Archive for March, 2012

Pool Patio Design Ideas –New Jersey’s Best & Worst Stones

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Pool Patio Design Ideas –New Jersey’s Best & Worst Stones

Natural stone pool patios should enhance the entire swimming pool experience with beautiful designs and comfortable, yet durable, surfaces. Depending on the stone, they can also ruin the swimming pool’s outdoor living experience with second-degree burns on your feet as you walk from the outdoor kitchen to the pool. Here is a comprehensive list of the best and worst natural stones to install around a swimming pool in the Northeast. In the last 7 years, our staff of masons has installed over 100,000 square feet of natural stone patios, so we felt compelled to share some pros and cons of popular natural stone products.

Our NJ landscaping, swimming pool, and masonry firm has installed every one of these natural stones except tumbled marble and travertine (which, as you will see, represent the less reliable, lower price points.)

1. Dolomitic Limestone (Set in concrete)
Dolomitic Limestone sits at the top of the natural stone market for luxury swimming pool and dining patios because it is one of the best looking stones in the world. The cool, light-colored surface appears clean, soft, and stylish with its unique cream coloration. This limestone is the coolest to the touch and most comfortable to walk on. It is extremely durable, but as you would expect, it is at the top pricing tier.

2. Norwegian Buff Quartzite (Set in concrete)
Norwegian Buff Quartzite can be featured in square, rectangular cuts or more rugged, natural cuts. As far as style, Norwegian Buff showcases great texture and a nice color range of natural tans and greys. It also stays relatively cool to the touch, which is great for bare feet on the pool patio. Lastly, the import is extremely durable and has a very competitive price point, making it the most popular stone for homeowners. Just as a side note, the irregular Norwegian Buff is considerably more expensive than the square, rectangular cuts due to additional shipping costs and installation labor.

3. Sahara Granite (Set in concrete)
Like all other good pool patio materials, this import stays relatively cool to the touch, and it is extremely durable. Sahara Granite has great color, range, and texture. The look of the stone pool patio is reminiscent of the Sahara Desert with tan, sandy coloring that looks perfectly natural. The desert look transforms the pool into a true oasis, like a mirage you might see as you travel across the desert. Unfortunately the price of this stone is not as competitive as the Norwegian Buff.

4. Grey Tennessee Crab Orchard (Set in concrete)
Grey Tennessee Crab Orchard is similar in color to bluestone, but it doesn’t absorb nearly as much heat. GTCO is very popular in the irregular pattern for natural style swimming pools and waterfalls. Since it is a natural cleft material, it does tend to have a lot of surface irregularities; as a result, we don’t recommend it for dining patios because it’s very difficult to get chairs and tables to balance. It also requires more maintenance compared to the quartzite materials

5. Indiana Limestone (Set in concrete)
Indiana Limestone is mostly known for stair treads. The stone is also a very popular patio stone because it’s comfortable to the touch and does not get hot. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a lot of color range so it can look commercial depending on the pattern in which it is set. Indiana Limestone is on the softer side; because of its porosity, we recommend annual sealing. Proper installation techniques and special additives are imperative in reducing efflorescence or haloing for this material.

6. Sandstone (Set in concrete)
Sandstone comes in both natural and rectangular cuts. Again, it is very comfortable to the touch and does not get hot. Sandstone, like the Indiana Limestone, is a softer stone that requires annual sealing due to its porosity. Installation can be quite difficult; much of the stone gets discarded as a result of the veins in the stone, which tend to flake over time. Because of the additional labor required to properly install this material, along with high fuel prices, this stone does tend to be at a higher price point.

7. Bronte (Set in concrete)
Bronte is another popular import stone. It has a wide, unique color range and excellent durability. The pool patio stone is competitively priced, but it does tend to be on the hotter side for bare feet. I would be more apt to recommend Bronte for a dining patio or outdoor living area rather than a pool patio.

8. Tumbled Marble (Dry set, it’s most popular installation method)
Tumbled marble is a relatively hard, imported stone. It has a nice, natural, tan look that may fit some natural pool patio designs. The marble stays cool, but it tends to have a lot of pockmarks. These imperfections often require fillers, which, over time, fall out and tend to make the stone look like Swiss cheese. It is priced extremely competitively, making it an attractive choice for some consumers.

9. Tumbled Travertine (Dry set, it’s most popular installation method)
The tumbled travertine import is a soft stone that stays cool enough for a pool area. It has a calm, neutral style. Like the marble, travertine tends to have pockmarks that quite often require fillers. The problem with fillers is that they fall out over time; then dirt tends to accumulate in the holes so it requires constant washing. In our area, the edges also tend to wear due to friction from the Northeast freezing and thawing cycle. Its popularity is certainly driven by the low price point.

10. Bluestone (Set in concrete)
Bluestone is a local stone. It is very hard and has a good price point. Unfortunately for pool patios, bluestone gets extremely hot in the afternoon sun. This can be a nightmare for swimmers- children and adults alike. Also, be prepared for more maintenance and joint repairs compared to the quartzite and granite, due to the continual expansion and contraction of the heat-absorbing bluestone. We have only installed two bluestone pool patios in the past 24 years. We only suggest this stone if your pool is in a shaded area and you absolutely have to have this bluestone and nothing else.

We hope you found this information insightful. Obviously, there are many more natural stones on the market; our goal was to touch on a few of the more popular stones we see used in the Northeast. Please get a professional recommendation for your pool landscaping project. You can speak to local vendors for recommendations or feel free to give us a call. Remember, proper installation can make or break the material. Hands-on experience can provide the best insight into the pros and cons of a particular stone.