Paving Stones

Imagine a beautiful pattern of paving stones as the central focus of your new patio. Stone circle kits are one of the most popular new products offered by suppliers of flagstones and pavers for patios. Stone pavers, such as sandstone paving slabs offer a wide range of beautiful styles and colors and can be the basis of an inviting and classic patio that is one of the most-used areas of your home.

Traditionally, the paving stones used in the construction of patios, drives and walkways have been York stone - stone cut from the quarries in York - granite, slate and sandstone. The increasing availability of imported stones from markets in India, China and Brazil have added some intriguing and stunning patterns and colors to the tried and true and still popular native stones. Because of the low cost of labor to quarry those stones, natural stone paving is as affordable as concrete and aggregate paving slabs, and natural stone patios have been rising in popularity over the past two decades.

Laying a stonework patio has become a popular do-it-yourself weekend project for homeowners. While patios made of concrete paving stone are as easy as assembling a jigsaw puzzle (and a not very challenging one at that), working with natural stone flags and slabs is far more challenging. The irregular thicknesses and rough edges of natural stone don't come with pre-set spacer bars to help you determine how far apart to lay stones, or pre-stamped with a symmetrical pattern.

Rather than this being a discouragement, though, many homeowners find the prospect of creating a natural flagstone patio a challenge, and a well-made patio an accomplishment in which they can take pride for years to come. The homeowner who wants to try his or her hand at creating a unique patio floor will find plenty of information on how to lay paving stones, as well as patterns for some of the more popular accents and styles at many manufacturers' and DIY web sites.

Choosing a Pattern for Your Stonework The pattern you choose should be one that makes the most of the space that is to be paved. A narrow walkway or path through a garden, for instance, won't display the intricate beauty of a sweeping fan as well as the wider expanse of a full patio, while a patio can be as simple as an evenly spaced coursed pattern or as intricate as a tiled mosaic circle set into a squared frame.

The pattern you choose should also take into account the color and style of stone that you've chosen. The top surface of your stones may be sawn, riven or naturally domed. A polished sawn stone lends itself naturally to more intricate patterns that rely as much on color as laying pattern. A riven stone lends a more rustic look to your patterns, and reclaimed stones offer the time-worn look of casual elegance.

Whether you choose newly quarried stones or reclaimed, cobbles, flags or sets, limestone, sandstone, slate or York stone, nothing compares with the timeless beauty of real stone.

Matthew Anthony contributes to gardening sites such as paving stones and garden furniture.

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