Thursday, 22 May 2008

Stone - Fieldstone - It's Only Natural!

Drive along any old, winding country road and you'll pass dozens of structures built out of fieldstone. Really... you say? Yep. Just about anywhere you can drive a car you will encounter this common building material and in a very short period of time. You could say that this common though beautiful stone has the right to be classified as one of the foundations of civilization... quite literally!

What is fieldstone? - The name is - the definition: a stone found in fields and used in its original shape.

Farmers clearing their fields for cultivating would remove stones that prevented plowing and collect them into large piles usually by the side of the fields. Since it was a by product of their farming efforts these stones were free and abundant and were an invaluable source for use as a raw building material. Eventually the piles of stone would find their way into walls and foundations as the homesteaders improved their properties with addition structures.

What do they look like? - Most fieldstones would have been left by glacial deposits and are rectangular to oval in size and shape. Fieldstones are also whole stones of a manageable size, so that men can place them into walls for construction.

The larger stones that may be found in fields are called boulders and have been used for centuries for markers for property lines or decorative pieces for property entrances and landscaping. Before heavy equipment was available though they were generally left where they were found, due to the extreme difficulty and work effort required to move and place such heavy pieces of stone.

They can range in color from dark gray, light browns and rusts to light buffs. Some locales may have unusual colors but most places will have the colors common to granite and limestone.

What makes fieldstone different than rubble stone? - Fieldstone and rubble stone differ in that a deposit of fieldstone will usually have a larger quantity of whole stones within the deposit. The corners will also be softened by thousands of years of weathering and tumbling. A rubble stone will tend to have sharper edges because they are mostly chips and chards from larger stones and haven't had the aging of Mother Nature to soften their edges.

Where is field stone used? - Even though fieldstone do vary is size and shape overall, they tend to have flatter characteristics and are of a size that one or two men can carry. This makes the fieldstone most desirable for barn and house foundations, retaining walls, fences, fireplaces and chimneys or any structure that requires large and wide stone wall thicknesses.

Even though this is a very beautiful stone for building it is not used much for home facings due to the depth of the stones. However they can be collected and run through power splitters to form the necessary shapes needed to fit residential house wall construction but done so rarely.

Like the lowly rubble stone the fieldstone is considered a common stone and used where an earthy, natural appearance is desired. Because of the general size of the individual stones, a fieldstone wall has the look of durability and strength.

If you ever decide to build terrace walls, foundations or retaining walls you have to consider the fieldstone as a material choice. For its' price you won't find a more favorable appearance.

Michael Olding is tradesman and consultant in the field of restorations and repairs and currently operates a restoration and repair business in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also a Master in the field of masonry construction, restorations and repairs.

In addition he is a writer and speaker as well as a marketing, training and business consultant for the contracting industry. If you interested in his services he may be contacted by visiting

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