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RF Paving’s Step-by-Step Guide on How to Lay Coping Stones for Walls

Sandstone Copings - 50mm calibrated Sandstone Copings - 50mm calibrated

 

Are you wondering how to lay coping stones for walls effectively? We have created a no-nonsense guide that dives straight into a step-by-step explanation, from choosing the right mortar mix to sealing the stones upon completion. You’ll learn the pivotal steps to ensure your wall topping is functional and visually appealing, with practical advice that demystifies the process. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the know-how to lay coping stones with confidence.

Key Takeaways

  • The essential tools for laying coping stones are a rubber mallet, a high-quality spirit level, and a trowel, which help precisely fit, level, and apply mortar.

  • Preparing the wall includes assessing its width and safety, ensuring a clean surface for the mortar to bond properly, and selecting the correct width of coping stones for secure fitting.

  • The correct mortar mix ratio for fixing coping stones is 3:1 sand to cement, providing necessary adhesion and strength, while its perfect consistency facilitates the ideal bedding for coping stones.

Essential Tools for Laying Coping Stones

Firefly a picture of a rubber mallet and a level on a stone floor for use as construction work

 

Commencing this process requires having the right tools at your disposal. Among the indispensable tools for laying coping stones, the rubber mallet, spirit level, and trowel take the limelight. But why these tools in particular, you might ask?

For starters, a rubber mallet, particularly in the 16 oz to 32 oz range, is your go-to tool for gently tapping the coping stones into place. Brands such as the OX Combination or Marksman mallets are quite popular due to their suitability for this task. Opting for a non-marking white rubber mallet like the Thor Nh200 can help avoid any unwanted scuff marks on your precious coping stones.

On the other hand, a spirit level is your guiding star, ensuring precision in standard and inverted positions. Avoid wooden spirit levels, as they warp with moisture, compromising the accuracy needed for laying coping stones. Instead, opt for spirit levels with aluminium alloy bodies. Given its accuracy and durability, the SOLA Big Red box beam level is a fan favourite.

And last but not least, a trowel and a damp cloth round up your toolkit, facilitating the application and cleaning of mortar during the process.

Preparing Your Wall for Coping Stone Installation

Before we dive into the actual process of laying coping stones, there’s a crucial preparatory step – assessing your wall’s width and safety and ensuring a clean surface. This step is like setting the stage for a grand performance, ensuring that everything is in place for the stars (in our case, the coping stones) to shine.

Assessing Wall Width and Safety

One of the first things to check is the width of your wall. It’s essential to evaluate this accurately to ensure the coping stones fit securely and maintain the structure’s safety. This involves measuring the entire length of the wall, including any surface treatments like render.

Upon acquiring precise wall measurements, you can then choose the correct width of the coping stones for your parapet walls. They should sit securely and fulfil their purpose. Properly fitted coping stones contribute to the wall’s safety by ensuring the overall stability and longevity of the wall structure. So, always remember – accurate measurements are the foundation of a secure and safe wall.

We have a wide range of colours and sizes at RF Paving.

Our sandstone coping stones come in two sizes that accommodate most walls.

  • 320mm x 560mm with a thickness of 50mm

  • 420mm x 560mm with a thickness of 50mm

We also offer porcelain coping stones, which come in one standard size of 600mm x 300mm with a thickness of 20mm.

What is even better, no matter the width or size of the wall, our made-to-order coping stones can be made to any size you need. Below are some handy links if that would be something you would require.

Sandstone Coping Stones Made to Order

Porcelain Coping Stones Made to Order

Cleaning the Wall Surface

Much like a painter’s canvas, your wall surface must be clean prior to the installation of coping stones. You may wonder why? A clean wall ensures the mortar properly bonds to the wall, a key step before laying coping stones. It involves removing any plants growing out of the wall and cleaning it thoroughly to improve the adherence of the mortar mix to the wall surface.

Once you’ve dealt with the larger debris, it’s time to get into the details. Use a damp cloth or brush to remove any remaining debris and moisture from the wall surface. This creates a clean and sound base for the first coping stone.

So, remember, a clean start is half the battle won!

Selecting the Right Mortar Mix

Selecting the appropriate mortar mix equates to picking the right adhesive – it binds everything together. But what’s the right mix? A traditional mortar mix ratio for fixing coping stones is a three-to-one ratio of sand to cement, providing a strong bond. But remember, weather conditions can impact the setting of the mortar, so keep an eye on that forecast!

Mixing the Perfect Mortar

So, how do you mix the perfect mortar? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Start with a three-to-one ratio of sand to cement.

  2. Add water to achieve a paste-like texture. The amount of water you need is not exact but should be enough to reach a consistency that resembles thick paste.

  3. Mix the sand, cement, and water thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined.

  4. Test the consistency of the mortar by pressing it with a trowel. A properly mixed mortar should hold indentations or ridges, indicating it’s ready for use.

When spreading the mortar on top of the wall for coping stones, ensure it covers an area 25% larger than the stone and maintain a thickness of 1-2cm. This creates the perfect bed for your coping stones to rest on. So remember, the right mix and the right application are the key ingredients for the perfect mortar bed for your coping stones.

The Art of Laying Coping Stones

Placing the first coping stone accurately and leveling it for installation

With our tools ready, wall prepared, and the ideal mortar mix in hand, we can now commence the art of laying coping stones. It’s about placing the first stone, working along the wall, and maintaining levelness. Sounds simple, right? But like any art, it’s all about precision and patience.

 

Placing the First Stone

Initiate the process of laying coping stones by following these steps:

  1. Place one coping stone at each end of the wall. This sets the pace for the subsequent steps.
  2. Use a string line set on the highest edge of the coping to ensure alignment with neighboring stones.
  3. Accurate placement of the first stone sets a strong foundation for the rest of the stones.

Once you’ve accurately placed the first stone, follow these steps to secure it to the wall:

  1. Use a spirit level to confirm it’s level.
  2. Secure the first coping stone with wet mortar mix or adhesive, ensuring an equal overhang on both sides of the wall.
  3. Spread the joining material with a trowel.
  4. Use a rubber mallet to finalize the position of the first coping stone.

Remember, a well-placed first stone is a stepping stone to a beautiful stone wall, and brick walls are no exception when it comes to building a garden wall.

 

Working Along the Wall

Upon proper alignment and leveling of the first stone, commence securing the coping stones to the wall, starting from one end to the other. Consistency is key here – ensure that there is a consistent gap between each coping stone to maintain uniformity in the appearance of the wall.

As you lay each stone, frequently use a spirit level to check its levelness. The levelness of the wall must be maintained throughout the process to ensure the wall’s stability and aesthetic appeal. This requires your attention to detail and patience, but the results are worth it. You’ll have a wall that’s not just beautiful but also secure and level.

 

Securing and Finishing the Joints

With all your coping stones installed, it’s time to literally seal the deal. This involves securing and finishing the joints by filling gaps with mortar and pointing for a polished look. This not only gives a neat finish to your wall but also fortifies it against the weather.

 

Pointing for Perfection

Pointing is the process of filling the joints between stones with mortar or cement to give a neat finish. The process requires a clean stone surface to achieve a polished look when completed. Using a ‘sweep-in’ pointing compound is a method in the pointing process to fill the mortar joints.

After applying the pointing compound, it’s crucial to use a Residue Remover to clean the natural stone. Once the stone is cleaned with Residue Remover, a sealant can then be applied to protect the pointing work. So, remember, point, clean, and seal – the three simple steps to a perfect finish!

 

How to Cut Coping Stones for a Curved Wall

Measuring and cutting coping stones for a curved wall

Not all walls are straight, and that’s where the art of cutting coping stones comes into play. Cutting coping stones for a curved wall involves measuring, marking, and cutting them to fit the wall’s contour. This requires precision and a good understanding of how coping stones fit together to form a curved surface.

Start by measuring the curve of the wall and marking the coping stones accordingly. Then, use a chisel to carefully cut the coping stones along the marked lines. Remember, it’s important to work slowly and carefully to avoid breaking the stones. Once you’ve cut the stones, they should fit neatly along the curved wall, creating a smooth, continuous surface.

Alternatively, Here at RF Paving, we offer a made to order options so we can get them made for you.

Weatherproofing and Sealing Coping Stones

After the laborious task of installing the coping stones, protecting them from the elements becomes vital. This involves weatherproofing and sealing the coping stones. In harsh weather conditions, using a Coping Stone Two Part PU Adhesive can provide a longer-lasting bond than traditional mortar.

Weatherproofing is not just about protection; it’s also about preservation. Smartseal Natural Stone Sealer is a recommended product for protecting coping stones made from materials such as:

  • Indian Sandstone
  • Limestone
  • Slate
  • Granite
  • Travertine

For the best protection, two coats of sealer should be applied ‘wet on wet’, with the second coat being applied before the first has completely dried. This ensures a robust layer of protection that keeps your coping stones looking their best for years to come.

 

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Coping Stone Installation

Despite meticulous planning and execution, you might face some typical issues during the coping stone installation process. These could include cutting stones to measure and re-securing loose stones. But don’t worry, every problem has a solution.

Let’s look at how to address these common issues.

 

Cutting Stones to Measure

Cutting stones to measure is a common challenge during coping stone installation. It involves marking the stones accurately before chiseling to ensure a snug fit that follows the contour of the wall. Start with gentle taps on the chisel and gradually increase force to shape the stone without causing it to crack or break.

An electric grinder can also be used to adjust the size of a coping stone. This allows it to fit into the center of the wall while ensuring the difference between joints is not greater than 10mm. Maintaining a consistent joint size not exceeding 10mm when fitting coping stones is crucial for a neat finish. So, remember, accurate cutting is all about precision and patience.

 

Re-securing Loose Coping Stones

Loose coping stones can be a common issue, especially in older installations. But fret not, re-securing loose coping stones is quite straightforward. It involves the following steps:

  1. Remove the loose stones.
  2. Clean the stones.
  3. Reattach the stones to the wall using a bed of fresh mortar mixed with tanking slurry for enhanced adhesion and waterproofing.

Regular maintenance of the mortar and joints is also crucial to prevent the coping stones from becoming loose due to water damage and subsequent render fall off. Special adhesives can be applied to glue loose coping stones back onto the wall, providing an efficient solution for cracks or chips.

And remember, always ensure the surface is clean before reattaching coping stones to avoid future issues such as loosening or water infiltration.

 

Enhancing Walls with Aesthetic Coping Stone Choices

Coping stones aren’t merely functional elements; they can greatly augment the visual appeal of your walls. There are different coping stone profiles such as flat surface, once weathered, and twice weathered, each designed to meet specific functional needs and enhance the aesthetic appeal of various wall types.

Choosing the right color for coping stones is another factor that can dramatically affect the aesthetic appeal of your wall. For instance, slate or buff coping stones can complement or provide a striking contrast to the existing structure’s color theme. So, remember, the right profile and color can turn your wall from plain to picturesque!

 

Different material options for Coping Stones for Walls

Different material options for coping stones including porcelain, sandstone, and concrete

Choosing the material for coping stones can greatly impact both the visual and practical aspects of your wall. Some popular material options for coping stones include:

Each material offers a unique set of aesthetic and functional benefits.

Some options for coping stones include:

  • Porcelain coping stones: offer a sleek and modern aesthetic
  • Sandstone coping stones: provide a more rustic and traditional look
  • Bull-nosed coping stones: offer a smooth, rounded edge that can be particularly appealing for garden walls
  • Secure coping stones: a durable and budget-friendly option that is suitable for a range of applications.

So, remember, the right material can make your wall not just beautiful but also resilient.

 

Summary

In conclusion, laying coping stones is an art that requires precision, patience, and an understanding of the appropriate techniques. From the selection of the right tools and preparation of the wall to the mixing of the perfect mortar, every step contributes to the successful installation of coping stones. However, the process does not end there. Weatherproofing, sealing, and regular maintenance are necessary to ensure the longevity and aesthetic appeal of the coping stones. With the right knowledge and techniques, you can master the art of laying coping stones, transforming your walls into beautiful, functional, and durable structures.

 

FAQs

  1. What is the right ratio for a traditional mortar mix for fixing coping stones? The traditional mortar mix ratio for fixing coping stones is a three-to-one ratio of sand to cement. This provides a strong bond. However, in harsh weather conditions, it may be necessary to adjust this ratio or wait for suitable weather for installation.
  2. How do I ensure that my coping stones are level? Use a spirit level to check the levelness of each coping stone as it is laid on the wall. The levelness of the wall must be maintained throughout the process to ensure the wall’s stability and aesthetic appeal.
  3. How do I cut coping stones for a curved wall? Start by measuring the curve of the wall and marking the coping stones accordingly. Then, use a chisel to carefully cut the coping stones along the marked lines. Work slowly and carefully to avoid breaking the stones.
  4. What is the process of pointing in the installation of coping stones? Pointing is the process of filling the joints between stones with mortar or cement to give a neat finish. After applying the pointing compound, use a Residue Remover to clean the natural stone. Once the stone is cleaned, a sealant can then be applied to protect the pointing work.
  5. What are some popular material options for coping stones? Some popular material options for coping stones include porcelain, sandstone, bull-nosed, and concrete. Each material offers a unique set of aesthetic and functional benefits.
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