Welcome to the Moose Stop, Our Log Cabin in Medicine Bow National Forest, West of Laramie, Wyoming

Adding a river rock look to the foundation has been our plan since buying our cabin. Originally, it was low on our priority list, but as we've seen the effects of weather on the exterior, it has moved up. The summer of 2014 we took it on. With only 4 months for outside work, we needed to hit the ground running this year. We read some manufacturer's sites and watched some videos.

We measured 593 sq ft of surface and 26 ft of corners. We ended up buying 6 boxes, 100 sq ft each, of the surface stones and 4 boxes, 8 linear ft each, of corner pieces of Cast Natural Stone's Wisconsin River Rock from Menards.

Starting with foam insulated concrete foundation and with OSB covering our joists, there are several steps in the process. The OSB had a layer of weather wrap, so our first step was to add a second layer of tar paper. Next we attached metal lath over the whole surface.

We applied a scratch coat of concrete over the top of the metal lath. This creates a good surface for the stones to bond to. Being people who spend most of our days working at a desk, this was fairly physically demanding. We were able to apply 3-4 80# bags worth of concrete in a day before our arms wore out. It took 17 80# bags of concrete to completely cover the foundation.

For convenience and to save wear and tear on our pickup, we had the stone delivered. The stones were unloaded using a fork lift built into the truck. On a side note, we were impressed with the packing of the stones. We expected to find a lot of cracked stones at the bottom of the crates (especially after the 11 mile drive on our mountain road); however, we had no significantly broken stones in all 6 crates.

After applying the scratch coat, we got started on the stone. A few key things to notice:

  1. Applying the stones top to bottom is important because you will drip concrete as you work
  2. The concrete on the stones will stick better if the scratch coat is really wet. We found that a thick masonry brush worked very well for wetting down the scratch coat.
  3. WEAR gloves! Before I figured this out, my hands took some pretty serious abuse
  4. Keep your gloves clean. The concrete on your gloves transfers easily to the stones and can be difficult to remove.

When applying stone, we worked hard to reduce the space between stones. Occasionally, that meant that we were chipping off a little bit of a stone to make it fit nicely into an area. To cover the same area, applying the stone took almost 2 bags of concrete for every 1 bag used for scratch coat. We were able to put up 1 bag's worth of stone in about 4 hours. It took about 32 80# bags of concrete to apply all of the stone. As we got down to the end, we were worried about having enough stone; however, the measurements came out almost perfectly (with about 10 sq ft of white stones to spare). Click here to see a time-lapse of us applying stone

One thing to note about this product, although there are 6 colors (solid black, white with black speckles, solid white, white with red and black speckles, white with red speckles, and solid red) about 25% of the stones in the boxes are white. We didn't notice that we weren't using enough white until it was almost too late. When selecting a stone to place, we recommend choosing white whenever it makes sense in the layout or you'll find yourself with a lot whites as you progress.

The final step was grouting the stone. After the long process of applying the stone, grouting was pretty quick. We found that one bag of concrete used for grouting covered about the same area as 2 bags of scratch coat. It took about 7 1/2 80# bags of concrete to complete the grout. We were able to do 2-3 bags/day. A grout bag does a great job of applying the cement into the cracks. Although not overly heavy, lifting and squeezing the grout bag for a whole day becomes pretty physically demanding. Squeezing the cement into the joints with the grout bag was the quick part; most of the time involved us pushing the cement down into the cracks and smoothing the surface with our gloves before the final brushing.