Our Guide to Stone Paving

With so many different types of paving stones on the market, how do you pick the right one? Here we have listed the pros and cons of many, from the perfect and honed granite providing a contemporary feel, to riven textured Indian stone making the garden feel much more rustic and natural.

Granite

Granite is known for being hard-wearing, and this is because of the density of the stone. All the molecules that make up granite are more compressed than in most other stones. The top surface of granite is flamed, which provides a textured finish. This is not always noticeable to the eye, nor when you walk over the stone, but if you get close enough you will see the slight undulations. This means that while it looks perfectly smooth it still provides enough grip so the stones are not slippery, which is especially important when wet.

There are a few colours to choose from, including silver (which is almost white), mid-grey and dark grey.

Our recommended colour is mid-grey; silver shows the dirt up far too easily, and it’s the same with dark grey. Dark grey and silver can also be a little dominating, whereas mid-grey is more neutral, and fits in any garden design nicely.

The only drawback with granite is its cost, as it costs far more to buy than cheaper alternatives like sandstone. Granite is also a lot more labour-intensive than sandstone and precast paving stones. Nevertheless, Granite is still a favourite among our clients, especially when designing a contemporary garden in London.

Sandstone

Sandstone has been a favourite among landscapers and designers for years; it is only recently that options such as granite and limestone have become more readily available.

If you have a large area to pave, then granite can look a little tiresome due to the fact that each stone is exactly the same as the next. In contrast, each sandstone block can tell a story; they all have different lines, undulations and shades, making each sandstone patio unique. There are many different shades to pick from, including grey, yellow (sandstone colour) and autumn brown.

When buying sandstone paving, try to make sure the joints are as small as possible. If you opt for a cheaper grade of stone, you will end up with large, unsightly joints.

 

Grey

Grey can be used in a contemporary design or something a little more rustic. The colour variations between each stone are much less noticeable than they are with yellow or autumn brown.

Yellow

A yellow patio may not seem too enticing at first, but this colour works well in Mediterranean gardens and combines well with bamboo and palm-like plants. The yellow looks good in rustic gardens, too; this is mainly due to the texture of the stone and the variation in colour between one paving stone and the next.

Autumn Brown

Autumn brown is a favourite in both rustic and family gardens, where the patio is not designed to be contemporary. Because of the unique colours within this range of paving, it can look lovely over a large area; any other colour just wouldn’t work, as grey would be too dull and yellow too bright.

Sandstone after-care

The only downside with sandstone is that it is very porous, so you’ll definitely need a pressure washer. If your garden is north-facing, then you may have to pressure wash your paving up to four times a year to remove the algae. This may seem like a lot, but even if you have granite you will still have to pressure wash it at least twice a year. If your garden is south-facing, then you will have to pressure wash it twice a year.

One major consideration is the cost, as Indian sandstone paving is much cheaper than granite and limestone. It also takes a lot less time to lay than the aforementioned paving stones, therefore installation is much cheaper.

Slate

Slate can be used in both modern and rustic garden designs. In a modern garden, be careful that the stones have been calibrated so that when they’re laid, the spaces between them are equal. In a more rustic garden, this is not as important; we have even installed some paved areas where we have cut the stones to make the joints uneven, which adds to the natural feel of the design.

Slate can be a little slippery as it does not have the textured finish of granite or riven Indian sandstone. This is of special significance if you have young children or if the patio is going to be used by the elderly.

Porcelain 

Porcelain paving stones are manufactured, which means they can be designed to perform better than natural stones. One main benefit of porcelain is that it is not porous, so it does not attract the green tinge that can affect sandstone in particular.

A drawback of natural, quarried stone is the variation in colours. This is not an issue with porcelain as it is a manufactured stone, meaning each stone is exactly the same colour.

Porcelain is one of the easier paving stones to clean as the surface is untextured, making it easy to wipe clean and pressure wash. It is a stone that only five years ago was triple the price, but due to more streamlined manufacturing processes, its price is now much more reasonable.