Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops blog! We’re pleased you’ve chosen Stonehouse Countertops for everything you need to know about custom countertop materials. We provide comprehensive deep dives into various aspects of the design and installation process, as well as helpful tips for choosing the best material for your home. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to commission the perfect countertops! Stonehouse Countertops carries an array of granite, marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, silestone, limestone, travertine, onyx, glass, sodalite, slate, and porcelain materials in its inventory. In addition to countertops, we offer fireplace surrounds, patios, floors, and walls. Whatever your design goals, we’re happy to help you achieve your unique vision!

Our last article was a continuation of our All About series—articles which shine a spotlight on the unique attributes of various stone materials. Our first post, ‘All About Marble,’ explored marble’s association with luxury, how its composition contributes to its luminosity, and how designers are pushing the limits on how marble can be used in residential and commercial spaces. Our second post, ‘All About Granite,’ recounted the interesting history of granite, how the stone’s versatility has been put to good use by designers across the globe, as well as how granite is graded. Our most recent article, ‘All About Quartz,’ served to complete the trifecta of the most popular stone countertop materials on the market. We explained the oft-misunderstood difference between quartz and quartzite, detailed the pros and cons of quartz, and quoted a few stone experts on what makes quartz a worthy investment. Of course, we hope you’ll give our All About series a quick read!

While Stonehouse Countertops specializes in crafting custom countertops according to our clients needs, we also offer a multitude of other services, including patio stone. Choosing the right material for your countertops heavily depends upon what you plan to use those countertops for. Are you an avid baker? If so, your countertops need to stand up to the heat of pots and pans. Do you have small children? If so, you may want countertops which will not stain easily. In the same way, choosing the right patio stone depends upon lifestyle considerations. What’s the climate like where you live? What design style are you hoping to achieve? How do you want to utilize your outdoor space? In this article, we’ll give you a sense of what to consider when choosing a patio stone. Then, we’ll go through various stone materials and provide the pros and cons for each. Finally, we hope to give you a few tips to make the most out of your outdoor patio! If you’re interested in crafting a beautiful patio, this is the article for you! We also recommend our recent article, ‘Outdoor Countertops: Materials, Ideas, & Design,’ for those preparing an outdoor kitchen renovation. 

What to consider when designing a patio?

Any patio project is a significant undertaking. The first and most crucial consideration when designing a patio is the fact the patio will be exposed to the elements. From wind to rain to hail—depending where you live, your patio fixtures can see quite a bit of damage over the years. As we discussed in our outdoor countertops article, not every stone material is equipped to handle constant UV-exposure or significant heat. Now, if you have a stone material in mind which is not equipped for certain outdoor elements, you may have to consider investing in a cover, which can serve as a layer of protection from sunlight and rain. 

Next, similar to when choosing countertops, you’ll need to consider how your countertops will be used. Do you envision a private patio, used exclusively for sunbathing and reading? Or do you plan to entertain guests? Are you adding stone pavers to surround an existing pool? Or, are you tired of maintaining your lawn? Certain stone materials are perfect for walking across barefoot, while others are not. Likewise, certain stone materials reflect sunlight, making for an intensely bright patio, while others absorb sunlight, lending themselves to a muted design. 

Speaking of design, most of your considerations will depend upon your individual style. If you plan to highlight your diverse array of plants, you’ll probably gravitate towards an understated patio stone, which will ensure the eyes of visitors are attracted to the vibrant blooms you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. On the other hand, you could design your entire patio from the ground up, using your desired patio stone as a guide for the rest of the space. Design isn’t just a mix of colors—it’s a delicate balance of shapes, shades, textures, and more. At the end of this article, we’ll give you a few ideas to inspire you! For now, we’ll remind you to consider how much light your patio receives daily, the amount of shade, the privacy of the patio, and the size. These factors can and should guide your design decisions. 

Finally, there’s another consideration which cannot be overlooked, and that’s the budget. Your budget will determine which patio stone you choose and how much square footage you’re able to cover. You always want to start with a clear-cut budget, as failing to create one can result in impulse spending down the line. Any stone supplier will ask for your budget and be prepared to work within its boundaries. So, first things first, go ahead and make one!

Patio Stones

Natural stone, or flagstone, is the premium option for those looking to add a classic flare to their outdoor patio. These patio stones, like the slabs used for natural stone countertops, are quarried. You can recognize flagstones by their unique layout. Unlike pavers or tiles, these stones come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are few straight lines between them or recognizable rows. Many homeowners love the understated, unrestricted beauty of flagstones. Natural patio stone gives the impression the top layer of the earth’s crust has been scraped away to reveal the bedrock underneath. While you can commission almost any type of stone for your patio, the most common flagstone materials include: granite, slate, and limestone. How do you choose which is best for your patio? 

We recommend basing your decision upon your house. Does stone appear anywhere in your home? For example, if you have limestone siding portions of your house, it’s recommended you continue this theme into your outdoor patio space. This is not only cohesive, design-wise, but also highly flattering. On the other hand, if your house has brick or wooden siding, you might want to base your decision off of color. Reddish-brown brick will lend itself to a warmer-toned stone, like limestone; while grey, blue, or white wooden siding works well with cool-toned stones, such as granite or slate. 

The positive side of using granite as a patio stone is its durability. You can be sure your granite will last many years, despite near-constant exposure to wind, sun, cold, and rain. Granite performs well in high-moisture areas and is slip-resistant. Granite comes in thousands of colors, allowing for maximum versatility within your design. However, the granite used for patio stone is less likely to have the intense textures you might expect from granite countertops. While you do not have to seal granite patio stone, you might if you want to avoid the growth of algae or moss. It’s not necessary to seal your granite patio stones immediately. Some homeowners even wait a year or two to allow their granite to weather a bit. 

Limestone is an incredible patio stone due to its universality and durability. Consider the pyramids and the Great Sphinx of ancient Egypt—these structures were constructed from limestone and continue to stun the world with their enduring beauty. Limestone is smooth, soft to the touch, and comes in a good selection of colors (e.g. red, grey, blue, green, and its iconic beige). Limestone has the ability to insulate, meaning the stone is able to hold warmth in the winter and stay cool in the summer. An excellent option for patios surrounding pools, you’ll enjoy walking across limestone with your bare feet. Darker limestones are liable to fade over time, but many people enjoy this transition. Limestone does not require sealing and can be returned to its original condition by simply scrubbing with a mixture of water and an alkaline cleanser (i.e. bleach or ammonia). Limestone can be set with mortar or sand, with sand being the more expensive option. 

Slate makes for a wonderful patio stone because of its low absorption rate. Water does not easily penetrate slate. (Keep in mind, however, if water does make its way into the stone and freeze, the stone will shatter. As well, slates containing iron can “bleed” rust when exposed to water.) The absorption rate of a piece of slate depends on the type and quality of the stone, with better quality pieces of slate performing well in high-moisture situations. Slate is not the best option for those who live in climates which vacillate between extreme hots and colds. This constant freezing and thawing will eventually cause the stone to split. Slate is a design favorite for its earthen, natural look. While granite is rugged and limestone is refined, slate serves as a good mix between the two. Slate patio stone is available in stunning shades of greens, greys, blacks, and purples. Even wet, the surface is not slippery. You’ll want to invest in high-quality slate and be sure to test your slate before purchasing. This “testing” involves soaking a slate sample for up to a week. Low-quality slate will be soft and scratch against a fingernail, as the water absorption can weaken its structure. Or, the slate will bleed rust, as mentioned previously. Once you find the perfect slate, you can keep up its beautiful appearance with regular cleanings and annual sealings. 

Design Tips

The number one design tip for patio stone is to choose a lighter color. Since darker stones tend to absorb more heat from the sun, these can make for undesirable floors. To avoid burning the soles of your feet or making your patio an inhospitable place, lean toward lighter colors. These are less likely to fade over time, as well. Another tip is to add height to your patio design. Adding a raised dais or flower bed or even waterfall to your outdoor patio can add dynamism to the space. Remember how we mentioned investing in a cover for your patio stones? Well, a pergola can serve this purpose and more! A pergola, draped with fairy lights and overgrown with vines, can act as a cover for your patio, while still allowing a bit of sunlight through. And, of course, there’s nothing better than transforming your patio into an al fresco kitchen! All you need is a few countertops, access to water, and you’re almost done!

There’s nothing better than spending time out on your patio with a cup of coffee and a good book. You should always be able to enjoy your outdoor space! At Stonehouse Countertops, we are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Until next time—thanks for reading!