Building with stone: Dublin limestone | Wicklow granite | Various sandstones
Whether or not you can retro fix stone to your house will largely depend on the architectural design of the building. The most important thing to firstly consider is to make sure there is a adequate foundation in place which can support the proposed masonry.
Also, one must consider how the thickness of the stone (usually built 9 inches from the outer leaf block work) might effect the over hang of the roof, the look and depth of the existing windows, the in-coming light from these windows, and also, how the colour and texture of the chosen stone will effect the over all aesthetics of the building.
Therefore, before embarking on any such project, one should consult both an Architect, Engineer and suitable Stonemason, along with the local planning authority officer (for Dublin and other counties - click here.)
The process: The stone is laid on the foundation, usually 9 inches/ 23cm from the outer brick / block work, although this can vary according to the thickness of the stone in use, and how it may interact with window frames etc.
Securing the Stone: The stone is 'tied' into the house front by using either strips of expanding metal, or ties, which are connected to the wall using steel nails at regular intervals (two for every square meter) . This ensures that the stonework will not slide, or come away from the dwelling.
The stone is then built up, around the doorways, windows, archways etc, continuing up until it reaches the very top of the building - meeting the soffit where it is finished. On certain builds, the stonework is finished level to the top, and capped using something similar to paving stone, sealant, and strong waterproof mortar.
New Build Stone Construction
Building form new: When cladding a newly built house with stone, all the fore mentioned considerations of foundations, planning, correct integration have usually been taken into account by your Architect, engineer and planning officer.
From there, the procedure is largely the same, but with one vital difference, more alterations / specific details can be implemented and applied to the build if discussed with your stone mason before work commences on the project, making for a better custom job.
How to choose the type of stone?
The type of stone you choose is of importance. Where the lighter coloured stone works well on a smaller areas, by not constricting the overall feel of the house, and creating a solid and textured look. Darker stone can work very well on a larger area, by condensing the frontage, especially when used against contrasting sidewalls that are painted white, which excentuates the stonework.
Sandstone and shale give off a very warm and bright effect, and can create a snug feeling within a room, which is why it works very well for internal masonry. You should also consider the look of the stonework when wet. As the lighter gray limestone's gos darker, while the very dark gray can go black. But its all just preference really.
Also of significant importance and worth mentioning is the lighting that might be used. Both internal and external light, can be used to highlight the stone, and can have the effect of making it seem either warmer or more shaded in certain areas, while also creating intricate shadows and texture on the stone itself. To test before you install permanent light fixtures, you can simply use flashlights creating up lighting , down / recessed lighting, or a combination of both to see what works best. Your experienced stonemason, and interior designer will be able to advise on the best positioning of light and where to use.