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Sand stone

 
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Can I use sand stone for building projects?  It breaks pretty easily if you drop it on another rock, but will it hold up otherwise?  I wouldn't build a house foundation or anything, but possibly some stone walls.
 
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Many of our most historic buildings and bridges are made from sandstone, so yes, you can build substantial features with it.

However, and there is always a 'however', it depends on the clay content within the rock - sandstone with a high clay percentage will crumble quite quickly when exposed to the elements. So, if you're buying it for construction purposes e.g. if the wall you intend to build is over one metre high where a collapse could injure or kill someone, it would be preferable to get construction quality rock - it usually comes in 'grades'.

For example, Sydney Sandstone is quite famous, but a lot of it has a high clay content so it needs to be quality assured if used in construction.

 
Trace Oswald
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F Agricola wrote:
Many of our most historic buildings and bridges are made from sandstone, so yes, you can build substantial features with it.

However, and there is always a 'however', it depends on the clay content within the rock - sandstone with a high clay percentage will crumble quite quickly when exposed to the elements. So, if you're buying it for construction purposes e.g. if the wall you intend to build is over one metre high where a collapse could injure or kill someone, it would be preferable to get construction quality rock - it usually comes in 'grades'.

For example, Sydney Sandstone is quite famous, but a lot of it has a high clay content so it needs to be quality assured if used in construction.



Is there an easy way to tell if it has high clay content?  The reason I'm asking about this is because sand stone is on my land.  I don't have much other stone.
 
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From; sandstone
Sandstone is one of the most widely used stone building materials, being both common in many geological sequences and easy to use for construction purposes, although it is highly abrasive and takes its toll on the tools used to process it.

It is not always the most versatile of natural stones, due principally to the constraints created by the original bedding process. Where sandstone is derived from marine deposition, the beds tend to be relatively thin and these laminations can create weaknesses, although it is these very weaknesses that can be exploited when splitting the stone to use as paving and flooring, and sometimes as roofing.

The quarrying of marine-derived sandstones is often a slower process than with other dimension stones because of interbedded shales and other waste or unusable materials.

The finished sandstone product can represent as little as 10% of the stone taken from the quarry face in some locations.

More consistent properties are often achieved with sandstones formed from desert sands, where bed heights can reach tens of metres and occur across large regions. The sorting of the sand grains also makes many desert-derived sandstones more consistent in their appearance and properties.

These desert sands often contained iron oxide, giving rise to a red colour. While these stones are typically strong, they do not always have sufficient abrasion resistance to be used for paving, which is a major use of many sandstones.

The American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) simplifies sandstone classification on the basis of density, dividing it into three categories: sandstone, quartzitic sandstone and quartzite.

The classification works reasonably well and few stones that would not be regarded as sandstone by geologists manage to fall into the ASTM classification.
The classification works reasonably well and few stones that would not be regarded as sandstone by geologists manage to fall into the ASTM classification.

Sandstone probably has the edge over limestone for traditional block stone masonry use, as even the lower quality sandstones do not experience the level of damage in-service that limestones often suffer (although much of the damage experienced in the past by limestones was related to the acidic conditions resulting from sulphur emissions from coal burning, which no longer have the same influence).

Possibly the main difference between limestone and sandstone is the lack of a microporous network in sandstones, which means they tend not to hold on to water as long as limestones and thus suffer less from frost action.

 
F Agricola
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Trace Oswald wrote: Is there an easy way to tell if it has high clay content?  The reason I'm asking about this is because sand stone is on my land.  I don't have much other stone.




I don’t know an easy laypersons way, though, if the sandstone is exposed to weathering on your property and it hasn’t eroded quickly to sand, it’s a fair bet that it has a low clay content. Soaking a chunk in a bucket of water for a week should indicate its ability to weather – if it falls apart or leaves a significant free-sand/cloudy clay-like residue, then it’s unlikely to be useful for construction.

Like concrete, stone is strongest in compression, but that flies out the window if the stone (or concrete) is overly contaminated with other things.

 
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Hi Trace

Sandstone is an excellent building material since it is widely available and often easily workable, but as described in other posts, it can have its difficulties.

Many historical buildings in Switzerland are made of sandstone. This particular sandstones has a calcite matrix (in other words, calcite binds the sand grains together so that they form a rock). Due to this, the sandstone is very susceptible to erosion over the centuries. Other sandstones have quartz as binding material, making them very strong and hard.

Be aware that the terms Sandstone, Clay, Quarzite etc can have different meanings depending on wether you talk to a geologist, stone mason, geotechnical engineer, decorative stone vendor etc.

Maybe you could post some pictures of your sandstone occurrence, so that we can help you with a first assessment.

cheers
Lukas
 
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Sandstone is plowed up in every wheat field here. Loads of sandstone walls about. Stacks really well!
 
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Trace, I'm on my phone and can't tell what country you're in. In the US we have USGS us Geological Survey. Every state and County has information in Web Soil Survey which can tell me from looking at it what kind of soils I'm liable to have and more importantly what their properties are, such as whether they are good for building foundations, roads, farming, ...
 
Trace Oswald
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denise ra wrote:Trace, I'm on my phone and can't tell what country you're in. In the US we have USGS us Geological Survey. Every state and County has information in Web Soil Survey which can tell me from looking at it what kind of soils I'm liable to have and more importantly what their properties are, such as whether they are good for building foundations, roads, farming, ...



Denise, thank you! I didn't even think of that. Great idea.
 
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