The intent of this vocabulary is to facilitate communication about stone. I have started with ASTM definitions and added local terminology from
quarries and craftsmen. Please think of it as a billboard that you are invited to contribute to. Please e-mail me with any suggestions or
Anchor- in general, a metal shape inserted into a slot or hole in the stone that provides for the transfer of
loads from the stone to the building structure, either directly or through an intermediate structure.
Building Stone- natural rock of adequate quality to be quarried and cut as dimension stone as it exists in
nature, as used in the construction industry.
Cladding- non-load-bearing stone used as the facing material in wall construction that contains other material.
Cobblestone- naturally rounded stone
Cut Stone- stone fabricated to specific dimensions.
Dimension Stone- natural stone that has been selected, trimmed, or cut to specified or indicated shapes or sizes,
with or without one or more mechanically dressed surfaces.
Dress- trim stone for straightness and alignment, usually with hammer and chisel, so that the edges of each stone
are flush at the joints, even if the face of the stone protrudes irregularly
Fieldstone- gathered surface stone, usually weathered
Field Stone- the stone occupying the center of an area contained by a border of a different stone or material.
Finished Stone- dimension stone with one or more mechanically exposed surfaces.
Flooring- stone used as an interior pedestrian wearing surface.
Gauged- as in flooring or veneer. Stone that has been processed to a uniform thickness
Grain- (1) a distinguishable rock constituent which itself has a distinct identity, for example, a mineral
crystal, an oolith, a rock fragment (in sedimentary rocks), or clast.
(2) A place of parting in a rock body, along which the rock is more readily split or cut, technically perpendicular to the direction of flow cleavage,
if any. (See rift)
Granular- composed of particles visible to the unaided eye. For sedimentary stone, the predominant particle
distribution is less than 4 mm in size.
Hysteresis- the residual strain in stone after the stress causing such strain is changed.
Igneous Rock- rock formed from molten material.
Ledge- a naturally occurring layer of stone with open seams above and below.
Metamorphic Rock- a rock altered in composition, texture or structure by extreme heat or pressure.
Monumental Stone- rock of adequate quality to be quarried and cut as dimension stone, as it exists in nature, as
used in the monument and memorial industry.
Oolith (or Oolite)- a small, round, calcareous, grain found in stone such as limestone and dolomite.
Open Seams- unfilled fissures or naturally occurring cracks in stone.
Panel- cut stone with face dimensions large in relation to its thickness, for placement in a building structure
or frame assembly.
Paving- stone used in a pedestrian wearing surface as in patios, walkways, driveways, and the like. (See
Pits- small depressions, voids or pinholes in stone, especially on a finished surface.
Polished Finish- a surface that has high luster and strong reflection of incident light.
Processing- the work involved in transforming quarry blocks into dimension stone, including sawing, drilling,
grinding, honing, polishing, carving, and all other operations necessary for installation.
Ribbon- in some slate, narrow bands of contrasting color or appearance differing to some degree in chemical
composition from the main body and usually weaker in structure.
Rift- (1) a consistent direction or trend in a rock body along which the rock is most easily split or broken.
(2) The grain orientation in stone, particularly in sedimentary stone, showing more or less clearly how the stone was originally bedded, and with or
without color or grain-size changes, or voids and hollows.
River Rock- see cobblestone
Rock- a naturally occurring consolidated aggregation of one or more minerals constituting the crust of the Earth.
Roughback- the naturally occurring face of a ledge that takes on the color of the surrounding soil or open seam
Sedimentary Rock- a rock formed from sediment or from transported fragments deposited in bodies of water.
Shaped Stone- dimension stone processed by carving, grinding, sawing, or other means into specific non-planar
Shiner- the larger face of the stone, perpendicular to the stone's thickness (ledge), expressed as the finished
Slab- a piece of stone produced by shaving or splitting in the first milling or quarrying operation. A slab has
two parallel surfaces.
Sound Stone- stone that is free of crack, fissures, or other physical defects.
Spalls- (1) fragments of chips from a piece of dimension stone.
(2) Waste stone usually of small size from the quarrying and milling of dimension limestone.
Split Face Stone- stone that has been broken along a rift to approximate thickness for installation in a fixed
Texture- (1) a modified appearance of dimension stone resulting from one or several mechanical surface
treatments. Untreated stone surfaces have textural characteristics described under (2).
(2) That aspect of the physical appearance of a rock, determined by size, shape, and mutual relationship of the component grains or crystals. Textures
related to dimension stone include: equigranular (grains of approximately the same size); inequigranular (grains of markedly unequal sizes);
interlocking (in which grains with irregular boundaries interlock by mutual penetration); interlocking and porphyritic textures are characteristic of
granites and marbles; clastic (naturally cemented fragmental grains but without mosaic or interlocking relations; this texture is typical of sandstones
and some limestones; mosaic (closely packed grains with smooth to moderately irregular, non-interlocking mutual boundaries); granoblastic ( a
megascopically granular mosaic texture in which the grains are tightly compacted and the minerals are dominantly equidimensional and present irregular
mutual boundaries; mosaic and granoblastic textures are characteristic of metamorphic rocks.
Thin Stone/Thin Veneer- a cladding under 2-in. thick; tile; a thin modular stone unit.
Veneer- a non-load-bearing facing of stone attached to a backing for the purpose of ornamentation, protection, or
Wear- the removal of material, or impairment of the surface finish through friction or impact.
*Wear is an artificial process. The rate of wear may be affected by chemical action.
Weathering- natural alteration by either chemical or mechanical processes due to the action of constituents of
the atmosphere, surface water, ground water, or temperature change. *Changes due to weathering are not necessarily undesirable or harmful; rather, they
may enhance the texture and color of the stone.
Webwall- a description of the pattern formed by the mortar joints between irregular shaped stone.