Classification of Stones in Civil Engineering [Explained]

The stone as a building material has been used since long use has persisted over time as one of the components most commonly used. It is the natural stone that, once extracted, is worked to turn it into a construction material. Thus, due to its characteristics and qualities, it is a material that guarantees the durability of the construction and prolongs its useful life.

Compared to other materials (such as wood or adobe), stone requires less maintenance and its useful life is much longer. In addition, it is an excellent thermal insulator, being able to control a stable temperature inside the house.

Classification and uses of building stones

Regarding their classification, we must differentiate them according to their origin, the material they contain and the process by which they were joined. At this point, it is necessary to differentiate between mineral and rock, since they are commonly called “stones” but their geological purpose is different. 

A mineral is a chemically homogeneous substance, while a rock is a combination of several minerals. Let’s see how they are classified according to their origin and training.

Igneous or magmatic rocks

They are those rocks from the Earth’s interior, specifically from magma. They are formed when magma cools or when it rises to the surface of the Earth. Diorite and granite are two examples of igneous rocks. They are visually very similar and can be used both for interior elements. Basalt is another example of igneous rock that is often used to affirm railroad tracks due to its durability and strength.

Examples of use of igneous rocks

The most common and most common igneous or magmatic rocks are granite, basalt, pumice or dorite . An example of its uses can be:

  • Granite. Due to its abundance and firmness, it is a material widely used in construction, both indoors and outdoors: surfaces, kitchen countertops, bathrooms, fireplaces …
  • Basaltic . Of great hardness and fine grain, it is used for foundations, steps (below deck), paving (paving stones) and engineering works.
  • Pumice . Commonly known as pumice stone, its most frequent use in construction is for the creation of light cements and concrete, or as ornamental rock.
  • Dorita . It is used together with other materials to obtain greater hardness in applications for road construction.

Sedimentary rocks

They are composed of sediments from other rocks, which through the accumulation through a process of erosion, transport and sedimentation of pre-existing rocks and subjected to physical and chemical processes, give rise to consolidated materials. They are usually found in layers or strata.

Examples of use of sedimentary rocks

Some of the examples of sedimentary rocks used for construction are slab, limestone or travertine .

  • Laja, used for floors, facades and fireplaces.
  • Limestone , used for the construction of walls and monuments.
  • Travertine . Its main uses are floors (floors), facades and furniture, both exterior and interior.

Metamorphic rocks

As their name suggests, they are rocks that have changed their shape. When igneous or sedimentary stones are subjected to high pressures and temperatures, changes are generated in the minerals and in the shape and arrangement of the grains, giving rise to metamorphic stones.

Examples of use of metamorphic rocks

Within this group the most used rocks are slate and marble:

  • Marble, used in a variety of applications due to its hardness and its qualities to resist inclement weather. Its uses are very varied: sculptures, fountains, kitchen countertops, floors, facades …
  • Slate, commonly used for masonry and exterior and interior coatings.

Common Building Stones

A huge number of decorative elements can be used as materials for finishing facades, since the market of building materials cannot complain about a small variety. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose the best option among such a colorful product line, so most homeowners and builders turn to the classics – stone for facade decoration . This option for the exterior of the house is one of the most popular along with plaster and panel cladding.

However, it should be clarified that the facade stone is not at all a homogeneous category of goods. The stones available on the market can be divided into several groups, depending on their value and the choice of natural or artificial materials. If the financial capabilities allow homeowners to purchase exactly natural stone, the following are the some of commonly used stones:

1) Granite is a fairly popular material with a long service life and reliability. Processing of granite is easy enough, and the granite material itself is resistant to the negative influences of the external environment. The main disadvantage of granite is its weakness to the effects of fire;

2) Syenite – able to withstand heavy loads, has a high resistance to high and low temperatures, however, among other things, it is subject to weathering;

Classification of Stones in Civil Engineering

3) Gabbro is an extremely plastic and pliable material for processing, with high strength characteristics. Unfortunately, polishing on it will not last long and will require regular updating;

4) Labradorite – not less durable and heat-resistant material, does not wear out over time and is easy to process;

5) Porphyry is a strong and reliable finishing material that will serve its owners a long and loyal service, practically unchanged in appearance. It has one extremely important and serious disadvantage – the porphyry contains sulfur compounds that are harmful to the human body;

6) Quartzite – easily processed and painted, but it is excessively massive;

7) Marble – easily processed both in a decorative and mechanical sense. Possesses excellent thermal properties, however, it is quite picky about environmental conditions: marble can turn yellow and become stained;

8) Shale is a hard rock, resistant to water penetration, frost and temperature extremes. Has good sound and heat insulation. During processing, it does not crumble and easily takes the desired shape. It’s only minus is in the top, that only stones of black, green and gray colors lend themselves to polishing.

9) Sandstone is very durable in operation, resistant to wear, inexpensive and easy to install. Among the shortcomings, it is worth noting its difficulty in polishing, so it is used in its natural form.

10) Dolomite is a frost-resistant and durable, fire-resistant and environmentally friendly natural stone, which is also well polished. But its disadvantage is the high cost and limited choice of color, as well as the complexity of processing.

11) Limestone is a widely used and well-known stone, plastic, frost-resistant and durable. Among the shortcomings, it is worth noting its large weight, which causes difficulties during installation, especially on the facade of the house.

This list of materials is far from complete, but the above types of natural stones are in the greatest demand among consumers. Often, an interesting approach is used during construction and finishing work – a combination of several types of stones, due to which a combination of the necessary qualities and an interesting appearance is achieved.

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