Getting A Better Understanding of Natural Stone in Construction

Natural stone is a mineral quarried from the ground to act as a building or decorative material. Natural stones do not include any manufactured or synthetic stones or stone products. Some common natural stones are limestone, granite, slate, sandstone, travertine, marble and basalt. Natural stones have various features that set them apart from each other and determine what their use will be.  

What Are the Uses of Natural Stones?  

Different uses of natural stone include the construction of floors, walls, foundations, columns, stone slabs, façade works, footpaths, pavements, bridges, dams, roads, building blocks, stairs and kerbs.  

One type of natural stone cannot be used for all the applications mentioned above. A particular natural stone must have the features that make it suitable for the specific construction purposes or decorative applications you want.  

What Are These Features?  

The main features include texture, colour, composition, structure and grain size. Other features include water absorption properties, porosity, flexural and permissible properties. Natural stones must also meet Australian standards for slip resistance to be used for construction.  

What Makes Stones Good for Construction Purposes?  

Before natural stones are used for a particular application, various factors are considered:   

  1. Does the natural stone have enough strength to support all types of loads or pressures that it might be subjected to? For example, roads should support the weight of all types of vehicles. 
  2. Natural stones can also be subjected to natural forces, which can cause adverse effects. These need to be considered before a particular stone is chosen. Natural forces include heat, wind and cold. 
  3. The gravity of natural stone also matters, especially for dams, docks and retaining walls. Natural stones used for this purpose need to be heavier. 
  4. The natural stone you use should be able to withstand vibrations (the kind of vibrations caused by machinery).
  5. Natural stones meant for buildings should not be porous. Porous stones allow water to pass through them. If this water solidifies (i.e., becomes ice), it expands and makes the stone weak, leading to crumbling.

This being said, basalt is mostly used for pavements, dams and bridges. Granite is used for building. When polished, it can be used for columns, walls, cladding or benchtops. Sandstone is useful for artistic purposes. Slate is mostly used for roofing, pavements and slabs. For facades, you may find that marble is the preferred natural stone. Quartzite is mostly used for slabs and building blocks because it is a metamorphic rock.

For more information, reach out to natural stone suppliers.