Stone construction is one of the oldest forms of building. Examples of the strength of stone can be seen in ancient structures like Greek temples, the pyramids, or gothic cathedrals that have stood the test of time. Modern stone building techniques employ both traditional and newer methods, some in combination to form strong beautiful homes.
Dry Stone Stacking
Stacking stones together to make a structure is one of the earliest stone building methods. Stones are stacked together without mortar so that they interlock and form a solid wall, with larger heavier stones to the bottom and lighter stones as it rises. Typically these tend to decrease in width or taper the higher the walls go for stability. Settling causes the stones to lock together further, and this method forms a good sturdy wall. The main key is to use irregularly shaped stones that fit together well.
Securing a stone wall with mortar gives both strength and weatherproofing qualities to stone construction. Ancient and still visible today, everything from Greek temples to gothic cathedrals have been created with this technique. Two methods can be employed with stone masonry, free shaped stones that are fit together according to size and shape and mortared in place or cut and chiselled stone blocks mortared together to form a wall. Experience is a must with this craft, but the result is a beautiful and enduring structure when complete.
Modern methods of stone building apply both time-tested techniques and the benefit of modern materials. Using a form, stones are stacked with the flat side facing outward, then concrete is poured behind the stacked stone in the form and allowed to harden. If more than one set of forms is available, they can be leapfrogged up the wall cutting the build time even more. Slipform is the most common modern form of stone building, and it is durable, environmentally friendly and adds aesthetic and monetary value to a home.
Adding stone to the exterior of the house by cementing them in place is another form of using stone for building. This technique does not employ the stone as a structural material. It is primarily for aesthetic purposes, although having a stone veneer wall will add insulating and heat-gathering benefits to your home. Stone is basically "glued" to the outside walls of the already-constructed home with mortar or cement or a building adhesive. This method is suitable for more urban areas where stone wall construction techniques may not be feasible.
A newer method of employing both traditional stone and modern techniques is tilt up wall forming. This is done by laying out a form on the ground rather than standing it in place. The stones are laid out in the form, then rebar is added for strength, and concrete poured in the form. Pre-casting the walls allows for it to be completely formed then lifted in place with a crane. Pre-cast sills or window frames can be added, and the entire wall laid out on one section, then lifted and joined with the other walls.
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