Thursday, November 30, 2006
What makes a good stone mason? I often get asked by many clients about natural stone and use of it in their landscape.
Where the problems start with using natural stone is that it takes a skilled mason to work with stone. Not every landscape contractor is experienced enough to work with natural stone, yet time and again, I see mistakes being made in landscape construction due to inexperience.
Masonry work is an art... I have seen Masons lift a brick or stone, look at the space they need to fill, balance that stone in their hand and then chop it down to the size needed...only to place it in the spot like it was made for that space. A mason must know their materials and be comfortable with what they work with.
Mistakes commonly made;
-Mortar mix being the wrong consistency which can lead to the failure of the mortar to hold it's bonding ability.
-Stone walls assembled without "rock facing" unsightly saw cuts that are visible on the stone face once it is placed in the wall.
-Sloppy mortar and grout application which leads to staining of the stone surface for years to come.
-If you also noticed something in the photo posted, then you've probably guessed it, staggering stone joints so that the overlap of materials actually give more support to wall structures.
Like the example in the photo, joints that are lined up, can over time, open up and ultimately cause a wall to begin to fail. When this particular wall was built, it was a good example of a contractor selling work and not having qualified workers doing the masonry. The contractor himself is a qualified mason and sold the client on his company's ability to do the work based on past projects. It was not him that built the wall and therefore the masonry quality suffered. The client now has to look at a failing wall 4 years after it was constructed.
Check your contractor's past references....ask who will be doing your masonry work? How long have they been doing Masonry? Ask to see past projects that are at least 3 to 5 years old. Seeing how a landscape ages will tell you if that contractor is right for you!