Types of Stone Patios

The Different Types of Stone Patios

An attractive and functional addition to any yard is a stone patio.  Stone patios can be made from a range of materials that all function similarly but have differing appearance and costs.  Read on to learn more about your options when it comes to your next stone patio.

Paver Patios:

A paver is really anything that can be used for paving patios, but, the term most often refers to manufactured concrete pavers.  Concrete Pavers are very strong and durable and come in a wide variety of colors and styles and finishes.  Pavers are usually cheaper than other paving stones and are also quick to install.  This makes them an economical choice when deciding on your patio material.

Pavers can be laid in a variety of patterns to achieve different looks, and come in varying finishes that will try to mimic a more rustic, natural look.  Pavers are very strong and will basically stay intact forever, but, their color can fade somewhat over time.

Paver Patio

Paver Patio

Brick Patios:

Bricks are similar to concrete pavers but they are made from natural clay.  They are also fairly quick to install but the material cost is higher.  Red brick provides a more antique, traditional look like you might see lining the sidewalks of Boston.  Red clay isn’t the hardest material – the bricks can perhaps crack or deteriorate over time, but, this takes quite a while and replacing bricks when needed is not difficult.

Brick Patio

Brick Patio

Brick Patio

Brick Patio

 

Bluestone Patios:

Bluestone is a natural stone that is quarried mostly in NY, PA, CT.  It gets it’s name from it’s blueish-gray hue.  Bluestone is readily available and commonly used for patios, walkways, and other flatwork.  Bluestone comes cut into various sized rectangles that can be installed randomly or with a regular pattern.  There are different grades of bluestone that vary in price and ease of installation quite a bit:

Natural Cleft Bluestone:

Natural cleft bluestone is quarried shallower in the earth.  The bluestone closer to the surface has less pressure from the weight of the world above it and thus has natural lines of de-lamination.   Because of this the stone can be split off or cleft at the approximate thickness, and then cut to shape.  This process leaves the stones at slightly varying thicknesses with some irregularities on the surfaces.  The lines of de-lamination in the stone allow other minerals to seep in giving Natural Cleft Bluestone a range of blues, grays, browns, and purples.  Natural Cleft Bluestone is the lower cost bluestone, however, the irregularities make it more tedious to install.

Natural Cleft Bluestone Patio

One of our Natural Cleft Bluestone Patios

 

natural cleft bluestone

natural cleft bluestone

 

Thermal Bluestone:

Deeper down in the earth there is more pressure and the bluestone is completely solid.  For this reason the stone can’t be split and must be sliced to the appropriate thickness with a saw.  The saw cut leaves a very smooth, unnatural surface so the stone is wet down and then treated with a super hot flame.  This process flakes off little bits of stone to return it to a rough, natural stone surface.  This ‘thermal’ treatment is what gives it’s name.  Thermal Bluestone is consistent in color and thickness and the surface is rough like sandpaper but completely flat.  Thermal Bluestone is more expensive than Natural Cleft Bluestone but is faster to install.

Thermal Bluestone Patio

Thermal Bluestone Patio

Thermal Bluestone Patio

Thermal Bluestone Patio

 

Irregular Bluestone or Flagstone:

Flagstone refers to any irregular, flat stones that are used for paving – in our area it is often made of bluestone.  Irregular bluestone is naturally cleft but then left in its broken shape.  Irregular Bluestone comes standing up on a pallet so is sometimes referred to as ‘Stand Up’ bluestone.  Irregular bluestone comes in big pieces that you must puzzle together or cut to fit.  There are many different finishes and tightness of joints that can be achieved depending on the desired effect and skill of the mason.

flagstone patio in Lincoln, MA

One of our Irregular Bluestone Patios

Irregular Bluestone Patio

One of our Irregular Bluestone Patios

 

Granite Pavers:

Granite pavers are similar to Thermal Bluestone.  They are cut, and then flamed, and come in variously sized rectangles.  Granite is more expensive than bluestone in this form and is less commonly available.

Granit Paver Patio

Granit Paver Patio

granite patio

Granite Paver Patio

 

Cobble Stones:

Cobble Stones are granite blocks that come in various sizes.  Cobble stones are not saw cut, but broken and chiseled so have rough faces and other irregularities.  Cobble stones are most often used for edging and accents but can be used for paving larger areas as well.

Cobble Stone Patio

Cobble Stone Patio

Cobble Stone Patio

Cobble Stone Patio

 

Fieldstone Patio:

Fieldstone patio stones will be naturally occurring stones that are flat enough to use for patios, steppers, etc.  These are thicker and heavier than other patio stones or flagstones.  It will not be possible to level or fit them perfectly and so they will produce a rougher more rustic stone patio.

Fieldstone Patio

Fieldstone Patio

Fieldstone Paito

Fieldstone Paito

 

Combination Stone Patios:

When designing a patio it can often be nice to mix two or more different materials.  This will add some character and leave more room for creativity and design.  Often this can be nice when matching other existing stone features on the property.  The possibilities are many but you can take a look at some examples below:

Mixed stone patio

Mixed stone patio

brick and bluestone

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In Conclusion:

There are various types of stone patios to choose from, and plenty of different ways to design them and make them unique.  Patios are long lasting and useful landscape features that you can really enjoy and make use of.  If you’re thinking about installing a stone patio at your home please contact us for a consultation.

Types of Natural Stone Walls

Types of Natural Stone Walls

Here at Concord Stoneworks one of our favorite landscape construction projects are natural stone walls.  There are a variety of different methods of building a natural stone wall with a variety of different materials.  Because of this, each wall is a bit different and a poses a new and interesting project for us to take on.

As a customer you will want to understand what your options are so you can choose a stone wall that best fits your style and budget.

Fieldstone Walls:

Fieldstone refers to any stone that is harvested from the ground or a ‘field’.   Having been tumbled in the ground for centuries they are generally more rounded as opposed to freshly broken or quarried stone.  Fieldstone is harvested locally and relatively cheaper than other wall stone, although, the price will go up as it gets sorted into more consistent batches of shape, size, and color.  A typical stone yard will have separate piles of flats, rounds, weathered stone, sizes, and a mixed pile.  They will also have pallets of fieldstone that have been further sorted and selected for certain characteristics.  Fieldstone will vary quite a bit supply yard to supply yard and season to season so is something we must go and see in person before purchasing.

Fieldstone is suited for any type of stone wall, from low freestanding walls, to large structural retaining walls.  Seeing as it is a lower cost stone, and the stones can get quite large, they are especially well suited for larger scale walls.  A fieldstone wall generally has a lower level of finish than some other stone walls.  That is to say the face/cap aren’t completely flat and consistent, although, with enough care a high level of finish can be achieved.

Fieldstone walls can be either dry laid or set with mortar.  There are advantages and disadvantages to either method which you can read more about here.  We will most often suggest a dry laid fieldstone wall, but there is a time and place for either method.

fieldstone natural stone wall

Fieldstone Wall

Fieldstone Natural Stone Wall

Fieldstone Wall

 

Pennsylvania Fieldstone Wall:

Pennsylvania Fieldstone is a particular type of fieldstone that is common to our local supply yards.  PA Fieldstone is a smaller, flat stone.  It comes prepackaged on wooden pallets and will cost more per ton than the general fieldstone that can be bought by the truckload.  The smaller sized stones are good for building smaller scale walls but can be used for larger walls as well.  PA Fieldstone walls are usually set in mortar to keep the small stones from jostling or getting knocked out of place.   Although mortared, the stones are still stacked in the way that gravity would dictate so will have the appearance of a traditionally dry laid wall.

Pennsylvania Fieldstone Wall

Pennsylvania Fieldstone Wall

 

Colonial Wallstone:

Colonial Wallstone is another flat stone and is used in the same way as PA Fieldstone.  Colonial Wallstone comes from the bluestone quarries and is produced from cast off pieces that aren’t nice enough for the large, flat bluestone patio stones.  Colonial Wallstone is freshly broken/quarried, this means the faces are very flat, and as a softer stone it is easy to work with a chisel and hammer.  Colonial wallstone can be used to produce a very tight fitting, clean, and consistent finish.  And although often mortared, this stone is stacked in the way that gives it a dry laid appearance.

Colonial Wallstone stone wall

Colonial Wallstone stone wall

Colonial Wallstone stone wall

Colonial Wallstone stone wall

 

Antique Granite Wallstone:

Most of our local fieldstone is some sort of granite, but, here we are referring to the quarried white granite that you often see used as steps, cobble stones, posts, curbing, etc.  Quarried granite has usually been split into rectangular pieces and make it easy to piece together for a nice tight fitting wall.  Antique granite is great for drystack or can be mortared if necessary.

Antique Granite Wall

Antique Granite Wall

Antique Granite

Antique Granite

 

Split Face/Mosiac Wall

Split face or Mosiac Walls refer to some sort of freshly broken fieldstone or quarried stone.  Having been split, the stone has one very flat side that is used to face the wall.  In this sort of construction the focus is on facing the wall first, not stacking the stones for sturdiness.  This means that the wall must be mortared together, and to the trained eye it is apparent that the mortar is holding the form and not the weight of the stones.  Using split face stone and mortar it is easier to achieve a clean, flat finish, however you lose some of the visual weight and authenticity of a traditional stone wall.

Mosiac Stone Wall

Mosiac Stone Wall

Mosiac Stone Wall

Mosiac Stone Wall

 

Veneer Wall:

A veneer wall is a type of mortared stone wall in which the face stones are adhered to a structural concrete base/backing.  Veneer walls are often used on houses and foundations among other applications.  There are many different types of veneer stone.  Some have been manufactured and sliced to ~1″ thick and are more installed like tiles.   Others can be naturally flat stones similar to the Colonial Wallstone or PA Fieldstone mentioned above.  They may range from 1-4″ thick and the wall is pieced together with the larger flat face exposed.  Veneer stones are easy to cut and piece together to achieve a clean finish.

Veneer Stone Wall

Veneer Stone Wall

Veneer Stone Wall

Veneer Stone Wall

Veneer Stone Wall

Veneer Stone Wall

 

Modular Block Wall:

Concrete wall blocks are a manufactured product that can also be used to make masonry walls.  These blocks come in a wide variety of styles with different engineering systems and specs.  They are dry laid systems and can be installed much faster than natural stone walls.  Concrete block walls can look nice, are effective, and will often be more cost effective than natural stone walls.

wall block6 wal block5  block wall

In Conclusion:

This article includes a good sampling of the types of natural stone walls available to you.   As always there exists a number of other particular types of stone and methods of cutting and shaping them to fit together.  If there’s a particular natural stone wall you’ve always admired, bookmark it or snap a photo and we can do our best to match it.

So take a look around and see what catches your eye and get in touch when you’re ready to start planning your new natural stone wall.

 

Stone Walls: Dry vs Wet

Dry vs Wet laid Stone Walls:

One of the first questions many homeowners ask when proposing a new stone wall is whether the wall should be built with or without the use of mortar.  (A “wet” stone wall uses mortar, while a “dry” stone wall does not). Different factors can effect this decision, but we at Concord Stoneworks will most often recommend a dry stone wall.  In this article we will discuss why this is so and the advantages and disadvantages of either option.

split face stone wall

Mortared Stone Wall – Split Face Stones

A wet stone wall is designed as a rigid structure.   When external forces are exerted on the wall, (ground settling, frost heaving, errant snow plows, etc.), the wall is designed to withstand the forces and hold its form.   A well-built, mortared stone wall with a solid base and backing will hold up for quite some time, yet, it is unavoidable that at some point movement will occur. When it does, and when the forces become too great for the wall to withstand, the material cracks. When this occurs the repairs are not easy. Patchwork will be unattractive and do little for the structural integrity. Rebuilding the wall or portions of it will be labor intensive and may require all new material.

dry stone wall example

Dry Stone Wall

On the other hand a dry laid stone wall is flexible. Water drains through it naturally, and any minor settling or shifting that occurs is absorbed by the wall and goes largely unnoticed. Even if major failure does occur, the wall or portions of it are easy to dismantle and rebuild using the same material. Repaired portions will also blend fairly seamlessly into the existing wall.

One of the advantages of a mortared stone wall is that it is easier to achieve a high level of finish. While building the wall, the mason can rely on the adhesive properties of the mortar to hold the stones in place. This makes it easier to focus on facing the wall to create a very flat and consistent finish.

A dry stone mason uses gravity only to hold the wall together.   Each stone is laid with structural integrity in mind. Instead of facing the wall with a stone’s flattest face, the stones are stacked so that the heft of the stone ties back into the wall and holds everything together. This produces a more rustic or traditional look. Extremely high finish dry stone walls do exist, but they take extra time and care to produce.

Lastly and most importantly, it is often less costly to build a dry stone wall. Wet stone walls require a rigid concrete base, mortar for the wall and the machinery/labor to mix the mortar, and proper drainage.  This additional prep work is necessary to try and prevent any movement.

Dry stone walls on the other hand are built with a simple gravel base and backing. They require no additional drainage and the only material needed is the stone itself.

Dry stone walling is a unique skill that not all masons fully understand and appreciate.   Although there is a time and place for wet stone walls, we at Concord Stoneworks much prefer the aesthetic, function, and efficiency of a dry stone wall.