Stone and Masonry
Stone walls can be constructed as dry walls or, if mortar is used, as wet walls. Dry walls are used mainly for fences or retaining walls. Dry walls are usually 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) thick. The base is usually a bed of sand around 5 in (12.1 cm) thick. At the beginning of the first layer of stones usually one lays a stone, the bonding stone, which is faced relatively even. This helps keep the wall together. The bottom course should consist of alternating larger and smaller stones, all with the longest side along the outside surface. Such stones are placed on either side of the wall. Then stones are put between the sides, filling in the center. The layers that are above the base layer are constructed such that stones connect two lower stones, and, if possible, are kept reasonably level. If spaces result, and stones do not seat firmly, gaps are filled by chinking, by driving narrow stones or chips in the spaces so that the wall is locked tight and weight is pressed inward to prevent collapsing.
A wet wall begins with a mortared bed. A trench is dug and filled with sand or gravel. This then is allowed to settle for a few days. An inch of mortar is then laid on the top of the slab. As above, a bonding stone is placed at the end. Other stones are added along the sides, leaving spaces for the mortar which is poured as one moves along. The inside is filled with small stones, and mortar added. After laying but not filling in the next course, a broomstick is inserted in-between stones on the first tier to make weep holes, which should pass entirely through the wall. When the wall is finished, it should be raked with a piece of wood to compact the mortar.
Most modern stone houses have stone faces only; the entire wall is usually not completely stone. The main reason is that stone is very expensive and the inner part of the wall usually is blocked by furniture, pictures, or other items. So only an outer facade of stone is added to the house. This is between 3-4 in (7.6-10 cm) thick, and can be either field or quarried stone. One of the hardest stones that is relatively easy to work with is limestone. One of the hardest limestone is quarried in Valders, Wisconsin, which is about 30 mi (48 km) south of Green Bay. Here the Valders glacier covered the area. But when one digs beneath the glaciated land, an extra dense level of the Niagara ledge is found. Valders dolomite limestone ranges in color from a silvery white to a buff texture. It is one of the most enduring limestone in the United States.
Marble is another stone used by masons, and is found in almost every state. Depending on color, porosity, and strength, various marbles are used in various buildings, such as churches, museums, art galleries and the like. Again, due to expense, today the most common stone used in construction (for facing mainly) is limestone, although some marble can be found.