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Where to find cut stones and how to choose them

Dressing a cut stone.

Although cinder blocks, bricks and cellular concrete have become classics of construction, the cut stone has not lost its nobility and continues to be a material of choice. Less easy to implement, it remains a classic in renovation or construction. It can be used to build an outdoor wall, make a paved floor or build a stone wall. To find quality materials, you have to identify the right dealer and make your selection carefully.

What is cut stone?

The stone (sometimes abbreviated as "PdT") is a natural stone (as opposed to reconstituted stone) that is taken from a quarry, then erected (more or less finely) on its 6 faces. It is called "cut stone" when the rough stone has been cut and flattened on all its faces and when its facing (the visible face of the stone, which can vary according to its use of destination) is flat and rectilinear.

The different uses of freestone
Cut stone is a noble and expensive material, but it can be used for wall construction (porters or not), from walls, from pillars, offraming openings or foundations, and as corner stone.
The cut stone is popular because of its aesthetic. Due to its relatively high cost, a similar rendering is sometimes obtained using cut stone only in facing, to give the illusion of a wall entirely built in stone.
The price of ashlar varies considerably depending on whether it is quarry stone or reclaimed stone (often less expensive), but also depending on the nature of the stone and its availability or not near the site. The stone of Caen will obviously be less expensive in Normandy than in the south of France.

The benefits of the cut stone
The cut stone is an extremely durable material (if it is well chosen and assembled in the rules of the art). It has a high inertia which gives it unequaled thermal regulation qualities. Its thermal resistance is low and it must be associated with a perspiring insulator not to lose its regulatory qualities.
It is very competitive in terms ofgray energy (the energy consumed to produce a material) since it is present throughout the French territory and requires little energy to be produced.

What is a quality ashlar?

A good cut stone is primarily a non-frost stone (which does not fear frost) and has not been exposed too long after its size to the weather (especially if it is limestone).
It exists different qualities of stone (soft, semi-firm or firm) and the density of the stone varies according to this parameter (from 1600 to 2600 kg / m3).
It must be resistant to compression and must withstand wear and weather. Its homogeneity is also an important factor, as well as its adherence to the mortar.
This information will be provided by the carrier (the person who manages a career) following the tests that he has done on his products.

The right stone for the right use
To build a wall, we can go to a soft stone (which is faster to work therefore generally less expensive than a hard stone), while for bases we will choose the hard stone (less porous, which is an essential criterion if it is semi buried).
France produces mainly limestone, granite, travertine and, to a lesser extent, sandstone, shale and volcanic stone.
The limestone is by far the most produced in France (it is present in more than 70 departments, some of Overseas). Although the limestone is porous, it exists in the three standard qualities that can be used indoors and outdoors.

How to find the right supplier?

Stones can be bought directly:

  • in career,
  • with a trading of building materials.
The addresses of the main careers can be found on the website
As with all building materials purchases, you need to take the time to educate yourself and make sure your supplier is serious. France has thousands of quarries, all of which provide stones of different types and quality.
Ancient stones are found in all specialized in the recovery of materials.
Stone cladding boards are available in trading of materials, the DIY superstores and even on Internet.

A local supplier
There is everything to gain in terms of ecology and budget to use a local stone. Serious suppliers offer technical sheets for each type of stone to learn about their technical specifications. These fact sheets, with their accuracy and timeliness (the fact that they are updated regularly), are criteria of choice to identify a serious seller.
The use of a local supplier will also ensure that the construction will fit well in the environmental aesthetic.
Appealing to a mason
It can also be a good idea to call in a local bricklayer or construction company who is used to working cut stone.
Good to knowThe National Union of Ornamental and Natural Stone Building Industries (SNROC) compiles a lot of relevant information on its website (

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