Beginners Guide to Slipform Stone Masonry

Have you been thinking of building your house or perimeter wall using slipform stone masonry but aren’t sure how it works? Then you’re in the right place! Here you’ll learn the basic process of building structures using this unique construction method.

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What is Slipform Stone masonry?

What is Slipform Stone masonry Slipform Stone Masonry | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Slip form stone masonry is a construction method that combines stone and reinforced concrete. Slipform masonry originated in New York and was first developed by an architect named Earnest Flagg in 1920. Then, Scott and Helen Nearing further enhanced the technique in Vermont in the 1930s to use forms that were moved or “slipped” vertically after each section was built.

You keep moving the forms upwards, and filling them with stone and concrete until you get to the desired final height of the wall. Big projects often require hydraulic jacks and extra support structures to support the upward movement of the forms. But for smaller projects, you can usually add the forms to the next level by hand.

Traditional vs Modern Slipform Masonry

Traditional Technique

When the slipform stone masonry method was originally developed, it involved placing forms on either side of the wall. One side was filled the stones and the other half was filled with reinforced concrete.

Modern Adaptation

A modern adaptation of slipforming involves using stones on both sides of the forms and then adding concrete in the middle. Once the slipforms are removed, both sides of the wall have a stone face while the core is filled with reinforced concrete.

A stone wall made with either of these techniques gives a somewhat rustic look to your structure while being stronger than most traditional stone walls.

If you’re looking for a local stone contractor here in Garland, Texas, Alexander and Xavier Masonry can help you. Give us a call for a FREE consultation and our expert masons will work with you to achieve the look you want for your home.

How do you make a Slipform?

You can easily make a slipform out of plywood and some 2x4s as a DIY project at home. Although you can use normal plywood, you’ll get better results if you use plywood that’s made especially for concrete forms. It has a smooth surface that won’t stick to the concrete so it’ll be easier to remove when it’s time to move to the next level.

Simply cut the plywood to the size. For small projects around your garden or patio, start will smaller forms that are 2-feet tall by 6-feet long. These will be easier to handle with just one or two people but will still let you build some basic walls.

Then add some 2x4s to the back of the plywood for support and so they’ll be easier to handle. (Check out the videos below to see some different types of slipforms in action.)

How do you make a small Slipform Stone Wall?

Once you have your wall’s base or foundation set, place your slipforms wall thickness apart.  Then you place stones  against the one side of the slipform. To keep concrete from flowing between the joints and onto the face of the stone, pack some wet sand in the joints as you lay the stones in the forms. Then pour concrete behind the stones.

When deciding on the thickness of your wall, take into consideration the size of the stones. You want your wall to be thick enough so that you can have at least 3-4 inches of concrete behind the stones. 

For small walls that you might add to your landscaping and that don’t have to support any weight or work as a retaining wall, steel reinforcement isn’t always required in the concrete.

Once the concrete is poured, you need to let it harden for at least 24 hours. Then you can add another layer of forms on top of the last ones and repeat the process. Once the next layer is done, remove the bottom forms and place them on top to continue.

How do you make a Slipform Stone House?

Building stone houses is very similar to building a simple stone wall using this technique. However, certain parts get a little more complicated, like adding rebar reinforcement and working with bigger forms.

Want to get some ideas on how to do it?

Check out these instructional videos with some great tips for building a slip form stone structure.

Slipform Stone Masonry

Bulid a Small Garden Wall

Advantages of using Slipform stone masonry over other construction methods

So why should you consider the slipform stone masonry method when adding a stone wall to your garden or even building a new house with stone walls.

Uniform walls

With a traditional stone wall, it can be hard to get a uniform thickness, especially if you’re a beginner. But the slipforms give you more control than with traditional stone work, so you can make sure that all your walls are the same thickness.

Faster construction

Slipforming lets you quickly build sections of a wall. If you have enough slipforms, once one section is poured, you can start installing the next level of forms. Then just a day later, you can start adding rocks and concrete to the next level.

Lower costs of labor

Using the conventional stone wall method, you’ll probably pay more for labor. Since it’s a relatively simple technique, you can do small slipforming projects on your own. But even if you have to hire a professional, if they’re experienced, they can build a slipform stone wall faster than when doing traditional stone work. Less time=Less labor=Less money

Durability

Stone embedded in reinforced concrete is a winning combination. When done correctly, it’ll be stronger and longer lasting than a traditional stone wall.

Want to Give Slipform Stone Masonry a Try?

Small projects can be easy to do on your own and make a great addition to your landscaping or patio design.

If you’re thinking of a bigger project and you’re in Garland, Texas, give us a call at Alexander and Xavier Masonry. Get a FREE consultation today and our experts will help you decide which is the best masonry technique to help you get the home of your dreams.

Give us a call today!

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