Covering concrete retaining wall in faux stone

We have a smooth-surfaced painted concrete retaining wall in the back yard, about 9 feet high in most places, and running for 20-50 feet (not sure how much we want to resurface, but at least 20 linear feet, so figure 200-250 square feet total).

Is there an affordable (under $10 sq. ft. all-in) stone-appearance facing that could be applied? Pretty much all the panels I see at, say, Home Depot, are $11+ a square foot, and that is before any additional materials (adhesive, for example).

Some examples of what I see online:

This seems about the cheapest, a PVC product:

It appears that stamped concrete can be done for vertical walls, but the costs exceed $10/sq. ft.

Am I overlooking any other cost-effective but decent-looking alternatives? An actual stonemason with materials couldn’t possibly be cheaper, right?

The quickest and cheapest way would probably just use stucco mix. Color it some rock tint, put a thick layer on the face of the concrete, and use a tool to dig/draw in outlines like random rock shapes. You could add surface texture and stuff by hand with a trowel, and either recolor or use actual mortar to fill in the outlines later if you wanted it to look even more realistic.

Thanks; I’ll check into that.

I think Sasquatch is correct, stucco is worth checking out. It’s great for siding buildings, but that application is dependant on the top being sealed (covered by a roof), so water doesn’t get behind, freeze and loosen the stucco. This would be critical if you’re somewhere with winters that drop below freezing.

A couple of other ideas to look into:
** - stone-look ceramic tiles or slate tiles **. If your surface is smooth that should work, but again the issue may be water infiltration behind. It may not have the same completely natural look as simulated stone, but I have seen that look before (in condos etc) and it can look beautiful. I did a quick google and slate is only about $2,50/sqft at Home Depot.

  • If you google DIY patterned concrete walkways, there are lots of options for DIY concrete moulds you can buy that look like natural stone. I’m thinking it might be possible to pour them on the ground and then either split them into pieces and mortar them individually to your wall or depending on weight, just lift an entire section and mortar it to the wall.

Also - when I checked slate prices, HD had this slate panel which looked really good @$2.37/sqft and they show it in an exterior application:

We have some concrete-block walls terracing levels of our yard, and I was considering using some outdoor ceramic tile to dress them up a bit. The tiles themselves are cheap, but as I researched further into how to do the job right, so that the tiles stay on the walls. the job became daunting for me to do myself, involving skills I don’t have. So I haven’t done anything yet.

I may be stealing that stucco idea. Do you have to attach a screening material base for the stucco, or does it just get slapped on the wall? Could I just do a regular stucco finish without trying to make it look like stone? Is it a DIY job that someone with no experience could do?

Good points about water intrusion. There is no overhang; the top of the wall is simply a smooth-surface 10 inches wide. If I applied the same treatment to the top, that might help, but I doubt it would truly be waterproof.

GMANCANADA, I can’t believe I missed that at HD, the price is certainly right. Perhaps because it is actual natural stone, rather than faux. I would not have thought the Real Thing would be much cheaper than artificial! I’ll check into installation costs.

I think all of the primary bases are covered that I know of. But have you thought about vines or a plant either on the wall or against it. A couple of vines or tall bushes against the wall would help to cover it. Rock roses do very well in warm sunny areas just growing out of a big pot, or even out of a planter hanging down. It will take a couple of years to fill in, but I think growing plants would be the cheapest direction.

If this is a retaining wall, I am also a little concerned about attaching any screws to the wall to securely attach any weighty rock solution.

Disheavel, there is a ~9’ x 20’ part that is at the top of the driveway (side-entry garage), and another part that starts at the same height and slowly tapers down to 4’ as it winds around the back of the house/back yard. The back yard part, visible from the breakfast area, does have some trellis and climbing roses, and a few other ornamentals. I think we would like to introduce vines, so long as we pick ones that are not insanely invasive.

The driveway part was originally “hidden” by the builder with leyland cypress. Fast-forward 20 years, and half of the cypress have fallen (usually with ice/snow accumulation), and those left are way, way too tall to hide the wall; they will be coming down and replaced with some form of Arborvitae that a landscaper assures me will not grow nearly as big.

BTW - If you do go with the tile or slate option, I’d suggest looking around for tile discounters in your area. There can be fabulous deals to be had.

In Toronto, I did a floor and the slate was less than 1.00 CDN / sqft (so maybe about .75 US at the time.)

I was asking the store about why the prices so low (are these seconds, damaged tiles etc?). They said the tiles were actually from Home Depot. They have a contract with HD and other tiles stores who sell them end-of-line tiles for pennies on the dollar. They sell it to these guys rather than have it take up shelf space at the store or discount it heavily.

I’ve since bought from discounters a few times, you need to verify they have sufficient stock before you start buying the tile. Do your sq ft calculations plus extra tiles required carefully. What they have, is all they have and all they can get.

I found some nice stacked-stone looking panels at Floor and Decor (a chain), and talked to a cow-orker who had used a similar product from them on an interior wall, but with great success. The current price is $3.38/sq. ft. at regular price.

But GMANCANADA your warning about stock is a really good one. I’m considering doing just a very small (one or two panels section) to get a feel for ease of installation, but I have to consider that going back weeks later I may find that style gone.

If you just don’t want it to look like a concrete slab, my friend literally just painted the outside of his basement walls brick red and then spray-painted gray lines onto it to make it look like bricks. From the street you really couldn’t tell at all; you needed to walk all the way up to it to realize it wasn’t actually bricks. Even the realtor was fooled when they were selling the house.

Several decades ago, a regular advertiser on the New York City TV stations was a company called Garden State Brickface, and that’s what they seemed to be offering; stucco applied to an outside wall and then shaped to look like brick or stone or whatever. I don’t know if they’re still around or if there are other companies that do that sort of thing.

Alternately, paint the whole wall grey, then tape off parts of it (with REALLY GOOD painter’s tape) so it resembles brick shapes, and roll the brick-red paint over that. Seems easier than trying to paint straight lines, but what do I know.

:slight_smile: Yeah, that too. My friend did it the way he did I think because he didn’t have that much to cover up, it was maybe 10-12 square feet going around a corner. If you had a larger area, your way is probably easier.

Although what *really *sold it was getting it dirty. It didn’t look quite right, right after he had done it, but a week or two later after it had a chance to get randomly grimy, that really completed the effect.