The Many Uses of Stone, Gravel, and Larger Aggregates for Construction

February 8, 2024

The construction industry has long valued the durability and strength of materials like stone, gravel, and larger aggregates. These resources, garnered from the earth’s crust, have a wide array of uses in the continuously evolving field of construction technology. But most don’t understand just how important these materials are to the constructed modern world. At RiverBend Materials, we rely on stone, gravel, and larger aggregates nearly every day in our work. Let’s unpack their impact.

The Overwhelming Potential of Stone

On the surface, it might seem that stone fits primarily into grand exterior structures or embraced in rustic interior designs. However, this simply scratches at the surface of the overwhelming potential that stone holds within both major and minor construction projects. A prominent example of this is the evolving use of long-lasting, naturally abundant stone in creating composite materials like stone matrix asphalt. This unique pavement design, largely adopted in high-traffic urban regions, endorses superior resilience and unfailing durability, even in weather conditions that are nothing short of challenging. Moreover, the remodeling and do-it-yourself markets have seen an increase in the use of stone veneers – thinly cut sheets of natural or manufactured stone used to embellish and insulate both exterior and interior walls. Their inherent ‘weathered’ look not only adds a stylistic touch but also results in higher resale value for homes.

Applications of Gravel in Construction

Our focus then shifts to gravel, another resource that holds remarkable potential within the construction industry. From forming integral components in concrete mixtures to acting as fill material in critical civil engineering projects, this humble material is more than just a necessity. Beyond its practical use, certain types of gravel like pea gravel are rapidly gaining popularity in landscaping applications, adding a dual functionality and aesthetic value to outdoor spaces. Also worth mentioning is the use of gravel in water filtration systems. Due to its natural sieving ability, this aggregate proves highly efficient in removing sediment and harmful particles from water. It’s not only an ecological choice, but also an economical one given the material’s ready availability.

Larger Aggregates in Context

And what about larger aggregates? These are often used to provide structure and strength to concrete compounds that form the backbone of modern infrastructures. Larger aggregates are also employed independently for an array of applications, they are used as the road base, railroad ballast, and to control erosion in coastal areas and riverbanks. For example, larger aggregates play a fundamental role in constructing stable foundations for buildings. The mixture of these aggregates with concrete offers a sturdy solution that can bear the weight of multi-story structures, resist the shifts caused by geological conditions, and withstand environmental challenges such as storms and earthquakes. This all highlights the use of concrete and aggregates in providing long-term performance and durability to building foundations.

Stone, gravel, and larger aggregates are simple yet powerful materials that combine both practicality and aesthetics. These materials are used in everything from small family homes to towering skyscrapers, displaying their strength and resilience over time. The real power of these materials lies not just in building physical structures, but in crafting long-lasting infrastructures that showcase remarkable craftsmanship, unrivaled durability, and intelligent use of natural resources.