A patio is an ideal way to extend the usefulness of your outdoor space. Without one, your pool area would look unfinished. You’d have no central point for gathering. Your grill would have no home, and you certainly couldn’t dine or lounge with ease.
But a patio is more than just “useful”. It can be an integral part of the beauty of your landscape. And the type of stone you choose will go a long way toward enhancing both its beauty and its functionality.
There is no “best” stone to choose – only the one that’s best *for you*. Find out when you may want to choose one type of stone over another – and the pros and cons of each.
Bluestone is a natural stone that is quarried primarily in the northeast, specifically in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It gets its name from the many hues of blues and grays that you can find.
One of the beauties of Bluestone is its natural imperfections, which offers a completely unique look that blends seamlessly into its naturalistic surroundings.
It can be cut into many shapes and sizes for a completely customized look, and even used “broken” for an even more natural and irregular appearance.
It is elegant and timeless, with interesting textures and patterns that will add visual beauty to your landscape. The rough surface of this stone makes is slip-resistant, which means it is particularly safe to walk on. That makes it an ideal choice for walkways and pathways, or anywhere there will be a lot of foot traffic.
Bluestone is freeze resistant and can withstand the freeze-thaw cycles so common in the northeast, which makes it a low-maintenance and long-lasting addition to your New Jersey yard.
And don’t be fooled by the name “blue” stone, because the shades are so myriad that you might be surprised by how this stone can take a patio from subtle to vibrant depending on your selection.
Bluestone is a type of sandstone, which means that it’s porous. It should be sealed to keep it protected and extend its beauty. Over time, it may need to be cleaned and resealed to retain its color and restore its luster.
Darker hues will retain heat and can get hot, so it’s not ideal for use around a pool area or where you expect to be walking barefoot.
When to use it
Bluestone is an excellent choice for a low-maintenance and durable patio, for pathways, walkways, and steps. Use it if you want a natural look, if you’re going for anything from rustic to elegant, and when you want a more irregular, informal look.
It makes a great staging ground for your fire pit, cooking area, or dining table.
Fieldstone gets its name from the place where it is so often found – out in the field, where farmers find it while cultivating the land. This stone is present at or near the earth’s surface and is left over from glacial deposition.
This is a truly unique natural stone, a legacy from the age of glaciers that is available naturally in colors from deep, chocolate browns to light creams and beige, from dark gray to nearly white. No two stones are alike, affording you the opportunity to create something completely custom.
They are incredibly durable and both weather- and water-resistant – they survived glaciers, after all! That makes these stones easy to care for and long-lasting.
They can be placed naturally and used without mortar for a rustic look that appears to be part of the earth itself.
Given the irregular nature of these stones, they will not lay perfectly flat like pavers or bricks. They are not ideal for a dining area, where you’d want a flat surface for your table and chairs.
Without mortar, you can get moss or grass growing between the stones – a pro or a con depending on your perspective!
When to use it
Fieldstone is a great choice when you’re going for a pastoral, natural look, and when you want something extremely low-maintenance. It’s excellent for use in walkways or as stepping stone pathways, and is also a great choice for retaining walls.
True bricks are made from clay, and typically joined using mortar. They’ve been used for hundreds of years for everything from building construction to roadways.
Brick is perhaps the most timeless, iconic look you’ll see. It can go from high end elegance to country rustic depending on the patterns created and the environment where it is used.
It’s easy to replace individual bricks if they become cracked or damaged, which means you can keep your patio looking new even under harsh conditions. It’s also easy to clean, can withstand heavy foot traffic, and survives wind, rain, sleet, snow, hail, and the heat of the sun without fading.
Brick is a low-maintenance and classically beautiful option that has the added benefit of being eco-friendly. And even as it wears, ages and cracks, it retains its charm as part of the intrinsic architecture of your home.
Brick is fairly uniform in color, so you won’t find too many hues available for creating a unique look. And while you can switch up the pattern, from herringbone to basket weave and others, you will still end up with a fairly regular design.
It is an absorbant stone, and will weather, crack or crumble over time. In shady areas where brick retains moisture, a damp environment can lead to moss growth.
When to use it
If you’re looking for something versatile that can complement myriad home styles, it’s hard to go wrong with brick. It can enhance a historic home’s architecture, pair seamlessly with a colonial style, punch up a modern home, and look as great as a walkway as it does as a driveway or patio.
Choose brick if you’ve got a fair amount of sun and can keep it relatively dry, and where you want a solid surface for seating, dining or lounging. It’s also a great accompaniment to an area with a fireplace or fire pit.
And if you’re looking to live a “greener” lifestyle, brick is an excellent choice. It consumes less energy and produces fewer emissions to manufacture, and it is made of clay found naturally and sustainably in the earth.
Limestone forms in warm marine waters. It is composed primarily of calcium carbonate and can include tiny shells, coral, and other fossilized organic debris. It is used in perhaps more ways than any other stone – as a road base, in foundations, in drainage areas, as a coating on asphalt roof shingles, in smelting processes, as a component of cement, as filler in paint and paper, and even as a supplement in animal feed.
Limestone is as timeless as brick, as versatile as fieldstone, and as customizable as Bluestone. It is available in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures, which makes it ideal for creating a beautiful and unique hardscape.
Whatever minerals were in the water when the stone was formed will affect its coloring, giving you interesting shades of gold, amber, cream, eggshell, and gray.
Limestone is durable and holds up to high use and fluctuating weather. It’s resistant to moss and mold and is easy to maintain with a simple mopping.
It can be cut into just about any size and shape for a uniquely custom look, and is available in a variety of light colors, which deflects heat and keeps the stones cool on hot summer days.
Limestone is vulnerable to acid and can be damaged by chemical cleaners. It can also be damaged or stained by debris from berry bushes and fruit trees. Like Bluestone, it is porous, which means it should be sealed, and may need cleaning and resealing over time to maintain its beauty.
When to use it
Limestone is ideal for pool or spa areas because it is cool for bare feet on hot days. It is also skid-resistant, which makes barefoot walking safer.
If you’re looking for sophistication, Limestone is an excellent choice. Its subtle colors are luxurious and refined, working as well for modern appeal as for country elegance.
Since it is a much sought-after stone, it is also a good choice when you want to increase the property value of your home.
Anything that can be laid to create a flat surface is technically a paver (or paving stone), but the term paver as you most likely recognize it typically refers to a manufactured concrete stone. They’re modular pieces designed to be the same thickness for ease of laying.
As a manufactured stone, they are created in a nearly endless array of sizes, shapes, colors and textures. From square to rectangular, round to irregular, you can design unique and creative patterns that will stand out from the crowd.
They can easily match just about any home’s architecture, going from formal to naturalistic, modern to rustic.
Pavers are usually available at a lower price point than natural stone, so they make a good budget option. They’re durable, long-lasting, and can withstand heavy foot traffic as well as vehicular traffic.
Like brick, they can be easily replaced if one becomes damaged.
In sunny areas, pavers can fade over time, so you may lose some of their original hue and luster. If you need to replace a paver, the color may be off if the stone wasn’t weathered the same way or produced from the same lot.
Quality can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer so you should be cautious when purchasing.
While they are available in many shapes and colors, they tend to produce a fairly uniform look, which is a con if you’re going for something more naturalistic.
When to use it
Pavers are versatile enough to use just about anywhere – as a patio or walkway, for your dining area or cooking area, as the foundation for a seating or lounging area, and more. They’re good for use around pools because they are slip-resistant, in addition to being resistant to salt and chlorine.
They make a good choice if you want a customized pattern at a lower price point than natural stone.
When it comes to choosing stone for your patio, there are plenty of beautiful and unique options. The one you choose will depend in part on where you plan to place it, how you intend to use the space, your aesthetic preferences, and the architecture of your home.
It can seem like a daunting choice, but once you understand the options you can begin to make the right decision for you and your family. If you’d like to know more about patio options, and would like a professional evaluation and recommendation for designing and building the perfect patio area for your space, contact us for a consultation.
Our landscape design pros are here to answer questions, educate you, and ultimately create the outdoor living space of your dreams.Which Stone Should You Choose For Your Patio?