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Building Stone Walls


Looking at a stone wall evokes memories of a precious heritage, and of course a solid structure. Used widely in much of Europe, here in Australia stone was mostly employed for public buildings as well as for wealthy family homes. The time that stone took to be carved, shaped and transported meant that this was a material only a few could afford. The time it took to erect the stones into a building also made it a lengthy exercise and one requiring great craftsmanship; but when completed, a home made of stone was a clear statement of stability and wealth.

Erecting a stone home can today still be a costly exercise, and we rarely see new homes built entirely from stone, but as the look is so grounding, so textural and visually engaging, there are many options available in both solid block forms as well as cladding products, providing a less costly and quicker build.

It is a stylish addition to many modern Australian homes to add stone walls as feature, adding great contrast against rendered surfaces or wooden ones, hence creating an visually engaging look. Cladding sections of homes is a popular choice not only with modern design homes, but also for the popular Hampton's look where it is used as a base around the facade teamed with horizontal wooden cladding or as feature columns and fireplaces. Another great reason for Australians to incorporate this into our finishes selections, is that it is a wonderful way to adding a solid feel as well as an organic feature to the exterior or interior design of our homes. Cladding is obviously a more economical choice than solid walls.

There are also man-made cladding materials on the market that cost only a fraction of natural stone and yet perfectly reproduce its beauty. Boral/PGH for example, makes Cultured Stones which are beautiful, light to transport, lift and install; professionally placed one by one, these stones offer a wide range of different looks form stack stone to rustic, to more linear designs, providing a very convincing look of natural stone and a durable finish.

If the rustic heritage all-stone look is what you are aiming for, you can still enjoy this beautiful material whilst keeping an eye on the budget, by choosing smaller cuts of stone, in key areas, to maximise the impact and minimise the cost. Remember that the larger the stone, the more expensive and more difficult it will be to transport and lift in place, so weather your renovating for profit, or building your dream home, it's always wise to discuss this with your builder .

Finally, learning from the good old buildings we admire so much, it seems not every wall may be as solid as it looks!! The images below are from a restored heritage sandstone wall in Sydney's newly created Barangaroo precinct, allowing for integration for a brand new apartment complex. The recently cut passages into existing convict built walls reveal its solid look stone walls, being solid only in appearance. Walking past I had to stop and admire the beauty of this stunning textural old wall, where stones are shaped and stacked to build a solid wall. These looks to be large slabs running through the full width of the wall, but are in fact two thinner walls on either side, with a filler of smaller off cuts in the centre, adding to the wall's solidity and helping increase the wall's thickness without the need and cost of using larger and more expensive stones. Was this an economical decision? Where the smaller stones left-overs from other buildings? Can you apply the same trick? It is so exciting to discover new ideas, which aren't so new after all!

As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate both the natural beauty of stone into your home or landscaping. Discovering clever options to achieve the finish and appearance of natural stone allows you to enjoy the natural beauty of stone, whilst always being aware of your property's style, it's location, and of course your budget, be it big or small.

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James Treble has more than 25 years of experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from. Interior Design For Profit is now available online.

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