Bluestone Patio + Walkway – Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio + Walkways

At this recently built home in Concord, MA the owners are looking to add a bluestone patio and bluestone walkway.

After discussing options we decide on thermal bluestone for the patio and bluestone stepping stones for the walkways.  The stepping stone walkways save on material costs and labor and also compliment the modern style of the house.

Before

Before

Bluestone Patio + Walkway Prep

First the grades are set, the base is dug out, the subsoil compacted, and then filled with a crushed stone base.  Proper base prep is important for a long lasting patio.  When digging the base we want to remove all organic earth and/or clay until solid well drained subsoil is reached.  In most areas this won’t be more than 8-12″ deep.

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio + Walkway Installation

After the base is prepped we lay a thin layer of bedding material to level and set the stones.  Here we use 3/8″ crushed stone or “chip stone”.  It is a fine gravel that spreads easily, provides a solid base, and good drainage.

The bluestone pattern is planned out ahead of time.  The idea is to create a random pattern without any running joints or four corners.  The walkway stones are spaced to create an easy stride.

The patio joints will be filled with the same chip stone to create a fully permeable system.  More and more popular these days, a fully permeable patio eliminates potential drainage issues and puddling.  It also means the patio does not have to sloped as much to shed water which can be visually noticeable against level lines on a house.  The walkway joints will be filled with loam and seeded with grass.

Bluestone Patio Installation

Bluestone Patio Installation

Bluestone Walkway Installation

Bluestone Walkway Installation

Bluestone Patio + Walkway Completion

Ones the stones are set we sweep in the joint material and the patio is ready to enjoy.

Bluestone Walkway - Concord, MA

Bluestone Walkway – Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio - Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio - Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio – Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio - Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio – Concord, MA

 

 

 

 

Types of Bluestone Patios

Types of Bluestone Patios

A question that often comes up when discussing bluestone patios are the different varieties of bluestone pavers. To the untrained eye they may all look the same, but, there are actually a number of differences that effect the cost, appearance, and installation methods.

Natural Cleft Bluestone:

Natural cleft bluestone describes bluestone that has been split into layers during the quarrying process. Bluestone is a sedimentary stone, meaning that is comes from sediment that has been fused together over time from the enormous weight and pressure from above.  Natural cleft bluestone is formed closer to the surface of the earth than other bluestone.  Without as much pressure on the stone, lines of de-lamination or horizontal cracks form which make it easy to split into layers.  These layers are then cut into rectangles to make the bluestone pavers you see today.

As it is naturally split, the bluestone pavers have some irregularities.  The surface of the stone will have more bumps and texture, and each stone will have somewhat varyied thickness.  Natural cleft bluestone also tends to have a range of colors from blue, gray, purple, and rusty orange.

Although the quarrying process takes less machining and makes natural cleft bluestone less expensive than other bluestone, the varied thickness and irregular surface makes it more labor intensive to install.

natural cleft bluestone

natural cleft bluestone

Natural Cleft Bluestone

Natural Cleft Bluestone

 

Thermal Bluestone:

Thermal bluestone is formed deeper within in the earth.  With more weight and pressure above, the stone is solid and must be broken off in chunks and then saw cut into layers.  The saw cut leaves a very smooth, unnatural surface which then must be re-textured.  This is the ‘thermaling’ process which gives its name.  The stone is wet down and then heated with a super hot flame until the surface flakes off, exposing the natural roughness of the stone.

Thermal bluestone is more expensive to produce, but, the stone is almost perfectly uniform in thickness. This makes the installation and leveling process less labor intensive.

Thermal bluestone then comes in three different color varieties, full color, regular, and true blue.

Full Color Thermal Bluestone:

Full color thermal bluestone is less common and slightly less available.  It is thermal cut stone but still has a ranger of blues, grays, and purples.  The colors will not be as pronounced as Natural Cleft Bluestone, but more so than other thermal bluestones.

Regular Thermal Bluestone:

Regular Thermal Bluestone is most common.  It will come in a mild range of blues and grays.

Thermal Bluestone Patio

Thermal Bluestone Patio

“True Blue” Thermal Bluestone

“True Blue” Bluestone has been hand picked and sorted so that all of the stones are identical in color.

Thermal Bluestone Patio

True Blue Thermal Bluestone Patio

Irregular Bluestone

Irregular bluestone, also called “stand-up bluestone” or “flagstone” is naturally cleft bluestone that has not been cut into rectangles.  Irregular bluestone is sold by the ton instead of by the square foot and is generally cheaper in cost, but, much more labor intensive to install.

Irregular bluestones will vary greatly in shape, size, and thickness.  Depending on the desired look, they need to be cut and shaped to fit together, and leveled one by one.

Irregular Bluestone Patio

 

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.