USGS logo

What about buildings?

Many buildings and monuments are made of stone, and many buildings use stone for decorative trim. Granite is now the most widely used stone for buildings, monuments, and bridges. Limestone is the second most used building stone. It was widely used before Portland cement became available in the early 19th century because of its uniform color and texture and because it could be easily carved. Sandstone from local sources was commonly used in the Northeastern United States, especially before 1900. Nationwide, marble is used much less often than the other stone types, but it has been used for many buildings and monuments of historical significance. Because of their composition, some stones are more likely to be damaged by acidic deposition than others. Granite is primarily composed of silicate minerals, like feldspar and quartz, which are resistant to acid attack. Sandstone is also primarily composed of silica and is thus resistant. A few sandstones are less resistant because they contain a carbonate cement that dissolves readily in weak acid. Limestone and marble are primarily composed of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate), which dissolves readily in weak acid; in fact, this characteristic is often used to identify the mineral calcite. Because buildings and monuments made of limestone and marble are more likely to be damaged by acid precipitation, they are the main focus of this booklet.

Memorial Bridge - granite Marble trim, First Bank in Philadelphia
Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., is made of granite, the most widely used stone type. Marble used as a trim on the First Bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Previous | Home | Next

This page is URL:
Maintained by John Watson
Last modified 07.21.97