Natural stone is one of the most beautiful building materials used in construction today. One of the challenges in stone work is making sure that the stone is properly mortared together and tied back into a wall, while at the same time having sufficient space behind it for proper drainage and drying of moisture build up. Well, there is a technique that is not often used because of it’s difficulty called a groutless finish or dry-stack finish. This technique puts a new spin on the elegance of stone, with a rustic look of being stacked on top of each other with no other support.
Typical Stone Wall Construction
Normally, stone is stocked with mortar between every joint that pushes out to the face of the stone. The stone is supported by a brick ledge and tied back to the framing of the wall with metal wall ties. This allows a 1 inch plus gap between the brick and the sheathing to allow for proper drainage and drying.
Groutless Stone Wall Construction
While most of the construction of the stone wall remains the same, the big difference in wall construction is the amount of wall ties that are used to support the stones on the wall. Since there is significantly less mortar holding the pieces together, there needs to be added support somewhere along the line and the wall ties take care of this issue. The mortar is applied only to the back edge of the stone as it is laid in place. Bit of rock or shims are used to hold the stone in place as the mortar drys, but remains not visible from the face of the stone. This type of construction makes the stone appear to be dry-stacked, even though it is supported by wall ties and mortar.
This type of wall construction is not recommended for climates where the stone is exposed to freezing temperatures as water will work its way between the gaps in the stone and freeze, causing the stones to be loosened from he mortar. This application is best in an indoor setting, but can be used on the exterior is southern climates that are dryer such as Arizona, New Mexico, and Parts of California.
Groutless stone walls are a great way to add character to a fireplace wall or create a cool back drop for a focal wall in a home. What ever the reason you decide to use this type of wall design, you will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the stone for years to come.