Rock Talk: Choosing The Right Stone For Building Walls

Right Stone For Building Walls

Stone walls can help shape the look and feel of your landscaping efforts (literally). There’s something about the natural aesthetic that rocks exude that makes them a fan favorite for landscaping enthusiasts and homeowners alike. From accent boulder pieces and pavers, to rock gardens and more — stone can be the perfect way to frame your yard. 

Walls are no different and can be both functional and aesthetic. There are essentially two schools of thought when it comes to stone walls.

Dry laid (dry stone or dry stacking)

Mortared wall

The distinction between these two constructions is in between the lines. Dry laid rock walls are simply stacked on top of one another while mortared rock walls use, well, mortar. What’s the big difference? Well, the size and shape of the rocks might determine which option is more feasible — so your choice in rock type has a big impact on the finished product. So, while you’re making a plan and possibly drawing up some designs — you’ll need to get to know your rocks and which of these two styles works best for what you need. 

Dry Laid Rocks 

dry stacking

Typically, these are much easier to maintain. That’s because any real damage to the wall can be easily managed by either replacing the rocks or rebuilding the damaged section. That being said, you are limited here on which rock types work. Because you’re stacking them on top of one another without any adhesive support, you’ll need to select rocks that have flat surfaces (squares or rectangular shapes). Flat, round stones can be done but it’s much more difficult than it’s usually worth. Dry laid rock walls are typically cheaper than their mortared counterpart because you’ll be using fewer materials. They also can’t be built extremely high (usually around 4 feet max) — so they aren’t necessarily great options for securing your property or an area. 

Mortared Wall

Mortared wall

There’s typically a bit more work in mortar wall construction because they require footing that goes several inches down into the ground. This helps keep the wall stable and secure. That being said, mortar helps keep everything solid, which means these walls are a bit stronger and more stable than dry-laid walls. You also have a bit more wiggle room when deciding what type of rocks you want to use and are not limited to one shape or size. You’re also able to build mortared walls as high as necessary, making their application a bit more diverse. 

Which Type of Rock Should You Use?

Well, there’s really not one solution here. There are a handful of popular stone types that can be used to create both dry laid and mortared walls. 

  • Limestone 
  • Sandstone 
  • Granite 
  • Fieldstone 
  • Concrete blocks 

Deciding between these different types of stone is really up to your current or future landscape design, personal preference, and budget. Some have more diverse color and size options while others are a bit more limited. Custom rock and stonework is a great way to make your home stand out. 

Granite has been a popular one for a while now. While you can find granite substitutes or variations in a wide variety of colors, true granite is white, pink, or gray. Shades can vary greatly, but for the most part, those are the colors you’ll be looking at. These rocks are fairly large and look great when dry stacked. 

Sandstone is a great option for those that need a specific shape. It’s super easy to shape and cut, so it works great for both dry laid and mortar walls. Some homeowners use sandstone cutouts as veneers on top of their concrete walls. 

Limestone is similar to sandstone in that it can be shaped and cut to fit your needs. Colors typically range from white and tan to gray. Great for both dry laid and mortar walls, along with veneers as well. 

Fieldstone has a slightly different shape than the other options we’ve described. It’s usually a bit more rounded. This rock type is usually locally sourced, so availability may be limited but the price will be less than imported stone types. There’s a huge variation in size, you can find massive boulders or tiny stones. Due to the shape, these work best for mortar applications. 

The last option we mentioned is concrete, or more specifically, man-made concrete. These work great but are a bit less “natural” looking because they are, well, shaped by humans. That being said they are great for a symmetrical and uniform look. 

Speaking of specific looks, there are some tips and tricks that can help you decide what shape and size of the rock wall you want for your property. If you’re looking for a slightly more old-fashioned look, you can use reclaimed stone or find rocks that look weathered. If you want a stone wall that exudes strength, use larger rocks. This helps anchor your wall and yard while creating the illusion that your property was built into a natural foundation. For a slightly more unique look, don’t be afraid to mix and match your rock types. This can be a great way to make your walls stand out and also create incredible textures. 

Get To Building

Are you thinking about adding some incredible stone walls to your property? Well, it doesn’t have to be a massive headache or a month-long project. Here at ALDMN, we love utilizing nature to create incredible custom stone designs. Contact us today and we can help you transform your property with incredible stone walls.