San Diego County & SW Riverside Locations:
(800) 794-4727|
Installation: How to Install Stone Veneer
Installing Stone Veneer

How to Install Stone Veneer

Overview: Getting Started

Thin stone veneer is the perfect product for adding a bit of excitement and aesthetic to an ordinary wall, column, fire-place, or barbecue. This guide applies to both natural and manufactured thin stone veneer.

Required Tools

  • Brick Hammer
  • Trowels (Brick, Notched, & Flat)
  • Joint Tool
  • Grout Bag
  • Masonry Brush
  • Masonry Sponge
  • Masonry Saw (Diamond Blade)

Things to Keep in Mind While Installing

  • Keep you and your stone veneer clean during the installation process. Be sure to keep your hands clean throughout the process.
  • It is important not to allow mortar to dry on the face of the stone. Remove it prior to hardening. Wet mortar on stone will leave a filmy residue that dulls the appearance of your natural stone. Use a stiff brush and clean water immediately on your stone to remove the dull residue.
  • Place a protective material on the ground where rain or water can cause mud to splash onto your stone.
  • All stone should be applied according to local building codes. Water infiltration can result in damage caused from incorrect installation.
  • Stone should be installed at least 3" above grade level to prevent water from continually saturating behind the back of the stone and causing structural damage.

Step 1: Calculating Materials

Before you can begin the installation project, you will need to calculate the proper amount of material for your thin stone veneer project.

Calculating Stone Veneer QuantitiesHow much Stone do you Need?

Begin by figuring the square footage of the area you plan to cover with stone (length x height). If your project includes corner stones, deduct 1 square foot for each linear foot of corners that you will utilize.

Mortar Joint Size

One aspect to consider when calculating your materials is the size of the mortar joint between the pieces of stone. Most stone is packaged assuming a 1/2" mortar joint. If your joint will vary (such as a dry-stack or over grout application) adjust your estimates accordingly.

Need Help? Call and RCP Block & Brick near you and we will be happy to help estimate your material quantities.


Step 2: Surface Preparation

Preparation of the surface is a key aspect in preventing any water damage and making sure your stone veneer project remains structurally sound for the life of the installation.

Surface Type 1Surface Type 1:
Framed Exterior Wall Including Plywood Paneling, Wall Sheathing, or Flush Metal Siding.

Surface Preparation: Cover surface with a weather resistant barrier such as tar paper. Be sure to overlap joints 4" in shingle fashion. In accordance with local building codes, install metal lath on top of the weather resistant barrier using galvanized nails or screws 6" on center vertically and 16" on center horizontally, penetrating the studs a minimum of 1". Stop the metal lath 1" from finished edges. Be sure to wrap all corners overlapping the metal lath at lease 4".

Surface Type 2Surface Type 2:
Interior or Exterior Cleaned and Untreated Concrete, Masonry, or Stucco.

Surface Preparation: Stone veneer can be installed directly to these surfaces if clean and absent of any paint or debris. Be sure to inspect new concrete to insure there is no release agents (form oil) on the surface. If release agents are present, etch the surface of the concrete with etching agent. Surfaces that have been painted must be sand blasted or otherwise stripped of paint. Surface must be free of paint, dust, or dirt. If cleaning of surface is too difficult, metal lath may be affixed to the surface with concrete nails. In accordance with local building codes, install metal lath using galvanized nails or screws 6" on center vertically and 16" on center horizontally, penetrating the studs a minimum of 1". Stop metal lath 1" from finished edges. Be sure to wrap all corners, overlapping the metal lath at least 4"

Surface Type 3Surface Type 3:
Framed Interior Wall Including Plywood, Sheetrock, Green Sheetrock, or Fiber Cement Board.

Surface Preparation: In In accordance with local building codes, install metal lath using galvanized nails or screws 6" on center vertically and 16" on center horizontally, penetrating the studs a minimum of 1". Stop the metal lath 1" from finished edges. Be sure to wrap all corners overlapping the metal lath at lease 4". (It is not necessary to use expanded metal lath on fiber cement board unless required by local building codes)


Step 3: Scratch Coat

A scratch coat will be needed when metal lath is used. This step is not necessary when applying stone veneer to acleaned concrete, masonry, or stucco surface.

Scratch Coat over Wire LatheMixing the Scratch Coat

1 part Type S Masonry Cement to 2.5 parts sand. Dry mix the sand and cement together and avoid creating clumps in the mixture. Add water slowly to the mixture a little at a time, continually mixing until you have achieved the consistency of a paste or whipped potatoes. Mix a minimum of 5 minutes.

Scratch Coat Texture GroovesApplying the Scratch Coat

If a scratch coat is necessary, use a masonry trowel to apply a 1/2" to 3/4" layer
of cement over your metal lath. Cover the entire area of the lath, working the cement into the holes and scraping off any excess. Use a notched trowel to lightly rake horizontal grooves in the scratch coat while the cement is still slightly wet and allow to dry for 24 hours.



Step 4: Applying the Stone

You will be affixing the stone veneer to the scratch coat using a stone veneer mortar. Below are the steps involved.

Mixing Stone Veneer MortarMixing the Mortar

Use a pre-blended, polymer fortified Type S mortar and water. Call an RCP
Block & Brick near you for available products and tips. Mix according to manufacturer's directions.

Applying the Stone

TIP: Before applying the stone, it is a good idea to lay the stone out flat to determine the sizing and colors of each individual piece, how they will be laid
out for your project, and if any trimming is necessary. Attempt to keep joints a consistent height and width. Normally vertical and horizontal joints should be staggered to prevent long, unbroken lines that may draw the eye to a particular area.

Cutting the Stone VeneerTrimming the Stone: If cutting the stone is necessary, a Skill saw with either a dry or wet cut diamond or masonry blade will work. You may also want to use a masonry hammer to break the stone, giving it a more natural appearance. A nipper can also be used to trim small amounts off the stone.

Clean the Stone: Be certain that the surface of the s is free of dust, dirt, or any loose particles. If necessary, wash the stone completely and allow to dry.

Installing the Stone: It is recommended to install all corner pieces first before installing the field. It is also recommended to work your way from the bottom to top.

Placing the Stone VeneerUse a masonry brush to dampen the back of the stone, but do not saturate it. This prevents the stone from pulling moisture away from the mortar allowing it to dry naturally and with a stronger bond.

To lay the stone, use a masonry trowel to butter the back of the stone with 1/2" to 1" layer of mortar. Using your trowel, create a ridge around the outside back of the stone. This will create suction when putting the stone in place, which will help to hold the stone until the mortar sets up. Lay the stone against the wall, pressing and rotating slightly, forcing some of the mortar to squeeze out freely.


Step 5: Grouting & Tooling

Once the stone has been affixed to the scratch coat using mortar, the joints, or gaps between the stone, will be filled with grout.

Filling the Stone Veneer JointsFilling the Joints

Use Pre-blended Type S mortar. Using a grout bag, cut a hole approximately
1/2" in the tip of the bag (if hole is not already provided). Fill your grout bag about half full with your grout mixture. Twist the top end of the bag and squirt a small amount into a bucket to prevent air pockets. Fill all the joints between the stones with about a 1/2" layer of mortar (more or less depending on the desired effect and joint size.)

Tooling the Joints

As the grout stiffens, tool to the desired depth using a joint tool. Brush the joints with a whisk broom to smooth them out and clean away any loose mortar. Grout is ready for finishing when it crumbles away like sand when brushed. If the grout smears or falls away in large chunks, it is still too wet for brushing or striking. Finally use a soft bristled brush to sweep the dust off the stone.