Today in the Australian market there exists a broad range of pavers and other hardscape materials for landscaping private properties and commercial projects.
When we talk about private properties generally residents are involved in making the final decision. This is an important decision as the homeowner will in most cases be living in the house for over 10 years, furthermore the landscape needs to add value to the property.
Utilising natural stone for your paved area has some distinct advantages over concrete or masonry paver alternatives, which include:
• Impressive slip and scratch resistance
• Hard-wearing durability
• Colour fast
• 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 and travertine due to their lighter colour tones and lower iron content within the stone matrix.
Also some low grade bluestone sold on the market can suffer from moisture sensitivity issues, meaning they can warp or curl when laid on traditional mortar beds. These type of stones, although in many cases cheap, ultimately become a much more expensive option as they require very expensive laying methods utilising pre-sealing and specialised adhesives to minimise the warpage issues.
The majority of sandstones also do not meet Australian standards for resistance to salt attack, so when being laid around a swimming pool require the coping to be dip sealed (all faces and edges sealed) with a special consolidating sealer prior to installation.
Most natural stone can vary in colour and texture slightly from one piece to another. Some people see this as one of the inherent beauties of natural stone, each piece being unique. However for some people who are after a more consistent and uniform appearance then 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 considerations and issues it is strongly recommended that the consumer discusses their requirements with a professional stone merchant to assist in the decision making process.
In general though natural stone is a superior choice over concrete pavers, they are colourfast unlike concrete pavers which fade somewhat over time and can start to appear “tired” both in their appearance and due to the vagaries of fashion.
Natural Stone pavers can be made in various sizes, shapes finishes and profiles and this is a big advantage vs concrete pavers. Which shape to use – rectangular or square? Pavers in a rectangular shape are generally utilised for wider areas, as well in contemporary landscape projects. Square pavers have a more classic look and can be more suited to smaller paved areas like pathways, verandas and balconies. Crazy paving, cobbles, organic shaped units (known as “rounds”) can also add interest to a project; these shapes are not existing in concrete pavers.
Colour is also a 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. Natural stone also offers a great range in neutral blacks, greys and whites which are currently on-trend colours with many designers.