One of the more popular materials used by homeowners for patios, pathways, driveways, flooring, fireplaces, counters and even window trims and sills is natural bluestone. The main reason for this is that the stone is amazingly durable and is available in a variety of colours, including: greys, pinks, greens, blues, and even a lilac purple. If you are planning on using bluestone as a flooring material, however, there are a number of problems that you should be aware of first:
Unfortunately, bluestone is a highly porous material, which means that it will soak up water and hold onto it, leading to a number of problems, including:
- A slight curling in the stone, which can lead to individual pavers being unseated from their level alignment.
- Splotchy colour loss where large volumes of water have been sitting or soaked up.
- An unattractive and oily build up that is caused by soap residue within the water not being soaked up by the stone.
If you are planning on using bluestone as a flooring material in areas that will be frequently exposed to water (such as bathrooms and patios), you will need to ensure that it is properly sealed.
Discolouration, Scratches and Chips
These are all common problems that befall bluestone when it is used as a flooring material. There are, however, some ways to fix these issues and to prevent them from occurring:
- Discolouration (or efflorescence) is caused by the stone absorbing water and then releasing mineral salts, which dry on the surface like white powder. Simply vacuum, mop or sweep it away.
- Bluestone can be easily gouged, scratched or chipped, but if these marks are minor they can be gently sanded away. Deeper marks will need professional attention.
Spills and Breakages
The sad reality is that bluestone is a very unforgiving material – if you drop something breakable on it, it is likely that the item will smash and most spills will cause discolouring. The best way to protect against these problems is to seal the stone (which will also waterproof it) and to lay down mats or carpet scraps in high traffic areas. Not only will this help to protect breakable items from being broken if they are dropped, it will also help to lessen the strain on people standing on the bluestone for extended periods of time.
Even though bluestone, when used as a flooring material, is subjected to a few problems, if it is properly cared for and maintained none of these problems should occur. The moment you have installed your bluestone floors, have them sealed and then regularly reapply this sealant (every couple of years is sufficient) and you will be going a long way towards preventing a number of the above problems from ever occurring.