The conditions which govern the selection of stone for structural purposes are cost, fashion, ornamental value and durability, although the latter property is frequently overlooked or disregarded.
Selection Of Stones
The conditions which govern the selection of stone for structural purposes are cost, fashion, ornamental value and durability, although the latter property is frequently overlooked or disregarded. Cost is largely influenced by transportation charges, difficulties in quarrying and cutting, the ornamental features, and the durability of stone. The type of dressing of stone may make a difference to the cost, particularly with the stones derived from igneous rocks. When the cost of quarried stone to cost of finished stone is considered, it will be found that the labour cost is far greater than the price of the stone. Thus, a difference in the price between two alternative stones is unimportant and it would be unwise to reject a more durable stone on the grounds that it was costly.
Another factor which should be considered is the suitability of the stone for the type of design, for example, for a highly carved design if, by mistake, a harder stone such as granite is selected the cost will be affected. Colour, arrangement and shape of mineral constituents greatly influence fashion and ornamental value. One of the first factors influencing the selection of stone for a particular work will be colour.
It is important that the designer is aware about how the colour is likely to change after long exposure and in particular how it may vary in polluted atmospheres. As an example limestone, being slightly soluble in water, will remain clean in portions facing rain but retain a film of soot in sheltered areas. This results in strong colour contrast.
Resistance to fire and weathering—factors which are largely influenced by the mineral constitution of the rock—are the most important determinators of durability. It is very important to select a stone according to its exposure conditions. Limestones when used in areas not exposed to rain but acted upon by sulphur gases of polluted atmosphere, form a hard and impermeable surface skin which subsequently blisters and flakes off. It must be noted that flaking of this kind occurs mainly on external work only, although the air inside the building is almost equally polluted, probably due to the damper conditions inside.
Limestones, sandstones and granites all tend to crack and spall when exposed to fire, and there is really little to choose between them in this respect.