Author: Stonehunter

Driveway Stone Pavers Make an Impression and Add Value

Driveway stone pavers add incremental lifetime value to residential and commercial properties–before you even enter the building. First, using driveway stone pavers improves the sale price of the property. Second, owners or property tenants can enjoy this upgrade for years. The obvious value of its “curb appeal” is priceless at the first impression, initial sale, and any sale thereafter. That curb appeal sets the expectation for a special property as prospective buyers arrive to tour the property. Residents and commercial owners appreciate a natural stone driveway feature every single day, whenever they use the drive or look out their windows. And, remarkably, driveway stone pavers prove to pay for themselves when it comes time to re-sell the property.

The days of limiting driveway systems to “blacktop” (macadam) or concrete are in the rearview mirror!  Driveway stone pavers complement many architectural styles. But, even more, driveway stone pavers provide the necessary compressive and flexural strength. With natural stone, the driveway systems can be uniquely attractive as well as functional. You no longer need to choose form over function!

Right now, we’re seeing a shift to natural stone for both residential and commercial driveway systems. It’s time to replace the dated and oft-stained concrete surface. Natural stone comes in all formats—traditional, small 4” x 4” and 6” x 6” cubes to larger sizes. The pavers continue gaining traction with architects and builders focused on their aesthetic and structural benefits. These driveway stone pavers provide a desirable and broad alternative to standard and dated concrete pavers.  

Let’s explore the technical factors architects and builders should consider when selecting natural stone for driveway applications.

Driveway Stone Pavers Deliver Strength, Durability, and Visual Impact

Several stressors negatively impact all driveway systems. The combination of these three major durability stressors influences the lifespan of the driveway installations:

  • The vehicle ‘load stress’ on a driveway system (flexural strength)
  • Environmental factors such as freezing and thawing
  • Driveway installation methodologies and technologies

Now, with driveway stone pavers, architects and builders can work around these concerns. Start by selecting the appropriate stone with these stressor considerations in mind. Then choose the aesthetic for your natural stone application. 

Road builders have selected porphyry and granite cubes as the typical natural stone materials used to endure vehicle traffic for thousands of years. The common cube size of 4”x4”x4” provides the necessary strength and the flexibility to create many designs and patterns. Larger formats produce even different visuals. But the size of the stone dictates the installation methodology. See our blog, DRIVEWAY INSTALLATION: BEST PRODUCTS (AND TECHNOLOGIES) FOR LIFETIME VALUE

Start with Flexural Strength

The compressive strength of most stones more than satisfies this application, so flexural strength becomes the core consideration.  The thickness of the stone increases the flexural strength, while compressive strength remains static. 

If the stone surface exceeds 6 inches in any one direction, then a strong (high ‘flexural strength’) material is optimal, particularly when considering a ‘dry set’ application. Avoid stones prone to having natural fissures or clefting, in some instances. For example, most types of marble and travertine are extremely durable and very appropriate for this type of application. Yet, seismic activity negatively impacted some individual quarries thousands or even millions of years ago, resulting in fissures in the stone. This may cause premature failure later. Be sure to purchase your stone from a reputable supplier with a history of working directly with the source quarries.

Regarding ‘compressive strength’ (an important consideration for both ‘dry set’ and ‘wet set’ applications), most stones on the market are at a minimum of 2,500–3,000 psi ‘compressive strength’, so it’s typically not much of a concern. Check with the distributor of the stone to be sure you choose an appropriate material for your specific application and environmental conditions.

Work with the Environment

When selecting driveway stone, it’s important to consider these environmental factors. 

  1. Local temperatures & seasonality – extreme cold and/or heat plus heavy rains and flooding should influence your choices. For example, some stones are not considered frost-proof, such as coral stone and other exceptionally soft stones.
  2. The propensity for staining (foliage, oil deposits, and tire track staining) – some stones may be too porous or light in color for driveways.  However, with the proper impregnating sealer, this problem can be mitigated.
  3. Co-efficient of friction – Always select a non-slip finish for the surface treatment/surface finish. We recommend bush hammer/chisel face surface finish as best overall for driveways.  See all our surface finishes and select the best option for your application.   

Identify the Driveway Installation Methodologies & Technologies

Environmental considerations such as code limitations regarding pervious/impervious surfaces (crucial consideration), slope/drainage and soil type, and flexural strength/size of stone dictate driveway stone installation methods. 

Typically, you have two basic choices for natural stone driveway installations, either ‘dry set’ or wet set.  Gothicstone recommends that a Cellular Confinement System (CCS) be utilized in the installation of the subbase for optimum longevity and lifetime value.  When considering methods of installation, there are aesthetic differences between ‘wet set’ and ‘dry set’; most notably, the need for expansion joints when installing on a concrete slab.  Expansion joints can detract from the natural beauty of the driveway stone. 

The critical distinction between the two common methods:

  • ‘Wet set’ dictates the pavers being cemented to a concrete base.
  • ‘Dry set’ allows the pavers to ‘float’ on top of a compacted aggregate base.

Dry-Set Installation

Dry-set avoids the failure/cracking attributed to freeze-thaw heaving in cold climates, and expansion and contraction in hot or cold climates and combinations thereof.  An environmentally sustainable alternative, this installation allows water to pass through it or “percolate.” This has become a hot-button issue for most municipalities and zoning regulators regarding water runoff. 

While we recommend CCS systems for all patios, driveways, pool decks, or any installation that utilizes gravel in the subbase, driveway projects particularly benefit from CCS because of the uneven distribution of vehicle tire track load.  

For more information on dry-set installation, see our blog, DRIVEWAY INSTALLATION: BEST PRODUCTS (AND TECHNOLOGIES) FOR LIFETIME VALUE.

Wet-Set Installation

Wet-set installation is an option, but not the best option in climates with heavy freeze-thaw cycling. Often, failure, in the form of cracking, can occur in the concrete base. Invariable these cracks transfer through to the surface material causing an unsightly appearance resulting in costly repairs. Conversely, cracks in the slab can be mitigated by the implementation of appropriate separation membranes such as Schluter®-DITRA & DITRA-XL.   So, if you’re in a freeze-dry environment, skip the ‘wet set’ method, and look at the ‘dry set’ (floating paver system).

To learn more about these driveway system installation methods and advantages, see our blog, DRIVEWAY INSTALLATION: BEST PRODUCTS (AND TECHNOLOGIES) FOR LIFETIME VALUE.

Other resources that may be helpful in your planning: 

Geo Cellular Confinement System

Driveway Installation: Best Products (and technologies) for Lifetime Value

Natural stone paver driveways are a thing of beauty, a real estate highlight, and a feat of engineering. They increase property values, up the curb appeal, and boost resale prices. So, what’s the best way to protect that investment and maintain its physical appeal? Let’s start at the basics, which means ensuring the natural stone driveway installation is done correctly.

There are two options for natural stone paver driveway installation.

  1. ‘Dry set’
  2. ‘Wet set’

And, at Gothicstone, we suggest all ‘dry set’ and ‘wet set’ installations include a cellular confinement system (CCS) underneath for maximum longevity and lifetime value.

Insider notes: ‘wet set’ driveway installation with natural stone pavers

An issue with ‘wet set’ (poured concrete slab substrate) particularly in climates that have a lot of freeze-thaw cycling, is that concrete slabs are used as the sub-base/substrate and often will crack. It’s often not a question of “if” the underlying concrete slab will crack, it’s “when” it will crack. And a cracked concrete slab will commonly transfer the crack(s) to the adhered surface stone or any material on top, such as concrete pavers, for that matter. The reality is very few contractors are willing to put the effort into making a slab that won’t crack because it takes extra work and expense. Utilizing rebar, a geo cellular confinement system, and a ‘separation membrane’ (such as Schluter®-DITRA & DITRA-XL) will mitigate the possibility of failure, as described below.

Geo Cellular Confinement System (CCS) to the rescue: Why implement in a ‘wet set’ driveway application?

Some people think the cellular confinement system isn’t needed under a large concrete slab. But we disagree. The fact is the minimal extra expense will all but guarantee that you will never have slab cracking. Water is going to get underneath the concrete slab and during freezing, it will expand. The cellular confinement system holds everything in place minimizing movement resulting from freezing and thawing environments.

Steps to installing a ‘wet set’ long-lasting driveway with a cellular confinement system:

To recap, if you want your installation to last a long time, follow these 9 steps:   

  1. Excavation with appropriate drainage considerations to mitigate water pooling underneath.
  2. Installation of geotextile to prevent gravel from sinking into the soil below it.
  3. Installation of the cellular confinement system following manufacturer’s best practices. 
  4. Fill the confinement system utilizing only clean (washed and graded) gravel. We strongly advise against using ‘modified/unwashed’ gravel mix.
  5. Installation of a top layer of geotextile on top of the gravel.
  6. Installation of rebar grid on the top of the gravel (preferably epoxy coated or ‘high-tech steel alternative’ composite rebar to avoid the risk of rust-causing future failure).
  7. Pour a fiber-reinforced concrete slab. It is imperative to follow the local code regarding the implementation of expansion joints.
  8. To ensure longevity, an extra step we recommend is to install a separation membrane such as Schluter®-DITRA & DITRA-XL on top of the concrete slab to mitigate cracks transferring through to the surface stone.
  9. Professionally install the appropriate natural stone including grout lines (and expansion joints where necessary) to enable expansion and contraction. This is imperative in extreme weather conditions. In a perfect world, ½” thin natural stone can be used when all the above steps are adhered to with precision. Otherwise, we would recommend the 1 ¼” standard thickness for exterior applications.   

In conclusion, there are redundancies in the above best practices instructions. There is almost zero chance of failure if all these steps are completed, and the resulting driveway should last a lifetime. 

Insider notes: ‘dry set’ driveway installation with natural stone pavers 

‘Dry set’ installation is the ideal method for driveway stone pavers. It avoids excessive movement of the stone due to heaving in colder climates. Also, stress from an expansion of the stone in hot climates. These unwanted issues are inherent in poured concrete slab systems. ‘Dry set’ installation is an environmentally sustainable alternative that allows water to pass through it rather than create problematic water runoff.

For the safest approach, it’s best to select natural stone pavers of smaller sizes. When working with smaller pieces, such as 4”x4”, 4”x6”, or even 6”x6” cobblestones, use a ‘dry set’ application.  But if your customer wants something different than the classic cobblestone 4”x4” granite, limestone, or porphyry block, the key is to consider the flexural stress on the stone. If the stone surface is longer than 6 inches in any one direction, then a strong (high ‘flexural strength’) material is optimal, particularly when considering a ‘dry set’ application. Avoid natural stones prone to having natural fissures or clefting. 

Large format natural stone pavers in a driveway installation

Large format pavers can be successfully installed if the installation is done properly. You can install 12”x12”x1¼”, 16”x16”x1¼”, 8”x16”x1¼” or larger if it is installed correctly. But that’s a BIG “if”. Many contractors/masons rely too heavily on laborers to do the installations, emphasizing speed over quality. This isn’t a good idea. A small void or a “pea under the mattress” can cause failure.

Geo Cellular Confinement System (CCS) to the rescue

To mitigate shifting and cracking, install a cellular confinement system. Gothicstone recommends a cellular confinement system (CCS) under any base.  With driveways, it’s almost imperative due to tire track “rutting” to use a CCS.  For example, if you have a sand or dirt driveway, ruts inevitably occur over time.  But it also happens with blacktop driveways or any driveway where you have constant stress and load on two narrow tire tracks. The vehicle load will compress the ‘track’ area, whereas a CCS can keep the substrate from spreading out. This method prevents stress on the tracks from making ruts in your installation, and thus pieces from failing. Because when the ruts happen, there’s uneven compression on the pieces.  It’s the unevenness of the load where problems like this occur.   

Small 4”x4”x4” cubes/pavers typically won’t break, which is why people typically use this size of material, but they will be susceptible to rutting and shifting.  Often people want to use a larger format driveway stone. If so, a ‘dry set’ and a cellular confinement system are the approaches to use.

Ruts and cracks can be avoided

The larger pieces will help in that they won’t rut as readily, however, they may crack.  Whereas small driveway stone pieces will allow the material to “sink down” into the ruts without breaking. But they’ll allow the ruts to occur more easily.  Plus, more water is washing in between the joint areas because you have more joint areas. 

If you have a 4”x4” compared to a 16”x16”, you’re going to have about 1000% more joint area with a 4”x4” installation.  That’s an incredibly exponential amount of joint area because in a 16”x16” area, you will have 16 pieces of 4”x4” material (4 in one direction and 4 in the other direction) and then all those joint lines in between where the water will be entering and then allowing for either washout or heaving underneath it. 

So, the smaller driveway stone pavers do allow for more movement to happen but, eventually, they may cause ruts unless you use a cellular confinement system to keep everything underneath in place.

Keep in mind that vehicular weight will be on the pathway of the vehicle tires; that is where the bulk of the load or stress will go. 

Steps to installing a ‘dry set’ long-lasting driveway with a cellular confinement system:

To recap, if you want your installation to last a long time, follow these 8 steps:   

  1. Excavation with appropriate drainage considerations to mitigate water pooling underneath.
  2. Installation of geotextile to prevent gravel from sinking into the soil below it.
  3. Installation of the cellular confinement system following manufacturer’s best practices. 
  4. Fill the confinement system utilizing only clean (washed and graded) gravel. We strongly advise against using ‘modified/unwashed’ gravel mix.
    1. Follow local code requirements regarding the height/quantity of crushed stone/gravel required in your geographic area. 
    1. It’s considered best practice to compact every two inches of height when applying the gravel. 
  5. Installation of a top layer of geotextile on top of the gravel.
  6. Installation and compaction of screenings/’fines’ (concrete dust, sand, or small/fine gravel)
  7. Professionally install and compact the appropriate natural stone pavers.  Where small grout lines are open between the pavers, sand or polymeric sand can be swept between the joints. 
  8. To retain the beauty of the stone, you should use an impregnating stone sealer using a color enhancing impregnating stone sealer, so it keeps the stone looking new.  If you want the stone to age naturally, you don’t have to use any stone sealer at all. In any case, sealing in a ‘dry set’ application is not necessary.  Never use a ‘topical’ stone sealer (non-impregnating).

5 design approaches using natural stone pavers:

Creating a “deco” look. Use smaller pieces that can manage the load in the heavy traffic areas and install the larger stone along the sides.  
Placing smaller format material at apron entrances of driveways. The entrance apron, where vehicles turn in off the main road, typically takes an enormous impact as they swing into the driveway. In most of the United States, when you approach a driveway, there will be a bit of a bump or a swale causing impact. So, on the apron entrance, from the road to the driveway, consider using a smaller format stone. The smaller format driveway stone mitigates the impact of flexural stress, while at the same time smoothing the sloping transition to the street. 
Mixing and matching alternating sizes to provide attractive applications. Smaller driveway stone pieces on the apron can be cut from the same blocks of stone as the rest of the project applications. Whether it’s a long driveway, walkway, or pathway leading up to a patio or pool, for example, the entire project stone can match no matter the size or thickness of the material.
Picking the appropriate material if you select larger format driveway stone pieces. Gothicstone™ SEAHAZEtm limestone is extremely strong, has high compressive strength, and high flexural strength.

Choosing 4”x4”x4” cubes is not necessary.  It’s not necessary to go that thick, however, with carbon footprint, shipping costs, and other green initiatives being an increasingly important consideration, a 4”-thick paver is going to double the shipping cost of a 2”- thick paver. From both a cost-effective value engineering perspective and a carbon footprint perspective, a 2”-thick piece gives you a better value and is good for the earth! 

Have questions on cellular confinement systems and selecting/specifying natural stone for driveway systems? Contact us.

Other resources that may be helpful in planning your driveway installation: 

  1. Considerations for specifying natural stone in residential/commercial vehicle applications.
  2. Why We Recommend Stabilization Grids No Matter the Scale of Your Paver Project.
  3. Battling Mother Nature
  4. Cell-Tek Geo Cellular Confinement System 
  5. Rutgard Geo Cellular Confinement System
caramel travertine coping treads split face veneer

Designing with Natural Stone


In today’s landscape and interior design concepts, natural stone can be used to create an antique, traditional or old-world look. It’s, also, an excellent choice for contemporary/modern or a mid-century look. Think patios, swimming pool decks, terraces, pool houses, and any interior living spaces. Explore natural stone design ideas for tile, pavers, veneer & cladding, and living spaces for your projects.  Unlike concrete or porcelain, design flexibility is effortless because every stone piece part can be fabricated easily. 

Extra-Large Formats, Fresh Colors, Exciting New Finishes

Design for any space with extra-large pavers and tile sizes from 24″x24″, 18”x36” and up to 48″x48″ plus custom sizes in rectangles and squares. For a seamless, large format design, tile or pavers can be “butt installed”. We produce step treads, countertops, wall caps, and wall systems plus driveway cobblestones and driveway paver systems to complement the project.

With different (and new) texture finishes, you can create diverse looks from an old-world to modern/contemporary look. Our collections include honed, brushed, Suregrip Moleskin, Etruscan, bush hammer, and micro bush hammer. Other exciting finishes—saw cut, split face finishes and even a hand-chiseled, antiqued finish for that “old-world motif” impact—are available.

SEAHAZE SAND 6″x6″ tile hand-chiseled, antiqued finish for an old-world motif

SEAHAZE SEA 24″x48″ honed tile provides a modern/contemporary look. It’s a great choice for extremely durable flooring in residential and commercial applications.

SEAHAZE SEA 24″x48″ honed tile provides a modern/contemporary look (butt installed) and is extremely durable flooring.

Gothicstone produces in various thicknesses and sizes for interior or exterior considerations such as tile, pavers, coping, treads, wall cladding/veneer, driveway/car park systems, and pedestrian walkways. Architectural accent pieces can be custom-fabricated such as fountains, park benches, and outdoor kitchens/bars.

Add Texture vs. Changing Stone Color

We’re seeing textures shift from rustic tumbled, rounded edges to clean lines, square edges on tiles, pavers, and coping. Tone-on-tone texturing can beautifully enhance the aesthetic of your flooring design. Adding an intriguing trim or pattern through the addition of various surface finishes can achieve the added interest desired. New finishes, such as micro bush hammer, Suregrip Moleskin, and Etruscan Texture, add subtle interest without changing the material.


Though we often think of concrete driveway systems, paved natural stone driveways have been around just as long and longer! Natural stone driveway pavers provide the necessary flexural strength and an artistic element. Driveway pavers can be a unique and functional feature enhancing the overall property, rather than presenting simply as a flat beige or black surface, best ignored.

These days, a shift to large-format natural stone pavers for both residential and commercial driveway systems is gaining popularity and replacing that concrete surface. Natural stone driveway pavers in all formats–large and traditional (small 4”x4”, 6”x6” cubes)–with their aesthetic and structural benefits make them a strong alternative to concrete pavers. Interested in learning more? Considerations for Specifying Natural Stone in Driveway Paving Applications.

seahaze-mix limestone large pavers driveway

Design with Natural Stone Veneer and Cladding

Natural stone veneer and cladding provide an excellent architectural tool for interior as well as exterior walls. Natural stone has always been a much-loved building material because of its strength, durability, great look and minimal maintenance cost. However, constructing a stone building is certainly not cost-effective. This is where the value of natural stone cladding or veneer comes in. It provides the functionality, advantages and look of stone, and at the same time is cost-effective and easy to install.

Before you go for that faux stone panel, remember that they are likely to fade and get chipped over time whereas veneer in natural stone will look great for generations to come! With a textural change in the stone for veneer and/or cladding, such as split face, hand-chisel, or bush hammer, you can add the distinction of an accent look without changing the color of the stone used in the project. When building a wall out of solid block stone, the face finish options are hand chisel and split face. Veneers and cladding product sizes range from 6” x free length and up to 20” x 40” (with bush hammer on back for stickier installation).

Cream travertine mini split face building facade veneer
Cream Travertine mini split face veneer – cladding
Seahaze Sand Limestone small chipped wall veneer
Seahaze Sand Limestone small chipped wall veneer
Seahaze sea limestone jumbo wall cladding
Seahaze Sea Limestone jumbo wall cladding

Browse Designing with Natural Stone book for more photos.

Gothicstone Natural Stone Recommendations for Paver Pedestal System

A perfect, “save the day” application would be an old, ugly concrete patio, which is degraded somewhat, some cracking here and there but basically in decent shape. You can make it new again by laying a paver pedestal system over the concrete and placing your pavers or tiles on top.  With a crew of three or four good laborers, you could probably install several thousand square feet in one day.  A pedestal paver system works well (and very cost-effectively) if you use large format tile or paver sizes such as 12”x12”, 16”x16” or up to and, including 24”x24”. 

Caution: you must use the correct material/product because it must be strong (appropriate flexural strength). Otherwise, the corners may break since there is no support in the center of the paver or tile.  Read PEDESTAL SYSTEMS EXPAND THEIR FOOTPRINT IN BOTH INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR PROJECTS to learn further stone implementation information about paver pedestal systems.

Paver pedestal system materials are 3cm (1 1/4″) thick, (exceptions noted below):

  • Marbles (for the most part), up to 24×24
  • SEAHAZE SEA limestone, up to 24×24 or 30×30
  • SEAHAZE SAND limestone, up to 24×24 or 30×30
  • Can use up to 18x18x2cm (3/4″) limestone, travertine, or marble
  • Cross cut travertine (not vein cut) travertine up to 24 x 24

See all our Limestone, Travertine, and Marble colors

Example Material Colors

NATURAL STONE DISCLAIMER: Buyer acknowledges that stone is a natural substance, formed within the earth and that distinct types of stone, as well as individual stones within any given type, may vary in texture, color, thickness, density, durability, or fitness for a particular use or purpose. Natural stone may chip, peel, flake, bleed, stain, oxidize, or otherwise deteriorate over time. These attributes should be considered when using stone, especially in any exterior application subject to moisture. Buyer acknowledges that Seller has no control over Buyer’s selection or use of any stone and that exposure to weather, installation techniques, or preservative measures used by Buyer.

Buyer’s purchase of stone from Seller constitutes Buyer’s acknowledgment of the above, and acceptance of the risks inherent in the use and installation of natural stone and a waiver of all claims which Buyer may have against Seller arising from the chipping, etching, flaking, staining, bleeding, oxidation, or other deteriorations and/or defects inherent in natural stone.

SEAHAZE SEA Limestone Pool Pavers

For the Love of Bluestone

Gothicstone SEAHAZE SEAtm is a Bluestone quarried in the Atlas Mountains of northern Morocco. Several other countries quarry Bluestone, like Belgium, Germany, France, Vietnam, China, and the USA. The notable differentiation between the Pennsylvania Bluestone vs Moroccan Bluestone is that our SEAHAZE SEAtm Bluestone is characterized as a limestone whereas the PA/NY Bluestone is characterized as a sandstone. Limestones typically stay cooler than sandstones.

8 Reasons to choose Gothicstone SEAHAZE SEAtm Limestone for your Bluestone pavers.

  1. PA and NY Bluestones are quarried from sandstone deposits. And commonly suffer from chipping, delamination, and flaking due to the way the deposit is formed in striated sedimentary layers.  The striations (layers) do not commonly occur in limestone deposits.  For this reason, the SEAHAZE SEAtm limestone is easier to work with and will retain its natural beauty without the delamination issues that can be quite common with the PA and NY Bluestones.
  2. Due to many of the advantageous technical characteristics of limestone plus a more exacting manufacturing process, SEAHAZE SEAtm Limestone is often less expensive to implement compared to Bluestone originating from PA and NY.
  3. SEAHAZE SEAtm Limestone pavers are greater than 5,000 PSI compressive strength. They can be used in most industrial applications.
  4. Gothicstone produces extra-large format pavers which are available according to your specifications. Example sizes are 18×36, 30×30, 24×48, 48×48, and varying thicknesses according to your project needs (2cm/3cm/4cm/5cm/6cm/7cm, etc.).
  5. SEAHAZE SEAtm cuts beautifully and is processed with more precision and accuracy than the typical PA and NY Bluestone processing plants can produce. The resulting aesthetic is the ability to “butt install” the pavers or tile without extra-large grout joints.
  6. Limestones typically stay cooler than sandstones which is obviously an additional benefit to using SEAHAZE SEAtm Bluestone over the PA/NY option for copings, pool deck or any outdoor hardscape areas.
  7. SEAHAZE SEAtm products available for your patio, pool deck, driveway and general building projects are pavers, slabs for countertops and wall caps, step treads, block treads, coping, cladding, tile and driveway pavers or cobblestones.
  8. Finishes varieties: Suregrip Moleskintm – a mechanically sandblasted surface; Etruscan Finishtm – bush hammered with a mechanically sandblasted secondary finish applied; Tumbled; Honed; Bush Hammer – mimics the ancient art of point chiseling/texturing the surface of the stone.   A great combination of textural visual aesthetic and tactile interest without being too aggressive, and yet it significantly raises the co-efficient of friction (for those who have that concern); Micro Bush Hammer – a finer more delicate version of the above. 


Contact us for your free project value engineering consult.

Blogs that may be of interest:

Poor water drainage equals mold on pavers

Mold on Pavers – Battling Mother Nature

Mold on pavers is a persistent problem that can be corrected!

Paver hardscaping can be relatively maintenance-free.  However, issues may arise if your patio or pool deck is not properly maintained, or the initial installation isn’t correct.  “Battling Mother Nature” addresses how to avoid having a persistent mold on pavers problem on any type of hardscape installation, whether it is natural stone or concrete pavers!

The problem is often thought to be not enough sunlight in that area (particularly in the case of mold and mildew).  Of course, it may help to have plenty of sunlight to mitigate the mold growth on the hardscaping. However, the problem is not on the surface. It lies underneath.  The problem is almost always about the substrate in paver, tile, and other types of exterior or interior environments.   The unfortunate appearance of mold and/or algae can readily be avoided with proper installation vs the age-old excuse of insufficient sunlight or other natural causes. 

The Mold on Paver Problem and Solution  

So, how is it that two adjoining properties, with similar environmental circumstances and conditions, yield two different outcomes: one has a serious mold and/or algae paver problem while the other property has no issues whatsoever?   

Poor water drainage equals mold on pavers
Poor water drainage equals mold

The mold on pavers problem occurs when algae and/or mold and other fungal types grow on damp or moisture-laden pavers.   The answer is to eliminate the presence of moisture from underneath. Without moisture, the algae/mold cannot survive.  The key is a proper installation with the substrate being the most vital component.

Installation and drainage are at the heart of the mold on pavers problem

People that do have these ongoing nightmarish issues are having these problems because the preparation, before the installation of the pavers, was not done properly.  Yes, maybe they installed 12 – 18” of gravel underneath, and they did an inch of sand on top of the gravel, and they used geotextile (which hardly anyone uses) and all that is well and good. However, Mrs. Smith has that problem, and Mrs. Jones, next door, doesn’t. 

One reason could be the pooling of the water.  Another contributing factor can be the use of “modified” gravel, which inhibits the ease of movement for water to drain properly, instead of clean/screened gravel.  Water will always seek out the lowest point.  It rains and physics says that gravity will pull the water to the lowest point.  When there isn’t a place for water to escape, it ends up sitting underneath the installation, like a pond or, in the case of a pool deck, like a moat circling the pool and the water has no place to go.  So, what happens?  The water just sits there and feeds these microorganisms that end up being mold growths and discoloration on your beautiful pavers.  Look familiar?   

Escape Route for water is necessary to combat the mold on pavers problem

Be sure to properly integrate an escape route for the water particularly if the excavation work has created an undesirable pooling or “pond effect” below the surface. Dry-set hardscaping projects always involve excavation and a new sub-base of compacted gravel (hopefully clean/washed gravel). 

A proper French drain, when your patio or pool deck is installed, is the most desirable solution.  It’s all good to have the gravel and the sand but the water needs to have a place to go.  When digging that moat around the pool, or excavating underneath the proposed patio, be sure the water that goes down to that gravel is routed away.  If it doesn’t have someplace to go, you will, likely, have this type of moisture problem. 

Some types of soil “percolate” so well that the water will just drain.  Poor percolation is an intrinsic problem in clay soils, however.  Soils that percolate better, unlike clay soils, let the water escape through the soil.  And that is quite common…however, it is best not to risk it.  You want to make sure that the water has someplace to go whether you have clay soil or not.  When there is a strong grade on the property, water will likely find its way downhill.  And, if your deck or patio is built up above the grade, then water, typically, will seep out and go downhill somewhere.  No matter the situation, you want to have a built-in exit route for the water, even if it is at only one point.   

Courtesy of Home Improvement Stack Exchange

How to Fix Existing Patios or Pool Decks

Unfortunately, for many people who are reading this, you might be past the installation phase without the proper drainage pipes.  Sure, you can power-wash over and over but that is just treating the symptoms and not treating the cause.  So, what do you do? 

Here’s what to do.  

  • Pull up as many pavers as you need to find the lowest spot, in the original excavation, and utilize some method to help the water escape.
  • Replace some of the gravel and underneath that gravel bed, place PVC pipes, to allow that water to escape the pool deck or patio area and to drain out to a lower point. 
  • Go to the lowest point of your excavation and that’s where the water will be accumulating. 
  • Use one inch PVC pipe with holes drilled throughout (of course the bigger the pipe the better, but this does less collateral damage, particularly in a retrofit situation) and run it to either a water collection area where you may have a sump pump or let it percolate through your yard.
Beautiful Peach Yellow Travertine patio project recently renovated

Point of Interest: “Modified” vs Clean/Screened Gravel 

Gothicstone recommends using clean, screened gravel. Unfortunately, most contractors use “modified” gravel/aggregate, and it is not clean or screened.  “Modified” gravel/aggregate compacts well and makes the compaction fast and easy. We believe the gravel industry pushes it extremely hard because it is quite easy for them to produce; less than half the work for them to do; most of the work in making gravel is grading (sizing) and cleaning it.  The gravel quarry industry loves selling “modified” because it’s less work for them, less wastage, and therefore, more profitable. Clean or screened gravel, on the other hand, is more labor-intensive to compact because it locks into place – the different facets or faces of the gravel pieces lock into each other and it is more difficult to compact. The specifications for doing commercial projects (and most paver or concrete installations) specify to use washed, screened, or cleaned gravel (not modified) in conjunction with geotextile and stabilization systems. Want to learn more about stabilization systems and recommended use? Read our blog, Gothicstone recommends stabilization grids regardless of the scale of your paver installation project.

Cleaning Tips for pool decks or patios

Hardwood decks/patios, as well as wood on houses/buildings, need to be cleaned and sealed regularly.   Although you power wash and seal a hardwood deck every year, natural stone deck maintenance is much less frequent.  We recommend casual cleaning and sealing, with the proper sealers, at least every several years depending on what sealer product you use.  It’s important to note that you should not use a prophylactic coating type of sealer like you would on wood products.  That type of sealer puts a coating on the wood and people often use that kind of sealer for concrete pavers, as well, with bad results.  With natural stone, you should never use a prophylactic coating type of sealer because the stone wants to breathe.  And that is a good thing.  Use a “breathable” sealer that tends to last many years longer.  When using a high-quality sealer, you will only have to seal every 5-10 years.  We recommend Stain Proof.

How to get the stone to visually “pop” again like it was new

We would like to recommend that every couple of years, you do a mild muriatic acid wash on the stone.  You must be careful, but it is not as scary as you may think.

Here’s how:

  • Saturate the surface of the stone, where you are working, with water. 
  • Use a 10-20% dilution of muriatic acid that you would purchase from your pool supply store or hardware store (it is already diluted when you purchase the container).  
  • Take the diluted jug and dilute it again to 5-1 (5 parts water, 1-part of the purchased diluted muriatic acid).  
  • Wash your deck/patio stone with the twice diluted muriatic acid (you can use a mop or bug sprayer).
  • Sweep with a broom, then rinse it off with a heavy water flush.  

Note:  The acid should not be strong enough to do any damage to the ecology or be harmful to your flower beds next to the stone patio because once it contacts the stone, there is a little bit of sizzle, a bit of chemical reaction that happens and then it should be neutralized. 

Are you looking for different exterior stone options? Gothicstone is here to help.  Contact us today to find out more about our products so we can value-engineer your stone solution. We look forward to providing you with natural stone materials to help make your client’s outdoor area an exclusive living space.

Gothicstone Consulting Services

Gothicstone recommends stabilization grids regardless of the scale of your paver installation project

Yes, even for residential pool deck or patio pavers!

The need for stabilization grids (sometimes referred to as cellular confinement systems or load support grids) is something that is largely unrecognized throughout the construction industry in paver installation which sort of boggles the mind.  I would say that the large-scale industrial masonry world understands because they have heavy-duty architects working on road projects, those that require forethought, and longevity. Unfortunately, on the mid-size to small scale projects ie: from parking lots to a driveway, backyard patio, or pool paver projects, it’s usually not a consideration for reasons that are not understood by me. 

Stabilization equals Longevity of Paver Installations

Stabilization is at the heart of the project when it comes down to the longevity of the installation. Anybody can lay down some stone or pavers on soil or grass and they’ll stay there for a week, a month, or a year. If you want pavers to stay in place for 10, 20, 50 years, you need to have a stable substrate.  As with interior tile projects and exterior paver projects, it’s all about the substrate. Without the proper substrate, nothing else matters because you will have failure – 100% guaranteed.

Courtesy CellTek

So, without the soil stabilization under a paver installation, you’re extremely likely, in almost every scenario, to have some movement. There are some very stable environmental situations that may not necessitate it. Climates that don’t have much temperature change, climates that don’t have a lot of rain, and have very compacted sandy soil, are where you will not get a lot of movement underneath. As you know, that is a small portion of the world we live in that has that kind of climate.

So, conversely, if you have a lot of rain, if you have a lot of temperature change, particularly if you have a lot of cycling in freeze/thaw, and that’s the real killer, you’re going to have movement in your substrate.  When you have movement in your substrate, you are going to have movement above your substrate because the substrate is what is holding your stone or pavers. For that reason, stabilization grids are recommended.

Courtesy CellTek

Paver Installation on Concrete Slab with Stabilization Grids

When you have a concrete slab, it’s the adage, it’s not IF your slab will crack or fail, it’s WHEN. Concrete slabs are extremely prone to failure because they are asked to perform very unforgivingly and next to impossible tasks…to endure movement underneath them without cracking or failing. And, again, when you have movement underneath, you’re going to have the material on top crack and fail.  Even the concrete itself is prone to failure without movement from underneath because of heat, especially in hot climates, and or cold or thermally cycling climates, where it gets cold then hot, cold then hot. The slabs will expand and contract according to the heat and cold they are exposed to and particularly, the cycling of heat & cold, heat & cold. 

Small concrete slabs, for sidewalk sections 3’x3’ or 4’x4’ are not a big concern.  Unfortunately, enough people do not put on expansion joints, they use control joints, which when it fails, fails along the control joint. A control joint is nothing more than a little line cut into the surface of the concrete making it a little bit weaker on that line so if it cracks, the crack goes along that line that was cut into it. So, it’s a prettier failure.  The concrete slab is not the best solution. 

If there are no elevation problems or choose to raise your elevation, it’s perfect to put a grid down on top of the existing concrete slab and put pavers on top of that. 


What happens when there is failure ie: wash out from too much rain underneath, and without a properly compacted substrate, you can have the substrate washing out from flooding, heavy floods, constant flow of water eventually eroding underneath, the stabilization grid will hold that substrate together so that it’s not possible to wash out.  The gravel can’t go through the walls of the grid, so it holds it in place. 

One of the bigger dangers is the freeze/thaw expansion and contraction issue that is extremely common in the climates of the upper forty-eight states in America and around the world. When you have snow and wintry weather, warm weather, then freezing weather, warm weather, and moisture-cycling, the moisture gets underneath the pavers and freezes. And, as we all know, when you look at ice cubes in your freezer, they all have a hump in them because when water freezes, it expands. So, you’re going to get the substrate holding water. If there is quick freezing overnight, the water will expand and therefore, your whole installation will heave up a little bit. 

When it heaves down, when you use the grids, the grids will hold it in place instead of it shifting a little bit every time. When it shifts a little bit every time, from heaving then relaxing,  heaving then relaxing,  heaving then relaxing, you can imagine things will start to spread out over many cycles and next thing you know your pavers are 1/8” apart then ¼” apart, next thing you know, they have those openings and more water attacking it and now you have bigger gaps for the water to go in and turn to ice and more washout issues, etc. The whole thing kind of goes to hell without the use of a stabilization grid or cellular confinement system.   

Further technical information, go to or

Installation Video:

Are you looking for different exterior stone options? Gothicstone is here to help.  Contact us today to find out more about our products so we can value-engineer your stone solution. We look forward to providing you with natural stone materials to help make your client’s outdoor area an exclusive living space.

cleaning and sealing natural stone

Stone Sealer Products Benefit for Many Years 

Stone Cleaning and Sealing for Natural Stone Pavers, Tile, Coping, Step Treads. 

Hardwood decks/patios, as well as wood on houses/buildings, need to be power-washed, cleaned, and sealed on a regular basis.   Although you power wash and seal a hardwood deck every year, natural stone deck maintenance is much less frequent.  Stone sealer and cleaner products are very high-tech and require minimal maintenance.

Stone Cleaner Maintenance for Natural Stone Pavers, Tile, Coping or Treads:

  1. Regular, basic maintenance type cleaning: *
    • Use a stone cleaner that is easy to find at any hardware store or
    • Use any non-caustic degreasing agent (mild dish or hand soap) mixed in warm water.
  2. Deep cleaning, minor restoration (mild etch) type cleaning:
    • Dilute muriatic acid ten parts water to 1-part store-bought muriatic acid.
    • Wet the entire stone surface.
    • Pour dilute mix and move it around with a sponge mop – consider doing in twenty square feet over lapping sections.  Don’t let it sit in one place without moving and agitating it.  Acid will neutralize after 10-15 seconds.
    • Finish by rinsing the surface with clean water.

Note: The acid should not be strong enough to do any damage to the ecology or be harmful to your flower beds next to the stone patio. Once the acid contacts the stone, there is a little bit of sizzle, a bit of chemical reaction that happens and then it should be neutralized.

Stone Sealer Maintenance for Natural Stone Pavers, Tile, Coping or Treads: **

With natural stone, you should never use a prophylactic coating type of sealer because the stone wants to breathe.  Using a “breathable” stone sealer tends to last many years longer.  When using a high-quality sealer, you will only have to seal every 5-15 years or longer.  Some companies offer both a color-enhancing stone sealer and a “matte” finish stone sealer. Both types of sealers are impregnating sealers and penetrate the stone about a ¼”.  The color-enhancing stone sealer will help the stone “pop” its deep rich darker color (like when it is wet but doesn’t add shine or sheen to the stone). The “matte” finish stone sealer leaves the stone the same color when it is dry. Gothicstone recommends Stain Proof, stone cleaner, and stone sealer products.   

Considerations when applying stone sealer:

  1. If grout was newly applied to the tile, pavers, coping or treads, you should wait at least 2 weeks for the outgassing to complete before using stone sealer.
  2. If only stone cleaning was done, seal after the stone is thoroughly dry, typically a day or two. 
  3. Follow the directions on the bottle for the impregnating sealer.

 * This does not apply to high polished marble – contact us for those details.

** We highly recommend purchasing sealer products from a tile showroom.  We recommend Stain Proof by Dry-Treat.

Are you looking for different exterior stone options? Gothicstone is here to help.  Contact us today to find out more about our products so we can value-engineer your stone solution. We look forward to providing you with natural stone materials to help make your client’s outdoor living space unique.

Paver and Tile Installation and Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions

Tips: Gothicstone Travertine, Limestone or Marble Paver Installation


Installation Considerations – Dry Set:

  • The use of spacers is not necessary particularly when dry setting these pavers.
  • No sealing or maintenance is required. Natural rain will flush and clean the stone.
  • Same installation methods and considerations, like other decorative pavers, should be employed including using a pad on your vibrating plate.
  • See our blog posts for specific considerations ie:  Battling Mother Nature, Part I, mold/algae problems,

Continue reading

Pedestal pavers expand their exterior footprint

Pedestal pavers have been used for decades now, most familiarly for lightweight rooftop applications such as installing a patio utilizing the existing roof substrate.  Additionally, they are commonly used in computer rooms where access to electrical and telecommunication cables beneath the floor is necessary.

How pedestal paver systems work

Basically, a pedestal, typically made of plastic, raises up the four corners of a paver off the ground with small spacers in each corner. This leaves a small spacer (or tiny little gaps) on each side of the paver or tile, allowing the floor to breathe or, outdoors, for drainage and access.  Other benefits, discussed in detail below, are time savings for installation, accessibility for future changes, retrofitting, and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) requirements.

Requirements for pedestal pavers

It is recommended that you have a flat plane (not necessarily level, but flat) substrate on which to install the pedestal paver system.

  • Outdoors, a concrete substrate is optimal.
  • Rooftop, it should have a slight slope and have decent rainwater drainage.  You can now put tables and chairs on an even tile or paver surface since the pedestal’s underneath are adjusted to allow for the slope, taking away the rainwater underneath, and creating a flat surface on top.  The most important consideration is that you have a stable base or substrate.  
  • A limitation to be considered (and conversely; a benefit of using LARGE FORMAT PAVERS) is that the use of smaller pavers negatively impacts the efficiencies in both installation time and budget (the quantity of pedestals required could increase five-fold, or more).

Why should you consider pedestal pavers?

There are many economic benefits with the application of pedestal paver systems, not to mention the green and sustainable considerations i.e. carbon footprint.

  • In a dry-set installation, you use much less gravel, and often much less excavation, and no need to dispose of excavated soil!
  • In a “wet-set installation”, the benefit is that it can’t fail due to cracks in the substrate. You may have a paver or tile fail but if you have a solid substrate underneath, your broken piece can be easily replaced in a matter of minutes.  It’s a floating system, much like a dry-set installation; the pavers/tiles are not physically locked into the substrate.
  • Pedestals are a good application for retrofitting. If you can afford a little added height, it’s quick and easy and saves you lots of money on installation. You only need to methodically place your pedestals on your flat substrate and insert the pavers; a small patio can be done in time for “dinner al fresco” later that same day!

The Perfect Application

A perfect, “save the day” pedestal paver application would be an old, ugly concrete patio, which is degraded somewhat, some cracking here and there but basically in decent shape. You can make it new by laying pedestals over the concrete, placing your pavers or tiles on top. 

  • With a crew of three or four laborers, you could probably install several thousand square feet in one day. 
  • Pedestals work well (and very cost-effectively) if you use larger format tile or paver sizes such as 12”x12”, 16”x16” or up to and, including 24”x24”. 
  • Caution: you must use the correct material/product because it must be strong (appropriate flexural strength) otherwise the corners may break since there is no support in the center of the paver or tile.  See Gothicstone material recommendations.

New uses and benefits of pedestal pavers!

One of the big benefits of a pedestal system is the accessibility for future changes that may be desired.

Once installed, you can lift those large format pavers or paver tiles and have access to the MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) underneath it, whether you want to put in water lines for a new outdoor kitchen, gas lines for outdoor fire pit, stereo speaker wire, or electrical cables.

You can do all that just by lifting the necessary paver tiles/pavers and then laying the cables/pipe (etc.) and then replacing them on the pedestals.  Realizing a huge economy in time and expense and underscoring why they are commonly used in modern computer data centers. 

Green attributes – these installations use a lot less gravel compared to what may be five truckloads of gravel used in a typical backyard patio paver outdoor living environment.  This method is a lot less expensive and eliminates a big dent in the carbon footprint.

Ability to make changes later….

If a tile or paver piece breaks, gets stained or other reasons arise for making a change, or let’s say, you want to add an outdoor kitchen someday or enlarge the patio, you can easily move and interchange pieces by just lifting them up and replacing them. 

Let’s say you add a firepit area somewhere, about 100 sq. ft. and you get a new lot of stone in from the same quarry, that’s lighter or darker than the old lot.  With a pedestal system, you can blend the old pieces with the new.

So, you would take the bulk of the new lot, and pull up the equivalent amount in the old deck, mixing the two. For instance, if you have 25 pieces for the new lot, you will take 20 of those new pieces and randomly pull up 20 pieces from your existing (old) deck.  Take those 20 old pieces and put them aside.  Put the new pieces, randomly, into those spots where you pulled those pieces out to blend in a little bit.  Then you take the old pieces and mix them with the 5 new pieces in the new area and now your stone will match throughout. 

Quick and easy installation – have a concrete slab poured for a new installation and just use the pedestals.  It doesn’t matter if your new concrete slab develops small cracks after a few years (which almost all concrete slabs eventually do), your pedestals will keep it at the same level plane.

Want more on this topic, contact us for a free consultation about your project!

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