One common concern when planning a new landscaping scheme is which paving materials should we use?
Many clients will enquire if slate is a good option for a patio. They have seen images of striking gardens online and like the idea of having it laid in their garden. Well I hear you ask, why not? Well not indeed! Slate is a striking and durable natural stone which can look fantastic on paved surfaces as well as vertical cladding.
A concern most people have with slate is will it be slippery? My simple answer to this no within reason. If the patio is laid reasonably level with only slight falls grip should not be an issue. When slate is wet with extra lubrication there is some possibility of slips but I would say this is minimal. If a certain velocity to travel combined with steep gradient and wet conditions there is a slight risk of slipping. I would say these scenarios are an extreme rarity!
Paving should never really be laid on a slope anyway unless for wheel chair access. Wheel chair slopes will always be built with materials that have high grip wearing surface. Concrete is usually the material of choice here. There are different suppliers of slate on the market; slate that has a clean cut with a slightly riven surface is the best. Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners and our Commercial landscaping department sources slate from two specialist suppliers.
One reason slate is good for an outside patio is it is durable and its colour will not fade. Most concrete pavers on the market will look good for the first few years but will not forever. As acid within rain slowly permeates the paving over proceeding years the wearing surface of the paving will wear down.
We have all seen old patios with small stones and aggregate showing through the surface of the patio. This is a big drawback or manufactured concrete paving. Another drawback of manmade paving is exposure to the suns UV light. This bleaches out the colour dyes within the paving adding to a worn bland look.
Slate being naturally formed from high density metamorphic rock means it is impervious to rain and its pollutants. This means it is also extremely hard warring and durable ideal to the vigour’s of external conditions. Due to slate having no colour additives or dyes the colours will never fade looking brand new forever. For this reason in our opinion slate is very good for an outside patio.
Slate is a very beautiful natural material with high permeability. Although permeability is a benefit to outside patios there are some things the landscaper should do when laying slate. Slate does not absorb water very well meaning it is less easy to bond to mortar.
When mixing mortar for laying slate the landscaper should add a rapid hardener and sealant adhesive such as PVA. The Sealant will increase the stickiness of the mix and the hardener will ensure less chance of bond breakage during curing.
Using a good slate supplier is also crucial when laying an outside slate patio. A good grade of slate paving will have a calibrated underside providing a strong key for the mortar. Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners use two exceptional suppliers of natural slate paving perfect for an aesthetic and robust installation.
Cost is a common concern when considering if slate is good for an outside patio.
Thankfully this concern is never really founded as we find in terms of value for money it is an excellent choice. I have often used the philosophy that for all slates benefits it merely looks expensive! Average paving usually costs around £30 per square metre depending on the quantities used. Slate averages at about £45 per square metre which is a fantastic deal for the benefits it provides. Seeing there is no extra labour cost or effort to lay slate over other paving the extra £15 a square metre is worth it!
As discussed slate paving is impervious meaning it will not be effected by moisture penetration or freeze and thaw.
Due to slates impervious nature stains and spillages are never an issue. People are usually surprised just how wine, coffee, algae and bird poop can seriously destroy a new patio.
Never gets dirty
Slate being black in colour has the added benefit of never looking dirty!
The clean lines of slate and bold colour means it can be very effective in many landscape designed gardens. We find slate patios look very effective with a contempory design accompanied with light rendered walls and even metal! At the same time slate can be used to accompany traditional garden styles such as cottages and courtyards. Good design and style flexibility is paramount on deciding if slate is good for and outside patio.
Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.