Real bricks and stone are heavy and need solid support. When a house is under construction and a natural stone or brick facing is planned, the builder usually builds the brick ledge into the foundation by extending the foundation past the house framing. Adding a brick ledge to an existing house is hard to do and very expensive.
The do-it-yourself alternative is to apply artificial stone products that don’t need brick ledges. Artificial stone used to look pretty bogus, but the new generation of thin, faux stone is nearly impossible to distinguish from real stone. New faux stone is composed of conventional cement with soft, lightweight, pumice-like fillers, making it easy to cut with a circular saw or a 4-1/2-in. angle grinder fitted with masonry blades.
Because faux stone is so light, it can be adhered to a specially prepared wall surface with conventional mortar. It’s easy to apply, and though you won’t save anything in material costs, you’ll save big in labor.
Some products, like imitation fieldstone, require grouting mortar joints between the stones or bricks. Others, like the one shown, are designed to be laid with tight-fitting, mortar-free joints to give the wall a “dry-stacked” look. Other materials can be done either way. Go to a local supplier (look under “Brick” and “Stone” in the Yellow Pages) and look at the display walls.
Depending on the stone or brick style, you may be able to get matching L-shaped corners, keystones for arches and sills to finish off the project with style. All the products you’ll need to prepare the surface and finish the project are available from your supplier.
In the photo, you’ll see the layers of “behind-the-scenes” materials that are necessary for a long-lasting, trouble-free wall.