stone for masonry

What are the types of stone masonry?

So, you’ve decided to add natural stone to your home.

Maybe you and your spouse have chosen fieldstone or granite, agreed on the exact location of your structure and picked out complementary furnishings. But why do you find yourself getting different mockups from individual contractors and companies?

Stone is hard non-metallic mineral matter of which rock is made of. It has no definite shape, but it is a mixture of two or more minerals bonded together. It has been used for construction since ancient time. Masonry is building of structures from individual units which are often laid and bound together using mortar. So when the stone is used as a unit with other materials like mortar, then it is called stone masonry.

The problem is that stone masonry is a broad term. As a textbook definition, it only refers to stone units bonded together with mortar. This meaning doesn’t cover methodology, an aspect which can radically alter the appearance of a natural stone structure or façade.

Don’t worry! You won’t need years of expertise to understand the various construction styles (besides, we’ve got you covered in that department). Let’s go over the different kinds of stone masonry so that you can attain your ideal home environment.

Stonemasonry is a building masonry construction that uses stones and mortar. This construction technique is used for building foundations, floors, retaining walls, arches, walls and columns. The stones used for masonry construction are natural rocks. These natural rocks are cut and dressed into proper shape in order to use it in masonry construction. Stones are one of the most durable and strong building materials.

While the basic premise of masonry is the finishing of a wall or structure, there are several different ways in which this process can be completed. Masonry is all around you in the various buildings and structures you visit every day. Still, certain types are a better fit for construction than others depending on the design for that particular job. In order to know which method will be best for your upcoming project, it will be important to get acquainted with the different types of stone masonry options that are available. Here’s some info from a longtime masonry contractor in Racine, WI:

  • Fixer masonry: Fixer masonry takes place right at the job site, as the stones are fixed directly on the building. This process can be done in several different ways with the use of single specialized fixings, crimps or dowels. The stone cladding can use material such as epoxy resins or modern cement, and the work is usually completed using a combination of grout, mortars and lifting tackle.
  • Rubble masonry: Rubble masonry uses rough or unfinished stones that are set in mortar. This mortar is then used as the outermost layer of a building wall, or as the core of a wall that is finished with a different material. When these unfinished stones are laid without the use of mortar, it is referred to as dry rubble masonry.
  • Ashlar masonry: Unlike rubble masonry, ashlar masonry involves the use of stones that have been cut and dressed finely for a specific project. This type of masonry is used to create a more decorative feel for a wall or building and was used as a prominent feature in much classical architecture.
  • Stone veneer: The advantage of this type of masonry is that it can be used for added decorative appeal, while also protecting the surfaces of both exterior and interior walls. Once the structural wall has been put up, a one-inch veneer is formed with flat stones that are mortared onto the surface and held in place with metal tabs.
  • Slipform masonry: Due to the combination of reinforced concrete and stonework, the slipform method helps to create one of the strongest types of masonry available. Short forms that can be up to two feet tall are added to both sides of the wall, with the stones being placed directly into these forms. Concrete is then poured into the forms, and rebar is added to provide additional support for the structure. The forms are then reused, and when the concrete has set on one level, they are slipped up to continue the next level of construction for the wall.

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There are two primary types of stone masonry. And many, many subtypes.

As with most subjects, a hierarchy of organization exists in stone masonry. Most of the industry’s work can generally be classified into the two following categories:

Rubble Masonry

As you might’ve inferred from the title, rubble masonry uses undressed or rudimentarily dressed stones that resemble building rubble. This style was one of the earliest forms of stone masonry and can be seen in both ancient structures and modern, rustic homes.

Due to the variability of natural stone’s shape, wide joints are often used to compensate for lack of uniformity. While not necessarily as structurally sound as other forms of masonry, rubble masonry provides eye-catching texture and pastoral charm.

Ashlar Masonry

A more expensive form of natural stone masonry, this type requires finely dressed stones that are level with each other and mostly homogenous. These stones are then laid in cement or lime mortar, in the style of a traditional brick structure.

The refined shape permits thinner joints, which are subsequently applied with a uniform thickness. Ashlar masonry is more common in towering monuments, architectural buildings, arched bridges, and more. Finely dressed stones usually have right-angled edges running parallel to each other. Ashlar Wall

stone for masonry

What are the main subtypes of rubble masonry?

Random Rubble Masonry 

So, this kind of rubble masonry is not random per se. Stones have to be chosen with meticulous precision in order to fit together properly. The reason? They’re completely undressed (“raw” from the ground), or knocked into rough shape with a hammer. Though raw materials are cheaper. As a result, the process requires more time to ensure the pressure is distributed over the maximum amount of lateral area while avoiding long vertical joints.

Square Rubble Masonry 

Square rubble masonry still has that rough-hewn look which all rubble masonry shares, but the face stones are squared (approximately) via hammer or chisel dressing. They can be coursed – a term referring to lining up the horizontal joints evenly throughout a structure – or uncoursed.

Coursed square rubble masonry is more common than uncoursed, often employed in the construction of the public building, hospitals, school, markets and government institutions.

Polygonal Rubble Masonry 

Do you enjoy variety and complexity? Polygonal rubble masonry might be a good fit for your home or business. In this subtype, stones are hammer dressed into an irregular, multi-faceted shape with straight sides.

This style is most commonly associated with a number of Central and South American ancient civilizations, such as the Incans and Mayans. It’s regarded as a strong, resilient building method since it contains trace elements of the arch – a shape known for its tensile strength.

Dry Rubble Masonry

Essentially, this is random rubble masonry without mortar. It requires a sizable amount of expertise with little reward since dry rubble walls are prone to falling over. We don’t recommend building a dry masonry structure over six meters.

What are the main subtypes of ashlar masonry?

Rough Tooled Ashlar Masonry

In rough tooled ashlar masonry, the bed and sides are chisel-dressed, so as to be smooth and even. Then the face is made rough with various tools. The result is a visually-striking, coarse surface with the strength and uniformity of a brick structure or wall.

Rock-faced Ashlar Masonry 

Also known as quarry-faced ashlar masonry, this method is similar to rough tooling, except a chiselled strip (around 25mm wide) spans the perimeter of every stone. The rest of the face is left as it was found at the quarry.

Chamfered Ashlar Masonry 

Chamfering the edges of stone adds a degree of dimensionality to stone. The perimeter of the exposed face is chamfered at an angle of 45 degrees to a depth of 25mm. 

Fine Tooled Ashlar Masonry – One of the more cost-prohibitive options, fine ashlar masonry necessitates each stone be cut into a uniform size and shape, mirroring a rectangular prism. This allows perfect horizontal and vertical joints with adjacent stones.

While it’s easily one of the most beautiful types of ashlar masonry, the style has fallen out of favour, due to its relative expense and the prevalence of artificial stone.

Unsourced Random Rubble Masonry:

The random rubble masonry in which stones are laid without forming courses is known as un coursed random rubble masonry. This is the roughest and cheapest type of masonry and is of varying appearance. The stones used in this masonry are of different sizes and shapes. Before lying, all projecting corners of stones are slightly knocked off. Vertical joints are not plumbed, joints are filled and flushed. Large stones are used at corners and at jambs to increase their strength. Once “through stone” is used for every square meter of the face area for joining faces and backing.

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Rubble masonry

Applications of Random Rubble Masonry

Used for construction of walls of low height in case of ordinary buildings.

Coursed Random Rubble Masonry:

The random rubble masonry in which stones are laid in layers of equal height is called random rubble masonry. In this masonry, the stones are laid in somewhat level courses. Headers of one coursed height are placed at certain intervals. The stones are hammer dressed.

Applications of Coursed Random Rubble Masonry:

CRRM is used for the construction of residential buildings, godowns, boundary walls etc.

Squared Rubble Masonry:

The rubble masonry in which the face stones are squared on all joints and beds by hammer dressing or chisel dressing before their actual laying is called squared rubble masonry.

There are two types of squared rubble masonry.

Coursed Square Rubble Masonry:

The square rubble masonry in which chisel dressed stones laid in courses is called coarse square rubble masonry. This is a superior variety of rubble masonry. It consists of stones, which are squared on all joints and laid in courses. The stones are to be laid in courses of equal layers. And the joints should also be uniform.

Applications of Coursed Squared Rubble Masonry:

Used for construction of public buildings, hospitals, schools, markets, modern residential buildings etc. and in hilly areas where good quality of the stone is easily available.

Un coursed square rubble masonry:

The squared rubble in masonry which hammer dressed stones are laid without making courses is called un coursed square rubble masonry. It consists of stones which are squared on all joints and beds by hammer dressing. All the stones to be laid are of different sizes.

Suitability: Used for construction of ordinary buildings in hilly areas where a good variety of stones are cheaply available.

Ashlar Masonry

Ashlar fine:

In this type of masonry, all the stones are fine tooled, on all bed and side joints, and the faces are rendered perfectly true to the pattern desired. The height of the course is never less than 30 cm, and generally, all are kept of the same height throughout the work. The height of the stones used is never less than their breadth, and their length is never less than twice their height. The face stones are generally laid as header and stretcher alternately. For wall below 75 cm thickness, the through stones extend to the full thickness of the wall. The bed and the side joints in this type of work should never exceed 3 mm in thickness.

Ashlar rough:

In this type of masonry, the exposed faces of stone generally have a finely dressed chisel drafting all around the edges. The portion of face stone enclosed by the chisel draft is rough tooled. The thickness of joints in this type of work should never exceed 6 mm. In all other respect, it conforms to the specifications of Ashlar fine masonry.

Ashlar rock, rustic or quarry faced:

In this type of masonry, the exposed face of the stone is not dressed but is kept as such so as to give rock facing. However, a strip of about 25 mm wide, made by means of a chisel, is provided around the perimeter of the exposed face of every stone. The projections on the exposed face known as bushing exceeding 80 mm in height are removed by light hammering. Each stone block, however, is maintained true to its size, with perfectly straight side faces and beds, and truly rectangular. This type of construction gives a massive appearance. The height of each block may vary from 15 cm to 30 cm. The thickness of the mortar joint may be up to 10 mm.

Ashlar chamfered:

This is a special form of rock-faced ashlar masonry in which the strip provided around the perimeter of the exposed face is chamfered or bevelled at an angle of 45° by means of a chisel to a depth of 25 mm. Due to this, a groove is formed in between adjacent blocks of stone. Around this bevelled strip, another strip of 15 cm is dressed with the help of chisel. The space inside this strip is kept rock-faced except that a hammer removes larger bushings over 50 mm projections.

Ashlar facing:

In this type of masonry, the faces of stone are rough tooled and chamfered and (the stones are provided in face work only. The backing may be made in brick, concrete or rubble as desired. The composite construction reduces the cost of work appreciably. The height of the course is never kept less than 20 cm, and the width of each stone is about 11/2times its height. The bed joints of all the stones are dressed perfectly true and square. For walls up to 75 cm in thickness, the bond stones should extend for the full thickness of the wall and thicker walls, and the bond stones should overlap each other by 15 cm.  

Types of stone used in stone masonry

Igneous stones

These stones are obtained from igneous rocks, formed from the cooling and solidification of magma generated within the Earth at high temperatures during volcanic activity.

They are generally used for purposes that require strength and durability, such as kerbstones, countertops, floorings, and breakwaters. The igneous stone ranges from very soft rocks such as pumice and scoria to somewhat harder rocks such as tuff and hard rocks such as granite and basalt.

Sedimentary stones

They are obtained from sedimentary rocks that are formed by accumulation and cementation of mineral grains (sediments) transported by wind, water or ice to a basin or by precipitation at a site. There are mainly two types of sedimentary stones used in masonry work, limestone and sandstone. One of the sedimentary rocks is limestone that is composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate.

Limestone is the main construction material and used in various fields such as a building material, as aggregate for the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, and as a chemical feedstock.

On the other hand, sandstone is an elastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals (mostly quartz and/or feldspar) or rock grains. It is relatively soft, making it easy to change as the required shape.

Typically used as flooring or paving material, it has also been used for artistic purposes to create ornamental fountains and statues.

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Metamorphic stones

They are obtained from metamorphic rocks, which are pre-existing rocks that have been altered by great heat and pressure or by chemical conditions. They have traditionally been used for carving statues, and as facing in many Byzantine and Renaissance Italian buildings. Slate and marble are metamorphic stones commonly used in the building industry.

Slates are typically used for flooring, roofing, and countertops whereas marbles are suitable for wall-cladding, roofing, flooring, and all other interior and exterior applications.

For help determining which method might be best for your construction project, contact the team. With decades of experience as masonry contractors in Racine, WI, we know what it takes to create a structure with unmatched durability and strength, and we will apply this expertise to your next project as well. For a structure that you can count on, make sure you give us a call today!

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