplace, you can clean them using a standard window cleaner or any cleaner of your choice.
  • Professional Cleaning. If you don’t have the time to clean your fireplace on your own, it is always best to contact the professionals to do it. Burning the driest wood available will still form creosote, which could eventually start a fireplace fire as they are flammable. To stay on the safe side, always hire a professional whenever you are not able to maintain and clean your fireplace yourself.


Gas-Burning Fireplace

Gas-burning fireplaces do not require as much maintenance as the wood-burning fireplaces. However, it does not mean that you don’t have to take care of it at all. Whenever possible, remove and clean the glass doors of your fireplace. Use cleaners that do not have ammonia as this is flammable. You can also use a homemade vinegar solution to clean your glass doors. Also, make it a habit to check your gas logs. See if it is in the proper position and is functioning well.

outdoor fireplace

5 Things To Consider For An Outdoor Fireplace

There is a rise in popularity for outdoor fireplaces in the last few years. It is a breathtaking addition to your home, and it will give your backyard a different look. It does not only increase your backyards aesthetic appeal but it is also functional. However, before you jump the gun and call your contractor to have this installed, here are some things that you need to do.

  • Purpose. The first thing that you need to do is determine the purpose of having one installed. For what purpose would you want your outdoor fireplace to serve? Do you want it to set the ambiance of your backyard? Or do you want to have it built so it becomes a pizza oven or a barbecue place? Ambiance or functionality? Answer these questions because it will guide you along the way. You also have to decide if you want your fireplace to complement your already stunning backyard or to make it your backyard’s the focal point.
  • The Design. The next thing you need to do is consider the design of your hearth. A lot of homeowners want their outdoor fireplaces to match the architecture of their homes. If you want this, you should consider using the same type of stonework for your fireplace. Bricks do offer a traditional feel and look to outdoor fireplaces. While stacked stones are more contemporary than the latter.
  • The Size. When designing a fireplace, it is important that you have proportions in mind. You don’t want your fireplace to overshadow the entirety of your house. It is also fatal if you design your fireplace to be too small in comparison to your home. Thus, keep proportions in mind when designing.
  • Wood or Gas. Most outdoor fireplaces are either fueled by wood or gas. Decide which one you want. Each type does offer their own advantages. Fireplaces fueled by wood offers a more natural look. It also offers the wood-burning smell that other fuels cannot match. However, wood-burning fireplaces will produce smoke. This means that you will have to build a chimney along with your fireplace to direct the smoke up and not all over the backyard. On the other hand, fireplaces fueled by gas offers no ashes or embers after using it. It also does not require a chimney and will not usually require a building permit. But, they don’t burn as hot as fireplaces fueled by wood. It may also take some safety precautions when connecting the hearth to the main gas line.
  • Building Permit. If you have decided to go ahead with a wood-burning fireplace, then you must obtain the necessary papers to have one constructed in your backyard. You don’t want to be interrupted in the middle of construction because you don’t have a permit. You also don’t want to be penalized because of this. However, you should also check if you have to obtain a permit to have a fireplace installed even if it is fueled by gas. It is always better to be ready than to end up being sorry in the end. Once your fireplace is done, you have to inform whatever office you need to inform to have it checked before you can start using it.

Once you have all these things done, you can start creating the physical design of your fireplace and then contact your contractor. But if you have the skills needed to have this done on your own, then you can start as soon as everything is in place.

backyard stone wall

How to Improve Your Yard by Building A Stone Wall

Do you want to give your yard a different look? Do you want to make it look fresh? Maybe it is time to consider installing a stone wall in your yard. Adding one would give your yard a different look and feel in an instant. However, before diving into the project, here are some tips you need to remember when planning your stone wall.

Location! Location! Location! The first thing that you need to decide when planning your first yard stone wall is where to install it. Do you want to install it in your backyard? Do you want to have it built around your garden? It is recommended that the location of your stone wall would serve two purposes and not just for aesthetic reasons. You can build a stone wall to border your garden or to serve as a patio wall. Either way, it is always economical and wise to build a stone wall that serves not just one, but two purposes.

Aesthetically Appealing Stones. Once you have decided on where to build your stone wall, it is now time to decide the kind of stones that you will need. For low walls, cast-concrete blocks would be appropriate. For taller walls, it is recommended to opt for cast-concrete retaining walls, which are more sturdy than the latter. You also have the option to use round field stones, stone pallets, or stone veneers. Depending on how you want your stone wall to look and how you want it, there are a lot of stone varieties that you can choose from. If at this point you still don’t know which type fits your stone wall plan, you can always talk to someone that specializes on stone walls. Or you can ask for suggestions from the place that you would be buying the stones from. Oftentimes, they would know which one is best for a specific project.

Mortared Joints. Stone walls that are mortared are sure to last for many years. The reason why is that the mortar makes the stone wall more sturdy and strong. This may be one of the best options you can do when planning your stone wall, to have it mortared. If you are not sure on how to do it, you can always read DIY tutorials on the web, or ask help from someone who has experience doing it.

Stone-Veneer Panels on Plain Walls. If you already have a wall standing in your yard, you might want to consider adding stone veneer panels on it. You can easily plaster the stones on the wall with the use of mortar. This will ensure that your stone panels will not fall off. Installing stone-veneer panels on your already existing wall will surely give your yard a different look without investing on heavy lifting.

There are so many ways that you can improve the look of your yard. You can also install a pond, or add a gazebo, or add a patio in your yard. No matter what kind of home improvement you do, it is a must that you do your planning and research first to make sure everything is done efficiently and the right way. Know what you want because this is what will guide you along the way.



Basic Stone Building: How to Make a Dry Stone Wall

Stone building is an art that has been used for so many years. Stone structures have proven to be very sturdy, lasting the test of time, and many homes today still build them. Although building one requires the expertise and skills of a professional, any homeowner can educate themselves on the basic techniques needed to create a stone wall that is strong and good looking. Read on and learn the 5 basic techniques of building a dry stone wall.

  1. Cross the joints. Every stone has to cross a joint, meaning it is set with two stones under it. Never stack the stones in a way that there are vertical joints from one course to the next, or you will be left with a weak wall.
  2. Set the stone length to the wall. Make sure that the end of every stone is visible in the final wall so that each stone’s length is perpendicular to the wall’s direction. Think of the way firewood is stacked, with every piece perpendicular to the stack’s direction so all its ends are visible in one side. This is a very common mistake and is a top reason why stone walls collapse.
  3. Tighten the wall. To ensure that the wall is as solid as possible, fill the gaps inside the wall with smaller stones. Do not use soil or concrete, or anything that is easily shoveled. Pick smaller stones that are angular or flat, and not rounded as they can act like ball bearings. Place these stones one by one, and not dumped all together.
  4. Build with the wall plane. Align the stones in a way that there is an even place facing the wall. Use string lines to ensure that the wall is place to the wall, with the outer bump of every stone in line. This will give the wall a smooth and even look.
  5. Level the stones. Build a wall with level stones and courses. There are special cases where this rule can be disregarded, but typical walls should follow this technique, particularly when building on sloping ground.

Dry stone walling can pose a challenge to property owners with its seemingly complex methods; but by following the techniques above, you just might be able to create one. But if you are still not confident with your skills, perhaps you are better of hiring the services of a professional. Call a reputable one in your area now and give your property the ample protection that it needs.

Some Excellent Tips Before You Employ A Mason

A mason is an experienced craftsman who works with brick, concrete and rock. These are essential for all sorts of new construction as well as repair works ranging from making a fireplace to setting up a wall surface or laying floor covering. Anywhere you will use brick, rock, or concrete, a mason can assist. They will ensure the task is finished correctly, the structure is sturdy and it is aesthetically pleasing. Before hiring a mason, take into consideration the task that needs to be done and also  don’t be shy to voice out your concerns.

Know exactly what you wish to accomplish prior to asking for bids from masons. A mason can assist with design as well but you ought to have a general concept of what you want done prior to asking for bids. The mason will ask particular details and examine the location where the work will be done to be able to offer you a better idea of the requirements and extent of work.

Obtain referrals from buddies or examine the regional directory sites to discover several masons to quote on your job. Get referrals and also evaluation pictures of previous tasks to establish the ability and level of skills of the mason. This task can take more time but the end result can save you money.

When trying to find a mason, ask questions such as how long they have been practicing, the details of their previous works and the types of tasks they focus on. Ensure they are offer warranty for their services and get everything in writing. The risk for damages to your home is present so you should ensure that you are properly covered and insured.

A quote will usually be comprised of labor and materials. The labor costs will certainly consist of prep work, the real work to complete the project, as well as tidying up after work has been completed. Product prices will certainly differ depending on the materials required for the structure. A knowledgeable mason can offer you recommendations on the best products for your project and also feasible choices for budget concerns.

Work with the mason who has the best mix of experience, quality of previous works and price. Make sure you feel comfortable with the individual as they will be working closely with you and will have access to your residence. If you are not comfortable with a mason, do not employ them. Implement an agreement prior to starting the project. This must consist of detailed requirements of the job including labor and materials. It must also consist of cleaning post-project as well as a guarantee of job. Read this thoroughly to guarantee you have everything covered. The costs need to be clearly outlined and the settlement terms are included. Never pay the complete cost upfront. Reserve a portion to be paid after the completion of the job.

A skilled mason will certainly be able to work according to your specifications. They will have the ability to finish the job in a timely manner and tidy up all debris so your home is maintained and accidents are avoided. Pick a mason you really feel at ease communicating with and one that has a reputation for high quality work.

If you are having a tough time selecting a mason, check out your local stone/brick stores. Most of them have display rooms that you’ll want to see anyway to choose the stone or block you want. They will usually have company cards of masons that past customers have contracted and some display rooms will even have example walls of work done by numerous masons that you can take a look at.


A Guide to Laying Paving Stones

Preparing Your Site

Your paving stones need a well-drained, level, firm base to help ensure stability and extend the lifetime of your patio. Therefore, it is essential that you properly prepare your site.

Begin by removing all vegetation and topsoil. Dig down 200 to 250 mm across the entire area where the paving stones will be installed. Mark your patio using retaining boards or pegs. When placing these, ensure that they are at the proper height and create a drop ratio of 1:80 to ensure that all water drains away from your home. Additionally, the paving surface of the first two courses should be at least 150 mm below the damp proof course level. After you have excavated the area, level the area with a rake and compact it using a plate compactor.

After this, you will need to set up an edge restraint system around the paving area. This edging system may include existing walls and concrete edging. If you are using concrete edgings, they should be embedded 100 mm in the concrete at the required height, using a 45-degree angle. This will ensure your pavers and the sand will not move once they are laid.

Drainage gratings, underground drainage and recessed manhole covers will need to be installed now if needed. You can refer to the product’s technical information to find out installation guidance.

Backfill the area with 150 mm of crusher run and compact it to 100 mm.

Then, install a 50 mm layer of slightly dampened sharp sand. Sharp sand drains better than building sand and does not wash away as easily as building sand. The sand should be compacted using a plate compactor. Then another 20 mm layer of sharp sand should be installed. Use string lines and a straight edge to level the sand before beginning to lay out your paving stones.

Laying Paving Stones

Begin at the bottom of your slope. The block should start at a right angle or along a straight edge. Work from several packs of paving stones at a time to help ensure even distribution of your colors. This is especially important when using mixed sized stones and mixed color stones.

Place your stones on top of the laying course and ensure they are 5 mm above the desired finished level of your patio. Once all the stones have been laid, use a mechanical block splitter to cut the stones for the retaining edges and infill spaces. You should avoid using pieces that are smaller than one-third of the size of the stone. Once you have completely laid the patio, you will ned to sweep the area and then compact it using a plate compactor. Run the plate compactor over the area two to three times.

Jointing the Paving Stones

When it comes to jointing your patio, it should be done during a dry period. To joint your patio, apply kiln dried sand to the paved area and brush into the joints using a soft brush, ensuring that each joint is fully filled.

Run a plate compactor over the area to help push the sand down into the joints. After you do this, inspect the area and check for gaps in the joints. If there are any gaps, fill the gaps with more kiln dried sand and compact again. During the next few months, you may need to add and compact more sand into the joints.