Green product selection is a key component of sustainable design. Green products can be defined as those that reduce, recycle and renew - the three R’s of sustainability.
Architects, including RC3D
, should incorporate sustainable design criteria into building specifications.
Choosing the correct wall system is part of good sustainable design. Today we are going to talk about stone wall systems, their benefits and drawbacks.
There are various construction techniques: Dry-Stack Stone Walls, Mortared Stone Walls, Veneered Stone Walls, Slipform Stone Walls, Framed-One Side Stone Walls, and Tilt-Up Stone Walls.
Dry-Stack Stone Walls
: Stone masonry originated with dry-stacked stonework, where the walls are carefully layed up without mortar. Gravity serves as the glue that holds everything together. Free-standing dry-stack stone walls are usually made larger at the base and then taper in slowly as the height increases.
The "mortar" used is usually mud or limestone plasters with little strength. The mortar functions as caulking to stop the flow of air, rather than as cement to bond the stones together. Short, dry-stacked stone walls are especially ideal for landscaping projects. Taller walls for exterior walls require more skill and time.
This technique is more suitable for landscape walls then exterior walls.Mortared Stone Walls
: Mortared stone walls evolved out of dry-stack stone work with the emergence of cement mortars. Stone walls still had to be built as carefully as they were without mortar. The cement paste just filled the gaps between the stones and cured to form a soft, rock-like substance.
With the aid of cement it is possible to build a taller stone wall that does not taper inward like a dry-stacked wall. The cement has some ability to "glue" a stone wall together with less care, but proper stoneworking techiques are still important. Building a free-standing stone wall is a true art and requires a lot of time and skill to do it well. Veneered Stone Walls
: Most stonework today consists of a non-structural veneer of stone against a structural wall of concrete or cinderblock.
The structural wall is put up first, and thin, flat stones are glued onto the face of the wall with cement mortar. Metal tabs in the structural wall are mortared in between the stones to tie everything together, otherwise the stonework would just peel right off the wall. The structural wall serves as a form on one side of the wall to make it really easy to lay up the stonework.Slipform Stone Walls
: A slipformed wall might be described as a cross between traditional mortared stone wall and a veneered stone wall. This is the most common used method of stone masonry. Short forms, up to two feet tall, are placed on both sides of the wall to serve as a guide for the stone work. The stones are placed inside the forms with the good faces against the form work and concrete is poured in behind the rocks. Rebar is added for strength, to make a wall that is approximately half concrete and rebar and half stonework. The wall can be faced with stone on one side or both sides. With slipforms it is easy even for the novice to build free-standing stone walls. Framed-One Side Stone Walls
: First build the frame wall. This acts as the formwork and straight and plumb guide for the stonework. This method works exceptionally well when the rocks are squared and brick-like, but for rounded stones extra work is required.Tilt-Up Stone Walls
: The stone walls are poured flat on the ground and tilted up in place with a crane.Benefits of stone walls
Drawbacks of stone walls
- Unique and esthetically pleasing
- Classic beauty and elegance of an all stone home
- Many color options and types of stone can be used to create a different looks
- Stone walls are never painted
- Stone walls are virtually maintenance free, needing only an occasional washing to remove loose dirt
- Resale values of stone homes are generally higher than other types of homes, including brick or non-stone siding
- Stone walls will not be damaged by pests, such as termites
- Stone walls have great thermal mass, compared to vinyl siding and wood siding systems- warm in winter, cool in summer
- Stone homes are more fire resistant than other types of homes
- lower insurance premiums
- Stone allows for personalization with color, texture, arches, quoins and elegant detailing.
- Stone walls have excellent fire ratings compared to other materials
Alternatives of stone walls: Simulated Rock or Stone
- Matching stone to existing can be difficult, due to quarry location; however, simulated stone needs to be matched by die lot
- Expansion joints need to be factored into the design of the house
- Allowances for water migrating to the back of the stone wall must always be incorporated into the design
- Allowing ivy to cling to a stone wall can introduce damage to the mortar between the stones as the ivy tendrils find their way between cracks and loosen mortar during the freeze thaw cycle.
- The final finished product is partially dependent on the material used, the method and equipment used, and the skill of the stone mason
- Lightweight - simulated stacked stone and rock weigh as little as one pound per square foot, eliminating the need for lift equipment or extra labor.
- Durable - manufactured of high-impact resistant structural polyurethane.
- Ease of installation - One or two people using basic hand or power tools may easily apply the products with screws and adhesives. The products are easily cut using standard woodworking tools.
- Cost effective - The installation time and cost for the products are substantially less than conventional masonry. Additionally, application requires labor with general carpentry skills.
- Authentic look - The simulated product molds are cast from actual stone so every detail of the stone's texture is accurately fingerprinted and transferred.
- Versatility - The products may be applied over exterior walls, commercial exterior applications, window trims, foundation skirts, full or partial home siding, porch pillars and deck siding.
- Additional insulation value- The products increase the R-value to homes and commercial structures, as well as meeting building code requirements.
- Low maintenance:
- no painting
- no staining
- no waterproofing
When properly constructed, stone walls are a good sustainable choice for building a house. Although more expensive to build, stone homes can sell for prices that are generally higher than brick or vinyl and wood sided homes. Stone walls resist damage from wind blown debris, animals and pests and are considered the most durable of all building materials.