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FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between PA Bluestone and slate?  Are they the same?

Slate is a very common term for most natural stone materials.  The general perception of what slate is, is generally the common Vermont Slate, which was very popular in the 40’s; 50’s, and 60’s construction of homes.  Unfortunately, it is a generally brittle stone that flakes easily due to freezing and thawing between the layers of stone in the slate.  PA Bluestone is a sandstone, so it does not suffer from the same layering effect that Vermont Slate does.   When it comes to a patio material, PA Bluestone is a much more durable solution than slate.

What is the difference between Thermal Face and Natural Cleft?

Patio Stone is manufacted in many different ways.  2 of the most popular faces used for natural stone options are thermal and natural cleft.  Natural patio stone is cut out of the earth usually in very large blocks and then is sent to a factory where huge diamond blades cut it into the patterns you see.  Thermal Face is when the pieces are cut on all 6 sides (including the top and the bottom) and then torched on the top face to create a texture and depth.  Natural Cleft pieces are only cut on the 4 edges leaving a naturally uneven surface on top.  Although not perfectly even, this surface is very functional and varys very little.

What is the difference between Guillotine/Split Step and Sawn Step?

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Why are some stones less expensive than others; isn’t stone just stone? 

Stone prices can be affected by an array of different factors, but the main factors are how hard it is to get out of the earth, and how far it has to travel to get  ASME PDF files to the customer.  In South Jersey we have no natural stone, so everything has to come from somewhere else.  We are fortunate that Pennsylvania has a wealth of stone that is both easy to quarry and reasonably close by.  Bluestone, Fieldstones, River Boulders all come from easy to reach locales within Pennsylvania.  Stones such as Mexican Beach Pebbles have to travel great distances to get to us, hence the high cost.  If you lived on the west coast, they would be much less expensive.  

What can I expect to pay to have a natural stone patio installed?

Natural stone is again becoming the standard for patios and walkways as concrete paver prices have steadily increased over the past 10 years.  Some styles of pavers cost far more than common natural stone alternatives such as PA Bluestone.  On the other hand, when you are talking about installation, labor is the most expensive part of any patio installation project.  Natural stone takes a bit more technique to ensure you get a properly pitched, and level patio that is built right.  Things such as access to the area, existing site conditions, and general scope of the project all figure into a final installation price as well.

How do I build a dry-stack stone wall?

This DIY Network video gives you a good idea of how to do it.

http://www.diynetwork.com/dry-stack-wall-measuring-and-preparation/video/index.html

Here’s the Text version

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-build-a-dry-stack-stone-retaining-wall/index.html

How do I split large pieces of flagstone?

This video from YouTube is a great lesson on what you need and how to do it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA1Lta0iBhA&feature=related

How do I build a Boulder wall?

This DIY Network video gives you a good idea of how to do it.

http://www.diynetwork.com/videos/build-a-retaining-wall/39494.html

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http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-build-a-boulder-retaining-wall/index.html

How do I install a natural stone patio?

This video from YouTube is a great lesson on what you need and how to do it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMahwSgbwU0

DIY Network Introduction to Irregular Flagstone Installation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6DNKy9kHTE

DIY Network – Detailed Text

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-lay-a-flagstone-patio/index.html

How do I install a paver patio?

http://www.wikihow.com/Install-Pavers

This Lowes video from YouTube describes how to prepare and install the base material.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL_ZwbFbb7g&feature=relmfu

This Lowes video from YouTube describes how to install your pavers and finish the patio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqV7YuKdtz8&feature=related

How do I install a Versa-Lok Retaining Wall?

See the CST Product Tech guide for detailed directions on how to install VersaLok Wall Systems (link to tech guide)

How do I install an Outdoor Fireplace?

This great YouTube video by FireRock gives you a comprehensive step by step way to install their simple system. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlMshUZuQto

How do I build a stone fire-pit?

Video

http://www.diynetwork.com/fire-pit-measurement-quarry-trip/video/index.html

Text

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-build-a-stone-fire-pit/index.html