Selecting the Right Stone Patio
Investing in a stone patio, or any hardscape for that matter, is a big deal. It will, in theory, be there for the life of your house. It’s not something you can easily change. And, of course, it costs money (but does come with an increase in property values, sometimes up to 15%). A lot of thought and research should go into deciding on the layout, style, and type of stones used for your stone patio to fit your needs and personal preferences. But, where do you begin?
With so many different types of materials available now, it can be hard to choose just one (actually, you don’t have to choose just one, but more on that further down). That’s why we’re hoping this short guide provides you with the information you need to narrow down your search and get the patio of your dreams! We’ll cover the various stones used for patio assembly, cost considerations, style, and maintenance concerns.
Concrete’s main appeal for a stone patio is its low price point. If you’re looking for something inexpensive (usually $6-$12 per square foot), but functional, concrete is the way to go. It’s very versatile in what size and shape you can form with it. There are even ways to spruce it up now, creating a truly one-of-a-kind patio. Inlaid aggregate or glass pieces create a nice effect with their added texture. Concrete can also be acid washed, brushed, scored, and stamped. It is worth noting that these things will require more maintenance, depending on the color and finish.
Permeable concrete, or pervious concrete, is another option that can alleviate some of the issues that traditional concrete can create. There is little to no sand in permeable concrete, which creates enough gaps to make it porous. Instead of rainwater running off the surface like on traditional concrete, potentially creating soggy spots next to it in your yard or turning your patio into an ice rink during winter, water can seep through pervious concrete. It is also less prone to cracking than regular concrete. While all concrete will experience some degree of drying shrinkage, which leads to cracks, permeable concrete is half as likely to than original concrete. It’s also much more sustainable than regular concrete and helps keep our waterways cleaner.
You can expect a patio made of pervious concrete to last between 20 and 40 years. It can also be used for other low-traffic areas, such as sidewalks and driveways. If you like the look of pavers better, you can now find pervious concrete ones. In general, this type of concrete ranges between $8 and $16 per square foot.
Natural stone provides a classic, natural look for any stone patio. There are tons of different options on the market, each with its own unique characteristics. Stone pavers, whether uncut or shaped, tend to cost more than concrete since they take more effort to construct. Installed professionally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $23 to $35 per square foot. You won’t be disappointed with the result, though. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used natural stones used in patio designs.
Flagstone is a blanket term for many types of rocks that form in sheets and are broken up into smaller, usable pieces for various projects. It is very durable and comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, allowing you to create a truly unique patio or pathway. The large, organic slabs make lovely, timeless-looking patios. Stone pavers can provide a nice edging to finish the look. You can usually expect to pay between $23 and $28 per square foot for flagstone pavers.
Slate is also a very durable stone that holds up well against the elements. It is one of the pricier rock types at $25 to $34 per square foot (irregular shapes will run higher), but it also has some unique advantages over other types. For starters, it can be placed directly on the ground without worry of corrosion to the stone but usually requires a base footer. This can save on the cost of laying a base first. (more on creating foundations further down). It also works well for poolside areas due to slate’s natural slip-resistant surface. The traditional dark color creates a sleek modern look, but slate is available in lighter colors as well.
Limestone is a tried and true construction material. It has withstood the test of time in many old buildings, especially government structures. In fact, many have been built with limestone quarried right here in Indiana! Limestone is popular for its ease of installation and versatility. This rock is also commonly used in indoor flooring. This factor could lend itself to making a smooth transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. Like slate, its surface is also naturally non-slip, making it a great option for pool patios. Limestone is also frost resistant, leaving you to worry less about it cracking from the harsh winter elements. The stone tends to be lighter in color, but can also be found in darker shades. Prices vary widely, ranging from $23 to $40 per square foot.
Sandstone is also relatively easy to install, making it a good choice for DIY stone patio projects. It has also been used in construction for many years due to its durability. Sandstone pavers are porous, making them a great option for water-prone yards or pool areas. Alternately, it is also fire and heat resistant, making them an obvious choice for areas with outdoor kitchens and fire pits. Sandstone is easy to take care of and maintain, so you can “set it and forget it”, for the most part. It won’t lose its color over time and stands up well in high traffic areas. Sandstone pavers generally run between $25 and $30 per square foot.
There are two varieties of bluestone, one of which is sandstone and the other limestone. Both are quarried from the eastern part of the U.S. Bluestone holds up well against all types of weather and temperature fluctuations. Although its rough surface lends itself to being slip-resistant, you may want to avoid installing it in sunny areas due to its darker color, which can become hot in the summer sun. That being said, it’s a great choice for shady areas so you don’t have to worry about burning your feet if you’re barefoot outdoors frequently. Bluestone can be somewhat tricky to install in DIY projects due to its varying thicknesses. Like sandstone and limestone, it should be sealed to protect against wear and staining. For a professionally installed patio, you can expect to pay between $10 and $25 per square foot.
If you’re wanting a more uniform look, pavers are the perfect option. They are loved for their versatility and come in a variety of shapes, textures, and colors. Some are even made with rounded edges, allowing you to create a circular or oval-shaped patio. Pavers range from the plain, single color to ones with intricately embossed patterns. Another benefit is that they are cost-effective at $7 to $15 per square foot for professionally installed hardscapes. If you’re looking to install a patio yourself, pavers are great for DIY projects because of their uniform shape and size. Some pavers are even interlocking and fit together like puzzle pieces, making the job even easier. You can also look forward to minimal maintenance over the years. Check out this article for considerations on choosing which color is right for your project.
Decomposed Granite and Pebble
While a solid granite patio can cost a small fortune, decomposed granite is much more affordable. As you can imagine, it is made of very small pieces of granite, making it a great choice for simple patio areas and stepper paths. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any puddles forming after rain or snow. One possible downside to this material is that it will need to be replenished occasionally, eroding from use, much like wood mulch needs renewed every few years. Outdoor furniture legs can also sink in-between the stones, so adding stabilizers is a good idea to strengthen the surface. Expect a cost of $1.50 per square foot.
If you want your stone patio to last longer, it is a good idea to create a base for it. Two popular options are gravel and the other a gravel and sand combination. For the latter, you can dry set your raw stones or pavers, finishing it off by sweeping sand in-between your pieces to hold them in place. This type of base generally costs $3 to $5 per square foot.
Concrete is arguably a bit more durable and you won’t have to worry as much about settling. Maintenance is also minimal. It’s worth noting that concrete projects aren’t great for first-time DIY projects since any mistakes can’t be easily fixed.
- Mix things up. You’re not limited to using only one type of stone for your patio. Creating the main area with one type and the edging with another makes for an eye-catching custom look.
- Using small stones or gravel as a base, use any leftover stones to create a stepper pathway to create an even more beautiful, and functional, backyard.
- Accent boulders are another lovely addition. These look especially stunning surrounding a water feature or rain garden.
Ready to get your own patio project underway? Let Greenscape Geeks do the work! We’re happy to hear your ideas and come up with a plan together for your perfect patio. Give us a call or schedule a consultation online to get started.
Greenscape Geeks is a central Indiana landscape architecture and landscape design, construction, and lawn maintenance company, serving Indianapolis (including Meridian Kessler, Herron Morton, Williams Creek, and Irvington), Carmel, Noblesville, Fishers, and Zionsville.
This blog post is by Alicia Owen