belgian block


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Old 04-20-06, 07:23 AM
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belgian block

I need to reset about 40 feet of block along one edge of my driveway. The blocks are probably original to the house, which is 1927, and they seem to vary in shape and size more than todays materials. Additionally the lawn is raised a bit on that side so they are acting as a low retaining wall.

I've pulled out many and chipped off the old mortar, but I'm wondering how to re-mortar to make it strong while trying to do a neat job with the irregular shapes. How many sides need to be mortared (ie, in the rear to what faces dirt, on the bottom, or just the sides between the blocks). Should I line them up as I want them and squeeze mortar between or do them one at a time?

Not sure I'm being clear but any tips are welcome.

Oh, also any particular mortar that gives a good color match?
 
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Old 04-20-06, 12:16 PM
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belgian block

By Belgian block, I assume you mean irregular stones.

How large are the stones?

Are the stones supported by anything or just resting on the ground?

Where are you (climate-wise)?

If they are supported by some sort of concrete, you would mortar the bottom and both ends. Mortaring the soil side would do little for strength. Use Type N mortar. This can be ordered in different colors in some masonry supply stores.

If you do not have a footing under the stones, mortaring would do little good in a cold climate. The movement and Mother Nature would eventually crack the mortar if there is not a rigid footing.

Dick
 
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Old 04-20-06, 07:20 PM
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They are coblestones, they sometimes come from Belgium, hence the name, most come from India now where labor is cheap to cut the stones.
Remove all the stones and clean them, dig down a footing 12" deep. String a line on the driveway side at the height the stones will be. Fill in the footing with concrete and set the stones one at a time in the concrete a few inches deep leaving about an inch space between them and keeping the tops and driveway side even. Next day fill joints with 1 part Portland cement and 2 parts sand, and tool the jonts. Also pack on extra cement on the dirt side behind the stones backing them up on a 45 degree angle.
 
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Old 04-20-06, 09:19 PM
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belgian block

A point of interest -

The term "Belgian stones" is a generic term from 200 to 500 years ago when empty sailing ships from the Netherlands/Belgium/Flanders carried stone for ballast. It was off-loaded at a port when paying cargo was loaded. That is the reason you see these stones used as pavers on old port cities like New Orleans where there is no rock, stone, gravel or decent sand.

They do not come from India, where they have some of the most advanced port facilites and use manufactured interlocking concrete pavers instead of concrete slabs (for good reason) or natural stones.

Regarding the unreinforced footing, it may be acceptable if you do not have a frost situation where the footing would crack the first year, causing cracks in the "mortar" (only sand and cement). If you can tolerate some cracks and feel they fit with the rustic nature of the stones, then it is the way to go.

Dick
 
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Old 04-21-06, 05:58 AM
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I never had a problem with the way I installed cobbles, I've been doing it this way over 20 years and never had a problem, I live in the NE and you can drive a 18 wheeler over my curbs and they won't move. Maybe I didn't explain it properly please ask what you don't understand, I did say concrete in the footing which is made out of stone, sand, Portland cement, and water, you could add rebar if you want. Isn't Motar only cement and sand?
Also These stones are being brought in from India, They are brought in at Elizabeth, NJ. a huge shipping port.
NYC streets used to be cobblestone which was shipped in for ballast and they still are under the blacktop in many places, and NYC has access to rock, stone, gravel, and decent sand.

How would you reset the cobblestones in dumbkid's post, Dick you posted twice but did not answer the question once! You seem confused in your first post of the stones and now you have a full history of them.
Frank
 
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Old 04-21-06, 06:16 AM
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belgian block

Basic mortar for masonry is a mixture of sand, cement and lime(ASTM standard). The more lime, the more workable with more resiliancy, but the lower strength.

The recommendation is to use the mortar with the LOWEST strength possible to carry the load.

The are also mortars made with mortar cement or masonry cement (a mixture of cement and fillers such as ground limetone and some workability enhancers).

Masonry cement should not be confused with preproportioned mortar you just add water to.

Edging units are not classified as normal masonry according to most authorities.

Dick
 
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Old 04-21-06, 08:34 AM
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Thanks for the tips guys. I'll just add some missing info, for whatever it's worth.


Originally Posted by Concretemasonry
By Belgian block, I assume you mean irregular stones.

How large are the stones?
Yes to irregular in size. They're rectangular, maybe 8x8x10.

The guy who's gonna do the blacktop said the stones on the other side of the drive were cobblestones and they're different. They're smaller, laid dry, and one end is tapered relative to the other.

But these, on the high soil side, are heftier, more rectangular, and have more of a granite appearance.

Are the stones supported by anything or just resting on the ground?
They seem to be largely resting on dirt with mortar/cement between them, and a tad here and here on the rear soil side.

I think they mostly held up okay until a truck or two rolled over them and a dumpster was dropped on them. It's a narrow driveway...

Where are you (climate-wise)?
Northern New Jersey.

Thanks again, to both you guys.
 
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Old 04-21-06, 08:36 AM
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Double Post
 
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Old 04-28-06, 07:07 AM
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Building a belgian block wall

Im using the jumbo blocks that are 4 X 8 X 10. Im not sure where they are made. Instead of just using them as edging, I want to construct a low wall, so I will end up with a max height of about 15. To do this I want to stack them so the 4 side is on the ground and the 10 side goes left to right (I hope Im being clear). I want to stack one right on top of the other. What is the best and strongest way to mortar these? Should I mortar in between them, a 45 degree wedge on the dirt side, and a mortar bed? Can I use the Quickcrete mortar mix that is used for underground installations instead of going to the trouble of mixing it myself? I am only putting in about 30 blocks.
 
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Old 04-28-06, 12:06 PM
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Wall

If you try to have a 4" thick wall, 2 block high, mortared together, you will not be happy with the result or the cracks you will probably get. If you lay the 8" face down, you would still need mortar, a footing of some kind and need more block. Mortar has very little tensile strenght and you facing the possibilty of frost behind the mini-wall. I am assuming you are going this route because you already have the block.

An alternate would be segmental retaining wall block that are made you type of application. There are numerous types, sizes, colors and textures. They have smaller sizes that may go well for your small wall.

Walls the retain some soil are very difficult tp prevent movement in, especially in cold climates.

Dick
 
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Old 04-29-06, 09:31 AM
rockee
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I don't have the block already, but was trying to economize on how many to get. I considered the segmental blocks, but these have more of a "manufactured" look, rather than a real stone look. Some actually are not even stone. I may just need to get more belgian blocks, or have a real stone wall built.

By the way, is "Belgian block" the real name for these and what is the origin? Does anyone know? I had seen in a posting that they were actually cut in India.
 
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Old 04-29-06, 11:15 AM
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belgian block

In the 1300's to the early 1900's many ships sailed ot of Holland (now The Netherlands) - Antwerp, Rotterdam, etc. and out of some French ports. If the ship was not fully loaded and needed ballast and Begium was a nearby source of rock (very little rock in Holland). A rough size larger (and cheaper) than their typical road pavers was used. When the ship was unloaded, the ballast was also unloaded if it was not needed. There is nothing unique - just hard, durable igneous rock.

Similar stones or block from other countries inherited the name.

Some stones come from other countries, but the economics of shipping prevent long distance shipping now. Centuries ago, the shipping of the blocks was necessary and was essentially free. In addition to shipping costs, the handling and unloading is not easy.

They could come from India or elsewhere for some strange reason, quirk or appearance. I have seen similar stones mined mined and crushed in India and they use the same equipment (Caterpillar, Leib Herr, Tata, Komatsu, etc.) and buy the same oil we do. Women also take the "head-sized" rock and chip off pieces by hand (very slow production)to get down to 1/4" to 1/2" pieces then sell them.

Now almost all pavers used in the world now are made from concrete. Since they are more accurate you can build a much stronger pavement system for more uses. Now you pay extra to get a paver that looks old.

If you want a rigid wall with an irregular old appearance, you will have to find some block and bite the bullet on the construction costs and problems. As an alternate, you may want to go with a traditional dry stack stone wall (no concrete or mortar) since it is not very high at all. The technique is a little specialized.

Dick
 
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Old 04-29-06, 03:05 PM
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What killed ballast stones was reliable water ballast systems.
 
 

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