When building with natural materials – stone, as well as brick, metal, wood, or any other basic material – you always get exactly what you pay for. Any structure, no matter how well designed or grand in concept, will instantly look cheap and disposable if it lacks high quality exterior materials. Proportion, detailing and good overall design can only succeed when embodied in a superior grade of stone.
Sandstone is a dense and cohesive stone known for its remarkable durability. Over the past 130 years of construction, usually bonded with a plain Portland/lime mortar, it has proven its ability to withstand the extreme freeze/thaw cycles common to the Great Lakes region of Southern Ontario. It does not alter in density or hardness over time like some types of limestone. The tightly porous surface gives a stronger bond to mortar. It is not reactive to acid rain or other atmospheric poisons that will chemically degrade other stone. It is not slippery when wet. In winter, using a de-icing solution causes no damage or change in appearance.
There is absolutely no maintenance required when using sandstone – no sealers or special mortars are needed. Sandstone takes on colour and character as it ages, darkening slightly over the years, more so in damp or shady conditions. However, if the original pristine colour is preferred, it can be brought back by simply powerwashing the stone.
So a top notch sandstone, like Credit Valley, has many advantages over both granite and limestone. It is:
– Lighter and less expensive than granite
– Chemically inert, darkening richly with time, while limestone tends to bleach out and lose its colour
– Easier to hand-tool than either granite or limestone
– Offers more coverage per ton than either granite or limestone
Sandstone, or any natural stone, is also a much better choice than any of the “cultured stone” products that are currently available. These cement – based building materials are not comparable in look or durability, and cannot be expected to last nearly as long a true natural stone.
It is interesting that during the great European cathedral and temple building era 800 years ago, sandstone was often preferred where it could be found locally. Strasbourg Cathedral de Notre-Dame in France is known as one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in Europe. It boasts the tallest spire in Europe, and is made of sandstone.
In our own smaller, more recent “stone era” of the past two centuries, a quick tour of the Toronto and Hamilton area will show that our ancestors chose this excellent stone for the public buildings and fine homes that really mattered to them. A structure of Credit Valley sandstone has a lifespan measured in centuries, not decades.