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Masonary Cement - The Glue That Holds It Altogether?

 
 
CDobyns
 
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 07:29 pm
For the past two years, we've been working on a project in our backyard to build a retaining wall, in preparation to back-filling and laying a patio. The whole project has progressed somewhat slowly, because my wife has insisted that work move forward - but unfortunately in the absence of an actual budget to underpin the various tons of materials that have been necessary.

All that rhetoric aside, we're to the point in the project where we're ready to secure a course of colored capstones to the underlying course of standard dimension cinder blocks.

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/img_2164-1.jpg http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/img_3473-1.jpg

Since we're only "capping" around 40 cinder blocks, we'll likely whip up the cement on-site. My question is that there seems to be about 20 different kinds of "cements" on the market, but what type of cement should I use to join the two materials?
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Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 19,145 • Replies: 21
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 07:50 pm
Is mortar mix too obvious an answer? That's my guess of choice, though my masonary experience is very, very limited.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 07:53 pm
@CDobyns,
if you want to mix it yourself, you can use white portland and sand. not sure the ratios, I use mostly bagged mix now.

with the mortar mix, I usually add some vinyl for flex, but we have very sandy soil and stuff moves a lot...
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 07:55 pm
@roger,
My masonry experience is quite developed but I don't wish to give advice.

Try doing some reading.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 07:59 pm
@CDobyns,
Where do you live? If you live in the Northern Kingdoms, remember, freeze thaw is your biggest enemy . Even more than uniaxial forces for which youve installed the rebar ties. Also, Id put in a couple of eep holes so you dont build up slow drainage water that freezes and swells.
If you live in the Middle Kingdoms (S to about Va) you will still need a good freeze thaw protected base.
I jhope youve considered that.

I assume you will spatter coat or stucco your block faces then, since you can get about 60 different tints of VALSPAR elastomeric masonary paint, you could then choose your capstones to compliment or match the stucco color. THATS what Id do.
The concrete , like Sakrete mortar mix is good.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 08:05 pm
@farmerman,
Do you live in or near a city? Most city engineering departments have had pass outs on how to build just about anything. Follow those, or exceed them.
No, not you, farmerman.
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 09:01 pm
@ossobuco,
Wow, a lot of good input and suggestions - although I'm not quite sure I understand the reluctance of ossobuco to provide advice. As in all things, the nice thing about advice is that it can be taken, or not - but if you have expertise in this area, I would be more inclined to accept your advice, than not.

Let's see. First, the suggestion about mortar mix or masonary cement sounds about right to me. And let me help out by providing a more recent picture, which shows the progress of the upslope fill dirt, along with what will eventually be two courses of decorative blocks, and the equally fun downslope garden enclosed by landscape timbers. Additional fill dirt since been placed and compacted not quite up to the level of the top of the cinder blocks.

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/img_3303.jpg

So, we're located in rural Maryland, and due to the extended duration of this project, The Wall, has now experienced both a mild and a pretty severe winter. And as close as I can tell from my laser measurements, the wall has shifted downslope about 1/64th of an inch, and I can't detect any measurement variation that suggests any "heaving". My sense is that the wall isn't moving (okay, maybe fractionally) from either freezing or thawing or from hydrostatic pressure. I'll attribute that to the multiple 3/8" upslope rebar anchors, which are tied into 1/2" horizontal rebar in each cinder block. And there is a gravel and perforated pipe drainage system at the base of the wall.

Other suggestions?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 09:12 pm
@CDobyns,
People with licenses need to be careful, in real life and on the internet. Sorry if that offends you.

Are those trees you have six or less inches from your edging?


Do you have expectations for their growth?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 09:19 pm
@CDobyns,
Quote:
My sense is that the wall isn't moving (okay, maybe fractionally) from either freezing or thawing or from hydrostatic pressure. I'll attribute that to the multiple 3/8" upslope rebar anchors, which are tied into 1/2" horizontal rebar in each cinder block. And there is a gravel and perforated pipe drainage system at the base of the wall.


Could rural Maryland produce enough frost for any heaves, CDobyns? What is the code required footing depth in your area? My guess is 2 feet at most.

Also, heaves don't always occur. There are lots of variables that either favor or negate the chance for frost heaves. Just because a wall doesn't heave one winter doesn't mean it won't heave another. What are the soil conditions/soil type under your structure?

If conditions were there for a frost heave, I doubt that 3/8 and 1/2 inch rebar would do much to stop it. The pipe drainage/gravel are good but they aren't what will heave. It's the subsoil that heaves and there's not a lot you can do about ground moisture levels. And seeing as how it's a plant/flower bed, water is exactly what you are going to put there.

Frank Lloyd Wright used a rubble trench as a foundation. As it wasn't a monolithic footing, the individual pieces would be turned rather than exert a combined pressure on the above ground structure. Think of a railroad bed. Have you ever heard of train rails heaving? Compare those to a monolithic asphalt road/highway.


0 Replies
 
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 09:31 pm
@ossobuco,
Okay, and no offense taken. I was just curious. My mom was an attorney, and I remember that the best quasi-legal advice she always used to recommend was that best way to indemnify yourself against legal action was to always provide good advice. That always sounded like some backwoods, folksy legal wisdom, but it's served me pretty well throughout my life. That said, I still understand your reasons for being cautious. Thanks!

And to clarify my prior response, I meant to say 1/2" vertical rebar - not horizontal (I have trouble telling my left from my right too . . .).
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 09:47 pm
@CDobyns,
My ex had that problem (not the reason we are ex and we're ok as friends this long later) re left right disability. Ha, that was not good on one of his jobs.

I'll try to not comment, but I just see that you think those trees won't be growing.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 10:28 pm
On a philosophical note (I guess), a long time mason did once tell me that mortar wasn't supposed to stick stones together: it was to keep them apart. The distinction is subtle, but I suppose there was a point to the shared wisdom. Anyhow, some one else later told my "Yeah, but don't get too hung up on that advice".

Wish we could still count on ol' 2packs and dadpad showing up. They know about these things.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 11:00 pm
@roger,
Quote:
On a philosophical note (I guess), a long time mason did once tell me that mortar wasn't supposed to stick stones together: it was to keep them apart. The distinction is subtle, but I suppose there was a point to the shared wisdom.


It's pretty hard to get a mortar joint look without mortar, Rog. He was pulling your appendage.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Jul, 2012 11:22 pm
@JTT,
I think the point was more that if the stones were touching, they were not well mortared.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 03:23 am
@roger,
"rural Maryland" can mean Garret County where it gets really cold, Frederidk, where it get very cold, or Cecil County , where its damn cold.
Maryland will give you fits if you dont secure the wall with a good footer. As I said before, thats your best defenese against long term frost problemss. As I see in your next bath of pics, your construction is

more of an island than a retaining wall so weep hol


Does the area hold water after heavy rains?

The wood walls that define the path will probably move as the tree roots impinge on em UHHH, one last point,DID you fill around the roots of those trees?

You dont wanna drown the trees by piling dirt around the roots unless you are going to plant new trees at a new elevation.


CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 08:37 am
@farmerman,
Okay, this has been a good exchange of information and advice - and for ossobuco without the hint of future legal unpleasantness thankfully.

So, this whole wall is sitting on an approximately 18" footer, with the 1/2" vertical rebar (there I said it correctly this time) anchored in the footer - which is a little more than a foot below ground level (although with two or three "ground levels" near this wall, I'm not sure which ground level really counts).

As to the existing trees, my wife assures me that these trees are done growing http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/sm-rolleyes.gif. And as to burying the roots, we checked with an arborist, and he said that if the existing trees are a certain diameter - bigger than the circumference around your wrist (okay, I'm just making up that "wrist" thing . . .), they will usually tolerate having dirt or mulch back-filled around there base. And as this is the second year, all the trees seem to be thriving (although I'm still conflicted whether "thriving" isn't the same as "growing - but my wife says no . . .).

I'm headed out later today for some mortar mix (I think). Thanks!
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 06:33 pm
@roger,
I figured it might have been a dry stack purist.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 06:38 pm
@CDobyns,
That depends on the tree. Some are very fussy. Apparently yours aren't.

I think your edging/wall is way too close to the trees. Waaaaay too close. But again, that may depend on the trees and their situation in that enclosure.

Consider talking with a local landscape contractor.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 06:40 pm
@JTT,
Like the Chacoan's. I think their sandstone was soft enough they could make the various pieces conform to one another. Rub two pieces together, and they pretty much fit.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 08:19 pm
@CDobyns,
Ive seen big diamereted maples die after a few years after being covered with as little as three inches of mulch or dirt. We had a developer near us backfill dirt around the roots of a nice grove of river birch, they died after two years. Im not sure about his advice because Ive gotten advice that was diametrically opposite from yours. In fact, the advice I got was for the larger trees. Id watch drowning the roots with too much backfill.
 

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