Limestone paving is a beautiful and natural way to add beauty and character to your home. But with all the different styles, colours, shapes and sizes available, it’s hard to know which limestone product will be right for you.
This post will go over some of the most frequently asked questions about limestone paving so that you can decide which type of stone is perfect for your project.
What is limestone paving?
Limestone paving is a natural stone that can be used for patios, walkways and driveways.
Limestone is a type of rock that is made up mostly of minerals like calcite and aragonite. Limestone is mostly made up of calcium carbonate.
Limestone has been used with numerous applications: as a building material, an essential component of concrete (Portland cement), to aggregate the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste and paints, for soil conditioning and decoration.
It is similar to sandstone for paving purposes and can look almost identical depending on the variety. See our breakdown of the differences between sandstone and limestone paving.
Does limestone paving fade?
If limestone paving is exposed to the sun for too long, its colour starts to fade- black-coloured limestone might eventually end up looking grey and washed out.
Fading limestone paving has become a big issue and a source of much disappointment for buyers.
All natural stone fades with the weather and UV rays, the reason that limestone appears to fade more quickly is because it has a darker surface so the fade is much more obvious.
Other processes also cause the stone to fade for example; Limestone contains pyrite which is a soluble iron sulphide. When this dissolves with water and oxygen it creates sulphuric acid which discolours the limestone.
To prevent fading sealants which stop water ingress and UV bleaching are required.
Does limestone paving need sealing?
When it comes to paving, limestone is one of the most popular and beautiful types available at the mid price range . It’s dark and rich in colour which is why it tends to fade more quickly than other types of paving.
The surface can be sealed, but only if the sealer has a UV inhibitor mixed into it for added protection against fading
Sealing also helps protect from acid rain and salt damage as well as prevent moss growth on the stone. We don’t recommend sealing for many types of stone but limestone tends to need sealing to maintain the look you buy it for.
Does limestone paving absorb water?
The Florida Geological Survey found that limestone, with its soft texture, is very absorbent. This means that over time, water can cause the limestone to erode and wear down.
The best way to prevent this is by sealing your stone, which creates a waterproof barrier that will help protect it from absorbing moisture in the first place
Its unlikely that the water absorption of limestone will cause any issues over the lifespan of the paving and the high level of water absorption can be useful in assisting drainage on your patio or driveway.
Does limestone paving drain well?
Limestone is a porous stone so water can move through the stone however, drainage effectiveness is dictated by how fast the water can move through the stone. This is unlikely to be fast enough to cope with anything more than light drizzle before another method of drainage is required.
This shouldn’t put you off tho as all paving requires a slope.
Unless your paving slabs have a proper grade then water will pool on the surface and may take some time to drain away.
If your paving has been installed properly then their should be no issue with drainage.
Does limestone paving get hot?
This problem is probably more of a concern in hot countries as the UK likes to sleep under a thick blanket of rain most of the time however, on the 3 days per year we get some sun its worth considering if your paving will be too hot for you or your pets or kids.
The short answer is yes, as a dark stone it will absorb a lot of the suns heat and can get too hot to walk on. Lighter colours will not be as bad.
Which paving joint compound to use on limestone paving?
When considering the joints between limestone paving slabs its good to know what options you have.
When considering what type of paving joint compound you are going to use to you need to think about the look and feel are you aiming for.
We recommend sticking to greys or blacks when choosing jointing compounds as buff and white varieties can turn green over time.
If you are using sawn and calibrated limestone you can get more precise gaps between the slabs which means that you can go for smaller pointing gaps such as 5mm gaps. If you are using riven sandstone or project packs its best to go for gaps of around 10mm to account for the variation in sizes.
Limestone paving will work well with most paving jointing compounds because most are designed for sandstone paving which has a similar consistency.
See our comparison of the best paving joint compounds
Does limestone paving stain?
Limestone paving can stain quite easily with oil and food spills, if you are installing a new limestone surface it is best to seal the slabs when they are laid. This will protect them from stains when liquid or dirt gets onto the surface of the stone and prevents water penetrating the top which could lead to staining over time.
Limestone can also contain iron which may lead to staining over time from rust.
Make sure not to use any acid based sealants on the surface of limestone paving.
Limestone can also be stained by various types of mould and lichen so good maintenance is essential to keep your stone looking its best
If a stain does occur then it is best to clean with water, detergent or bleach solution before using an appropriate cleaning agent.
Does limestone paving turn black?
So you bought some “black limestone” which has turned out to be a tepid grey colour? We have heard this story many times before (its true with all natural black stone).
The bad news is that limestone will not turn more black over time, in fact it will get lighter from UV bleaching and weathering.
The good news here is that you are able to apply sealants to limestone paving which will bring out the rich black colour you were hoping for. We only recommend sealants for bringing out the colour of stone and protecting the surface if it is in wet and shaded conditions which promote algae growth.
How much does limestone paving cost?
The cost will depend largely on what finish you go for and where you get it from.
Smooth cut limestone will cost £35 – £50 per meter due to the additional processing which is needed. Riven project packs on the other hand cost £25 -£35 per meter.
The price also varies depending on whether you buy from a stone merchant or directly off the quarry. Quarries usually have better deals and more stock available, but they are less flexible with their prices at times due to volatile demand and low overheads.
IF you are trying to save money we would recommend finding less well known suppliers who often do great deals but are harder to find.
Why do people recommend ordering 10% more paving than needed?
There are multiple reasons why its a good idea to order 10% additional paving
- You may break some whilst installing them
- You will need to cut some which will leave unusable waste
- You may need to keep a few slabs if you break or chip any down the line
If you are installing curved or stepped paving then you may need to increase the wastage to 20% to account for the extra cutting and wastage.
Is limestone paving easy to cut?
Limestone is a fairly soft stone and cuts very well provided you have the right equipment. Limestone is easy enough to cut so that small areas will only require an angle grinder and cheap diamond blade.
For flawless straight cuts you will need a table mounted paving saw.
What is the best base for limestone paving?
Limestone is a soft stone so you need to provide it with a good solid foundation.
The best base for limestone will be made up of a 100 – 200mm frost resistant crushed limestone sub base then a full cement base to make sure every part of the slab is supported and no weak areas are liable to break.
We hope this blog post has been useful to you and answered your questions. If you are considering which types of paving stone to use for your landscaping project be sure to check out our blog post on paving types.