What is Bluestone – Would You Know?

What is bluestone

Nature performs major miracles for us every day and it’s amazing to think of the beauty that comes from natural movement. From the air, water, and food, to organic patio improvement materials, nature supports our wellbeing and freely provides the essentials for our survival.

Talking of bluestone, well, this is probably nothing you’ve never heard of. In fact, you’ll easily come across it in most historic structures in your area.

From walkways and foundations to curbs, patios, and more; bluestone is local and naturally available. It used to be one of a few choices before the takeover of the hardscape industry by global concrete manufacturers.

That said, however, working with natural stone can be hard enough. The bluestone installer has to understand the material, the complexity of specific stones, as well as how to use them.

More so, knowing how to deal with materials that are not always seamless, not really of the same formation, imperfect- just the way nature selected- is equally important.

So, in this article, we will be discussing this ever-popular, all-natural bluestone starting from how it is formed, where it is found, and the reasons behind its huge popularity among builders and designers. We will also share some cool facts regarding the geology of this lovely material.

What is Bluestone?

What is Bluestone (2)

Bluestone is an all-natural sedimentary rock formed by rivers. With its overall beautiful bluish coloring, bluestone is commonly used in construction such as hardscaping projects and similar activities to provide great views.

These stones are hard and extremely dense, which is why they’re a popular choice for patio pavers and are often used in the architectural elements of buildings.

Bluestone is usually found in two varieties: Shenandoah Bluestone, which is limestone, and Pennsylvania Bluestone, which is sandstone.

To break this further, limestone is a type of sedimentary rock composed mostly of calcium carbonate. Sandstone is also a type of sedimentary rock, but as the name suggests, it is composed of sand-size grains.

It is recognized for its cool tones that feature blues, purples, and greys. These colorings originate from the different materials that fossilized into the rock during formation.

Bluestone Categories

Bluestone Categories

Having said that, we understand how difficult it can be to decide the most suitable stone to use for patios and other structural activities. While bluestone patio pavers are naturally super stylish and breathtaking, there’s a lot more to this lovely material than meets the eye.

Bluestone is marketed under two names; Dimensional, which builders use in staircases, doorways, and windows; and Flagstone, which is usually cut into slabs for patios and pathways. However, the industry further classifies bluestone into three general categories, which are:

Flagstone/Irregular bluestone

Flagstone is a synonymous term in the industry that is used to describe quite a broad range of products. Technically, all of the above options could be referred to as flagstone because the term simply describes slabs of flat stone. But in this case, flagstone refers to irregular bluestone.

The stone is associated with extreme irregularity in thickness, size, and shape. As such, it appears the most natural and commonly used for outdoor purposes. Moreover, it is cheaper, although the high installation costs affect its original cost.

Thermal bluestone

When cut after quarrying, this type of bluestone features a smooth but unnatural surface. The re-texturing process involves subjecting the wet stones to hot flames. Due to this thermal process, the industry refers to it as thermal bluestone. This process also adds to the overall cost of the stones

Natural cleft Bluestone

Bluestones that fall under this category are the most natural-looking due to many irregularities. They are recognized with rough surface and non-slip properties and are available in a variety of styles, patterns, colors, shapes, and sizes.

In terms of cost, the cutting, finishing, and installation process of cleft bluestone are considered the most cost-efficient, which makes it the least expensive option of all.

Pattern Bluestone

This basically refers to bluestone slabs of various sizes and shapes. It is probably the most common style that folks paint for themselves. The format of the pattern usually includes a mix of rectangles and squares of different mixed sizes.

Common offerings such as 1.5” and 1” thick slabs and thicker options are available and primarily used to make countertops as well as stairs and stepping stones. You can also find pattern formats in styles like thermal and natural cleft.

Bluestone Colors and Sizes

Bluestone Colors and Sizes

As previously mentioned, bluestone is mainly recognized for its cool tones that feature blues, purples, and greys.

However, since the groundwater contains different mineral deposits throughout, the formation of bluestone tends to vary from its primary organic blue color to any combination of tan, brown, rust, purple, green, and pale grey, mostly due to the minimal exposure to sunlight during formation.

It can be hard to pick the perfect one among all the lovable natural textures out there, but if you’re interested in darker shades, probably for paving your building, then bluestones are your best bet as they mostly come in a darker color, that ranges from ashy blues to charcoal greys.

In terms of sizes, bluestone comes in various sizes and thicknesses, but the most common ones are 800 by 400, 600 by 300, 500 by 500, and 400 x 400. The thickness varies from 30mm to 20mm, and 10mm.

Keep in mind that when working on a large patio or walkway, which oftentimes takes palettes of stone, it might be impractical to achieve a perfect match with all of the chosen stones. For this reason, you might want to buy all of your stones at once and then mix the palettes.

Experts also suggest that you don’t lay stone a palette at a time to avoid color variation. Instead, if you have five or six palettes open them up and mix all the stones into one large palette. This will help to keep colors random and more natural.

It is best that you head to your local stone dealer or quarry and pick your stones. You do not want to fall for the pictures. Sedimentary rocks can have a lot of color variations so, you need to pay attention to the color you select.

Bluestone Patterns

Bluestone Patterns

Bluestone patterns- which are commonly used for patios or walkways- are classified into two major categories. But natural stone can be broken or rather cut, you can always go by any pattern you want.

The most common option combines rectangles and squares together to create a variety of patterns. The fact that the stone can be cut or broken makes it easy to arrange them into desired shapes. This is a major highlight for landscape designers and architects.

You can design the entire patio or pare and then hack the stone to fit, which is not an option with most other materials.

The second most popular approach is a fieldstone pattern. It joins irregular shapes together in a random pattern and is mostly applied on patios and walkways.

Perhaps the best part is that you can use either off-color or blur-blue color stone in either of these patterns. Most people also integrate some kind of border trim around the patio, which should be worked into the preferred design.

Bluestone Cost

Bluestone Cost

Shenandoah bluestone and Pennsylvania bluestone as well as other varieties found in the US cost between $15 and $30 per square foot installed, depending on the pattern/format of the stone, and the size of your patio.

Ones that have a square shape are usually less expensive compared to ones that are cut into other geometric shapes. Thermal cut pavers typically cost a little bit higher compared to the natural cleft bluestone.

A complete patio worth of stones can be achieved at a relatively cheaper price, mostly between $200 and $800 for the materials, without including labor costs. Otherwise, the whole work can cost about $20 per square foot to complete, though this tends to vary largely by location.

Since bluestone is scratch-resistant, there shouldn’t be any chip or break during the installation process. Thus, there shouldn’t be much waste due to breakage. With that being said, now let’s get closer to the pros and cons of bluestone when applied to a patio.

Advantages of Using Bluestone

Advantages of Using Bluestone

Bluestone varieties that are native to the US are durable and considered some of the most gorgeous options available. While most of them come as rectangular pavers, there are many stores out there that sell rougher varieties for a more natural appearance.

Thermal sawn bluestone and natural cleft are naturally slip-resistant because the grains that make up these rocks are angular and offer some traction. This is why they are commonly used around pathways, pool decks, and bathroom flooring.

Bluestone cobbles are yet another common format that is suitable for pathways and driveway applications. There are other various edge options such as square, bullnose, and square/rebated edges that allow bluestone to be used as step treads or pool coping.

The fact that bluestone doesn’t crack from snow or ice- as in the case of other weaker versions of sandstone- makes it ideal for all types of weather. It is also a highly popular stone to use in outdoor and indoor environments due to its beautiful finish.

With its blue-grey color tones, bluestone can supplement a variety of architectural styles both modern and conventional. Moreover, this is not a polarizing material, meaning it can work great alongside other common finishes including timber and concrete.

Due to its rough surface, the stone can also survive temperature fluctuations as it is incredibly dense with a great breaking limit above other materials like timber and concrete.

Another major benefit of using bluestone is the large variety of sizes, formats, and surface textures that it comes in. You can get tiles in small formats as well as larger rectangular. You can also develop a modular pattern or choose a more natural aesthetic for extreme paving or organic steppers.

Downsides to Using Bluestone

Downsides to Using Bluestone

Just like everything else, bluestone has its share of drawbacks. You’ve probably heard that walking on dark or grey materials such as asphalt can burn human feet and animal paws, especially during summer.

Bluestone, whose color ranges from dark blue to grey, can get really hot really fast with constant exposure to bright sun. It may be great for pools, but on the flip side, it may not be the best in areas exposed to extreme sunlight.

Moreover, bluestone calls for more maintenance in comparison to other options materials like concrete pavers. The stone is porous and since it’s a sedimentary rock, it is prone to stain. You might therefore want to keep it away from materials like tar, varnish, and even drinks including juice.

Buying and Installing Bluestone

Buying and Installing Bluestone

When it comes to selecting your bluestone pavers, first, it is important you decide whether you want uniform or irregular size pavers. While irregular is likely to fit better in most garden designs, it is not the easiest to install.

Remember that bluestone is a natural material, meaning even the so-called uniform sizes will show imperfections such as rust stains, and small clefts/crevices. These irregularities are often considered part of the stone’s natural beauty though.

Another important consideration is how the patio is designed and how the stone is laid. In the event that the stones are set in the sand like pavers, the process will be considerably cheaper as opposed to cementing them to a concrete slab like tiles.

Another predominant factor is the grout. Fortunately, bluestone can be installed on a range of materials including gravel, sand, and cement grout- just like most other pavers- irrespective of how the patio is built.

Lastly, consider the type of border you will be using as it will add to the overall cost of building the patio.

Bluestone Care and Maintenance

Bluestone Care and Maintenance

We had already mentioned that bluestone is a porous material. That means they require some care and maintenance. While cleaning is pretty easy, we recommend that you regularly seal your stone for the best results.

Cleaning

Most common stains from food and dirt can be cleaned by scrubbing the bluestone tiles with water and dish soap regularly, ideally weekly or biweekly.

Lemon or vinegar diluted in water can be effective for tougher stains but you can be just fine with a soft scrub brush and a little dish soap.

If you’re going to use this method, be sure to rinse the soap residue thoroughly when finished. You can have really nice results with the help of a pressure washer.

Even so, some tougher stains like oil or grease can be challenging to eliminate. In that case, consider mixing a gallon of water with ammonia or using a conventional cleaner that does not contain bleach.

Then scrub the surface for about ten minutes. This should help eliminate any tough grease or oil spots.

Another form of bluestone staining that you should worry about is the buildup of lime and mineral deposits. They usually occur a few years after installation but are easy to remove.

All you need to do is mix baking soda and vinegar and scrub down the bluestone surface until the unwanted spots are eliminated.

Sealing Bluestone

The best part about this igneous stone is that it doesn’t need to be sealed. However, if too much cleaning isn’t your thing, bluestone experts recommend resealing your natural stone after a few years.

Most of these stones come installed with sealant, which is a plus for most owners as the stone eventually fades when exposed to a lot of sunlight. Although a sealant may be helpful for some depth and intensity in coloring, it is just not necessary for longevity reasons.

Where to Buy Bluestone?

Where to Buy Bluestone

Although you can easily order bluestone pavers online, experts recommend that you go to your local nursery or landscaping center and make the purchase directly.

It is important to actually see what you are buying, otherwise, this being a natural stone means that there can be a lot of variations. After all, it wouldn’t be fun you returning a pallet of stone after you’ve realized what purchased online isn’t really what you wanted.

The bottom Line

The bottom Line

Overall, bluestone is fairly long-lasting, attractive, and all-natural. It can last for years with proper installation. Despite being formed from relatively weak rocks like limestone or sandstone, it is this igneous rock is outwardly attractive and slip-resistant too. It can last for decades and can serve as the base of your grand modern outdoor space. So if you’re feeling blue, you can always cheer up with this lovely addition to your patio.

decide whether you want uniform or irregular size pavers. While irregular is likely to fit better in most garden designs, it is not the easiest to install.

Remember that bluestone is a natural material, meaning even the so-called uniform sizes will show imperfections such as rust stains, and small clefts/crevices. These irregularities are often considered part of the stone’s natural beauty though.

Another important consideration is how the patio is designed and how the stone is laid. In the event that the stones are set in the sand like pavers, the process will be considerably cheaper as opposed to cementing them to a concrete slab like tiles.

Another predominant factor is the grout. Fortunately, bluestone can be installed on a range of materials including gravel, sand, and cement grout- just like most other pavers- irrespective of how the patio is built.

Lastly, consider the type of border you will be using as it will add to the overall cost of building the patio.

Sharing is caring!

Hobby Search

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter!

Scroll to Top