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Flagstone Comparison Chart

A guide to the differences between commonly used stones for outdoor patios, and walkways

Flagstone is a generic term for sedimentary rock split into layers. It is a term used to describe various types of stone laid as “flags” in patterns on outdoor surfaces. Below are types of stone that are typically quarried and laid as flagstone.
For more information: What Is Flagstone

Type of Stone Description Appearance Regionality Colors Pros Cons
Sandstone (common type: Arizona Flagstone) A sedimentary rock formed by layers of sand Contemporary or earthy look Most commonly found in the Southwest Soft pastel colors from beige to red: Pinks, buckskin gold, and dark red Cooler surface temperatures in summer. Weather resistant in dense, tightly packed varieties. Porous and tends to absorb water which can cause damage in freeze/thaw cycles. Should be sealed to avoid staining.
Quartzite A form of metamorphosed rock Glossy, smooth surface. Ageless appearance. Commonly found in Idaho, Oklahoma and Northern Utah Wide range of colors including silver, gold, and lighter tan, blues, grays, and greens Resistant to wear and tear, rain, and harsh chemicals. Non-slip surface, more stain resistant than sandstone. Prone to etching, hard to shape, requires routine maintenance to prevent soiling on its rough, textured surface.
Bluestone A type of blue-gray sandstone but much more dense Very flat with a rough texture. Classical looking. Primarily found in Northeast (Pennsylvania and New York) Shades of blue, gray, and purple Dense, tough paving, non-slip surface, holds up to Northeastern harsh winters Requires proper sealing to preserve color, to resist chlorine or salt water and to protect from scratching and staining.
Limestone A common sedimentary rock composed of calcite Natural split surface, can be polished. Elegant. Commonly found in Indiana Range of colors including gray, beige, yellow and black Good for humid climates, weather-resistant, long-lasting Very heavy, susceptible to damage from acid
Travertine A compacted variety of limestone Weathered look with pitted holes Found naturally in Oklahoma and Texas. Quarried in Western US states. Various shades of brown, tan, and gray-blues Durable, higher-end stone, stays cool for outdoor surfaces Can be difficult to finish and maintain because of surface pits
Basalt An igneous or volcanic rock Lightly textured Commonly found in Montana and British Columbia Natural gray, beige or black Great insulation and sound absorption Can become dull-looking
Slate A metamorphic rock layered with clay-like minerals Very flaky, softer than sandstone or quartzite. Antique-looking. Commonly found in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and New York Silver gray, green, copper Easy to chisel and shape, usually used for wall-cladding Easily splits, limited availability in large sizes, requires sealing for stain resistance and to reduce efflorescence

Contributing Author:

Maureen Gilmer, contributing writer for Landscaping Network, author and syndicated columnist

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