How to Build Stone Pillars — Build your own stone pillar on the end of your driveway, at a fence corner or gate or to use as a mailbox post. Stone pillars are beautiful additions to your landscape and are a permanent way to make a statement. You can build your own decorative column out of cement blocks and stone veneer.
Build Stone Pillars: How to Build a Decorative Stone Column for Fences or Driveways
A stone column or pillar is one way to make a dramatic statement on the end of your driveway, for a mailbox post or the corner of a wrought iron fence. Concrete blocks, often called cinder blocks, make a good base for a field-stone or cultured stone covering. Here’s how to build your own.
A stone column on the end of your driveway or at a fence corner not only looks great, it offers a place to put your house number, a light and maybe even a mailbox. Even if you’re not a stone mason, you can probably build your own using a concrete base, cement blocks for a column and stone veneer to cover the outside.
The project takes three to four days depending on how large you decide to build the column and the type of veneer you want to put on it. Let’s take a look at how to build a decorative stone column.
Plan the footing before you dig it and decide if you want the pad at ground level where it will be seen or 4 inches below ground level so grass will grow over the top.
A 6-inch deep crushed stone base should be laid a foot wider in all directions than the concrete pad for the column with four inches of sand on top of that.
A 3 1/2-inch deep concrete footing that is 6-inches wider than the column in all directions is placed in the center of the stone and sand base.
Tamp the crushed stone, add the sand and tamp that down. Build the concrete form out of 2-by-4 lumber and level it on top of the sand.
Mix enough concrete to fill the form and pour it in, using a shovel to “poke” at the concrete and settle it. Use a scrap 2-by-4 to level the concrete with the top of the form. Trowel the surface to make it smooth and use an edger to break the concrete away from the forms as it sets.
Mix mortar and lay it on the concrete base where the blocks will go. You want a layer about 1 inch thick and no voids in the mortar where the block will set. Set a block on the mortar and settle it in place about 3/8 of an inch above the slab and level it. As you lay additional blocks, place a 3/8-inch bead of mortar along the vertical joints between blocks.
Look in the resources section below for information on troweling mortar for cement blocks. Lay additional courses until you reach the desired height of the column. Be sure to offset the joints between block from layer to layer and to clean excess mortar off the block to keep the sides smooth.
Add the Stone Veneer Covering
Once again you’re mixing mortar and troweling it on, but this time it’s all vertical. Applying it to the flat surface of the blocks with a notched trowel is much easier than striking a bead on the narrow edge of a block.
Some stone veneers are installed from the top down, others from the bottom up. Check to be sure you’re doing it the right way. Press the flat edges of stone veneer into the mortar.
One way of working on a column is to install two corner pieces on the right and two on the left. Fill in the space between with side pieces. Then move to the next side, install two more corner pieces, fill in space between. Continue working around the column until you reach the top.
For a more rustic look, fill in the joints between stones with mortar as your work and smooth it with a jointing trowel. You can also buy colored mortars to use as grout in the joints.
- Use a piece of block the thickness of the stone veneer with your house number etched in it as an address marker.
- Run a metal or PVC conduit from the bottom of the slab up through the center for installing a light on the top. Be sure to run your wiring before you pour the slab.
- If you’ve got the stone and the patience, build the column out of natural stone. It’s more work, but the end result is more natural looking and you can try for pyramids or tapered columns if you like.
- A stone column is a good place for a mailbox if it’s allowed where you live.