If you’re intent on using natural stone for a driveway, either in flags or smaller blocks such as setts or cubes, you can choose between reclaimed or new stone. This is partly driven by economics and partly by ecological issues, and the choice you make will depend on your personal circumstances.
The other factor, apart from cost and ecology, is time. There is no doubt that using reclaimed materials of any sort is likely to take longer than simply ordering what you want from scratch. A reclamation yard is not likely to have exactly what you want when you want it, and if you have a particular desire for something special, you could be looking at a lot of trips to a lot of yards before you strike lucky.
The Time Cost Of The Ecological Choice
You may also need to clean up reclaimed materials. With Stone Paving Materials this often means cleaning thick layers of cement off the bottom of flags, sometimes enough to double the weight and thickness of the flags. The decorative side may need cleaning and scrubbing to remove Algae, Moss and the like.
You need to take time selecting the material to get the best flags, too. Fortunately, stone wears well and minor damage can improve it, giving an attractive worn look. But larger scale damage, such as broken off corners or splits, can render a flag useless. Avoid these unless you are sure you can use them at the edges of your driveway and cut them to fit. You should, by rights, get a discount on those flags, too.
Choosing The Right Stone
When it comes to choosing the right stone for your project, buying new from a professional supplier comes out on top, too. The different aspects of various stone flags, apart from the type of stone, are the thickness of the flags and the type of finish applied.
Flags often have a smooth, honed finish that’s good looking but can be slippery when wet, so there are a variety of textured surfaces available that offer more grip. The thickness is important as you want flags that are strong enough for your driveway without paying over the odds for flags that are too thick. If you are buying new, you can simply order off the shelf, but people using reclaimed flags will have to take what they can find.
As far as the green issues go, using reclaimed flags will mean lower use of fossil fuels and heat generated in the quarrying of the stone. It can also improve the environment for those living near the quarries, as there’ll be fewer lorries thundering past if fewer people are buying new stone.
Of course, there’ll still be transport costs involved in getting reclaimed stone to your property, but this is likely to be less than if you were to buy new, particularly if you are able to source reclaimed stone locally.
The cost of reclaimed stone is rising as demand from people with green aspirations rises, too. A couple of decades ago there was no interest in reclaimed building materials, but that is no longer the case. At the moment reclaimed stone flags are likely to cost about the same as good quality concrete imitations.
Take Care To Avoid Stolen Stone
So if you have the time to work around the limitations of reclaimed stone paving, the rewards will be lower price and less damage to the environment. But be wary of someone offering stone who will only work in cash and doesn’t appear to have an office or site, maybe using only a mobile phone.
It could well mean that the flags on offer have been stolen. There are reports of new-laid pavements being taken up by unchallenged groups of workmen, and in some areas ordinary gardens are being raided in the night. So take care to avoid you don’t inadvertently buy stolen stone, as it will only encourage more theft.