Average Dry Stone Walling Costs in 2020 | Checkatrade
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Guide to dry stone walling costs

Steeped in history and found across the British countryside landscapes, dry stone walling is a popular feature of rural homes. But it’s also becoming more popular with British homeowners up and down the country.

Installing dry stone walling allows you to replicate the quaint feel of the Cotswolds, Yorkshire Dales or Lake District. In this guide we look at the average dry stone walling costs in the UK.

Dry stone walling is one of the less common types of wall structure and prices can vary considerably across the country. For accurate quotes contact a local dry stone walling specialist.

What is dry stone walling?

Dry stone walling, also referred to as drystack (or drystane in Scotland) is a way of building a wall structure using stones without using any mortar to hold them together. The method used is very precise in order to hold the stones together in a stable structure.

The trick of a stable dry stone wall is the system of interlocking stones that sit together to form the wall structure. You’ll typically see them used for the boundaries of fields and churchyards around the UK. In residential areas, dry stone walling is sometimes used for terracing and in landscaped gardens.

ItemRange - LowRange - HighAverage cost
Dry stone walling materials (per ton)
Reclaimed stone--£60
Decorative reclaimed stone--£80
Dry stone walling labour (per m2)

Construction of double sided freestanding wall including toppings

How much does dry stone walling cost?

If you want to install dry stone walling in the grounds of your property, it’s important to find a local expert with experience to do the work. To work out the costs you’ll need to calculate the size of the dry stone wall you want to create – but, be warned, it’s not a cheap wall option.

Dry stone walling material costs

The type of stone you choose for your dry stone wall will have a major impact on the total price you’re going to pay. You’ll often be quoted for the amount of stone in tons, and one ton will usually build one square metre of dry stone wall.

For dry stone walling using new sandstone the average cost is about £45 per ton. If you want to use reclaimed stone for field walling then the cost is around £60 per ton. Or if you’re looking for more decorative reclaimed stone for the dry walling, the cost will be in the region of £80 per ton.

Dry stone walling labour costs

In addition to the material costs, you’ll obviously have to pay the labour costs for a specialist to build your dry stone wall. As a guide price, you can expect to pay £50 to £90 per square metre for a dry stone walling expert to build a double sided freestanding wall including toppings.

On top of the building cost, you may also be charged for footing preparation, moving the stone materials to the site or clearing up the site after the wall is finished. Therefore it’s important to confirm what’s included in the price before hiring your chosen tradespeople.

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dry stone retaining wall costCost of dry stone walling per metre

If you’re trying to work out the cost of dry stone walling per metre, you’ll need to combine the cost of materials and labour. And the price quotes for dry stone walling are usually calculated per square metre, not per metre. If you based the costs of one ton of material per m2 then you’re looking at a rough cost of £95 to £180 per m2.

Factors affecting the cost of dry stone walling

Some of the main factors that will affect the total cost of your dry stone walling project include:

  • Length, depth and height of the wall
  • Type of stone used
  • Complexity of the wall design (incorporating bends or corners can increase the cost)
  • Any prep work needed
  • Access to the site
  • Time taken to complete the work
  • Where you live

What’s involved in dry stone walling?

If you’re wondering what the process of building a dry stone wall entails, here’s a brief overview of what’s involved.

Step 1: Preparing the ground

The area of the wall is marked out (usually with string or chalk). The stones are then sorted into piles based on size (small, medium and large stones).

Step 2: Laying the foundations

This involves digging a trench about a foot deep to hold the foundation stones of the wall. It’s generally the larger stones used for the foundations to provide solid support for the wall structure.

cost of dry stone walling per metreStep 3: Building up the layers

Additional layers will be built on top of the foundations to start forming the shape of the wall, using a very specific pattern. The key to a stable dry wall is the careful laying of the stones in alternating ways to create support within the wall.

Step 4: Stabilising the wall

Smaller stones are placed in between the larger stones to fill in any gaps, which helps add additional support and binds the wall together. In addition to this, ‘through stones’ that extend the entire width of the wall, are laid at regular intervals to strengthen the wall structure.

Step 5: Topping the wall

Once the wall is built, a final layer of stones are added sitting upright and positioned tightly next to one another. Adding this final top layer is known as ‘topping’.

Useful dry stone walling checklist

  • Measure the length and width of the dry stone wall that you’ll need and calculate the square metre total.
  • Speak to local dry stone walling experts for the professional advice and accurate quotes for the work.
  • Research the stone options to choose the style you want.
  • Shop around for fair and competitive dry stone walling costs.
  • Always hire tradespeople with experience and ask to see examples of their previous work.
  • Ideally hire a dry stone wall specialist accredited to the DWSA or similar body.

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