Building with Stone

Natures most durable building material

Stone is one of the most enduring and beautiful building materials; castles, cathedrals, churches and dwellings have been built out of stone for the ages.

Impressive ancient castle, rebuilt from ruins

There are many kinds of stone; granite is a hard type of stone, produced by volcanic activity.

Shale, sandstone and limestone are much softer sedimentary rock, and there are many kinds in between that have been shaped by nature and the particular rock that is endemic to an area.

Granite and marble are favorite natural materials to use for counter tops, and fulfill the requirements of a tough surface that is impervious to stains, and easy to care for. Coming straight out of the ground, it takes all shapes and sizes.

Some is water rounded, and other rock is sharp and flat shards, carved by glaciers. In some cases, it is easy to find right on the surface, in other places it must be quarried.

Stones straight out of the streambed that runs through this property are rounded graniteThe Grand Kiva at the Sanctuary, North Fork Valley, Grand Forks, British Columbia

Located right in an old streambed, the rounded rocks are bedded in native sand - this was built completely by hand as a labor of love by Sean Sands. 

This interesting property has been used as an experimental building site, with many small earth sheltered round houses with various kinds of roofing, and constructed out of local and scrounged materials.

Various ways of stacking rocks have been developed over centuries - some of the most interesting structures are in the Andes built by the ancient Mayan people and Aztecs. 

There are some places where the huge stones weighing many tons each are joined with barely enough room for a piece of paper to fit between them. 

How was this possible, so many centuries ago? 

It continues to puzzle us even today, because we don't have any stone building techniques that would come close to this with primitive tools.

Humans through eons of time have used stone to build with, and although it is a dying art, there are still stone masons around; it's a heavy and hard job, to create with stone; everything about it tries to hurt you.

It's no surprise to see stone workers that are missing a finger or two from working around it, and it is also common to see people who have worked in stone all their lives to be hunched over.

Do yourself a favor; learn some techniques to use this material safely, without permanently damaging your body.

Looking for more ideas on how to build your stone dwelling?  How about using a gigantic rock outcropping, sculpting it with dynamite?  Not kidding!  Look at the Hole N' The Rock in Moab, Utah.

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