How to Repair a Fieldstone Wall
Fieldstone walls are stones walls that have been constructed with natural round stones and without cement or mortar. Once a fieldstone wall is erected, it will usually last hundreds of years without requiring much maintenance. However, sometimes even the most perfectly constructed wall will need to be repaired. If you find that some of the stones are showing advanced signs of deterioration or some event has caused the wall to fall, you will need to repair it. Fieldstone walls are very long-lasting and usually don’t require any repair. Be careful that you don’t try to repair hairline fractures and normal weathering. These are not avoidable and do not weaken the structure of the wall.
Step 1—Assess Damage
Before you can begin repairing your fieldstone wall, you first have to determine the damage. Is there minimal damage, such as weathered or crumbling stones? Has your wall taken a major hit due to extreme weather or an unfocused driver? You have to know what type of repair you are looking at before you can go forward.
Consider the amount of the wall that needs to be repaired. This will help you determine how many stones you should purchase from the quarry.
Step 2—Acquire New Stones
Once you know the type of repair that needs to be done, you can go purchase the replacement stones. If the wall has simply fallen down, you may not have to buy new stones at all. Often times the original stones are enough to rebuild the damaged portion. If you can’t use the original stones, you will have to purchase them locally. If your wall is very old and you didn’t have a hand in constructing it, you will have to try and match the stones to something that is available in your area. Many of the walls that have been standing for 50 years or more, we constructed with stones from local sources. Check local resources to try and match the stone perfectly.
Step 3—Remove the Damaged Stones
This is the tricky part. If you are replacing damaged stones, you will have to add an additional support while you remove the damaged stones. Remember, the wall has been constructed without the use of mortar and relies on the pressure of the other stones to keep it upright. As you removed the damaged area you should use a 2x4 to prop up the wall. If you are repairing a large section, you should clear out the stones, down to the ground line and check the foundation.
Step 4—Set New Stones
For a large rebuild, once you have determined that the foundation isn’t damaged, you can begin building the wall, stone by stone, until it is complete and lines up with the undisturbed portions. For a smaller repair, put the new stones in place and remove the support beam. Remember that you can shape the stones if you have to with a chisel and hammer. This can help the stones fit together better. You can also add crushed stone behind the wall to fill the gaps and make the wall sit more tightly.
That’s it. You can repair your fieldstone wall and restore it to its original beauty.