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8 Common Mistakes To Avoid During Stone Masonry

Stone masonry is a craft that is valued for its enduring quality and aesthetic charm.  Let’s delve into stone masonry and explore the fundamental aspects of stone and masonry, delving into the durability, timeless appeal, and practicality it brings to construction projects.


Stone masonry is used for construction in areas where stones are abundant. Different types of stones can be found in other geographical regions. Stone masonry is a type of masonry construction that employs the use of stones and mortar. This method of construction is used to build foundations, floors, retaining walls, arches, walls, and columns. But do you know how stone masonry is done and what common mistakes to avoid? This blog will take you through everything you need to know about stone masonry as well as how you can ensure it's done perfectly by avoiding some common mistakes.


  • Understanding the porosity of stone is vital for the durability of the stone, influencing water movement and potential stone damage.

  • Correctly installing a stone block according to its bedding plane minimises the risk of structural flaws.

  • Salts from varied sources cause damage when they dry and crystallise on stone and their accumulation should be monitored and reduced. 

  • Avoid excess water flowing through cement in stone masonry, lime staining can occur, potentially leading to material decay.

  • It's important to protect stone masonry from frost attacks, which can dislodge large stone pieces.

  • Iron and steel fixings can cause stone fractures due to rust-induced expansion.

8 Common Mistakes To Avoid During Stone Masonry

Now that you have an idea of what stone masonry is, here are some common stone masonry mistakes that you should definitely avoid. 


1) Pore Structure


Several factors can affect the natural durability of stone, but pore structure is the most important. The pore structure is important because it influences the amount of water that enters and moves through the stone. Furthermore, salts that may harm the stone can be carried by water and accumulate in the pores. The critical factor is not how much space the pores create, but how they are structured. Stones with low porosity do not allow much water penetration and are thus less susceptible to salt and/or frost attack. Stones with low porosity are thus more durable in general. Stone with high porosity will allow more water in, but if the pores are large, the water will evaporate relatively quickly.


2) Improper Bedding


During sedimentation, sedimentary rocks are formed. If a stone block is installed incorrectly in relation to its bedding plane, defects may occur.


When installed in a wall, the stone should be placed in its natural bedding position. This means that the layers should run horizontally, as the stone was originally formed, that way the stone is stronger in this position and less prone to flaws. If the stone is vertically bedded, it is more susceptible to damage caused by salt crystallisation or frost action. It is relatively easy to push off the bedding layers because there is no restraint from the adjacent stones.


3) Salt Crystallisation


Salts can cause issues in a variety of ways, and they come from various sources. Among the sources are concrete, brick, and mortar, as well as soil and air. Salt is deposited at the surface or within the stone as it dries out. Crystallisation within the pores exerts pressure, which frequently causes damage. The type of stone, the type of salt, and the characteristics of the pores - particularly their size and arrangement - will all influence the possibility and extent of the damage. The risk of salt crystallisation increases if you live near the coast due to the high potency combination of sea salts and relative humidity.


4) Lime Run-off


In stone masonry construction, lime run-off, also known as lime staining, is a phenomenon that occurs when excess water flows through the cement. As a result of the reaction between acid rain and calcium carbonate in limestone, soluble salts can develop in other materials. Whenever soluble salts form, they can run off limestone copings and settle on bricks or sandstone. When these salts crystallise, they can cause decay in materials that would not otherwise decay.



5) Frost Attack

Frost is more likely to be a problem in areas that are both excessively wet and susceptible to freezing.  In sheltered plain walls, frost damage is rare, except below the damp-proof course. The porous structure of a building, like brickwork, determines its susceptibility to frost attack, and the attack process is the same.


This mistake in stone masonry construction is capable of dislodging large chunks of stone, particularly if the stone is in an area that is susceptible to damage, such as copings or parapets.


6) Contour Scaling

Sandstones exhibit contour scaling, which is thought to be caused by calcium sulphate blocking the pores. This appears to occur even when the rock is not calcareous sandstone. The result is the separation of a rather thick crust from the face of the stone.


7) Metal Expansion & Wall Tie Failure

For centuries, iron and steel cramps have been used as stonework fixing devices. However, rust can expand and fracture the stone with these metal fixings. Furthermore, stone cavity walls may be affected by the cavity wall tie.


8) Dressing & Extraction

Stones can be harmed in the quarry if they are extracted with explosives, which can cause internal fractures. Excessive tooling of the stone's surface can also cause damage.


Tips For Stone Masonry Construction


1. The use of long rectangular stones aids in the reinforcement of the walls.


2. The interior and exterior portions of your walls should be constructed concurrently.


3. The thickness of the joint should be between 2-2.5 cm and no less than 1 cm depending on the size of the stone.


4. Remember to use the proper cement-to-water ratio for the concrete mix and to use it within 30 minutes of mixing it.


5. Smaller stones are used to fill gaps and give shape to the wall.


6. Stones should not protrude from the wall and should be properly set with the mixture.


7. The walls should be cured for at least 7 days.


Advantages Of Stone Masonry

1) Strength

Using stones during construction makes your building strong and durable. Stone has an average compressive strength of about 104.9 MPa, making it a better option than most other materials in this regard. The compressive strength of a stone is simply the maximum load it can withstand without crushing or cracking. Masonry strength is also heavily influenced by mortar strength.


2) Weather Resistance

This is one of the most important advantages of stone masonry, throughout the year, buildings are subjected to various types of weather. Stone masonry has the ability to withstand any effect caused by weather elements such as rain, hail, and snow. In the event of rain, stone does not absorb water, so there will be no future issues caused by dampness.


3) Durability

Stone masonry has a significant advantage over other construction methods because the stone can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Normal wear and tear can be caused by moving furniture, which can leave dents on walls. Such worries don’t come in stone. It is also resistant to bending, wrapping, splintering, denting, and even swelling, all of which contribute to its durability. 


4) Maintenance

Buildings constructed with stone masonry require very little maintenance due to their durability, as opposed to brick masonry, which requires plastering and colour washing.


This is all you need to know about what stone masonry is and the common stone masonry mistakes you can avoid. From selecting the right stones to laying a solid foundation, our guide has shed light on eight mistakes to avoid when you think of stone and masonry, ensuring your projects stand the test of time.


Frequently Asked Questions


1. What are the types of stone masonry?

Stone masonry comes in various types, with two primary categories being rubble masonry and ashlar masonry. Each type of stone masonry offers distinct characteristics, allowing builders to choose the method that best suits their construction needs and desired aesthetic outcomes.


2. What is rubble masonry?

Rubble made of natural stone or stone dressed so that it cannot be laid with uniformly thick or horizontal joints. Rubble masonry can be laid in two ways: coursed or uncoursed. When the stones are coursed, they are levelled off at specific heights to create an approximately horizontal surface.


3. What is ashlar masonry?

Ashlar masonry is a very ancient type of stone construction in which all stones are dressed or cut to a uniform shape, size, and surface appearance. They are then laid in horizontal courses, or layers, with very little mortar between them for support.


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