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Understanding the Different Types of Stone Masonry

Explore the world of stone masonry and discover its various forms used in creating enduring and visually stunning structures.


Architecture since ancient times has involved the practice of stone masonry, which remains prevalent in modern building design. From historical monuments to contemporary structures, stone masonry offers both aesthetic and structural benefits. In this blog, we will delve into what is stone masonry and the different types of stone masonry.

What is Stone Masonry? 

Stone masonry refers to the art of constructing structures using stones bonded together with mortar. This architectural technique has been employed for centuries, resulting in robust buildings and monuments that withstand the test of time. The practice of stone masonry takes various forms, each with its unique characteristics and applications.


Different Types of Stone Masonry

Depending on the arrangement, size, and shape of the stones used, there are several types of stone masonry, including rubble masonry, ashlar masonry, and squared stone masonry.

1. Rubble Stone Masonry


Rubble masonry is the simplest type of stone masonry. Here, stones are used just as they are found in nature with no shaping or refining done before using them. The joints in this masonry are wide because of the usage of irregular or unevenly shaped stones. It is the most economical option in stone masonry because it uses unfinished stones.


a) Uncoursed Random Rubble

Uncoursed random rubble masonry refers to the use of stones with highly contrasting sizes and irregular shapes. As these stones vary in shape, careful placement is required to ensure even pressure distribution across a wider surface area. Some large stones are used in certain places to make the structure stronger. The use of uncoursed random rubble results in each being constructed in this manner looking different. 


b) Coursed Rubble Masonry

This is a type of building method where stones are used in layers, or 'courses'. Stones are rough, not perfectly shaped, but are put in a way that each layer is straight and even. This type of masonry is used primarily for the construction of structures that require a strong foundation.


c) Polygonal Rubble Masonry

As the name suggests, the stones used here are not square or rectangular but have multiple sides - like a polygon. They are not uniform in shape and size, but the cut-into many-sided figures creates distinct patterns on the structure, making it more aesthetically unique.


d) Flint Rubble Masonry

In this method, a rock called flint is used which is a very hard and durable type of stone. This stone is known for its strength and is useful for constructing durable structures. Flint rubble masonry is generally common in areas where flint is widely available.


Also Read: Types of Stones Used For Construction

2. Ashlar Masonry

Ashlar masonry is about using stones that are neat and precisely cut. This gives a polished and grand finish which looks very impressive. But, because cutting and dressing stones take effort, this type is more expensive than rubble masonry. Some categories are:


a) Ashlar Fine Masonry

This refers to a highly meticulous type of stone masonry where the faces of each stone are cut to be perfectly uniform and even, providing a smooth, well-aligned finish.  This variety of stone masonry is characterized by its near-seamless appearance, where the mortar lines are very thin and barely noticeable. Typically, it results in a more refined and polished look for the structures.


b) Ashlar Rough Masonry

In contrast to fine masonry, Ashlar Rough Masonry retains some of the natural textures and intricacies on the face of the stone, while still maintaining the accuracy of square or rectangular shapes. This presents a unique blend of rough, natural appeal, and the precision of squared corners, providing a more rustic yet orderly appearance.


c) Rock and Quarry faced

This masonry technique is a subset of Ashlar Masonry. The stones have neatly cut edges while their faces are left in the natural state as they come from the quarry, hence the name 'Rock-Faced' or 'Quarry-Faced'. This technique maintains the intact natural texture on the face of the stones, creating an appealing contrast to the precisely cut edges.


d) Ashlar Block in Course Masonry

Ashlar Block in Course Masonry mixes both Ashlar and Rubble Masonry principles. The front face of the wall reveals rough or hammered stone surfaces forming a pattern, while the back wall is created using rubble masonry. This offers an interesting aesthetic contrast as the irregularity of the rubble-stone rear is offset by the prominent, orderly front face.


e) Ashlar Chamfered Masonry

This style of masonry adopts the usual principles of Ashlar masonry, with stone blocks being cut into precise shapes. However, in this type of stone masonry, instead of leaving the edges sharp and straight, they are bevelled or chamfered. This means that the edges are cut at an angle, creating a sloping effect. This not only enhances the visual appeal of the structure but also adds architectural resilience, as chamfered edges are less prone to damage from external elements over time.


3. Square rubble masonry

Squared stone masonry involves working the stones to make sure all the corners are square and levelled. This gives a very accurate and clean look. It has two main types:


a) Uncoursed square rubble masonry

This type of stone masonry utilises uncut or roughly cut stones of various sizes, without any particular pattern or design. The stones are stacked together as they come, which results in a non-uniform, random appearance. The gaps between the stones are filled with smaller stones or mortar. This form of masonry is typically more economical due to its less labour-intensive nature but is less precise and less aesthetically uniform.


b) Coursed Rubble Masonry

Unlike its uncoursed counterpart, coursed rubble masonry organizes stones into distinct horizontal layers or courses. While the stones used may still be rough and irregular, they are arranged in a way that creates consistent horizontal lines throughout the structure. This is often used when the aesthetic look of the finished product is more important, providing a balance between rustic charm and architectural neatness.

In conclusion, the type of stone masonry, from the precise Ashlar to the rustic rubble, offers diverse options for building and design. Each has its own benefits and look, showing the flexibility of stonework. These styles remind us that despite the uses of stone masonry being several, the art of masonry involves a lot of skill and creativity for the perfect final finish.

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