What is Traditional Masonry

What is Traditional Masonry

Time-Honored Traditional Masonry

Traditional masonry is a time-honored technique. The oldest form of building, it has given us temples, cathedrals and houses that have endured for centuries and show no sign of decay. Nothing can match the beauty and durability of stone. It can be rustic or elegant and it can work with any style of home from the modern to the traditional.

The look of a stone home will depend on the type of stone used. There are many different kinds, each with their own characteristics. Just a few are:

  • Gneiss
  • Quartzite
  • Granite
  • Limestone
  • Basalt
  • Sandstone
  • Flint


And each of these has their own variations. The look and feel of the material will also depend on where they are from. Because of this, a masonry building will have a distinctive look unmatched by any other.

Why Stone Endures

Stone is still the most popular and widely used homebuilding material in Europe and parts of the U.K. America is unusual in the world for primarily using stick-built homes, which goes back to our history of huge forested expanses. Wood became popular because it was readily available. In Europe, stone was more readily available, and people there had vivid memories of cities, including London, whose wooden buildings were destroyed by fire.

Whatever material you choose, traditional masonry is a versatile construction method that lends itself to both modern effects and historic reconstructions. A masonry wall or building has a rugged, natural beauty that looks striking in any landscape.

Traditional masonry provides:

  • Excellent soundproofing
  • Fire protection
  • Storm protection
  • Durable material that won’t rot
  • No chance of termite infestation
  • Locally sourced materials
  • Good insulation
  • Maintenance-free beauty
  • Building material that is fully recyclable


Traditional masonry involves old-fashioned materials and techniques that have been modernized to fit today’s needs and to streamline the process. Despite these innovations, traditional masonry is still a labor-intensive process that requires skilled craftsmanship, and no two stone-built homes are exactly alike. If you want a unique look in a home that is impervious to weather, mold and fire, and will last a lifetime, you cannot do better than a masonry building.

Types of Stone

There are two types of stone that feature in traditional masonry.

  • Cut stone, or ashlar: this can be shaped to fit the required design.
  • Loose stone, also called rubble stone: found lying in fields and meadows, used as is.

Main Building Methods

Stacking or piling. In this method, stones are simply laid on top of each other, with the largest at the bottom. In time, gravity causes the stones to settle and lock into each other.

Traditional masonry. This uses mortar to bind the stones together, much as grout in used in ceramic tile. Mortar works as a glue and provides a barrier against moisture and insects. This is the most labor-intensive type of masonry that involves the highest skill levels.

Slipform. Stones are stacked against a form and builders then pour concrete into the form. Slipform building is faster than traditional masonry and is commonly used today.

Stone veneer. As the name implies, veneer is wall covering made of stone. In veneers, the stone is not used as an actual building material but simply for aesthetics. Although mainly done for looks, stone veneer does provide the insulation benefits of masonry.

When You Want the Best

Of all these methods, only traditional masonry gives you the true look, feel, durability and other benefits of a stone building. If you want the best, it is worth the investment of time and labor to use traditional masonry.

At Kelley’s Masonry, our expert craftsmen use time-tested methods to create walls, archways, walkways and buildings that stay strong and beautiful for years to come. Call us today to discover why we’ve been named Loudoun County’s favorite masonry year after year.


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