What is limestone?
Limestone is a natural material, a carbonate sedimentary rock consisting mainly of the minerals aragonite and calcite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate. It also incorporates magnesium carbonate (or dolomite).
A popular building material for millennia and used in world-famous monuments such as the Colosseum in Rome and the Egyptian Pyramids, limestone remains highly dependable as an option for paving today. It’s also the principal component of cement, meaning it’s part of almost all modern constructions. The stone can also be used indoors, for example in kitchen floor tiles or worktops, and in covered outdoor areas such as courtyards.
While in its purest form this material is almost white, due to impurities many limestones have different shades, including beige, yellow, grey, black and blue.
It’s heavy (limestone is as dense as marble), flatter and smoother than sandstone, with a lightly textured surface.
Where does limestone come from?
Limestone formation occurs in two different environments; sedimentation in marine waters and through water evaporation when caves are created. It’s mostly formed from pressurised sediment found under the sea. But some limestone types form on land, or in lakes or river basins.
Worldwide, there are myriad different limestone-forming environments, mainly in shallow waters including the Caribbean Sea, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, plus Indonesian archipelago regions and the Pacific Ocean islands.
What are the benefits of using it?
Durable and resistant to frost and cracking, limestone is sought-after for long-lasting pathways, patios and more. Here are just some of its benefits:
Limestone is designed to last. Being a naturally denser stone than sandstone, this makes limestone a very durable product, suitable for all types and uses of outdoor spaces. It's best to make sure your limestone paving is calibrated to 22m and not 18mm as this will ensure that they will stand the test of time over many, many years and the challenges of our ever changing seasons.
You will be pleasantly surprised at how cost-effective limestone paving is especially against other paving options whether they are natural or manufactured. Always look out for Indian limestone as not only is this normally the most cost-effective, but also they quarry some of the finest limestone in the world.
Limestone has a subtle textured profile sometimes likened to that of orange peel, meaning there’s resistance underfoot when you walk over it, even when it’s wet. That also means not having to worry about slips and trips, for example following rain or if little wet feet are running around from the paddling pool.
And, talking of how it feels underfoot, the surface is comfortable all year round, and doesn’t freeze in winter or overheat during the warmer months.
4. Colour consistency
Limestone patio slabs tend to have a consistent colour palette, which differentiates them from their sandstone counterparts.
5. A great appearance
Limestone always looks stunning, and you can enhance it with a number of different finishes, to create an individual appearance. Additionally, the available colour choices are bold and smart-looking.
Any chips or cracks are generally easily put right. Unlike with other materials, you don’t need a full replacement – just take out the damaged area and insert a new section.
Does limestone stain?
The reality is that, yes, this can happen, especially over time. Mould, lichen, oil and food can all be culprits. Seal your stone if you can, and follow the steps for cleaning outlined below.
How to clean limestone paving
You may want to use specialist cleaning products on particularly stubborn stains, black or discoloured slabs. But, mostly, warm, soapy water is your best bet as an effective, non-damaging cleaning method.
Acid-based products are harmful to limestone, so use a non-acidic liquid soap and dilute a small amount in warm water – this should shift most grime and dirt.
If in doubt about any product you use, test a small amount on a less noticeable area of the stone first.
If you’re using bleach, be careful. It can remove moss and algae, but ensure it’s heavily diluted, or you could damage the stone’s surface or colour. And if you add ammonia to any bleach solution, it can react in a toxic way. Use a stiff brush, and then rinse away the bleach solution thoroughly.
For heavy staining, a stiff brush can help, but don’t be too vigorous or you could cause scratching.
Can you jet wash limestone paving?
Yes you can but make sure you have the jet washer hose setting to a fanned spray and not a tight single jet. Also, ensure you keep the lance nozzle at least 6 inches above the paving, this way you can effectively clean limestone without causing any irreversible damage and continue to enjoy this beautiful stone
Is limestone porous?
Limestone is less porous than sandstone, so it tends to absorb slightly less water. But both are water-resistant. When it rains, this stuff absorbs a minimal volume of liquid. So you can still use limestone around swimming pools and other wet areas. Sealing your limestone will also help protect it.
Get in touch
Here at Miles Stone, we’re Hampshire-based paving specialists, and import this material directly from our ethically approved Indian quarries. We offer five great natural colours, and these are all on display at our show gardens in Eastleigh. Come and see what we offer for yourself – or contact us if you have any queries.
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