How to Install Stone Veneer?

Installing stone veneer can transform an interior or exterior space, adding a splash of character and breaking up wall space with something that looks rustic and classy. The fact that stone veneer is largely inexpensive and extremely versatile is an added advantage, while its simplicity in application makes it an appealing venture for the DIY homeowner.

Stone Veneer

With that in mind, here is how you add stone veneer.

Scratch Coat

Masonry surfaces are ideal for stone veneer, so if you have a concrete or brick surface you are good to go. However, wood or other surfaces that are not masonry based need to be prepared by making a water barrier over the surface.

If you are doing an exterior stone veneer a moisture vapor barrier is recommended to give added protection against the elements. These are usually self-adhesive membranes that can be placed onto a surface and then the other side peeled off… sort of like double sided sticky tape. If inside, this barrier should only be used if you are applying the stone veneer to a non-masonry surface.

Over the moisture barrier (or on the bare masonry surface inside) you can place an 18-gauge metal lath and nail it to the surface with nails at 6-inch intervals. Over the top of the metal lath you can paste mortar, ensuring you cover all of the lath and that no metal parts are coming out and visible. The mortar surface should be smoothed and to prepare the mortar you should consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

Scrape lines into the mortar before it has dried, leaving the mortar looking like it has been scratched consistently horizontally.

Placing the Stone


Mix up another batch of mortar and if you can use the same manufacturer and mix it up the same as you did before. You are looking for a consistency that is like a thick liquid, not too wet and not too hard as a wet mortar does not hold the stones in place and a hard mortar dries too quickly, making minor adjustment impossible.

Before applying the mortar, try to visualize the placement of the stones. Measure your surface if you need to and make up a scale drawing to see where you plan stones to go and what size stones you want. Washing the stones will make them perfect to catch into the mortar, and while this step is not necessary it is widely recommended.

While installing stone veneer make the stones lightly damp so they do not draw water from the mortar and make it dry out too quickly, a simple spray bottle can help with this. Start placing the stones from the bottom corners, using a paint brush to clean away any excess mortar and twist the stones into the mortar for them to sit more firmly into the mix.

Cleaning Up

Once the stones are placed you can use a grout bag to fill in the joints and make the wall look more finished and don’t waste any time using some water and a light brush to remove any mortar from the surface of stones. If you wait until the mortar sets you will not be able to get it off.