Other materials

Stone can be a good material where it is plentiful in the locality. The same basic forms and layouts can be constructed, with stone used in the supporting walls or as cladding around a timber frame or cinderblock (breeze block). Stone construction needs careful craftsmanship. Different stone types are built using different methods. Drystone walling techniques can be used, with hidden mortar to secure the stones. Natural or rough-quarried rock is usually better than cut and dressed stone except in specific circumstances, such as using a vernacular building form. Artificial or reconstructed stone can have an unfortunate suburban appearance and is usually unsuitable. Brick is an inappropriate material in most circumstances unless reflecting a local style or if rendered with wet or dry dash roughcast (a mixture of wet cement and stone chips spread on the wall surface or dry stone chips applied to damp cement on walls respectively). The same applies to cinderblock, which can be a cheap material for construction, and can be clad with roughcast or stone.

Roofs for stone buildings can be tile, slate or flags, occasionally profile steel or corrugated iron. Wooden roofs do not look appropriate with stonework.

In hot, dry climates other materials such as adobe have been used, for example by the US National Park Service in Arizona and New Mexico. This uses traditional materials and construction which fits very well. Flat roofs are acceptable in low-rainfall areas and are often traditional.

Transparent materials such as toughened glass or polycarbonate can be used for windows or rooflights, occasionally occupying quite a large proportion of the roof area. Coloured varieties such as smoky grey or brown look better than clear.


Details such as door fastenings, hinges and rainwater goods (gutters and downpipes) all need to be considered. Craftsman – type products with chunky, thick dimensions work well. Those produced by the Civilian Conservation Corps for the US National Park and Forest services in the 1930s have a ‘folksy’ character produced by local blacksmiths, although fussy details should be avoided. Consideration should be given to omitting rainwater goods unless wooden ones can be used on wooden buildings. Plastic gutters and drainpipes look out of place on sturdily constructed buildings in wild settings. Rainwater deflectors above doorways, if needed, can be adequate. Gravel around the building base can collect water without splashing the walls and staining them.

Updated: October 3, 2015 — 2:15 am