Parging The Foundation Walls

June 29, 2009

exterior work, water problems

I have been in the process— oh, for about THREE years now!! — of parging the foundation walls of my home. Most new homes since the 60s and 70s have concrete block or poured concrete foundations. But waaaay back in the olden days (as when my house was built), foundations were built from field stones or cut stones. My home has cut stones. Over the 150 year span that my home has been standing, the field stones are still in excellent condition– it’s just the mortar that stinks.

Stone foundations have limestone mortar. It is water-permeable and over time and rodent-chewing (chipmunks are notorious for chewing away the mortar to build nests between the stones), the mortar begins to fail. In severe cases, this can cause foundation failure. In less severe cases (such as mine) this can mean a pocked, ugly appearance and some water leakage. Parging is the application of a thin coat of sticky cement over the wall surface. I’ve got about half of my interior basement done– what a job! My basement is huge and has 6′ high walls– and about 1/3 of the house’s exterior foundation wall (about 2 feet high).

Dig Down

The mix you use for parging must be special– it has to be sticky (that is, it must stick to a vertical surface without plopping down and off) and must remain stuck to the walls after it is dry. I had one dummy at Lowe’s tell me I needed mortar mix for the job, and me- being the dumb homeowner– listened to him and bought $200 worth of the stuff. Only to find that this is the WRONG stuff and crumbles off over time. :-p What you need to use is something call Sand Mix. It’s a combination of sand and portland cement. It should not crumble off if applied properly. There are even some acrylic additives you can add to the mix to make it even stickier- the additive is a lot like Elmer’s glue and comes in tall bottles. You pour it in to your Sand Mix mix. I didn’t use it. I’m too cheap (the additive is very pricey). I mixed up the Sand Mix and so far, it’s been working well. This is what I did about four years ago, and it’s holding up great:

Older Parging Job

To make the mix, you add water to the Sand Mix. You should only mix up as much Sand Mix as you are going to use in about 30 minutes. Otherwise, it will start to harden and won’t work anymore. Here’s what you will need for parging your walls:

  • Sand Mix
  • a bucket
  • water (hose or watering can)
  • spray bottle filled with water
  • cement trowel
  • cardboard or kneeling pad for your aching knees

It’s important to mix the Sand Mix *just right*– not too soupy or not too crusty. When mixed properly, you’ll be able to make M’s or S’s in the mix and they will stay in shape.
Mix Sand Mix

Before spreading on the stuff, make sure your wall is free from crud, like spiders’ webs, frass, and loose mortar. You will also want to dig down in the dirt a little, so that your parging line will not be seen should the soil shift around your foundation. I usually dig down about 3 to 6″, depending on the soil and the wall itself. Some folks go much deeper down.

Now, get your spray bottle and moisten the wall. This helps the parging mix to stick onto the wall. Don’t saturate your wall with loads of water– just get it wet.

Spray the Wall

Now lay your parging mix with your trowel, in 1/4″ to 1/2″ thickness.

Parge It On

Corners and around windows are the hardest, so take your time. Parging isn’t a difficult job, it’s just tedious. While parging, I found a few areas where moles and/or chipmunks had chipped mortar away. Grrr. I filled these holes in, to keep them out. Parging helps keep out water, too.

Parging Progress

Click to enlarge any photo.

Parge Progress

I am not too fussy about how smooth my mix goes on. Just laying on the mix is a 100% improvement!

Wall Parged

Allow to dry for 36 hours before moving the soil back into your trench. The parging mix will change color as it dries, to a light gray. You can leave it this color, or paint it with some waterlocking paint, or exterior concrete paint. This job is so easy that you can even have the kids do it. You just have to make sure that they are consistent with the thickness and apply it so that everything is covered completely.

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86 Responses to “Parging The Foundation Walls”

  1. Sugar Cribs Says:

    nice tips and very completed

    • dc Says:

      Portland Cement is very caustic, little kids should not be putting thier hands into the mix. You could also decorate or style the wall with a wet brush to give it a finished look.

  2. Rebecca Says:

    Great job! I too have the old cut stone foundation and I’ve been putting this off for way too long. I’ll have to go back into a crawl space under my porch and just the thought of it makes me cring.

  3. Cherry@NewburghRestoration Says:

    Wow, that was a good job. I would not have even thought about tackling a project like that myself.

  4. Rosemary Says:

    Thanks for this information. The pix are very helpful.
    Question: I want to cover (with cement) a cinder block wall which was covered with cement placed over metal lathe several years ago. In other words, I want to put a coating of cement over the existing wall which is made up of the above. Do I have to worry about lathe again or can I just start covering it up?

  5. David M Says:

    Great post….! Looks Great..!
    I own a 1830 home in MA and I have been patching up the foundation and skirt. Next step is to parge the foundation and the chimney in the attic. Your info helps greatly! Good luck with your next project!

  6. Rosemary Says:

    Another question here: I want to put veneer type stones on an already sturdy cinder block wall. Can I use just regular cement to set them in or does this require a special type of cementing material?

  7. Alun Chisnall Says:

    Thanks for useful tips and photos, Just about to copy you. Will report back later. Cheers

  8. Dawn Says:

    You mentioned you did this on the interior as well. Did you use the same process? Do you have photos of doing that as well?

  9. Dawn Says:

    @Mrs. Mecomber thanks! I’m going to try that in my basement I think!

  10. Jeff Says:

    I have a basement which needs waterproofing badly. I tried a waterproofing paint but it didn’t work. I would like to try parging. Do I need to clean the paint off before parging?

    Thanks

  11. Barb Says:

    Our basement has leaked since we have lived here. Done drainage pipes in the back, tried with the “ugly” paint sealer, etc, etc. Nothing has worked. I saw Scott McGillivary -HGTV Income Property guy talk about parge today. Do you think this will really help my basement?

  12. Bob Says:

    The cut stones were beautiful. Too bad that you didn’t just tuck the joints. Now your job just looks like cheap concrete instead of rich natural material.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hi Bob. Yeah, I would have preferred to keep things to the way they were originally– a lot of things, not just the cut stones. However, the side you see here does not reflect the remainder of the foundation. In other areas, the foundation is cracked, pitted, has missing stones, and someone had rammed in ugly orange sedimentary stones and mortared them in. Plus, the chipmunks were eating though the mortar. I’ll sacrifice 10′ of “nice” stone to waterproof and seal up the decaying remainder.

  13. AJ Says:

    Thanks – Description great ! Got estimates to get part of the foundation of my house parged (8 foot span) – I think the contractor thought that I had nothing better to do than cut him a big big check!! – After my foundation – the interior chimney in the attic (it’s lined but the bricks look nasty!

  14. Tammy Says:

    Can’t wait to try this! We’ve been putting up with an ugly cinder block foundation under our front porch for to long. This is something we can do and it won’t be to expensive. Next we’ll tackel the front steps.

  15. Amy Says:

    Hi! Wow! We are looking to fix up our basement which has a limestone foundation. It is my job to research solutions. We are going to have to print your article! We have a 1880’s home and my 12 year old is asking for a bedroom of his own downstairs in the basement. This may be the cheapest solution even though it is a lot of work. It looks great, it must be worth it!
    Amy and Tony
    Teachers from Janesville, WI

  16. 1901 Says:

    Thank you for the info and inspiration! Parging is exactly what the basement walls of my 1901 house need. I will get going on this tomorrow.

  17. Manja Says:

    Will the same process work for a brick pier (it supports the porch)? I am having a fieldstone and bluestone front stair built and the ugly red brick stands out like a sore thumb now.
    Thanks
    Manja

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Parging should work for anything– brick, concrete blocks, etc. You may have to change the consistency to make sure it sticks to the wall.

  18. 1930's home Says:

    Hi,

    I had a contractor come in to do a job in my basement and he claims that I needed all my weeping tile replaced (looking for almost $15,000). I know that this is not what I need because I have NO water leaking and I have high grading soil (my home is on a hill). However, I have a problem with circulation in my basement and the walls are starting to crumble. What should I do? I know that I have high humidity in my home. Do I just get an air exchange and parge the walls (I would like to hire someone else to do this, as I have little patience)??? Do you also recommend a waterproofing sealer??? This info has been GREAT!

    Thanks,
    1930’s home

  19. Edward Shepherd Says:

    WOW thanks!

    I was nearly moments away from parging my foundation with – you guessed it – mortar mix, from … Lowes. Just like you, I had some ‘dummy’ at Lowes tell me this is what I need to use. However, I always double-check these local hillbillys. So I found this wonderful webpage where you say “NO NO , DON’T USE MORTAR MIX” … THANKS!

    you have saved me time, money, and likely someone’s life. hehehe.

    Thanks again!

    Edward Shepherd
    Chattanooga, Tennessee

  20. 1930's home Says:

    So here is the deal, I was told by another company to take a look at a product called DRY LOK. This product will keep the humidity from going into my walls and then I can parge the walls. Can you tell me if this will work. I am in my early 30’s and this is the home that I would like to stay in. I’ve been VERY worried about my foundation walls. Waiting on your response.

    Thanks,
    1930’s home

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      I think Drylock is for basement walls constructed from cinder block. I have old fieldstone walls, and a LOT of water, so Drylock wouldn’t help me. I guess a coat of Drylock on block walls before parging wouldn’t hurt, but it would be wildly expensive. I don’t know if it would help much. I am no waterproofing expert, I’m just a homeowner who does things herself. All my information I got from books and the Internet. You sound very concerned, maybe get a second opinion from an expert who does not have a financial incentive for the project? A contractor or mason would know. I wish you well!

  21. Jim McKenney Says:

    Drylock will help if applied to the outside of a cinder block wall, but it takes a minimum of two coats to make sure the entire surface is sealed. And it is expensive.

    I am working on a exterior basement cinder block wall that is exposed and painted. On advice of a contractor I am using a product call Weldcrete for a bonding agent. I have one wall done and it really lets the parge mix adhere to the wall much better than just applied over the paint. Plus the wall does not suck the water from the parge mix. Will have to see how it stands up this winter. $95 for 5 gal.

    I too was advised to use mortor mix for parging and lucky I saw this site before I started – Thanks.

  22. Jim Sheridan Says:

    do you know if I need mesh for parging on styrofoam ICFs

  23. Dawn Says:

    we are using portland cement and sand. that is what we were told to use. so, we have started doing some, it is cracking, why is that? also, since we are using it this way, what is the ratio of sand and cement? How thick should it be? thanks dawn

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Dawn, I am just a DIY’er. You may want to ask a professional mason those questions. I did not mix anything myself, I bought Quikrete Sand Mix (also called Topping Mix) for my project. I have not experienced any cracking. I do know that if there is a lot of water pressure behind the walls, you may have to recoat the walls in the future, as the water will cause the coating to crack or break off.

  24. James McKenney Says:

    Dawn – Cracking can be caused by several things.

    If the parge is allowed to dry too fast, it may crack – parged wall should be wet down several time a day for about 5 days.

    If the parge is put on too thick, it may separate from the wall and crack. If you tap on the wall where the crack is and it sound hollow, probably put on to thick.

    If the parge mixture is too wet it could dry unevenly and then crack.

    For mixture proportions – about 1 to 1.

  25. Eric Says:

    Wow, you have NO idea how much I appreciate this post! I had read it a few days before going to Lowe’s and settling on the sand/topping mix, when sure enough, a worker came along and shook his head like I was an idiot and tried to sell me mortar mix! (What is up with that? It looks like I’m what, the fourth person here who has experienced this??) Anyway, I second-guessed myself at that point, but thankfully I had my iPad with me and, right there in the store, sat down and searched the web until I found this post again. It saved me a lot of trouble! I bought 20 bags and began the work, and what I’ve done so far looks great and seems to hold up really well! You are absolutely right about the consistency, too. Thank you so much! :D

    I’d like to do some waterproofing as well on a certain wall. We have some Drylok, but I’m not sure if I should apply it before the parge on our cinderblock walls or after it. I’d be concerned about the parge mix being able to adhere to a painted surface, instead of on relatively porous cinderblock. I also considered using surface bonding cement, since I read that it is waterproof, and should more than suffice as a parging material . . . not to mention adding to the structural integrity of the walls (I’ve heard of people who have built walls by stacking blocks on top of each other with NO mortar in between, using only surface bonding cement on the outside). It’s expensive, though: almost 3.5 times the price of sand/topping mix. It might be worth it, though, if I don’t use Drylok on that wall. Any suggestions or ideas?

  26. Eric Says:

    Oh, I just noticed that you had said you could paint the dried sand/topping mix with a waterlocking paint. Have you tried this?

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      HI, Eric! I don’t know what it is about the Lowe’s guys… but I wonder how many basement walls have been ruined by their poor advice. The mortar mix on my walls is flaking off…. $450 of mortar mix… *sigh* and HOW am I going to parge over it with sand mix if it’s only going to fall off… I don’t know. :(

      About painting– I have not yet done it, because I haven’t finished my parging yet. I have heard and read in books that you can. Be aware that if you have a high water table, you may have to paint every so often because the water table erodes the paint.

      I have no idea about the Drylock. You be better off asking a mason. Drylock is REALLY expensive and it would be awful to do the wrong thing and waste it. If you ask for advice, my advice is to get plenty of advice, from a bunch of people.

      Thanks for your kind comments. :)

  27. Eric Says:

    I just saw some of your other blogs, and I’m glad to see that you’re a Christian too! God bless you! (You don’t have to post this; just thought I’d mention that.) :)

  28. William Pride Jr. Says:

    Morter mix premixed or make your own is the correct mix to use.However,for best results if you use the pre-mixed it needs to be adjusted by adding some more portland cement and hydrated lime.I would also use an add mix so long as you are going to all this work.
    A concrete sand mix will not last,is not intended for parging and I am surprised it can even be applied with out falling of.
    Suggest you go to a portland cement site to get true and informed information from the manufacture.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hi, William, thanks for your comment.

      Well, no, I must disagree with you– mortar mix is not the product to use. I have large sections of walls with mortar mix and other large sections with sand mix (interior and exterior). The mortar mix is crumbling off into a mess, while the sand mix is still tight after all these years.

      A carpenter/contractor suggested I use sand mix, it’s what he uses for his basement. He wrote a book about it, in the 80s… How to Remodel Your Home or something like it.

  29. wagnewvt Says:

    To all those asking about Drylock:

    I have a raised ranch with a four-foot high cinder block wall all the way around. I have tried using Drylock unsuccessfully on the interior and exterior of some portions of the wall to prevent further crumbling of the masonry.

    Before applying it on the inside wall in the garage (where our vehicle’s water runoff accumulates), I tried patching the masonry with hydraulic cement from Home Depot.

    Most portions of the interior repair did not hold, and the Drylock is now peeling off (both inside and out). I know that my external walls have no waterproofing barrier, and I am now considering digging back all dirt down to the foundation in order to apply some kind of moisture barrier (and perhaps apply Drylock to the exterior portion below ground as well).

    Opinions?

  30. Jennifer Says:

    I don’t think you are supposed to use Portland cement on stones that old. Newer houses, fine, but if your house is 100 or so years old you are supposed to use a mix sand and lime which is softer than the stone and also lets it breathe. So anyone reading this and thinking Portland cement is the way to go, may want to investigate further.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hi Jennifer. Portland cement is very bad for re-pointing old stones (the mortar replacement between stones). But as a parging material, it is fine.

  31. Paul Says:

    For all you with waterproofing problems, we had problems with a very damp basement, and actual mild flooding after severe rains. After talking with a number of waterproofing contractors, there are only two solutions that really solve the problem:

    1) Longer downspouts or underground piped drainage to get the water away from the foundation. (My brother had to go with 10′ downspouts to solve his basement flooding). If that doesn’t work, then:

    2) Dig out the foundation. Use a tar-based adhesive to apply 6mil plastic to the walls. Install drain tile along the foundation footer. Punch a hole through or under the footer to a sump in the basement with a pump in it. Backfill the foundation with crushed stone.

    If you merely coat the inside of the basement wall with waterproofing, you still have the moisture seeping through the wall and pushing the coating. The only way to really stop the moisture is from outside the wall.

  32. Mike P Says:

    Paul,you are 100% correct. You must stop the water from the outside. Weeping tile and waterproofing foundation on exterior is the only way. Parging will only hide temporarily what is happening from your view on the inside, but eventually the, parging will crack off and you be left with a bigger mess.

    I happened on this blog because I was looking for recipes for parge. Home Depot sells a parging mix, but the have a better product called top and bond, which can be used for parging but is $20+ for a 20Kg bag. It dries 10 times harder than reg parging mix and it’s what im using right now on my window well. I fastening diamond mess to the old parging with concrete nails.

    hoping it’ll last 20 yrs. Father-in law used same method and materila on his home 10-15 yrs ago and it still looks like it was done yesterday.

  33. phat puddock Says:

    mortar mix with additive (bonding agent) is great for rough fill of stone and veneer type finishes. Allow to dry and cure for several days, it will get shrinkage cracks occasionaly. then a thin coat with you sand cement mix, paint ith foundation seal , and if sub surface in a wet location apply drainage sheild ( dimpled plastic)backfill with 3/4 clean gravel to surface.

    there is no point applying any coating to the inside of a sub-grade foundation wall in hope of keeping out moisture. you must seal the outside and lower the static pressure of water to ensure a dry inside.

    not quick fixes, but if you can save on labour you will just get the job done slower. go too the suppliers for info the reno centers seldom have folks that are qualified to give anything but very basic advice.

    good luck

  34. jon Says:

    I recommend fiber reinforced concrete + acrylic polymer additive for this application. Also, don’t let it dry – put a sprinkler on it so it does’t dry for a week. This will make it stronger.

  35. craig Says:

    what can you add in parge mixture to make it a lighter color ?

  36. 1930's home Says:

    I have recently hired my father to do the work as I have health problems. He has been using a mix of Quikrete sand mix and also he is using another product Quikwall (White) to make the color lighter. He mixes it 2 parts Quikrete and 1 part Quikwall (as this product costs so much more-approx $14/bag). He also used a glue with water mix in a spray bottle to apply to walls to help keep them wet. Do not do areas larger than 20′, as this will make the cement crack. Apply small amounts at a time and allow to dry. Then go over all the walls in one day with a thin layer to make walls smooth. He has been a cement finisher for many years, working on projects like the Rogers Centre and the Canada Trust building (Toronto, Ontario) to just name a couple. He says that the best thing for doing these kinds of projects is to find the right products and to take your TIME. This is a long project because of all the time it takes to wait for the cement to dry. Also, check the outside of your home to make sure that the grade of soil is sloped away from your home. Also, before you start your project make sure that you dig against the outside of your home to make sure that the outside walls are not crumbling. He did NOT apply the Drylok sealer as he said that this was not needed in my home. He found the main source of the problem being in the basement windows. Be sure to check all of these things as it may take a little extra time but will save you time and money in the future. All the best to you when you do your project! Hope that this will help others.

    1930’s home

  37. Shevy Says:

    Thanks for all this information. I was also told to use a sand concrete mix but to use an acrylic bonding agent instead of water to create the parging paste. I am planning to reface our ugly concrete porch. It’s about 6 x 4feet in top surface, and six inches on the sides. The sides are really really terrible. My question is where is the best place to start parging? Do I start at the wall edge on the top and do the whole top surface first, or do the sides first, or maybe divide the whole job into four sections doing vertical and horizontal surface in one go at a time and finish with a thin layer after it is dry to smooth our the joints? It will also be hard to make the top surface perfectly smooth, I was told to use a wet sponge to rough the surface in a pattern. Wuld you recommend this?

    Hope to get some help before I start the job! Thanks in advance,

  38. Joel Says:

    What about parging with a rich lime mix as portland cement is much harder than most stone and brick? concrete block, ok.. but still i would use a high bond N or S type masonry cement. remember if the mix you use is harder than the masonry unit you are working with, down the road bad things will happen.

  39. Cody Says:

    Just so you know, Sand/topping mix is not the proper product and its unfortunate that you have so many people praising you for it. Sand/Topping mix is used for exactly what its name is – TOPPING, it is concrete. The proper product is, in fact, N or S type MORTAR. Mortar has better over all adhesion properties. That “dummy” at Lowes was actually right, and you are the only dummy here. You add some Weldbond to the mortar and you are good to go. Mortar has a smoother consistency without the small gravel/rocks which looks terrible and is quite clear it is the wrong product upon closer inspection. Mortar spreads a lot nicer and gives it a better texture (unlike yours that looks like absolute sh*t) Im not sure what planet these people are from who say it looks good but it looks like and African hut made from mud and cow sh*t and put it on with your hands & feet. However, I love guys like you who tackle one DIY job at home and all of a sudden you are an internet professional. You keep me in business.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Cody, you’re such the Internet professional, aren’t you? Slinging around advice from your chair when I don’t see anything that YOU have DONE, except sling complaints and criticisms.

      I applied sand mix AS RECOMMENDED BY A PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTOR years ago. It’s still on my foundation and it still looks great. It hasn’t chipped or worn or faded. But the crappy mortar has literally peeled off the walls one year after I applied it. Mortar is a FILLER not a concrete adhesive!

      The evidence rests.

  40. Edward Shepherd Says:

    I want to clarify my own experience ( I posted about a year ago scroll up ) for some others in a similar dilemma. After reading Cody’s post I don’t want to get into a name-calling thing. But he obviously ‘strongly’ disagrees with the use of the Sand/Topping mix. He should be an expert based on his statement ‘you keep me in business’ so I don’t discount his post. Perhaps there is some reason people are not having success with mortar. I don’t know..

    Here is my experience for what it is worth:
    I found this site a year ago when I was searching everywhere for some good advice for my own parging challenge. The reason I tried this site is because it offered advice on exactly what I was doing. First … the word ‘parging’ is not used around here, even the contractors did not know what parging means. I didn’t either, but it was exactly the definition of what I wanted to do. They all mistakenly call it ‘stucco’ — which it is not.
    So, after noticing a friend fail – using mortar – at the same job I was attempting with my foundation (cracking/flaking very soon after the project was finished) – I consulted the internet for help. But, first, I did try Lowes, …well, the guy at Lowes had good intentions but he wanted me to buy the exact same mortar for the job and do just like my friend had already attempted. I was not going to buy mortar mix and fail like my buddy (and mortar mix is not cheap for the surface area I had to do) … only to have to redo the job with something else. So I found this site and bought the sand/concrete/topping mix at lowes.

    Ok, fast forward –
    It has been an entire year since I used the topping concrete mix on my foundation, to parge…. and so far … so good. I must confess to some particular points (see below) to make this job a success. And I painted it with some Lowes premium paint designed for painting foundations/concrete/etc. It has some sort of elastic additive allowing it to fill and stretch. After a year – still looks good!

    So,
    Anyway, my point is this…. Cody may be right but there is obviously some method or technique needed to succeed in this project where the mortar-based parge will not flake or crack off. I feel like I had success but that there still must be an easier way. I can only speak from my limited experience. I did have success with the topping/sand/concrete premixed product from Lowes but the application was harder to apply than mortar. It was a bear to put on… it doesn’t want to stick. You must play with the consistency until you get a mashed potato product. Keep slapping the stuff on and it will start to stick. Wet the area first and make sure it is not painted – and it should untreated with anything making it slick or water resistant. It seems to stick or bond chemically when it draws moisture from the surrounding surface material. Patience is needed to put this stuff on. But, still it worked. I had large holes in the cinder-block and in the corners. I filled the large voids with the topping mix similar to how a automotive body repair shop fills with bondo.

    In closing of my book here: I think that everyone’s goal here is to find a product that works without flaking or cracking. Like Cody said: the texture of the finished product is going to be rougher than with the mortar. So, this may or may not be a problem as you discover the texture upon application and see if it suits you or not. When I originally started to tackle the job I wanted to hire a professional. But he quoted me a price of $3.5k (another quoted me 4.1k) to do my entire foundation. This is why I decided to do it myself. It took me an entire weekend but only cost me about $400 … including the mix, paint, and paint supplies.

    I am NOT a DIY’er … I HATE working on my house. And I would love to hire everything I need for keeping my home fixed up. But at 4k .. based on my own man-hours this guy was tripling my salary. This is why I chose to tackle DIY. I don’t like being robbed. :) I would have paid 2k… just to not have to do it.

  41. Edward Shepherd Says:

    Oh, not to hog the forums, but I forgot to mention that I received this comment (based on my parging choice) from a local professional concrete man. “As far as your foundation, I would not use mortar mix. It is not designed for patch work. Clean your surface well. At Lowes, get bonding agent and apply it before you patch with the sand mixture. This will help it to last longer and stay stronger….”

  42. Cody Says:

    I didn’t realize the the original poster was a MRS. its all becoming very clear now. More power to you! I know how powerful a woman feels when she accomplishes something that usually only a man does. So powerful, they write books and post “how-to’s” on the internet of their great accomplishment.. Even if it is WRONG and looks TERRIBLE.

  43. Edward Shepherd Says:

    Oh Cody – the most fun I have had all day was reading this site.
    You can’t fight with kitty kat.
    When they are wrong, you keep it shut.
    When you want to watch the game … you compliment her and empty the dishwasher.
    When you are right … you keep it shut.
    ..give it up..
    here , watch this.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hey Edward… when we are right… looks like ya’all complain…. ;)

      P.S. I can’t allow links to YouTube on this site…

      P.S.S. Cody didn’t seem to have any problems insulting people BEFORE he found out I was a lady…

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      To ALL THOSE WHO LEAVE COMMENTS:

      Please be aware that this is NOT a forum or news site, it is my personal blog that I maintain at my own expense. I am under no obligation to allow any comments. Comments filled with expletives, insults, threats, or links to other sites not related to my blog will be deleted.

      Thank you. :)

  44. leah hynson Says:

    Do you have any advice about what to do for a bowing or cracked stone wall? My house was built in 1940 and the basement is stone and mortar. The front wall of the basement has bowed in since I was a kid but a new crack has appeared in the corner recently and unsure if I should fill it since it looks like it is raising that corner of the house up. Unsure if I can repair or need to contact a professional. There are so many out there waterproofing basements only that it seems they really don’t know how to do anything else. I live in MO your basement is going to be wet! I just don’t want it to cave in. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hi Leah. My advice is to get professional advice. I’m not a mason. If it was my house, I’d get a mason contractor to see what’s going on. My house has old stones, and one corner has raised and cracked, too. My house still stands, but the bowing walls sound like a bad thing. Let me know what the contractor says! :)

  45. robin Says:

    Can you do this (parge)on the inside walls of the stone foundation or is this just for the outside foundation walls. I have field stones and the outside is already parged, but the inside has gaps that I can stick a fist into and the north wind blows through in the winter.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Robin– I am doing it on the inside, too. I have seen other contractors do the same thing with their homes. The only thing is, MAKE SURE the existing mortar is in good condition before you parge. If you can feel air blowing through the holes, you need to do some foundation repair first.

  46. brystone Says:

    first off nice d.i.y., now on to the basics …sand,cement,lime= mortar,used for binding bricks and blocks together,also used for parging, and or alias,aka.” plastering,rendering, stucco etc etc..most products purchased at home improvement store are just generic version of the prime good stuff bought and commercial contractor supply co., old day parging was lime stucco,” lime and sand”, year of 1824 portland cement was patented and used lightly… we can mix all types of things now from topping mixs for concrete repair, to parging mortars, its all in the mix ingredients and ratio’s to be determined accordinly for specified project,bonding agents have their place in the mix,and so do adhesive compounds etc, not to mention sealers,there are many important key steps that cant be missed,from preperation,hydration content,application method,mix ratio,additvies required,curing,sealing, miss one at will fail..@ Ed things cost money,and masonry restoration projects can become costly very quick, and usually done by experienced pros, factoring in estimated cost impacts, of material, total estimated time and labor,not to mention % for business overhead etc..take it from a pro, ive been a mason contractor for 25 years, not to mention carrying on a family tradition for over 150 years ,hope some of this info helps…..its not rocket science…its the skilled trade of masonry…there is a difference !!

  47. Shelli Says:

    Thank you for your post. It was very informative. I have a 1929 craftsman home that has a similar foundation and similar issues. It was nice to see that I am on the right track.

  48. Edward Shepherd Says:

    Brystone good post. It is important to know WHAT the ‘stuff’ inside a bag labeled mortar or topping, or cement, etc. actually is! I just discovered that one brand of mortar product is different than another! I suppose there is no official “MORTAR RATIO STANDARDS REGULATION COMMITTEE” – unfortunately.
    The ratio of sand, cement, lime, rocks, etc, are VERY very important.
    Which reminds me … The story of a ratio fiasco:
    I just made chili for a large group and gave my secret recipe to a friend (a friend who does not cook very often) – and they improvised in in trying to create my chili from their transcribed recipe.
    But the result was that they ended up with a horrible tasting mess. While it still contained all the same ingredients .. the ratios were not the same at all. A cup of cumin is usually too much! Well .. at least for Texas chili … :)

  49. David Says:

    This is all great information. My 146 year old home has a stone foundation and the exposed stone and mortar in the basement flakes. You can sweep the basement floor but in a few weeks the fine gritty powder is back covering everything in the basement. Is parging a solution for this problem? I don’t want to do something that will lead to foundation problems down the road. I know that these types of walls need to be able to “breath”. I’m willing to put in the time and labor but I’d like to know that I’m not doing anything that I’ll regret in the future. Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hi David. I’m no expert mason, just a home owner like you. After 100+ years, the limestone mortar does start to fall apart, especially if there is underground water (as is with my home). Also, chipmunks love to dig in the mortar and make nests.

      If it was my foundation, I would brush out the loose mortar and repoint as much as possible with a similar type of mixture (lime). Then, I would parge with sand mix. That’s my two cents and that’s what I have heard most masons recommend. Of course, if you live in an area with a high water table, you may need to waterproof the exterior foundation wall.

  50. David Says:

    Thank you for the great advice. Luckily since resolving a clogged drainage pipe outside we haven’t had much in the way a moisture in the basement so the waterproofing shouldn’t be necessary.

  51. Joel Says:

    if masonry cement you buy get O, or at most N. and i would in the hardest “type N high bond” to parge. preferably high lime custom mix.

    and cut out any joint you are to repoint at least twice the width in depth. as well to a solid back, and dampen before pointing.

    cheers.

  52. DLC in TN Says:

    Cody, yer an idiot so STFU!

  53. David Says:

    Thank you Joel. I think this is going to be a project for me in the new year when the weather outside is, as they say, frightful. I’ll be reasonably warm in my basement parging away.

  54. Chado123 Says:

    did put the mortar mix on the trowel and sort of smudge upwards to stick the parging I’m not sure how to apply it so it sticks on the wall, trying todo the inside of the basement to. Cool article!

  55. Fran Says:

    Great site. WE are trying to parge 87 year old concrete walls, using Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix. Having the worst time with this. Can’t get it to stick to the walls. We wirebrushed and cleaned the walls last week. This is very frustrating. Is there an addititve that we need to use to get this to stick? any ideas? Thanks

  56. Rico Says:

    I bought ‘sacking and parging mix’ 4 years ago and used in a mud room skirt. Now I don’t know if these products are available in USA… but I used mesh or lath and sprayed a mix of 1:1 concrete glue and water on the substrate.. Didn’t even use the tar paper b4 putting the lathe on. This skirt still looks like it was just done last week. Well… This time I’m doing the same thing on a skirt of a trailer home (guest house) and I am using the tar paper… What I’d like is to ask if anyone has any ideas of what type of additives I could use to improve the performance of this product. There’s more at stake on this one – bigger surface and likely semi heated crawl space. I should mentioned that I experienced tiny cracks of 1/16″ on the west side (afternoon sun) of the skirting. So
    I’m looking for increased curing time to eliminate the cracks and something to increase structural integrity. Thanks

  57. Vern Says:

    Very Helpful! I’ve needed to parge my chimney because the faces of the brick were literally popping off from water getting in behind them. I’ve been scouring youtube and the rest of the net and finally stumbled on your article. My first attempt last night [before finding your blog] was not so successful. Tonight I worked double time and I think much of my problem was in the mix and I was trying to be wayyyyyy too perfect. I got twice as much done in half the time and I really like the textured look. Sort of like a spanish finish on drywall. Anyhow….racing the weather in Ohio….and I appreciate the help! One more night should do it!

  58. John Says:

    I was planning to parge the cement block foundation walls of our front porch this afternoon, but got so interested in these comments that it is now too late to get anything done today. I did learn a lot from you all though. Wish brystone was here to help me; I think he really knows parging and all things concrete. I think Mrs Mecomber did a great job with the sand/cement mix. Looks good to me, and it seems to be holding up great as well.

    Bottom line is that there may not be the perfect mix yet, although companies are getting closer. The previous attempts at parging that I removed from the porch were both mortar and sand/cement mixes. Neither was holding on very well. I have chosen to go with a premixed product sold by Bomix called Pargemix. It is sold in Canada at RONA and possibly at Home Depot as well. It is designed for vertical applications.

    I found this site while trying to find out if it would be good to install a metal lathe to the wall first. People here seem to have had luck with it, but the sales guy at RONA suggested that for a thin application of parging, it might prove harmful. He thought that with temperature changes, the metal and concrete might expand/contract at different rates causing cracking. Any experience or suggestions here?

    One point I wanted to stress. It has been discussed above, but it is something most of us amateurs don’t fully understand. Proper curing is vitally important. All cement products harden by a chemical process, not by drying. Proper curing of cement takes place in 100% humidity i.e. under water if possible. If any cement mix is left to dry out before it cures, there will be problems to some degree. This would be especially true of a thin application such as in parging where so much of the water content could evaporate before it has had a chance to cure (harden) properly. As far as possible, without ruining the finish, the surface of the finished job should be kept from the effects of air and sun for a couple days at least.

  59. Hilary Says:

    I’m considering parging my cellar. The house is 120++ old, stone foundation walls/concrete. Foundation is sound. I have a mason doing repairs to the windows and installing vents. Not a wet cellar. Unfortunately estimates for parging were 10K, not in my budget. He said that field stones and concrete were used for the foundation. Would the same product/mix you used work? I’ll have to do some stone replacement as well, the surface of the walls have been crumbling for years with some stones falling out. I’d appreciate any feedback. Thx.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Hi, Hilary. Your situation sounds similar to mine. You’d have to gently remove any crumbling mortar from between the stones but don’t remove large chunks! Also, use SAND MIX and NOT mortar mix.

      • Hilary Says:

        Thank You so much, I’m soooo impressed with what you have been able to do. Gives me inspiration to take this on.

  60. Ruth Says:

    I’ve been trying to find out information like this for a while. It seems like every book on basements assumes you want to turn your space into a rec room, not fix any problems that might be there. Our house is 100 years old and the previous owner did not keep up on maintenance. The parging on our house has huge gaps some a foot square and an inch deep. Do you think your method would work for a basement in such a state?

    • Rebecca Says:

      Parging is a top coat. You can’t apply it in any thickness greater than 1/4-inch. If your basement foundation is structurally sound, you could still parge the walls. If it was me, I’d fill those big gapes with stones and mortar mix before parging. But if you think the gaps in the walls are dangerous, have a contractor or mason look at it. Better to be safe than sorry. You don’t want your foundation to cave in!!

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