How do I Put Up a Rock Wall Finish?


Big natural rocks are used to beautify gardens, add depth to landscapes, build waterfalls and much more. Flat natural rocks can also be used inside of your home for a fireplace or to cover a boring wall. Stone or rock walls make a dramatic entrance to any room by breaking up wall space and bringing the outdoors inside. Finding the perfect rocks that blend with your decor is the first step. After selecting your rocks, you can build the rock wall yourself with the help of a friend.

Things You'll Need

  • 80-lb. bag of Type S Mortar Stucco Mix (high strength)
  • 4 lbs. of 3-inch decking screws
  • 30 metal tie-downs, 1-by-5-inch
  • 150 or more rocks (see step one for specifics)
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Trowel (a flat drywall trowel works best)
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Water
  • Tape measure
  • 3-inch decking screws
  • Cement Board
  • Metal brush
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Vinegar
  • Measure the size of the wall. The dimension of the wall determines the number of rocks needed as well as how many bags of mortar needed to complete the project (An 8-by-12-foot wall takes about 150 rocks and five bags of mortar). Gather small-to-medium-size flat, thin rocks (about 2 inches thick) from nature or buy some from a landscaping or hardware store. Rocks about 1 foot by 1 foot work best.

  • Mount your cement board on the wall. Cut it to fit the size of the wall with a saw and screw it into the wall with the decking screws and a drill. Screw the metal tie downs on all studs with two or more screws.

  • Prepare your work space. Lay plastic sheeting on the floor around your work area to catch falling mortar and other debris.
    Use a metal brush to clean debris from the rocks and sit them close to your work area for easy access.

  • Mix the mortar in the 5-gallon bucket. Pour dry mortar into the bucket until it is half full and slowly pour in water while stirring the mortar. Do not make it too watery. A paste consistency is good.

  • Arrange rocks on the wall, as you wish, 2 to 3 inches apart. Put mortar on the back of the rock and press it against the wall firmly; hold it for about 15 seconds. Spread an inch of mortar on top of the rock. Continue to repeat this process with more rocks until you have one completed row. Wipe off excess mortar from the face of the rocks. Allow the row of rocks to dry for six to 10 hours.

  • Add more rocks to the wall, repeating step 5 until the wall is complete.

  • Use a vinegar solution (1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water) to clean the face of the rocks.

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  • Photo Credit rock wall image by Greg Pickens from
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