How to Set Stones for a Stone Column Mailbox
An elegant stone column mailbox adds a nice touch to the front of a home, and the experts show how to set the stones.
A stone structure mailbox is rather permanent and you need to decide on a design before you begin. To check out the many styles and materials, you can use a computer program that will allow you to experiment with different styles, etc.
Remove the mailbox and post. Clear out a space in the mulch so you can level the ground.
Measure off a 30-inch square allowing six inches all around, and mark the area with fluorescent marking paint.
Dig the footer six inches deep and level up the base.
A footer should be at least six inches thick and six inches wider than the mailbox. If you live in an area with cold winters, dig the footer deep enough so that the base rests below the frost line.
Make sure to mix enough concrete to fill up the footer.
Place one end of non-metallic building electrical wire in the footer making sure there is enough extra to run up the mailbox.
Pour half the concrete into the footer.
Place the rebars in a criss-cross pattern. It is important to install the rebars in the middle of the footer for it to be effective.
Pour the remaining half of the concrete over the rebar and tamp (to pack down lightly by a succession of blows or taps) it with the back of a hoe to spread it out.
Mark off a 24-inch square that will be the finished mailbox. Use the straight edge of a level to make a mark parallel to the road and use framing squares to mark the corners.
Lay out a 12" x 16" block in the center with the long side facing the street. Mark it on the footer to use as a guide for setting the first layer of mortar.
Note: It is critical to get the first block level because you do not want a leaning mailbox.
Mud the block (Image 1). Carefully set the next block in place and tamp the areas where necessary to level things up. Take your time making sure everything lines up (Image 2). You do not want to hurry through this job.
Insert wall ties that will help support the stones later on. Continue laying blocks making sure they are all level.
Wall ties are installed during the construction process in the masonry joints. The ties will adhere the stones to the cinder block wall and ensure that it will not pull away over time.
Set a 12 x 16 x 14 cap block to serve as the base for the newspaper holder and mailbox.
An easy way to keep the block level when you are laying it is to place a three-foot carpenter's level across the top of each one as you set it in the mortar. That way you can see at a glance when the block is properly set.
Set the newspaper holder (round ceramic chimney flue) in the middle of the cap block and measure it to the edges.
Notch out the cinder blocks for the boxes by cutting the ends toward the paper holder. Set them on the cap block placing the cut ends toward the paper holder. Add mortar around the holder and keep it in place. Set another 4-inch cap block in place -- this block will be the base for the mailbox.
Cut the cinder block the same as before, but this time set them on their ends to clear the height of the mailbox. When the mortar sets up, you will have a sturdy base to set the stones around.
After constructing a cinder block wall, you should let the mortar cure at least overnight prior to adding any more weight such as face brick, or stone to the structure.