The Life of natural stone
What is natural stone? It is a stone that is dug up from the earth and is mainly quarried from a mountainous ground. There are many types of natural stones, including slate, granite, limestone, basalt, quartzite, marble, sandstone and travertine etc. The aesthetics and characteristics of natural stone are defined by the process of its formation, e.g. from rivers, from volcanoes, from tectonic folding. Each type of stone is unique as no two places on earth have the same exact geological forces. This also means that the same kind of stone from different areas can differ widely.
The three main processes that natural stone go through in the field of architecture and construction are quarrying, processing and applying.
The process of quarrying is defined as the extraction of these natural stone from the surface of the earth. It is done through different equipment’s and methods, e.g. hand-held tools, explosives and power saws. Hand tools are used when the stone lies in an easily accessible area. The main hand tools are the drill, hammer and wedge. A row of holes is made through the drill and wedges are places within these holes. These wedges are hit with the hammer until it forces the stone to crack along the drilled row of holes. This method is known as the plug and feathers. Explosives and power saws are commonly used for detaching large stone blocks which are then broken down into smaller pieces through the plug and feather method.
After quarrying the natural stone is in the form of slabs. The slabs can be made of a dimension by sawing. There are many natural stone saws that include diamond-covered blade, gang sawing, straight saw blades and various circular saws. After sawing the next step is to polish the surface of the stone. This is done by using different polish heads, starting from coarse and then slowly moving onto more finer grit abrasives until the surface of the stone is glossy and polished. This way, the stones‘ natural texture and the colour are enhanced. Other than this, there are many stone finishes that can be done, including chiselling, sandblasting or heat and flame treatment.
Natural stone is extensively used in the construction industry. Their characteristics have made them one of the most favourite construction materials for humans since many thousands of years. Owing to this, its application has always been diverse. Since many years natural stones were traditionally used in masonry, decoration, indoor flooring, roofing etc. The use of them in veneering for stone wall cladding and facades is an element of modern architecture which has evolved from traditional masonry.