Natural stone has been used in construction of buildings and structures for centuries. However, over the years stone construction methods have changed and evolved dramatically. Designers are moving away from empirically designed, load-bearing masonry systems, to more highly engineered thin stone cladding systems.
This evolution has changed not only the way we build with stone, but also the methods by which we evaluate in-service performance of a façade, as well as how we maintain these structures and preserve them for the future. This natural material demands unique inspection methods, a broad knowledge of construction, and an understanding of how various building materials work together.
This paper attempts to describe some current techniques used to inspect and assess stone façade performance. It addresses common, and some uncommon, considerations systems when performing an evaluation of stone façades for both load-bearing walls and stone cladding, ways to identify the wall system in use, and key elements in stone façades that require special attention. Other methods available to engineers and architects to enhance our evaluative capabilities are also highlighted. Lastly, this paper discusses the availability and use of ASTM standards addressing topics related to stone inspection, assessment, and maintenance.