How to Reface a Concrete Wall | Ask This Old House

In this video, Mark McCullough and Jenn Nawada dress up a drab concrete wall with a stylish thin stone veneer.

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Since the wall is in good condition, veneer is a great choice to make it look much nicer at a smaller price than just replacing the whole wall. Mark and Jenn work together to prep the wall, apply the stone veneer, and lay a stone cap.

Time: 5-6 hours
Skill Level: Moderate

Grinder []
Brush []
Trowels []
Jointer []
Mallet []
Level []

Shopping List:
Stone veneer []
Modified thin-set mortar []

1. Clean up the wall. Grind the top down to the raw concrete to ensure good adhesion for the cap. Repeat down the wall for both sides. Do not grind down all the way flat. The low spots will help with adhesion.
2. Spray down with water and brush clean.
3. Use a notched trowel to spread modified thin-set mortar on a small section of the wall.
4. Take a margin trowel to back-butter the stone and stick onto the wall where the mortar has been placed.
5. Use chips of stone to place in between the stones. This will prevent sagging and let the stones set the way you intended. Once the stones are set you can pull them out.
6. Use a flat jointer to add the joints.
7. Spread mortar on the top. Pitch the mortar bed slightly towards the patio or backyard, this will prevent rainwater from pooling near the stair landing below.
8. Add the stone cap.

Where to find it?
Mark and Jenn refaced the concrete using a thin stone veneer. The material is Connecticut Fieldstone and was cut in a mosaic pattern for installation. The stone cap was made of 2” thick bluestone treads. Both were sourced by Plymouth Quarries (

To secure the thin stone to the wall and the bluestone to the top, Mark used a modified mortar []. The mortar has an adhesive in it that helps the stone to stick to the wall.

The other tools Mark and Jenn used to reface the wall, including trowels, mallets, and the level, can all be found at home centers.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. Ask This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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How to Reface a Concrete Wall | Ask This Old House


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