How to Install Panels on a Curved Surface

Typically reserved for high-end homes and businesses, a stone-covered, curved wall is a dramatic architectural element that requires a high level of artisanship. Building the wall is a time- and labor-intensive process because each brick or stone must be individually matched and adjusted. The same look can be achieved with the use of stone veneer panels, which are interlocked to create a seamless appearance. Because the panels readily bend, they can be installed to accommodate surfaces with moderate curvature. These innovative panels are manufactured in a wide variety of styles, colors and textures.

While installing stone veneer panels is relatively easy on a straight wall, creating a curved wall requires a special technique to ensure that it is done properly. Stone veneer panels are best used on walls that have a 10-foot or greater radius. If the radius is sharper, the panels may crack or break. If you need to install faux stone panels on an 8-foot or tighter radius, the panels must be cut into vertical strips with mitered edges to create the required look. Before placing a full order, you should determine whether the panels would work for your project. Order a small sample, and try to bend the veneer to match the curve.

Required Tools
To complete the project, you will need various tools, including:

• Measuring tape
• Pencil
• Level
• Circular saw, jigsaw, table saw or miter saw
• Nails or screws (exterior-grade fasteners are required for outdoor projects)
• Adhesive
• Handheld hair dryer or heat gun
• Safety glasses

Installation Process

Use the tape measure to determine the amount of materials that you will need. The tape measure, pencil and level enable you to draw level course lines on the wall so that you can properly align the panels.

Begin the process by curving and dry fitting the panels. Do not apply any adhesive or mortar at this stage. Use a few nails or screws to tack the first panel in place. The panel will be attached on one side and extend away from the wall at the other end.

Set the hairdryer or heat gun on its lowest setting. Start at the edge attached to the wall and move toward the free end. Using a vertical motion, constantly move the heat up and down the panel as you slowly work from one side to the other. As the panel heats up, gently press the veneer against the wall. If the panel does not bend easily, apply additional heat. Take care not to overheat the panel because it will ruin the finish. Once the panel has been correctly shaped, temporarily secure it with nails or screws until it cools down and conforms to the configuration of the wall.

Continue this process with the other panels. If the panels do not hold the new shape, repeat the process, and let them cool for a longer period. Once all the panels have been properly shaped, remove them from the wall.

Apply the adhesive to the wall covering the area of one panel. Using the level to ensure that it is properly placed, permanently secure the first panel with nails or screws. Follow this process, interlocking the remaining panels until they are all in place. Apply finishingmortar if required to cover nail or screw holes. Clean the panels to remove excess adhesive or mortar for a neat finished appearance.