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2013 Top 50 Pool Builder- Irregular stone patio design & installation recommendations for around swimming pools. Cipriano Landscape Design- Northern, NJ

Have you ever wondered what type of patio stone goes well with natural swimming pool designs? More specifically, if you were planning a freeform pool and waterfall to create a natural look, what would be the best style and type of stone? Most homeowners we work with choose an irregular stone for their natural swimming pool designs because it tends to look more organic than geometric stone patterns. You might then be wondering what types of irregular stones are best for a swimming pool patio?

The first rule of thumb with any stone you plan to use around a pool is that you don’t want to pick a stone that is going to absorb too much heat and get really hot in the summer sun. Dense darker color stones tend to be too hot for walking barefoot around your swimming pool. For this reason, we would recommend staying away from bluestone for pool patios. Quartzite, sandstone and Grey Tennessee Crab Orchard tend to be better options for not absorbing heat.

The surface texture of the stone is very important as well. Natural clef means the stones are pealed off the mountain, reeds are cracks in the stone layer that are separated at the desired thickness. Natural clef stones usually have better color and character compared to a sawn stone but the surface is much more inconsistent. Out of the different irregular stone options, Idaho quartzite generally has the most surface irregularity. Tennessee crab orchard tends to be a little better but it does have a lot of cupping and bowing tendencies (hi and low spots). Norwegian Buff Quartzite is a stone that tends to have better surface consistency. However, due to all the surface irregularities we generally do not recommend irregular stone patios in areas where you are going to be setting up dining tables and chairs because there are too many inconsistencies in the stones surface, causing tables and chairs to constantly wobble when you use them.

When it comes to irregular stone patios, the installation process can be just as, if not more, important than the stone selection. A poor installation job from an inexperienced contractor can lead to a host of long-term issues. If the stone is not set properly there will be a lot of excessive surface inconsistencies or stones eventually loosen overtime because of poor installation techniques, which will require resetting. If the joints between the stones are too large, they will absorb water at a higher rate than the stone. When this happens continuously over time, the joints can explode during the freeze thaw cycles requiring a significant amount of follow up maintenance. Expansion joints are also key in irregular stone patios because they allow for the flexing of the structure and will alleviate a significant amount of shearing pressure caused by movement. If a contractor neglects to put in expansion joints, pressure can build up during frost cycles and the stones could delaminate causing major failure and significant repair expenses.

An irregular stone patio can be a wonderful addition to a natural pool.  It’s important that you work with professionals who have experience with the stones marketed in your region. Experienced designers or contractors can help you ascertain the characteristics of the proposed material and the pros and cons of any stone and ensure all your expectations are properly met.