Types of paving
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Manufactured (manmade) paving
Concrete paving slabs are made in moulds and then textured and coloured to give the required or desired look.
This type of paving can be inexpensive, however, they are very unnatural and lack character. On the other hand, they are strong and weather well with many different colours. Some concrete paving slabs are made to look exactly like natural stone, and it can be quite hard to tell the difference. Laying concrete slabs is often cheaper than natural paving and can be quicker to lay.
Porcelain tiles are kiln-fired and precision cut tiles. Their popularity has soared in the last few years due to their durability, variations in look and their ability to harmonise with indoor designs and create matching themes.
Porcelain is almost completely frost, stain and scratch-resistant. It can also be smooth or textured and the range of colours and styles is endless.
The only real downside is the price. Good quality porcelain paving (cheaper stuff is available but it is to be avoided!) can be double that of other slabs and also needs special priming slurry, grout and cutting tools. The knock-on effect is you will also pay more to have it laid.
Natural stone paving slabs
Perhaps the most popular, well-used slab of the last few years, Indian sandstone comes in a variety of colours and sizes and lends itself to most styles of property and garden projects. I’ll try not to bore you (too much!) but it’s made up of tiny grains held together with a cement-based material containing silicone. The tightness of these materials denotes their colour and how hard the stone is.
It is now generally calibrated to an even thickness so it’s much easier to work with. Just be aware that cheaper versions tend to be very thin. Standard Indian sandstone is a riven product that is not all perfectly square but this all adds to its rustic charm. There are sawn, polished and honed sandstones for a more perfect or polished finish but they all come at a price.
This is a fairly similar product to sandstone. The differences are that in the makeup of the stone, lime, as well as silicone, create different colours and textures to sandstone. There is less of a range of colours than Indian sandstone and the colours in each slab are more consistent. Limestone also tends to have a smoother (not completely smooth) finish and it is a harder slab that is less porous but more brittle than sandstone.
Slate paving is a different kind of stone to lime and sandstone and is formed in layers over time, meaning it’s not granular. It is hard and fairly non-porous with solid colour that tends to keep it’s colour over time like the other natural stone. The problem with slate is you have to be very careful to get good quality products as the layers can flake after laying, especially if water and frost penetrate the layers. There are also fewer colour choices.
Granite is a beautiful hard paving material with low porosity. It lends itself well to both traditional and modern garden designs. Depending on its make up you can get a variety of shades and colours.
Pure granite can be hard to cut as it is so dense, but you do get a very clean cut with the right tools.
York stone Paving
York stone is your go-to for authentic old-style paving. Although it can come cut to size and even thickness at a cost it is traditionally big thick heavy slabs that really take some laying. It is very expensive; it can be hard to get nice slabs as when you lay it wrong it takes all your strength to pick it back up. All this said, this material is truly beautiful and stands the test of time and on the right job, it’s more than worth the effort.
This is just a brief overview of the main types of paving and over time I will go into more detail on each and provide laying guides for those taking on their own projects.
For anyone who does need some help or advice, our skilled knowledgeable team are always on hand to help.