When Is Fieldstone a Practical Building Choice?

When it's readily available, fieldstone is a great building option.

Fieldstone can be used to build exterior and interior structures.

Fieldstone is popular natural stone that’s used for all types of building — but not because it’s abundant or easy to work with. Conversely, the stone is prized not just for its natural good looks, but also because it’s difficult to use and not always easy to find. It’s a practical building material if and when conditions are exactly right, so here are some things you should know about it.

What Is Fieldstone?

As the name suggests, this type of stone is collected from fields. Farmers sometimes have to dig the stones out of their acreage before the soil can be tilled and planted. Often, the stone is saved in a large pile until it’s used to create walls and buildings. Natural color variations give the stone a distinctive look.

Fieldstone is found in New England as well as in the High Plains. Those who live in these regions can potentially get stone for an affordable price — or even for free if farmers decide to give it away versus sell it. Purchasing the stone directly from a quarry can also be affordable, but acquiring it through a builder or supply house is usually costly.

By nature, there is a broad degree of variation in the size and shape of each stone — thus, properly building with the stone requires some hands-on knowledge. Further, it can be labor intensive — each stone must be picked with care and structures have to be precisely put together to make them both sound and attractive.

SkilToolsBuilding with Stone

Mortar is commonly used with this type of stone, although the joints can be raked clean for a dry-laid look. Fieldstone must have a stable footing before it can be laid, which requires digging below the frost line. The trench should be two feet wider than the wall under construction, so even just prepping for the build is intense. More hands make the work go more quickly. When building with this type of stone, enlist as many friends and family as possible to make the project go faster and make it more affordable.

The rocks can be manipulated and changed if needed. Stones can be cut and split in order to make them fit, but it’s a lengthy procedure that involves using a chisel and sledge to shape the rock. It takes a professional stonemason to build with this type of stone, otherwise structures may not be stable. However, a well-built fieldstone structure requires little maintenance or upkeep. When built correctly, a wall made with this stone could ostensibly stand for hundreds of years.

When the material and the knowledge are both readily available, this is a very practical and attractive building material. But when the stone must be purchased and a professional must be hired, building with it can be pricey. Plan ahead and make sure fieldstone adheres to your remodeling budget. Get help whenever possible, and search for deals and opportunities to make purchasing the stone easier. For those who are willing to work, this type of stone can be a practical, beautiful and affordable choice.


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