Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Cut and Install Retaining Wall Topper Stones

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Topper stones make a wall look finished but have to be cut to fit a curved wall.

How do I add square topper stones to a curved retaining wall? And how do I attach the topper stones so that they don’t get knocked off? -Paul

Those wedge-shaped stackable stones are great for building curved retaining walls, but once complete it leaves you with unsightly gaps. For a finished look, you can add topper stones, but it poses some challenges since:

  • Topper stones are usually square, not wedge-shaped, so if you want a smooth top you’ll need to cut them to fit the curve. If your curve is very gradual, you might be able to get away with spreading out the small gaps so they aren’t noticeable.
  • Topper stones are also a bit wider and lighter than the wall blocks, so it’s easy to kick them out of place or bump them with a lawn mower. I have topper stones on my wall, and I’m always knocking them loose and having to put them back.

Instead of my kick-and-replace method, there are better ways of finishing off your retaining wall! Try these tips.

Use a Masonry Saw

Retaining wall blocks can be cut using a masonry chisel and mallet, but for the topper stones you may want to spring for a diamond blade masonry saw. Similar to a wet tile saw, masonry saws make very clean, straight cuts that will give a nice finishing touch to your wall. Masonry saws can be rented at your local rental center – all you’ll need is an extension cord and a garden hose to provide lubricating water.


The bottom stones will be cut along the lines, and the top one will be left square.

How to Measure the Cut

If you enjoy geometry, you can cut each stone at an angle to curve along your wall. For a faster job that looks just as neat, try this approach:

  • Step 1: At the beginning of your wall, place stones #1 and #3 in their places. You’re going to be cutting both of these.
  • Step 2: Lay stone #2 on top of them, with the front corners lined up. You’re NOT going to be cutting this stone, you’re just using it as a cutting pattern.
  • Step 3: Draw lines on stones #1 and #3 where the top stone overlaps them.
  • Step 4: Cut stones #1 and #3 along your lines.
  • Step 5: Replace the stones on the wall, and now stone #2 should fit neatly between them.
  • Step 6: Now put stone #4 on top of stones #3 and #5, and repeat. The odd-numbered stones will be cut on both edges, and the even-numbered stones will be left uncut.


The back view shows the overlap of the stones and the cutting line being marked.

Adhere the Stones

Once your topper stones are cut and fit, you can keep them in place using masonry adhesive. Masonry adhesive usually comes in a tube for use with a caulk gun and should be available at your home improvement store. Examples include:

  • Titebond Landscape Retaining Wall Adhesive
  • Quikrete Polyurethane Construction Adhesive
  • SRW Retaining Wall & Paver Adhesive

For a very solid wall, you can also use the adhesive to attach the stackable blocks themselves.

Julie

Further Information



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6 Comments on “How to Cut and Install Retaining Wall Topper Stones”

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  1. jeff Says:
    April 29th, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Hello, I want to concrete inside my block wall and it is stepped down, haw can I get an edge that will hold my concrete inside the top edge of the blocks.

  2. wayne jones Says:
    July 6th, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I built a retainer wall and wanting to put 12 x 12 x 2 concrete blocks on it and need to know if there’s a way to rough cut the edges for a rough finish look. the top will be flat.

  3. Nicole Holdenried Says:
    March 17th, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Hi,
    Need help quick? :)
    I currently have curved landscaping bricks that are making up my large flower bed. I dont have the $ to spend on square bricks so I want to use these curved bricks to redo my flower bed. What is the best way to cut them so that I can get more squared corners instead of curved corners on my flower bed? Please help! Also, most of them are glued, what is the best way to pop off the glue? Thank you for your time, Nicole

  4. Kim Musson Says:
    April 28th, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Do you have a list of references of contractors that install retaining walls? We live in Baldwin County. We have a hilly back yard and have a lake in the back of our home. We are looking for a way to get more useable space in the back yard and want to better manage the landscape. This slope is dangerous to mow because of the steepness. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. john Says:
    June 13th, 2015 at 9:40 am

    How do I take down safely a bulging cinder block wall four foot high, with a 4inch concrete slab on top?

  6. Brendan Says:
    June 19th, 2015 at 6:56 am

    I used extra brick from a chimney project to use as a garden boarder (her idea!). I bought composite trim to cap the ‘wall’ but of course I did not create a straight wall. Is there an easy way to cut the trim to follow the curve of the wall similar to the blocks described above?

    Thanks from a pretty incompetent DYIer.

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