Stone, the building material that will never go out of fashion
People have been using stone as a building material for millennia and it is the most widely used construction material in the world. It was a shelter for the prehistoric men when they lived in caves.
What makes stone such a popular material?
There are several reasons why stone has become probably the most fundamental construction material on earth.
It is widely available
The main reason why stone has been used for construction so frequently is that it is widely available in nature. Small amount of stones to build walls of small houses can be found anywhere and larger amount can be extracted from natural deposits.
It is durable
The second reason is that stone is durable and gives people the opportunity to build something that could last for thousands of years. The evidence is everywhere. There are historical buildings that have been standing there for centuries and people can still enjoy their beauty.
It is low maintenance
Unlike other materials, stone is very easy to maintain once the building has been completed. Good quality stone is easy to clean, and it does not need a new coat of paint or re-finishing.
It has a low environmental impact
Stone is the ‘greenest’ building material available because it does not need processing. The only part of stone construction that requires energy is the initial quarrying phase. Stone also does not contain any pollutants.
Which types of stone are frequently used in construction?
There are many types of stones that can be used for building construction, for example basalt, marble, limestone, sandstone, quartzite, travertine, slate, gneiss, laterite, and granite. The stones used for building construction should be hard, durable, and tough. They should be free from weathered soft patches of material, cracks, and other defects that might be responsible for the reduction of strength and durability. Stones for construction purposes are obtained by quarrying from solid massive rocks. Each type of stone lend itself to various construction applications based on its properties. Here are the main types of stone used in construction.
Basalt stone, which is also known as traps, is commonly used in construction of roads, river walls, dams, as aggregate in concrete production, and rubble masonry works for bridge piers because it is weather and moisture resistant. The basalt stone structure is medium to fine grained. The colour of basalt changes from dark gray to black, depending on weather conditions.
Granite is an extremely hard and durable stone that is frequently used in construction of bridge piers, dams, curbs, retaining walls and stone columns because it has a good resistance to water and frost. It is very versatile, and it can be finished to a very high standard so polished granite is often used to manufacture table tops or for cladding for columns and walls. The colour varies from light grey to pink. It is also extremely hard and durable, making it suitable for a range of different construction purposes.
Marble is a quite strong stone uniform in texture. It can be easily cut and carved into different shapes and later polished so it is frequently used for columns, flooring, steps, facing and ornamental works. Marble can be seen in many historic buildings. It is available in various shades of colours like white, grey, and pink.
Sandstone is easily weathered by rain, so it must be used in combination with silica cement. It is often used in the construction of heavy structures such as dams, bridge piers, and river walls. It is composed of quartz and feldspar and found in various colours such as white, yellow, red, brown, and grey.
Slate is commonly used for roofing tiles. However, it also has other uses in modern construction, it is for example frequently used on building slabs and pavements. Slate consists of quartz, mica, and clay minerals, and its building properties depend on the thickness of the sheets and the colour of the rock. Its color can be various shades of grey or black.
Limestone has high resistance to corrosion so it is widely used in construction; it is for example used for building houses, retaining walls and floors. Limestone is strong and durable, and it can be shaped into large blocks. Some of the icons of world architecture such as the great pyramids of Egypt have been built from limestone.
Limestone can be highly polished so it is also used for manufacturing of a variety of limestone tiles and surface finishing. Limestone rock has numerous colour variants in many different shades, the color ranges from white, yellow, and grey to blue, beige, and cream.