Stone is a superior building material for several reasons, so commercial builders often use it for construction projects. Early man discovered the benefits of stone for buildings thousands of years ago, and we’ve only gotten better at mining, curing, and shaping stone with modern machinery. Still, you have to wonder what makes stone useful in the first place.
Is it that the material is abundant worldwide, or perhaps does it boil down to stone’s artistic value? The truth is that it’s a little bit of both, so here’s a quick breakdown of why stone is a good building material.
Superior durability over millennia
Stone structures can last thousands of years if properly maintained. Look no further than the world’s most famous landmarks and cultural heritage sites along the Mediterranean coast as prime examples. But the true ingenuity of using stone as a construction material is determining which types are softer and easier to shape. That’s essentially why ancient structures are often made of limestone and sandstone since you can carve the stone with manual tools.
The harder types of stone like granite and quartzite are also incredibly resistant to breaks, cracks, or other minor defects like scratches. Sometimes, it’s the imperfections that make stone aesthetically pleasing in addition to its practicality, so modern-day stone consultants specialize in the nuances of each variety. The rule of thumb is that the harder stones will require more complex machinery and craftsmanship to shape and cut properly.
Resist to fire and weathering
Durability aside, stone materials are also fire-resistant and can withstand weathering over time. The arduous tasks of quarrying and transporting stone slabs to construct monuments is proof that ancient engineers valued stone much more than highly-abundant wooden materials, which burn quickly. For instance, the ancient Egyptians’ quarries to build the pyramids were over 500 miles away down the Nile River from the construction site.
In our modern-day, we have scientific data to quantify the characteristics of each type of stone down to the chemical structure to prove that stone is superior. Each has a fire-resistance rating, but any kind is more robust than other building materials except certain metals.
Less maintenance required
So far, we’ve touched upon how durable stone can be and how it stands up to weathering and the risk of fire destroying the structure. The question is: what’s the result of this superior strength? The answer is that stone buildings require less maintenance, especially when constructed and polished well.
You may need to pay more for stone materials, yet the extra investment is worth the price when you factor in the resources required to keep the structure in top shape. Stone will last a long time, but you can’t exactly ignore upkeep over the long haul.
Overall, those are the main reasons stone is excellent as a building material. The only challenge is deciding which types to use and how to keep the cost reasonable.