In today’s Australian market, there exists a broad range of pavers and other hardscape materials for landscaping private properties and commercial projects.
When we talk about paving for private properties, generally residents are strongly involved in making the final decision, as in most cases they’ll be living in the house for over 10 years. Furthermore, the landscape should also aim to add value to the property.
Utilising natural stone for your paved area has some distinct advantages over concrete or masonry paver alternatives. These benefits include:
• Impressive slip and scratch resistance
• Hard-wearing durability
• Competitively priced
• Timeless, transcending any vagaries of fashion
Although natural stone is an excellent choice for your paving, there are some issues that need to be considered.
Some darker coloured pavers – such as bluestone and some granites – can become hot when laid in areas exposed to a lot of sun. This is less of an issue with sandstone pavers and travertine pavers due to their lighter colour tones and lower iron content within the stone matrix.
You should also be aware that there are low-grade bluestone pavers sold on the market that can suffer from moisture sensitivity issues, meaning they can warp or curl when laid on traditional mortar beds. These types of stones, although in many cases initially cheap, ultimately become a much more expensive option, as they require very expensive laying methods such as pre-sealing and specialised adhesives to minimise warping.
The majority of sandstones also do not meet Australian standards for resistance to salt attack, so when being laid around a swimming pool the coping should be dip sealed (all faces and edges sealed) with a special consolidating sealer prior to installation.
The colour and texture of most natural stone can vary slightly from one piece to another. Many see this as one of the inherent beauties of natural stone, with each piece being unique. However, for some people who are after a more consistent and uniform appearance, the choice of natural stone is reduced. If this is the main priority, then consideration needs to be given to using concrete masonry pavers.
With so many elements to consider, it is strongly recommended that the consumer discusses their requirements with a professional stone merchant to assist in the decision making process.
In general, natural stone is a superior choice over concrete pavers, as it is colourfast – unlike concrete pavers, which can fade somewhat over time and start to appear “tired” both in their appearance and due to the vagaries of fashion. Natural stone pavers can also be made in various sizes, shapes, finishes and profiles, providing another big advantage.
Pavers in a rectangular shape are generally utilised for wider areas, and are especially prominent in contemporary landscape projects. Meanwhile, square pavers have a more classic look and are usually better suited to smaller paved areas like pathways, verandas and balconies. Crazy paving, cobbles and organic shaped units (known as “rounds”) can also add interest to a project – however, these shapes are not available in concrete pavers.
Colour is another major factor in paving selection. Concrete pavers have a wide colour range, as they can be created using oxides blended with select sands and aggregates. Natural stone pavers, however, have been formed over millions of years and their colours are permanent, though there is a great range available in neutral blacks, greys and whites – all of which are currently on-trend colours with many designers.