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Written by GJ Stott
Stone columns, originating in Egypt but most renowned in Roman and Greece, are structural parts of a building, wall or fence that accept the compression weight by transferring the load to a foundation below.
The stress conditions of a concrete column can require complex engineering despite a plain appearance. Equilibrium, materials and load are used to measure and determine the size, shape and integrity of the stone column for a particular function. To ensure a stable equilibrium, a stone column’s force will generate a small lateral deflection with load that disappears when the lateral force is removed. Material is determined by the amount of weight the column will hold as well as local weather conditions.
The critical load is calculated in this formula where E is equal to the elasticity of the material, I is equal to the moment of inertia and L is equal to the length of the longest half sine wave.
Traditional stone columns were made with either one long piece turned on a lathe or piece by piece if made from smaller stones. Single-piece stone columns are considered some of the heaviest stones in architecture. Due to the burden of lifting such large pieces, columns were also made in sections that could be dry-fit together and pegged through the center.
Stone columns are available in variety of designs. The term “column” in architecture refers not only to the equilibrium, materials and load but also to the ornamental appearance. If authentic stone is used, columns are guaranteed to be individualized. Contemporary stone columns do not have the problem of incongruity because they are made using precast concrete that offers a stone veneer.
Manufacturing precast concrete stone columns can be completed using a stone column form. AFTEC manufactures multiple precast concrete fence column forms for precasting stand-alone columns of various sizes and heights. Utilized for multiple applications such as ornamental iron, vinyl, wood, stucco, rail, cable, horse fence and other uses, AFTEC offers stone as well as other form liner designs (including architectural designs and textures such as brick, block and stucco) for the column form.
To make these columns, concrete is poured into a column form and allowed to cure overnight. The hardened column is stripped from the form and already displays the desired design. The column is installed using a rigid footing system that utilizes a concrete base and a steel I-beam. As explained earlier, the column can be used to transfer the load to the concrete foundation. Once manufactured and installed, the precast concrete column can be colored and capped.