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The home features curving walls that were designed to maximize the scenic views of the area
The home features curving walls that were designed to maximize the scenic views of the area
September 17, 2014 7:30 AM CDT

SPEC MIX Colored Building Stone Mortar plays a huge role in an Arizona masterpiece

Consistent color every time


A beautiful stone residence is something to behold, especially when it’s 12,000 square feet and created to complement the texture and natural fabric of the rocky mountain it sits on. Designed by Project Architect Craig Brown of Craig E. Brown & Associates in Fountain Hills, AZ, with the masonry work installed by Sutter Masonry, Inc. of El Mirage, AZ, the home is positioned at 3,500 feet above sea level to take full advantage of unlimited panoramic views of the neighboring mountains and the distant Phoenix skyline.

The home features exterior and interior stone walls constructed with schist stones laid in staggered patterns to create a rugged, imperfect look. Millions of tons of schist stones were custom-cut and fitted to adhere to the inside and outside of the structure, utilizing well over 450 - 3,000 pound bulk bags of SPEC MIX’s Colored Building Stone Mortar.

Mason contractor Mike Sutter gives some perspective on the challenges of the project. “Aside from the overall size of the project, the two most challenging aspects of the installation were the amount of stone used—both inside and outside—and applying the mortar and stone on the curved walls, arches and slopes.” Sutter’s masons used a full depth mortar bed of the proprietary colored mortar to set the stone, resulting in a thin bed joint between the units, which perfectly matched the specified color and the stone.

Jack Sutter, the project’s Masonry Superintendent, commented on the mortars. “I use SPEC MIX Building Stone Mortar on all of my full-depth stone jobs. You get better production with this mortar and it cleans off the face of the natural stone better. If we use regular Portland and Lime mixes, there can be excessive lime stains left on the face of the stone, with SPEC MIX Building Stone Mortar we don’t get that.” Jack speaks to the company’s earlier years, “Back in the old days, mixing the bags of cement and lime together with sand was never consistent. Now with the SPEC MIX products, especially their colored mortars, every batch is the same, which is better for the guys to work with and we deliver a better masonry building to the owner.”

In all, the project required 30,000 man hours of work including 25 masons and mason tenders to install the CMUs. When the stone work was in full production more than 30 masons and mason tenders amassed over 21,000 collaborative hours to complete the residence.

When designing and building with natural stone for optimal beauty and integrity, true stone masons need a mortar that compliments the characteristics of the stone as much as their craftsmanship. When it comes to selecting a mortar that delivers color consistency and high productivity, it’s clear SPEC MIX’s Colored Building Stone Mortar is the obvious choice.

About the Author

Jeff Farmakes is the Marketing Communications Manager for SPEC MIX®, Inc.


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