Stone Construction

For thousands of years, Stone has been used as a construction material. It has long been recognised as a product of appropriate conditions and superior aesthetic value, the most important option for buildings synonymous with status, power and religion. Temples in Giza, funeral rooms in the United Kingdom or temples in Malta were all constructed over 4000 years ago and are still standing. The use of stone in construction has decreased over the last hundred years, but it remains an aristocrat of building materials.

Building Stone Types

Building stone, also known as dimension stone, is derived from one of three types of naturally occurring rock:

Igneous-Hard and non-porous rock produced by the slow or fast cooling of molten magma. Granite is the best example.

Sediments and fairly flexible stone created by layers of eroded pre-existing rock, which settled mainly on sea beds in layers and became compacted. Sandstone and limestone are the best examples.

Metamorphic-Hard or – anti-rock developed from post-rock, which has been altered by extreme heat or pressure. Marble and slate are the best examples.

There are huge differences between each of these rock types, caused by complex mineralogy and geological conditions, and while any stone may be used for construction, each has restrictions that make it somewhat suitable for a variety of uses. Limestone, basalt and limestone could all be used for building a wall, but asphalt is only suitable for roofing and flooring.

Some granite forms may contain mineral salts that cause spalling where the outer surface of the stone falls; slate may contain harmful minerals that break down when exposed to the air, causing stone harm; and sandstone may be too porous and fragile for pile structures. Understanding how the rock material was shaped will reveal how it can be used in a house, its weaknesses, and how it can be weathered over time.

Stacking Dry Stone

The early type of gradually turns is found in dry stone or dry piling. Those were personality frameworks such as fields walls, bridges and buildings that use irregularly formed stones carefully chosen and arranged to fit tightly together without slipping. Structures are usually wider at the base and taper as the height increases. The weight of the stone presses inward to support the foundation, and any settlement or disruption causes the structure to lock together and to become even stronger. Dry stone buildings are very sturdy and easy to repair. They allow the water to flow through them, without causing harm to the stones. They do not need any special instruments, only the craftsman’s ability to choose and place stones.

Masonry of Stone

Traditional stone masonry has developed through stone walls piling. Stone blocks are arranged in rows of even (courses) or irregular (uncursed) height and are fixed in place with a mortar, mortar and lime mix pasted between the stones. Building stones are usually mined by ground sandstone, drilled and broken utilizing diamond cutting tools or iron wedges, but instead formed and polished according to their requirements.

Basic hand tools used to form stones are chisels, mallets and metal straight edges, but advanced power tools such as angle grinders and compressed air chisels are also used to save time and money. Stones are either moulded (dressed) into a stone, known as marble masonry, or rendered rough and irregularly cut, known as rubble masonry. Mortar stone buildings are less resilient than dry stone, so the water can be collected between the stones and dispersed.

Traditional stone masonry is seldom used today, because stone is costly for quarrying, cutting and transport, and the construction process is labour-intensive and talent. Instead, many modern stonework uses a stone veneer (thin, flat pieces) glued against a wall of concrete blocks. It is known as a veneered stone or a stone cladding.

Slip-shaped stone structures are a cross between veneered masonry and standard masonry. Short shapes (about 2 feet tall) are positioned on either side of the wall to act as a reference to the structure. Stones are put within the shapes with a flat face out, and concrete is poured out behind the rocks to keep it together. Stone buildings can be built quickly and easily using this process.

Durable Stone

Stone is a very robust, low maintenance building material with a high thermal mass. It is flexible, accessible in several shapes, sizes, colours and patterns, and can be used for ground, floors, spires and roofs. Rock combines well with the natural environment and it can be easily recycled for other building purposes. But is stone a sustainable construction solution?

There are currently more than 400 construction stone quarries in the UK, and enough to reflect minimum demands, and with an increasing influx of cheap, imported stone and synthetic imitations, the industry is under pressure. In order to meet environmental requirements, steps must be taken to ensure that the stone is found on-site, recovered from nearby demolished buildings or recovered from local stone quarries. Only then can a stone be used as a true example of a sustainable building material.

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