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Fieldstone is a naturally-occurring type of rock that's often used as a building material. Traditional field stone included a variety of rock formations that were collected from local fields by hand. Modern fieldstone often includes both subsurface stones and those found on the surface, which are collected using tractors and other machines. The stone may be washed and split in preparation for building, but little else is done to modify the stone's natural properties or appearance.
Throughout many parts of the world, fieldstone has historically served as a building material for home construction. While fewer moderns homes include this material, these stones may still be used to restore or repair older structures. Today, field stone is still popular for retaining wall and agricultural fence construction. It may also be used indoors to construct fireplaces, or outdoors for patios and other landscaping features.
Builders often select field stone for building based on its size and other natural properties. Stone that is too large to move by hand may be split or cut prior to use in building projects. Stones that are too small may be used in landscaping or earth fill applications rather than for building. Early field stone projects were typically based on a dry-stacking technique, where stones were fit tightly together without the use of mortar. Modern applications often include mortar or cement, which gives the stone additional strength and stability.
Part of the charm of fieldstone construction is the size and color variations among the stones. Field stone ranges in color from gray to brown to tan, with shades of green and pink thrown in. The color and shape of the stone depends largely on mineral content and other conditions within an area, resulting in significant variation in field stone from different areas. These stones often have soft, tumbled edges that are the result of years of wear and weather exposure.
While fieldstone offers many advantages, it also has a number of potential drawbacks that users should be aware of. These stones offer little consistency in terms of size and shape, which could make it more difficult to build with this material. Field stone construction is often time intensive, as contractors must sort through stones to find the best unit to fit each space. The large amount of variation in color and finish may also be a disadvantage for those looking to create a more cohesive finished look.