The three basic rules of building a wall.

Both stonework and brickwork have many bonds; there are three basic rules of bonding.

Firstly, the masonry unit above must span all perpendicular or vertical joints.

In other words, the vertical joints in a wall should never line up.

Secondly, all cornerstones in masonry should be returned and never mitred, and last, as a general rule, no stone should ever be taller than it is wide.

But that is just for the solid materials to be bonded, what do you bond them with.

With many years in the trade, I have seen and used many different compounds and compositions.

Depending on what material you are working with, if stone (dry stone walling in particular) then, the use of soil, with large buried tie stones, compacted at each course, will solidify the wall.

When a certain material is going to be used, my next task is to carefully think of the right compound or mixture that will be suitable for that material, sometimes, and quite often, the bonding compound, and the pointing mixture, will vary, due to natural geographic location, bedrock and plant structure, sunlight and humidity, in other words all the natural elements surrounding the project, remembering that the pointing mix should never be stronger than the mass material being used, so various mixtures of different grades of sand, cement, dyes, chalk and lime mixes, ( paste`s) are used to achieve the desired affect, this may vary more in the building of dwelling structures rather than landscapes, due to the building that is being lived in needs to breath.

This in my opinion is as important as the solids.

Pebble dashing.

If you are doing your own mix of pebbles, make sure you mix enough bags of pebbles together for the whole job before starting.

You need to scratch coat blockwork and brickwork.

Try to keep the pebbles clean and dry as possible.

If your patching in a piece of pebble dashing you need to make the existing a zigzag shape so it looks better to the eye (not in a straight line).

Use plastering sand and cement mixed at a 4:1 ratio first coat, 5:1 second coat, with water proofer added, or lime, dye etc, if you want to get the back render colour to match.

Mix about the same consistency as for laying bricks.

Hose down scratch coat only if the temperature is hot, 70 degrees or more.

Render thickness between 5 and 10 mm

Render approx two square metres at a time before applying dash.

Cover the area with polythene and a long tray to collect your stones.

Then quickly and evenly flick on with a harling trowel until the whole area is covered.

So before you build, think carefully, do your homework.

© R.W.FRENCH. 2009