Brick, pavers or bluestone?

by Jane
(New York)

We live in a beautiful Victorian home, it is white with black trim. Currently the main staircase from the back of the home is brick & concrete (built a long time ago). We plan on installing a larger patio & resurfacing or rebuilding the stairs & installing 2 other sets of steps. My initial thought is I wanted to do a stacked stone veneer over the red brick step walls. Then cap the steps with bluestone. For the patio either pavers or bluestone. Now, I am leaning towards leaving the red brick on the walls & incorporating the brick into the patio design. Confused as to use bluestone or pavers...a friend told me her bluestone stains & chips easily so I am torn. It is so expensive & don't really want the maintanence. But now...I am wondering if I should do red brick on the patio & edge it with bluestone (sort of the reverse of my previous idea). Any insights would be appreciated!
Thanks for your assistance-


Hi Jane,
If the brick on the steps is in good condition, my choice would be to leave it. Do a bluestone patio and edge it with brick. If you can't find the same brick or something very close, I would eliminate the brick border altogether since it won't look right with the brick on the steps. If you could add the bluestone treads onto the brick steps, this would tie it all together.

I don't know why your friend's bluestone stains and chips. Yes, if you are going to be sloppy outside anything will stain. That goes for concrete pavers...just about anything! If it is chipping it means it was not installed correctly.

You did not tell me if you were leaning towards dry laying the bluestone or setting in concrete. Which method were you thinking about?

Bluestone is beautiful, a natural stone, is durable and long lasting. I would not hesitate to go this route. You have an old, traditional victorian home. Don't you want to stay with a natural material rather than man-made pavers?! I would.

Comments for Brick, pavers or bluestone?

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Jan 04, 2011
Bluestone Screenings
by: Susan

When you say leveled, I am not sure if you mean that he is using bluestone screenings as the base immediately beneath the pavers or if this is what he is using to fill in the joints.

Either way, "bluestone screenings" is not polymeric sand. Polymeric sand is a specific material. As previously mentioned, it is used in the joints of many materials, pavers being one of them. Once it is applied, it is then wet down and hardens.

Why don't you ask him where the screenings are going and what he is using as the joint filler.

Hope that helps!

Jan 04, 2011
re: the poylmeric sand
by: Anonymous

Just reviewing a quote from one landscaper & it says he would use a 6" base of RCA and the Pavers would be leveled with bluestone screenings (not sand) this the same as polymeric sand? Thanks for you help!

Jan 04, 2011
Brick - Pavers - Bluestone - Costs and Design
by: Susan

There is a material being used now for both bluestone and pavers for the joints which almost eliminates weed growth. It is called polymeric sand. Once the paving material is laid, this is spread into the joints (even pavers have joints). It is then wet down and it hardens almost like concrete.

This is an option to save on costs as it is still a dry laid application. In this case, pavers are still less expensive but there is not nearly as great of a price difference as comparing pavers to bluestone in concrete.

If you can't match the brick, you might as well re-do the original staircase with the new brick so that everything matches. I don't think you will be happy with staircases that don't match in a completely new and costly project!

I understand what you are saying about the change in elevations being that you are laying over existing concrete and the grade will be raised. How large is the existing concrete patio? Make sure it is in excellent condition and was installed correctly before you lay any material on top of it. That will be the foundation for your new patio and it must be structurally sound.

See this page:
Building a Patio

This means that there are absolutely no cracks or settling. The pitch must be correct away from the house for proper water drainage at 1/4" per foot. Some contractors use less, but this is what I am comfortable with. The base of the concrete must have been installed correctly on virgin soil (or have been tamped in lifts for compaction)and the thickness of the bases and slab must be correct.

If you have any doubts about it, I would suggest ripping it up and starting again. And also this would eliminate any grade issues as the top of the new patio would be the same as it is now.

In addition, if you do decide to use pavers, I would definitely use the polymeric sand. If you use regular sand in the joints, surface water will percolate down to the concrete which you definitely do not want. You want the water to drain across the patio away from the house.

Just food for thought.

So to summarize:
1. My first choice would be to use bluestone with polymeric sand in the joints and brick steps.
2. Try to match the brick for the new staircases and any patio border work with the brick of the existing staircase.
3. If you are not able to do this, re-do the original steps.
4. Check with your contractor that the concrete is sound.
5. If using pavers, use polymeric sand in the joints.

I hope this was helpful.

Jan 03, 2011
regarding your response
by: Jane

yes, our home was built in the late 1800's. We are trying to maintain as much original detail but in this day & age there are many products that are not "natural" that have benefits. For example, we are using hardi-plank siding rather than wood on the exterior of the home. It looks as good & never needs to be painted. Which is the reason we are considering the pavers. They cost less & my understanding is they have less maintanence. Please correct me if I am wrong! If we went with a natural stone, I would prefer it to be set in concrete. I don't want to deal with the weeds & grass that inevitably make their way through the seams. That was the plan, whether we do a bluestone patio or pavers we wanted to cap the treads with bluestone. But, you mentioned the issue of not matching the brick? We have 3 staircases that need to be built and obviously I want them to be the same as the main staircase. If we can't match the brick...what should we do? Currently those steps are made of wood and when we lay the new patio over the existing concrete slab (which was just installed 3 yrs ago) the steps will need to be replaced as the rise will change. We may ultimately need to demo the whole staircase...we won't know till they get in to it and see if it is worth saving. If it all has to go we will be starting from scratch...then matching the brick won't be an issue. Your advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks

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