Material Fact Sheet: Limestone
(c) COPYRIGHT 2010 NATURAL STONE COUNCIL rev. Sept 2018
This fact sheet was developed by the Natural Stone Council as part of a continuous effort to provide reliable and useful information regarding Genuine Stone® products. The information presented has been extensively reviewed by owners and operators of limestone quarries and fabrication facilities. To access fact sheets for other stone types and learn more about Genuine Stone®, including the industry’s environmental initiatives, visit www.naturalstonecouncil.org.
The United States is one of the chief producers of dimension stone in the world, having generated an estimated 2.73 million tons in 2017. Limestone sales generally make up the largest portion of the market, occasionally overcome by only granite sales. Dominating limestone production are curbing, paving, rough blocks, slabs, veneer, wall panels, and tile.
Likely a result of limestone’s prevalence in North America, Canada was the principle supplier and purchaser of the majority of 2017 U.S. imports and exports, respectively.
Sources: Dolley, T.P. 2018. 2015 Minerals Yearbook: Stone, Dimensional. U.S. Geological Survey. pg. 72.0-72.13.
Dolley, T.P. 2018. 2017 Mineral Commodity Summaries: Stone (Dimension). U.S. Geological Survey. pg. 156-157.
Products & Applications
Characteristics of quarried stone are dependent upon the attributes of the deposit from which the stone was extracted; each quarry is able to offer a range of products unique in dimensions, color, and structural properties to its deposit. Therefore, it is preferable that the designer and stone supplier collaborate closely prior to and throughout the design process since planning a project around readily available stone reduces the environmental impact of raw material extraction. Nevertheless, when possible, the most common dimensions of limestone on the market are
- BLOCKS: Maximum size of 8ft x 4ft x 4ft
- SLABS: Maximum size of 8ft x 4ft with thickness of 2-3cm
Common Building Applications
- Cladding (exterior/interior)
- Other uses: aggregate, lime, mulch
Formation & Sources
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed of calcium carbonate, plus calcium and/or magnesium. It is formed when layers of minerals (particularly calcite), fine sediment, and the skeletons and shells of marine organisms undergo lithification. Terrestrially-formed limestone is known as travertine.
Limestone is commonly quarried across North America, particularly in the Midwest United States.
Indoor Air Quality
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- None emitted directly from limestone
- May source from adhesives and sealants applied; low-VOC options are available on the market
- Resources: refer to MSDS of chemical(s) used
An especially wide variety of limestones exist on the market, both foreign and domestic, and these can be drastically different in density, hardness, porosity, and aesthetics. Users should verify that the limestone they plan to use is applicable to the demands of the project and has a successful history in such installations. ASTM test data is the most common data available to compare the properties of any stone, including limestone.
- Exterior applications: lifetime
- Interior applications: lifetime
Source: National Association of Home Builders. 2007. Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components.
Reuse & Recyclability
- Ensure reclaimed limestone meets ASTM specifications before using for structural purposes
- Example Applications
- Concrete mixture fill
- Landscaping re-installation on new buildings
- Retaining walls statuary
ASTM C-568 “Standard Speciﬁcation for Limestone Dimension Stone”
- Includes material characteristics, physical requirements, and sampling appropriate to the selection of limestone for general building and structural purposes.
- Classiﬁes dimensional limestone into three categories: Type I (Low density), Type II (Medium density), and Type III (High density). The table below lists the required test values for each type of limestone; the necessary tests are prescribed by and located in the ASTM standards.