The Art of Slipforming: A Stone Masonry Primer

A stone masonry primer: Building stone houses using the art of slipforming, which uses stone masonry and concrete to create walls that are strong, beautiful with the strength of stone and reinforcement of concrete and steel.

| December 1996/January 1997

Learn how to build houses using slipforming. This stone masonry primer shows how slipforming creates long-lasting, low maintenance and weatherproof and fireproof homes. (See the stone masonry photos and diagrams in the image gallery.)

Stone houses have both enduring and endearing qualities about them. Enter one and an immediate and palpable aura of timelessness becomes apparent, and makes all other forms of construction seem fragile in comparison Building with materials as old as nature also makes a home seem as if it were part of the story of the land. A monument to your family.

This stone masonry primer uses the method of stone masonry we call slipforming. Short fortes, up to two feet tall, are placed on both sides of the wall to serve as a guide for the stonework. You fill the forms with stone and concrete, then "slip" the forms up for the next level. Slipforming makes stonework easy, even for the novice.

Slipforming is an old-fashioned style of masonry, resulting in a random or "rubblestone" appearance, without the uniform joints or sharp, clean lines of most modern masonry. In fact, slipforming is comparatively messy, and you will often find cement drips permanently adhered to the face of the rocks when you remove the forms. Rut these stains also contribute to the "patina" of the stonework, giving it an antiqued appearance. We rarely remove the drips, even when we can.


Slipforming combines stone masonry and concrete work to form a wall that shares the attributes of both. The walls have the beauty and strength of stone with the reinforcement of concrete and steel. The final product is long-lasting, low maintenance, and virtually weather- and fireproof.

The literature available when we started building showed walls that were stone outside and concrete inside (the letters A through H mentioned in this article refer to diagrams in the image gallery). These had frame walls built against the concrete for holding the insulation and attaching the plasterboard (A). This combination always seemed inefficient to us, partly because of the duplication of the structural wall, but also because the studs are conductive gaps in the insulation. We have avoided the need for the interior studs in some projects by using adhesives to glue rigid insulation and plasterboard directly to the concrete (B). (The wiring and plumbing is routered into the insulation.)

3/15/2016 8:58:59 AM

The beautiful thing about the slipform construction process .Is that you get a smooth, continuous ,almost faultless long concrete structures and thus strong bridge piers, tall structures, chimneys can be constructed easily and quickly using slipforming. Such structures are also comparatively more reliable and stronger compared to structures formed by assembling individual concrete parts.I even came across a nice article that talks about the different applications of slipforming : Slipforming construction process is said to perfect for caisson construction.

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