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ehmalexan
05-26-2010, 06:23 PM
Has anyone bought into this Stonemakers system? I am thinking about it but just wanted some feedback or any other recommendations you could give me.

http://www.stonemakers.net

Leon
09-24-2010, 06:20 PM
I a seriously looking into it. Have you gotten anything new?

Leon

PlatinumLandCon
09-25-2010, 01:33 AM
Apparently just looks really fake.... plus its expensive to get into IMO!

2low4NH
09-26-2010, 12:00 PM
i know a few guys that bought in to it. its dry slump concrete cut with trowels to form the shape then they dye the stone with brushes. It looks like garbage in person but people still buy it.

JimLewis
09-29-2010, 04:06 AM
I haven't bought into it yet. But I did buy a series of DVDs from one of their competitors / predecessors a few years back for a good $800 or so. I was going to attend the training school too. Had paid my deposit for that. But then something came up last minute and I had to bail out. I never got through the DVD training set. But I think it's pretty cool stuff. What I've seen done with this is pretty impressive.

I'll tell you one thing, the single most successful wall building company in our state does walls in a very similar style. They charge 2-3x what everyone else in the area charges for walls and they got customers lining up to hire them every day. Extremely successful company. And they do basically the same style of wall. I guess people like it because it looks different than your regular rock or SRW walls. People like something that is unique. The local co. I am referring to is; http://www.bythewall.com/

jamo1911
12-22-2010, 01:26 AM
I just joined the StoneMakers dealer network. Check out my blog (http://www.albertgrouplandscaping.com/our-blog/bid/34170/StoneMakers-Skeptic-Turned-Believer-Concrete-walls-without-forms)article on it.

JimLewis
12-22-2010, 04:26 AM
The company I was referring to in my earlier post (who is a competitor of StoneMakers, it seems) is JPG Technologies, School of Synthetic Rock Construction. http://www.jpjtechnologies.com/

James, I gotta say those video pique my interest. But it certainly seems like a lot of laborers in that video. I'm not really sure there is a labor savings with this kind of wall vs. a standard rock wall. Certainly looks nice though.

StoneMakers claims you can build walls in 1 day that used to take 5 days. Yah, maybe if you have 10-15 workers on the site, like in that video. But with my normal crew of 2 or 3 guys, I don't think that a wall they would usually do in 5 days (which would be like a 100-150' x 4' tall dry stack rock wall) could be done in a day with the same number of guys.

My other concern is stability, long term. We get a lot of rain and there is always a lot of hydrostatic pressure behind walls here. Most concrete walls I've ever seen have large cracks in them. I replace concrete walls every year with SRWs or real rock walls. They just don't seem to last long-term like SRWs do.

I'd hate to get all excited about this concept, go out and start installing them by the dozens every year and then find in 3 or 4 years they were all starting to fail. Doing the warranty work on that many walls would put me out of business! I just don't have a lot of faith in concrete walls for this area.

I remain intrigued but not convinced. I don't think I can afford to take the risk that this doesn't work as well as it says.

jamo1911
12-22-2010, 10:45 AM
Hi Jim,
I had a lot of the same concerns that you did as well. The videos do show a lot of people there as it was a training session for new dealers. To be completely honest I am not sure exactly how much work my crew will be able to do in a day. I have a crew of 3 guys plus myself. Also in the training, whenever we learned a new aspect or the next step if you will, everybody wanted to try at once then 15 minutes later 2-5 guys were working. In this video we did a 75' long 4' tall wall in 5.5 hours then colored in 1 hour the next day.
As far as strength, I was concerned too. I've done my fair share of SRW walls and pavers and never really had any big issues. Went through 5 cases of bad glue a few years ago - that sucked. But we fixed it and moved along. The real strength of this product lies in the ingredient that allows you to use concrete at a low slump of 2.5 to 3. PSI ratings should easily top 6000 on a 9 sack mix. When I build my walls I will core test the mix. And I will be making a few test cylinders to test in the shop this winter and doing a video on it. My idea is to take 3500 psi concrete and make 3 cylinders and then make the same mix with the stonemakers product added and take 3 cylinders. From there I will test both after 24 hours, then 30 days then 90 days to see what happens. I know it's not real scientific but it may be helpful.

Where I am I replace every type of wall and make a good living at it to boot, Speak of the devil I'm replacing both a concrete wall and srw wall today - my guys are there now. We are going to use SRW's in this case because. 1 - the StoneMakers product cannot be allowed to freeze and it's 20 or so out right now, 2 - they are trying to match a wall they had built last year on the other side of the driveway.

After seeing this product in person I can say that SRW's cannot be as strong. First the strength in a SRW wall comes from a combination of weight, static friction, mechanical bond(pins, lip etc) and soil reinforcement (grid, soil type etc. On this wall you may still and should in some cases use geo-grid. The mechanical bond is replaced by a monolithic pour and the weight, well lets see. Using some round numbers the wall we made was 75' long x 4' tall and used 20 yards of concrete. That would be roughly 20 yards x 3915 pounds per yard I won't count the gravel it's the same for both - that's 78,300 lbs.
Now block 75' long and 4' exposed 6" buried a total of 337.5 face feet of wall. I use CST Versalok standard which is .66 face feet per block which would be roughly 506 blocks and with each block weighing 88 pounds we would be at 44,528 pounds of wall material. That's almost twice the weight.
I can say from being there and doing the work and seeing the end result it passes the common sense test. It's abundantly obvious that the StoneMakers wall is stronger. Heck we had a piece of concrete that was not cleaned up as it should have been before it had cured. The concrete was one day old and we were taking turns trying to break a 4" thick slab with a 12 lb sledge and a bosch brute jackhammer. after 2 hours they brought in a tow-able compressor and 90lb jack hammers for 15 square feet of concrete.

Drainage has to be addressed just as you would do in any type of wall. Water will break any wall if allowed to sit. I think the reason yourself and I replace so many walls is because of the original installer. And if the wall failed because of hydrostatic pressure then it was 100% the installers fault or engineers for that matter. Also typical concrete walls are not monolithic and they are poured with a weak (wet, 6-7 slump) concrete to get into and fill all of the voids in the forms. This creates two problems, 1- a cold joint between the footing and wall (it's not monolithic as a StoneMakers wall) usually only supported by some rebar going vertical. 2- Thirty-five hunderd psi concrete diluted down to 2-3000 psi concrete.

Jamie

DavidinTulsa
12-22-2010, 02:46 PM
Jim,

I was at the training with Jaime and the other trainees. I would agree with everything Jaime said concerning Stonemakers products. This past summer, I visited older projects that were installed as much as 9 years ago using the Stonemakers system. This is the real deal.

Our 57 year old company has proven that any system will fail if improperly designed or executed. We have replaced SRW's, stone walls, and concrete walls. All had numerous problems mostly due to ignorance. These installers didn't do a poor quality job to cheat someone, they just didn't know better.

Education is the key to success in any endeavor. Dave Montoya and the Stonemaker team truly have learned and are now educating others in a better and more profitable system

PatriotLandscape
12-22-2010, 02:55 PM
I am not calling into question the strength of the stonemakers system.

SRW walls rely on more than the weight of the block for its strength. The block really only decides the amount and size of grid used in the wall. the retained earth is the major factor in the strength of a wall. the block is merely a facade or veneer. the actual weight of an SRW is calculated with the retained earth plus backfill stone.

Hard at Werk
12-29-2010, 11:40 PM
There's only Two types of concrete. Cracked, and Going to Crack

JimLewis
12-30-2010, 01:51 PM
I am not calling into question the strength of the stonemakers system.

SRW walls rely on more than the weight of the block for its strength. The block really only decides the amount and size of grid used in the wall. the retained earth is the major factor in the strength of a wall. the block is merely a facade or veneer. the actual weight of an SRW is calculated with the retained earth plus backfill stone.

I disagree. While it's true that when you implement grid the right way, you increase the stability of the soil behind the wall, that doesn't mean a block wall is just a facade. It's been my experience that a SRW is almost always more solid than most other methods (dry stack rock wall, concrete wall, wood wall, et. al.) One of the reasons SRWs are stronger is basically for the reason that pavers are stronger than concrete. They are small, individual sections that all use the combined strength of the others to stay in tact.

Another reason the SRW is stronger than the others is the weight. It's heavier per sq. ft. than a wood wall or even some rock walls. And while it's true that rock walls use a heavier material too, the rocks aren't flat and it makes them much easier for one of the rocks to slide off of one of the other ones.

Next, the SRWs are held together by pins or a lip, and then usually tapered back at each level. So as long as your base course is build right, then each successive course is tied into the course below and battered back a little AND tucked in behind a little. You can't do that with a concrete wall.

All this makes it quite hard to push the wall out with hydrostatic pressure.

I still love SRWs. We've build dozens, probably hundreds, of walls. And I don't think we've ever had a call back on a SRW. Can't say the same for wood walls or rock walls. And although I haven't ever installed a solid concrete wall, I've replaced a whole lot of them due to cracking.

Not saying this process doesn't work. But I disagree that an SRW is just a facade. It's been my experience that they are stronger than all the others.

SVA_Concrete
12-30-2010, 04:55 PM
I disagree. While it's true that when you implement grid the right way, you increase the stability of the soil behind the wall, that doesn't mean a block wall is just a facade. It's been my experience that a SRW is almost always more solid than most other methods (dry stack rock wall, concrete wall, wood wall, et. al.) One of the reasons SRWs are stronger is basically for the reason that pavers are stronger than concrete. They are small, individual sections that all use the combined strength of the others to stay in tact.

Another reason the SRW is stronger than the others is the weight. It's heavier per sq. ft. than a wood wall or even some rock walls. And while it's true that rock walls use a heavier material too, the rocks aren't flat and it makes them much easier for one of the rocks to slide off of one of the other ones.

Next, the SRWs are held together by pins or a lip, and then usually tapered back at each level. So as long as your base course is build right, then each successive course is tied into the course below and battered back a little AND tucked in behind a little. You can't do that with a concrete wall.

All this makes it quite hard to push the wall out with hydrostatic pressure.

I still love SRWs. We've build dozens, probably hundreds, of walls. And I don't think we've ever had a call back on a SRW. Can't say the same for wood walls or rock walls. And although I haven't ever installed a solid concrete wall, I've replaced a whole lot of them due to cracking.

Not saying this process doesn't work. But I disagree that an SRW is just a facade. It's been my experience that they are stronger than all the others.

you can cast in place a concrete wall with a batter, no problem.

and a correctly built concrete wall will far out preform any SRW out there. you could liken a concrete wall with no rebar to a srw with no geo grid.. poor construction practices will always produce poor results.

when was the last time you saw a dam constructed of srw's i think the hoover dam is holding back a heck of a lot of hydrostatic pressure.

PatriotLandscape
12-30-2010, 06:46 PM
I disagree. While it's true that when you implement grid the right way, you increase the stability of the soil behind the wall, that doesn't mean a block wall is just a facade. It's been my experience that a SRW is almost always more solid than most other methods (dry stack rock wall, concrete wall, wood wall, et. al.) One of the reasons SRWs are stronger is basically for the reason that pavers are stronger than concrete. They are small, individual sections that all use the combined strength of the others to stay in tact.

Another reason the SRW is stronger than the others is the weight. It's heavier per sq. ft. than a wood wall or even some rock walls. And while it's true that rock walls use a heavier material too, the rocks aren't flat and it makes them much easier for one of the rocks to slide off of one of the other ones.

Next, the SRWs are held together by pins or a lip, and then usually tapered back at each level. So as long as your base course is build right, then each successive course is tied into the course below and battered back a little AND tucked in behind a little. You can't do that with a concrete wall.

All this makes it quite hard to push the wall out with hydrostatic pressure.

I still love SRWs. We've build dozens, probably hundreds, of walls. And I don't think we've ever had a call back on a SRW. Can't say the same for wood walls or rock walls. And although I haven't ever installed a solid concrete wall, I've replaced a whole lot of them due to cracking.

Not saying this process doesn't work. But I disagree that an SRW is just a facade. It's been my experience that they are stronger than all the others.

Not to be a d!ck but according to ncma and their geotechnical engineers the wall block itself is a facade. I am an ncma instructor.
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PatriotLandscape
12-30-2010, 06:51 PM
you can cast in place a concrete wall with a batter, no problem.

and a correctly built concrete wall will far out preform any SRW out there. you could liken a concrete wall with no rebar to a srw with no geo grid.. poor construction practices will always produce poor results.

when was the last time you saw a dam constructed of srw's i think the hoover dam is holding back a heck of a lot of hydrostatic pressure.

That is a terrible analogy why would anyone build a dam out of something segmented? It has holes all through it.
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bob
12-30-2010, 07:23 PM
My neighbors bought a franchise ( They are masons). In their back yard they built a stone patio, retaining wall, fire pit , water fall, and a stone beverage cooler. This was their first project , and everything looks great.

PLLandscape
10-31-2013, 11:35 AM
I know this thread is nearly 3 YEARS OLD, but I used the search function for this and instead of starting a new topic why not just wake this one up. There is a local company that does this stuff and man does it just look like it's fake, or dare I say bought from a big box store. Obviously the scope of it is more than that. Again if it makes someone a lot of money you're on to something. Anyone care to chime in? Many of you do fantastic work so I was curious what you hardscape contractors think?

JimLewis
10-31-2013, 02:28 PM
It has it's place.

I am good friends with the company in my area who bought into StoneMakers and owns part of the territory in our area. He also has first right of refusal on the rest of the area too, should someone like me decide they want to try to buy the other half of the territory. I've seen their work and even recommended them a time or two.

You have to understand where this product fits in. It's just like stamped concrete. Stamped concrete allows you to have the general LOOK of a flagstone, bluestone, etc. patio - but at a fraction of the cost of what a real nice flagstone or bluestone patio would cost. Sure, everyone can tell it's not really flagstone or whatever. But it looks close enough and still looks much nicer than regular concrete. And sure, stamped concrete has issues. Lord knows I'm not a fan. But when you can get a stamped concrete patio at $12 / sq. ft. (vs. $45-$60 a sq. ft. for a nice flagstone patio by a stone mason) then you're willing to put up with the fact that it doesn't look quite as nice and perfect as real flagstone would.

It's the same with these walls. People (at least in my area) are sick to death of SRWs. At least your basic Home Depot style boring SRW blocks. But SRWs in general is a more stoic, generic look. Almost everyone, given the choice, would rather have a nice stone masonry wall. But those are like 4x the price of an SRW. So most people just go with the SRW, even though they don't totally love the look. This is where the Stonemakers product comes into play. You can get a nice stone-looking wall for much less than a real stone mason wall would cost. Might be a little more than an SRW. But it's still not nearly as expensive as a real stone mason wall. So it's a good, viable alternative for a lot of people. Just like the stamped concrete is a good viable alternative for people who would have rather had a real flagstone patio but don't really want to spend that much money for one.

It meets a need.

Does it look 100% authentic? No. But it looks better than most SRW walls. To a lot of people, with a less discerning eye, they may actually think it's real stone. Some of the jobs I've seen look fairly good. Fairly authentic. Others, not as much. But it meets that need for a stone look wall for much less price. That's why it plays well sometimes.

PLLandscape
10-31-2013, 02:35 PM
Good points. I guess for me it was more the walls shaped to be boulders. I understand stamped concrete patios and walkways shaped in whatever pattern a person may like (flagstone, paver, etc..). But those walls, or at least the ones the contractor posted in his portfolio, just don't fit in well "naturally". But I get it, fills a need and I'm sure can be quite profitable. Maybe after they get weathered a bit they look better?

xtreem3d
11-01-2013, 10:17 AM
Would you be able to take any pics of it? There is a local company that does it but I can only see the project on you tube videos.
Thanks,
Steve

Krafty
11-01-2013, 12:44 PM
Steve, Are you talking about retaining wall solutions? If you drive by there shop on Baumgartner they did there sign in stone makers.

SRT8
11-01-2013, 12:52 PM
I will try to get some pics up of some walls around here. They make these massive walls on the side of freeways over here. The guys that do it are skilled thats for sure. Looks way better than any block wall.
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xtreem3d
11-01-2013, 02:30 PM
Steve, Are you talking about retaining wall solutions? If you drive by there shop on Baumgartner they did there sign in stone makers.

Yeah..Mike is going to be my new engineer. I'll run by and take a look,
Thanks,
Steve

alldayrj
11-01-2013, 03:04 PM
They're running an ad on craigslist locally looking for returning veterans to set up franchises

SRT8
11-01-2013, 03:20 PM
I havent seen that company aroud here but the walls i was referring to are built by big construction companies. There are dozens of companies that do those kind of walls around here.
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xtreem3d
11-02-2013, 04:56 PM
Here is a pic of an entrance. It's done in a plain limestone look. I thought it look pretty good up close. I can see where it could start looking fake when you start staining the concrete if your not artistic and can't blend the colors. hope pic is good I didn't resize it.
Steve

JimLewis
11-02-2013, 07:10 PM
Well, I've seen better work from StoneMakers than that. That seems a little dull and boring - just the color, if nothing else. They could have easily made that look a little more appealing and more natural with a little color and maybe sealing it too.

Anyway, it still fits a need. I'm sure the cost for that whole wall / columns, etc. was at least 50% less than if it would have been done by a stone mason. So I think this product still fits better into a lot of people's budgets.

Krafty
11-04-2013, 02:10 PM
Well, I've seen better work from StoneMakers than that. That seems a little dull and boring - just the color, if nothing else. They could have easily made that look a little more appealing and more natural with a little color and maybe sealing it too.

Anyway, it still fits a need. I'm sure the cost for that whole wall / columns, etc. was at least 50% less than if it would have been done by a stone mason. So I think this product still fits better into a lot of people's budgets.

I highly doubt that is a finished product yet. That is the entrance to there shop, that they have been working on for a while now. There logo is normally blue so I would imagine they will still ad some color to it.