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Applying a stucco finish to a concrete block wall
Whether it’s for a retaining wall or a patio expansion, you can build a concrete wall without using mortar. The secret ingredient is Quikrete Quikwall Surface Bonding Cement.

Concrete block walls have many uses, ranging from residential to commercial.

Want to introduce texture and unique design elements outside your home? Consider using concrete blocks for an accent or garden wall. 

You also can use large concrete blocks to build retaining walls, security barriers or massive bins for products and materials.

Regardless of the project, if the thought of tackling a block-and-mortar wall project seems daunting, there’s an easier solution.

Using dry-stacked concrete blocks and surface-bonding cement, it can be easier than you may think to build a low-maintenance, affordable accent wall.

The one-coat application of Quikrete Quikwall Surface Bonding Cement provides structural strength and a textured “stucco” finish. It’s also excellent for rehabilitating and waterproofing unpainted concrete walls.

Here’s how to build a concrete wall. 

Materials


Frost line, labeled below the ground

How to Build a Wall with Quikrete Quikwall

All concrete block walls — both structural and non-structural — require a solid, poured concrete footing. Use Quikrete 5000 for footing construction because of its high strength and quickly it strengthens.

Poured concrete footings should be at least twice the width of the concrete blocks you’ll use for the wall. Standard 8-by-8-by-16-inch blocks would require a 16-inch-wide footing. 

Make sure the footing depth extends below the frost line; this is the depth where groundwater in the soil is expected to freeze. If you don’t extend footings below the frost line, your concrete foundation could shift after frozen groundwater thaws.

In addition, check local building codes for construction requirements.


Marking concrete block positions on a slab with chalk

2. Lay the First Course of Blocks

Once the footing has cured, dry-lay the first row of blocks on top of the footing and chalk-mark the block positions using a level and mason’s line for accuracy.


Bag of QuikWall

3. Add the Quikwall Bed

Remove the blocks and lay a ⅛-inch bed of Quikwall on the footing. The Quikwall mix should be workable but firm enough to support the weight of the first course. 

You can mix it by hand or machine; the size of your project will determine which method you choose. Hand mixing can be done in a mortar tub or a wheelbarrow with a mixing hoe.  

One 50-pound bag of Quickwall will cover about 50 square feet at about ⅛-inch thick. Coverage may vary based on the texture and thickness of your final application. 

Each bag requires a gallon of water; you can add more water in small amounts, as needed, to get a workable mix. 

Add liquid cement color if you want a decorative stucco finish. Half of a 10-ounce bottle of Quikrete liquid cement color should color one bag of 50-pound Quikwall

To get a consistent color throughout the mix, blend the liquid cement color into the mixing water before adding it to the Quikwall mix. Using the same color-to-water ratio will maintain color uniformity from batch to batch. 


Setting the bottom cinderblock of a concrete wall

4. Lay the Bottom Course

Set the bottom course of concrete blocks. Using a level, check your alignment every three to four blocks.


Dry-stacking the concrete blocks to form a wall

5. Dry-Stack the Remaining Blocks

Once you’ve set the first course of blocks, dry-stack the remaining blocks in a running-bond pattern to the desired height — all corners should use an interlocking pattern.


Dampening concrete blocks with a garden hose to help them cure better

6. Dampen the Blocks

Thoroughly dampen the block wall with water. This is important because dry blocks will draw water from the mix, making it difficult to finish. This also can cause inconsistent color and cracking, especially in hot temperatures.


Applying QuickWall to achieve a stucco finish on the concrete block wall

7. Apply the Quikwall

Apply a consistent ⅛- to ¼-inch coat of Quikwall to both sides of the block. Use a square finishing trowel held at a 45-degree angle and work from the bottom of the wall to the top, covering the wall’s entire surface.

To texture your concrete wall, use a bristle-brush broom. Practice on a block or sheet of cement board to perfect your technique. 


Curing the surface of a concrete block wall with a QuickWall finish

8. Cure the Surface

Moist-cure the wall after eight hours by dampening it with a fine spray. Repeat spraying several times daily for three days. This is crucial to achieve color consistency and prevent surface cracks. 

Watch a video on how to build a dry-stack concrete block wall here.

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