Stone in Outdoor Spaces
Knowing that the weather warming up and the summer is fast approaching, outdoor spaces are becoming a remodeler’s priority. The garden centers are buzzing with customers looking for the right plants and flowers to give their yards a much needed fresh look. People also prepare by making decisions like weighing out whether to clean their existing outdoor furniture or buy new, moving forward with building a pergola over the patio, or building the outdoor kitchen they’ve always wanted. Stone is an essential part of making these decisions with their outdoor spaces. As a natural material, stone has one of the best long term life spans. Although stone can age exposed to outdoor elements, it ages very slowly and does not deteriorate as quickly as wood or metal making it a better choice for landscaping and improvements. Stone elements outdoors includes many forms such as pavers, tiles, blocks, and slabs.
Stone pavers and tile come in endless colors, shapes, and sizes. Pavers are typically thicker than tile and many times have a rough surface to help with slip resistance. They can be installed in a bed of sand with or without mortar based on the look of the area. Tile is thin (about 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick) and is recommended to be installed on a concrete slab to prevent breakage or cracking. Stone tile and pavers are seen around pools, on patios, or long walkways in a yard or garden. They provide flexibility with the design of the hardscapes since they can be designed in almost any configuration. Popular stone used for pavers and tiles ranges from travertine, slate, limestone, or flagstone.
For outdoor use, stone slabs can be used for countertops, ledges, flooring, fireplace surrounds, fountains, and wall features. Among the many different types of stone used outdoors the most popular are granite, travertine, and slate. These particular stones wear the best with exposure to the natural elements year round. Granite is primarily used for outdoor kitchen countertops and it is available in polished and honed finishes. The unpolished and textured finishes are increasingly more popular outdoors since they appear more natural and organic. Stone slabs also make great fountains or water features. They are easy to fabricate into custom sizes to achieve a specific look.
Stone blocks and bricks are perhaps the most popular way to incorporate stone into an outdoor space. There are many different types of sizes and styles. Some of the popular uses for stone blocks include walls, steps, veneer, and decorative landscaping elements. Landscaping walls are installed for many purposes including retaining walls, area dividers, and garden walls to help guide foot traffic. Larger blocks of stone are used as steps in the side of a hill or sunken flat into the ground as stepping stones. Stone is also used as building veneer either as the primary material or as an accent around an entrance, columns, or focal point of the façade. Decorative landscaping stone includes large boulders, sculptural elements or even natural seating.