The number of products that fit into the category ‘stone block’ is huge, so you need to think hard about what you’re looking for if you don’t want to make an expensive mistake with a new driveway at your home.
Why is Stone So Popular?
Although the traditional sources of stone paving, such as the ever popular York stone, are now being augmented by cheaper products quarried in places like India and China, stone is still one of the most expensive options for a driveway. Of course, the reasons are that it is considered the best looking and most lasting surface, so as long as you are in your property for the long haul, then it may be worth considering.
One of the other factors of stone paving is that it ages gracefully, too. In the first couple of years the colour will fade but not in a way that makes it look tired and poor quality. As there’s no finish on the surface, stone just gently wears away as the sharp edges become more rounded.
Pick the Right Look For You
When looking at flagstones, or flags – the large, usually square, slabs that are often used for pavements – there are a number of considerations. Some flags are thicker than others and this governs the way they are laid (see below). There are also a number of different finishes, honed or sawn being the plain rubbed down variety. There are also a number of different textured surfaces available, depending on the material in use, such as hammered, chiseled, punched, and combed. These might be better in an area where there’s a lot of rain as they will offer more grip.
With the smaller, brick-shaped pavers or blocks, there has been an increasing number of colours and types of stone coming onto the market in recent years, much of it from countries where labour laws are weak and wages cheap. Being smaller, these pavers take longer to lay but can adapt to gradients more easily than larger traditional slabs. They are also aesthetically better suited to short drives, as large flags can look a bit out of place if there’s only room for a few courses across the width of the space.
Pay Attention to the Underside
How long the stone driveway at your home will last depends to some extent on the stone itself, but probably more on the foundations and preparation work. The stone blocks will still be in very nice condition after 5 or 10 years, but if the foundations weren’t done properly, the paving may begin to lift and move from the pressure of cars parking on it every day.
If that does begin to happen, it’s best to lift the stones and rectify the problem straight away, because the next stage will be for the flags to crack, particularly if they are large ones. To prevent that in the first place, make sure there are two layers of foundation, a sub-base and the bedding above it. The bedding can be loose sand, unless the flags are thin, in which case a concrete bedding layer is better.
Correct Edging is Essential
Attention to the Edging Course will also pay dividends in the long run. The edging should be properly bedded and haunched with concrete, not laid on the same bedding as the flags. This will prevent the flags and their bedding moving sideways under the weight of the parked cars.