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York Stone – What You Need to Know

If you’ve visited a cathedral or walked down an old English high street, chances are you will have come across York Stone in some shape or form. A legendary stone quarried from the Yorkshire countryside, York stone is one of the UK’s most popular types of paving even though a great deal of people don’t know exactly what it is.

The trick’s in the name – York stone has become something of a marketing term rather than a definition. With no mention of the type of stone, colour or shape, it can be difficult to know who’s talking about what!

The Facts about York Stone

York Stone normally is used in reference to the reclaimed paving flagstones, also known as Old York or Reclaimed York. Quarried from Yorkshire, this hard wearing sandstone was laid hundreds of years ago all over the country for paving, house signs, headstones, fireplaces and all types of buildings from churches to shops.  A Reclaimed York Flagstone would have been lifted up during re-development and is now ready to be re-used elsewhere. 

It’s the reclamation that makes York stone all the more desirable. Unlike new quarried stone, reclaimed stone usually has more immediate character. Having been subject to weathering for hundreds of years, reclaimed stone can add instant charm as well as looking less out of place when extending old patios and paths.  York stone is in high demand and the fact that the reclaimed varieties cannot simply by quarried make this stone one of the more expensive paving options. Reclamation is a more time-consuming, difficult and irregular process than quarrying, only adding to the legendary status of the stone. 

The reclaimed nature of York stone also means no two pieces are the same. There are no set, modular sizes as you would expect with new stone and there is no calibrated thickness, though York stone paving tends to be thicker than your average flagstone. 

As with all natural stone, quality is everything. You should always inspect the stock before buying and check for the following signs:

  • Flaky paving – check the surface of the paving for loose ridges and flakes

  • Missing corners

  • Paint, oil or mortar stains

  • Roofing tiles sold as paving flags

  • Irregular shapes – some flagstones may be not be rectangular, making them very hard to lay

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What about New York Stone?

York stone doesn’t just mean the reclaimed stuff. New York Stone is exactly that – new, quarried stone ready to be laid. Like most other new flagstones it is calibrated and comes in more regular sizing, though York stone is considerably more expensive than its imported cousins.

Why? Simply due to the fact that supply is much lower and the costs of extraction in the UK are much higher. Just like imported stone, New York stone can come in a variety of dressings and finishes. 

What is York stone?

York stone is a type of natural sandstone which comes from Yorkshire mills and quarries that have been worked since the Middle Ages. It’s made up of quartz, feldspar, mica, quartz and iron oxides. It’s a sedimentary rock with a tightly packed, fine grain and is well known for its strength, versatility and exceptional durability as well as its high quality and slip resistance – it’s actually one of the most prestigious paving options on the market.

Not only that, but it looks stunning into the bargain. And its natural, weathered beauty simply cannot be faked, while the older this stone is, the more character it has. York stone can potentially add significantly to the value of any property. It also blends in seamlessly whatever its surroundings and, as a natural product, is highly environmentally friendly.

York stone’s adaptability and timeless appeal mean it can be used in modern and historic settings, as well as in larger-scale projects such as high streets, where it can withstand heavy traffic, plus private homes. It can be used inside as well as outdoors, in anything from memorial stones to steps, house signs and garden landscaping. Other options include driveways, garden features and even paving. If you use it in flooring, it’s a natural heat conductor and so works well with underfloor heating.

How to clean York stone paving

    The good news is that York stone paving does not require a great deal in the way of ongoing maintenance, apart from regular sweeping with a stiff brush. Equally, cleaning is more a cosmetic affair, or to stop the stone from becoming slippery, since natural weathering doesn’t affect its well-known durability. (Equally, clean York stone is slip-resistant.)

    Exact location and weather, among other factors, will determine the extent of algae growth, which occurs due to the stone’s porous nature and makes it look very dull. In the majority of cases, a weak bleach solution can handle superficial stains and algae but we would highly recommend using our Mould stain remover for the best results.

    If you want to improve grip in icy conditions, use sand rather than salt, which can damage your stone.

    A hot pressure washer helps to remove organic growth such as lichen, moss and fungi, so can be highly effective. You can also use specialist cleaning products like our Patio Blaster the kill off these organics to achieve the best ongoing results.   Always test these in a discreet, unobtrusive area first. 

    Finally, a professional York stone cleaning company will invariably yield the safest and most effective results.

    What colour is York stone?

      The colour of York stone will be determined by the minerals in the particular piece of stone, as well as the specific location it’s been sourced from, plus the age of the material. (It becomes darker with weathering.)

      The mix of natural minerals present in York stone give it its colours, varying from grey with hints of blue and silver to a deep yellow-brown sandy hue. Sometimes there can also be a red-brown shade on the outside of the stone.

      How to remove stains from York stone

        As with any surfacing material, York stone isn’t immune to staining. As mentioned, a diluted bleach solution will shift most superficial stains.

        For more stubborn marks, you could try a acidic cleaner such as Efferazer and is equally as good at helping clear cement or grout hazing.  You will however need to ensure that there are no limestone products in the area that will be affected by this process as this will cause irreversible damaged to those stones.  

        With oil staining, you can use a specialist stone floor cleaner product neat and allow it to soak in. (These marks can be especially difficult to shift.) The same goes for removing paint, for which you can also use a scraper and a stiff hand brush.. As with any product, test a discreet spot first.

        For the most results a professional York stone cleaning company will be best placed to advise on stain removal from York stone.

        You’re now one step closer to owning your own piece of England’s legendary stone! All reputable stone suppliers should be able to show you their stocks and let you check the quality. The good thing is you can now spot what’s the real thing and what’s not.