What is natural stone paving?
Natural stone is derived from quarried mountains.
Sandstone, limestone and granite, as well as travertine, marble and basalt – which have been formed over millions of years – is excavated from the earth and has been used to create everything from patios to palaces.
The cheaper alternative, concrete, is formed by moulding a mix of stone, sand, cement and water before being left to cure.
When treated and coloured, it replicates the look of natural stone but only superficially.
Dig deeper and you’ll discover natural stone such as sandstone, granite and limestone have the edge when it comes to looking good over a longer period.
Put simply, it gives your project a more elegant finish.
Natural stone is mined from different types of rock:
Sedimentary (sandstone, yorkstone, limestone and travertine)
Metamorphic (marble and slate)
Five reasons natural stone paving is so popular
1. It’s beautiful
Man-made products can’t compete when it comes to the beauty of natural stone. Each individual slab will have its own markings and colour, which make it totally unique.
2. It’s easier to install
Because they are calibrated (each slab is fed through a strip mill to ensure it is a regular and even depth), natural stone slabs can all be laid on one screeded base rather than needing a fussier, more skillful, individual bed.
3. It looks good for longer
Natural stone weathers beautifully over time. Tip: When choosing limestone, sandstone or any other natural stone paving, try to check beforehand what the stones’ appearance will be once wet.
4. It’s more eco-friendly
The intensive production process used to create man-made paving materials is much more damaging to the environment than quarrying for natural stone like sandstone.
5. It’s low-maintenance
Once installed, natural stone will last for a long time and it’s much easier to clean than its manufactured counterpart.
What is sandstone?
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock which, as its name suggests, is made up of sand-like pieces of rocks and minerals.
They combined with mud at the bottoms of seas, rivers and lakes millions of years ago.
It is one of the most common types of rock available on the planet, and can be found all over the world from Australia and the USA to western and central Europe, Africa and India.
The pros and cons of sandstone
Sandstone is much harder and long-lasting than man-made options. Not as hard as granite or marble, but this can be an advantage because it is easier to cut and carve into more interesting shapes.
Sandstone slabs can easily be recycled and reused elsewhere if you decide to change your garden’s layout.
Sandstone offers lots of choice when it comes to colours and textures.
It is affordable, especially when you compare the cost to that of other natural stone such as granite and marble.
Each slab has its own unique look, so you don’t need to match it up with a similar one if you have to replace it because of damage.
Sandstone with a sawn finish has a more contemporary option compared to limestone.
Its grainy, sandy texture makes it naturally slip-resistant, so it works well in areas which are exposed to more rain and also for swimming pool surrounds.
Lighter shades of sandstone are slightly more porous than darker colours. Because these lighter variations take in a little more water, they may require extra cleaning or you may have to apply a sealant.
What is limestone?
Limestone is a natural material made from pressurised sediment under the sea.
It is a durable natural stone and comes in a range of colours due to the different impurities that were in the sediment at the time it was formed.
The pros and cons of Limestone
It’s durable. You only have to look at the many important buildings like museums, churches, schools and mansions that have been built from limestone and stood the test of time to realise this is a hard-working material that will last and last.
It looks good, although it tends not to come in as many colour variations as sandstone.
It has a flatter and smoother texture than sandstone, so works well for driveways and also indoor areas like covered courtyards.
Like sandstone, limestone absorbs minimal amounts of water and can endure tough weather conditions, but limestone will absorb marginally less so may be a good choice if you live somewhere rainy.
Both sandstone and limestone are strong stones to use for paving. This means they will easily deal with cars on the drive and high foot traffic. Of course, this depends on the thickness and how they are laid.
Which is best – sandstone or limestone?
Both sandstone and limestone are popular types of stone for paths, driveways and gardens in the UK.
If you are looking for versatility, then they both score highly on many counts.
Sandstone works as patio and garden path paving for any property type, whether contemporary or traditional.
Limestone, meanwhile, is suitable for a whole host of areas, both internally and externally. Driveways, gardens, patios, pathways, stepping stones and interior flooring – the list could go on.
They are both durable, and able to withstand the rigours of our wildly fluctuating climate – especially limestone.
Both are fairly easy to maintain, but sandstone is easier than limestone to work with.
In terms of colour and pattern, sandstone is by far the winner with a vast array of colours available.
Limestone has a small number of variations by comparison.
However, where limestone paving does stand out is its smoothness.
Where sandstone wins over limestone is the cost.
Of course, the cut and thickness of your natural stone also comes into the equation but generally sandstone will be the more affordable option.
If you are interested in refreshing your outdoor space with paving slabs, you can view our full range here.