Suggestions on how to install sconces on natural stone gate columns


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Old 09-26-22, 10:01 AM
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Suggestions on how to install sconces on natural stone gate columns

I'd like to install sconces on my two gate columns. I have electricity to each of them. What is the best way to mount a sconce on the front of each of them? The stone is not level or even.
 
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Old 09-26-22, 10:33 AM
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Do you have electrical boxes in the columns for the lights?
What type sconces do you have? What do they require for mounting?
 
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Old 09-26-22, 11:25 AM
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I was planning on using these:

Outdoor Cylinder Wall Sconce

Basically, on the backside of each of the columns there's an electrical box.
 

Last edited by diy_in_atl; 09-26-22 at 11:25 AM. Reason: More info
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Old 09-26-22, 11:40 AM
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on the backside of each of the columns there's an electrical box.
​​​​​​​And the lights are mounting to the elec boxes? Should be pretty simple with a mounting plate!
 
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Old 09-26-22, 11:44 AM
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The box is in the back of the column ?

The proper way to install a fixture on an even stone wall is to use a diamond blade grinder to score the rock and then chip it out. Can be somewhat labor intensive.

Post a picture where you're mounting the fixture.... How to insert pictures.
 
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Old 09-26-22, 12:08 PM
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The fixture will have to be mounted to a box. How do you plan to get wire from the box in the back to the front?
That will have to be determined before you proceed. Ideally the box under the fixture would be mounted into the stone with enough outside the stone to mount the fixture square and level. Then the small gaps around it could be filled with mortar or caulk to make a seamless install. The wiring to the new box depends on how the box in the back is mounted. Is it sunken into the stone or mounted on the surface?
 
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Old 10-06-22, 01:55 PM
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Here is a picture of the stone column. It's about 7 feet tall.
 
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Old 10-06-22, 01:57 PM
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Last edited by PJmax; 10-06-22 at 03:41 PM. Reason: labeled pic
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Old 10-06-22, 03:40 PM
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Ok... we see the column.
Where is the box ?
Where will the light be mounted.

Light on C side ?
Box on A side ?

I think I'd run #14 UF from the box to the light with no box behind the light.
 
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Old 10-08-22, 01:38 PM
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Thanks. The box with the electric is to the bottom of side D. I want to put the light on B side. What do I do? Bore a hole? Run it around? What do I do? Take a grinder to it and make a flat spot?
 

Last edited by diy_in_atl; 10-08-22 at 01:39 PM. Reason: More info
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Old 10-08-22, 01:46 PM
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You could run UF up the back side of D and drill straight thru to your fixture location on the B side.
You could also run the UF up the column and work around the column hiding the wire in cracks.

By code..... would mount a box on the B side and mount the fixture to that.
Based on what the fixture is..... I may not use a box behind the fixture.
In the past I've put a hole in the fixture with a grommet and used the natural rock as a back box.

Have you picked out a fixture ?
 
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Old 10-09-22, 09:46 AM
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I'm looking at something like these:
https://a.co/d/3fbc9IM
 
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Old 10-09-22, 06:27 PM
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Do you recommend one PJMax? I was liking the one that had a light going up and down.
 
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Old 10-10-22, 06:54 AM
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I'm looking at something like these:
https://a.co/d/3fbc9IM
I saw no mention of a listing by a Nationally Recognized Testing Lab such as UL or ETL. All light fixtures must be listed by a NRTL.
 
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Old 10-10-22, 01:45 PM
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Ok. Do you have a recommendation for something that looks like that? I want something where there's a light that points up and a light that points down.
 
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Old 10-10-22, 03:15 PM
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I typically recommend a UL listing on a fixture inside the house.
Outside on the stone column.... anything should be ok.

The ones you linked to should be ok.
If you have the ability.... grinding a flat spot would be a great idea.
 
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Old 10-10-22, 08:36 PM
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You posted these: https://www.homedepot.com/p/C-Cattle...06-W/314409518 earlier. They should be UL listed as everything I have ever bought from big box stores is listed. Stuff from Amazon not so much. :\
 
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Old 10-12-22, 01:59 PM
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Yeah you're right. I can go with that. I'm wondering if I could bore straight through to the back of the pillar. Are there even masonry bits that big?
 
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Old 10-12-22, 07:07 PM
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I had to drill through something similar in size by drilling in from both sides. I used a 3/4" bit and I did well enough to get some 1/2" EMT through. If you use UF cable it will be easier than conduit even if your holes are a little off. Just make sure to measure very well and keep things going in straight. The largest bit I have is 1 1/2" so yeah, they make them pretty big.
 
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Old 10-12-22, 07:38 PM
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I have multiple 5' bits in wood and masonry type. They are very expensive.

Typically you'd want a small bit to go all the way thru and then you could use a larger bit... half the length.... and come in from both directions like tolyn mentioned.

Based on what crap fill is in the columns it could be a bit tricky to get a hole thru them.
I'd check around at rental places to rent a drill and long bit.
The Depot rents tools/drills. Not sure about bit length.

Long bits (fasten your seat belt)
 
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Old 10-13-22, 07:20 PM
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My god. That's insane. I'm kind of wondering--what is the possibility that these columns are hollow? Is this something where I would break through one side after drilling some? If not, I figure I'm going to have to run the wire around the side.
 
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Old 10-13-22, 07:24 PM
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It's hard to say what's inside. That's why I recommended a rental.
You could rent a drill and bit for several hours.
 
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Old 10-13-22, 07:28 PM
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I would be willing to bet they are concrete blocks with a stone facade applied to the outside.
 
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Old 10-14-22, 03:59 PM
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Been there, done this. You need to think a little bigger on the tool issue. Go to HD and rent the biggest SDS Max hammer drill they have, preferably a Hilti or Bosch. If you are lucky, they will have a 3/4" masonry bit you can also rent. If they don't have one, you will need to buy one with an extension bit holder long enough to go right through your column from one side. This will be your biggest expense. Think you can use a shorter bit and go through one side and then match up your hole from the other side? You're welcome to give it a shot, but it requires a very high level of skill and experience.
Determine where you want your wire to come out on your B side (the street side) and drill through from that side to your D side (the hidden side, so if/when you don't drill perfectly straight and the hole is a bit off, no one will really notice). Your column is made of limestone ledgestone veneer bedded shallow in type N or S mortar and will have a cement block column inside it. If it was built properly there will be a 1/2" to 1" air gap separating the veneer from the cement block with brick ties holding the veneer in place, which is why these tall, skinny columns are still standing and looking good. Your big-ass hammer drill with a fresh 3/4" bit will get you through these columns in 2-3 minutes per hole. Just brace yourself.
Your next issue is how to mount your light fixtures, whether they are cheapies from Amazon or proper rated units from HD. Ignore those who are suggesting it doesn't matter if the fixtures are rated or if the wiring is done to code. Do it once and do it right.
It would be extremely difficult to chip out a flat surface on these columns to embed a box. You can surface mount a box with Tapcons, but rather than sit flush your fixture will then stick out at least 1-1/2" and look weird. My suggested solution is to create a custom mounting surface that adds to the aesthetic of your installation by cutting a piece of 2x8 or 2x10 PT lumber into a rectangle or other suitable shape and staining it with opaque stain to something that matches or complements your fixtures. Then grab your 4-1/4" holesaw and cut a clean hole in your light backing plate to receive a round watertight gray PVC or metal box. Mount the backing plate to your column with four long Tapcons (you can also use lead masonry anchors and stainless steel screws).
Now run your 110v (which should be on a GFCI-protected circuit, either in your panel or in one of the receptacle boxes on the columns, either is fine) from your receptacle box up to the hole on your D side. Resist the idea of cheaping out and running a bare wire, even if it's outdoor or underground rated. Run your wire inside EMT or PVC conduit or whatever is code-compliant in your area for an outdoor installation. Use watertight connectors leaving the receptacle box. Run your conduit up from the receptacle box, elbow through your hole, bring your conduit our through the B side hole, and connect it to the back of your round watertight box inside your backing plate, again using a watertight connector.
Then install your light fixture on your watertight box. The correct way to do this is by connecting and testing your electrical, then running a bead of top-quality exterior silicone around the outside edge of the watertight box and pressing the fixture onto it to create a permanent waterproof seal.
For gate pillar lights like this, I recommend using dusk-to-dawn light-sensing LED bulbs, not an old-school mechanical timer at the panel. If you have a switch for these lights in your house or garage, I recommend running an LED-rated dimmer on it so you can manage the intensity of the lights to your taste, though it may take some experimenting to find light-sensing LED bulbs that are compatible with your dimmer.
This will work. Good luck with your project!

 

Last edited by Danno 5-0; 10-14-22 at 04:00 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-20-22, 11:24 PM
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Thanks Danno...Id like to know how to get the box or sconce to sit flat on the column. What should I do in order to do that? I know you are suggesting a custom surface but the sconces I got already stick out pretty far and this would only serve to make it stick out more.
 
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Old 10-23-22, 02:18 PM
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Ok so I'm looking at this..I'm now wondering how I would take the natural stone down and put concrete there, like in a 12x6 pad to mount the sconce to. I've not really worked with concrete before. What should I do if I wanted to do something like that?
 
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Old 10-24-22, 08:53 AM
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The limestone ledgerock pieces can be worked with a cold chisel and a mallet. That is how "rockface" front faces are created, for example, on Indiana limestone slabs for ledges and steps. The issue is that because your columns were built by embedding only a shallow portion of each ledgerock piece in mortar, it's likely that you will disturb a piece - knock it loose from its mortar bed - before you get it nibbled down as far as you want to go. You would have to risk this with 5-6 stones per area in which you then want to set your 12x6 cement mounting pad.
Then you would have to come up with a way to hold your cement in place in the shape of the pad while it sets. You might be able to use a plastic form or mold about the size of a cake pan, but then the issue would be secure that in place. Bear in mind that cement is super-heavy by volume and typically would have a very strong wood frame built around it to hold firm for the 24-48hrs needed for setting. Your cake pan full of cement would want to slide out of place before setting where you want it.
An option would be to pick your perfect mounting location on each column, then instead of chipping down the stones, build up the low areas between the stones with mortar in your 12x6 size. Do this until you can achieve a flat surface that can serve as your mounting spot. After the mortar is fully cured, take your big hammer drill with a 4-1/4" masonry cup and bore a hole to receive an outdoor-rated round metal or pvc receptacle box. You will probably need to chip out the material inside the 4-1/4" hole to get a clean and reasonably flat mounting surface.
Bear in mind that you need that receptacle box to securely mount your fixture with a watertight seal.
Others here will tell you to skip the box and mount your fixture to the cement pad with the wire running through from the back. That installation won't be compliant and will be subject to water penetration, and eventually you'll be back out cursing and sweating while you make it right. So do it the right way - the harder way - the first go and it will last for decades while adding to your property value.
I think your columns are great and you want to recognize that and do light fixture installations that add to their aesthetic and the value they contribute to your home. It's interesting that whoever built them figured out a way to achieve the look of a dry-stack stone wall by embedding the stones shallow in mortar. It would have been even nicer if that builder had the foresight to provide for the mounting of light fixtures on the faces of them on the street side. It's weird he didn't, given that he ran power to the backs of them but left it at the receptacle boxes near the ground. Your challenge is the take it from there and do your fixtures installation in a way that builds on his vision and executes yours, while doing so properly and in a way that will last.
 
 

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