Let’s take a look at Ireland’s popular trend toward outdoor makeovers using natural paving slabs, including 5 inspiring makeovers recently completed in Dublin.
Well-suited to Ireland’s ever-changing weather conditions, natural paving slabs have become the most popular option in paving and patio construction in recent years, and for good reason. Natural stone – such as limestone, granite, and sandstone – is by design super durable, long-lasting, and resilient to even the most extreme weather conditions.
Natural stone is either sedimentary (formed by compression under massive amounts of force over millennia) or igneous (formed of and by molten lava during volcanic activity). By the time it reaches your garden in the form of paving slabs, it is already hundreds, if not thousands of years old.
Here at Tile Merchant, we supply natural paving slabs in a wide range of colours, textures, and finishes, with sizes from 60x30cm to 90x60cm. Natural stone paving slabs have become the most commonly used material for patio slabs in Ireland and can be used to create inspiring outdoor patios, pathways, or in countless other landscaping scenarios (such as in the sculpting of gardens).
There are two main types of natural stone paving slabs – sedimentary (limestone and sandstone) and igneous (granite) – and whilst both are incredibly strong materials, each has its own set of unique properties. Note that, whilst extremely durable, natural stone does still require sealing with specialist products after installation, and annual maintenance, to ensure you get the most out of your natural stone.
SANDSTONE NATURAL PAVING SLABS
Sandstone – which we ethically source from India – has a low-water absorption point, making it ideal for use in particularly wet and rainy areas. Inarguably attractive, our Indian natural stone paving slabs come in four distinct colours and a range of finishes: Camel Dust, Mint, Kandla Grey, and Raj Green.
Camel Dust has a real warmth to it, perfect for elevating the summery feeling of a new patio; it’s what you’re likely thinking of, when you think of sandstone. Mint, meanwhile, is a gentler, lighter version of Camel Dust, with a cooler, more Mediterranean vibe.
Kandla Grey has a strong, cooler feel to it, and in some finishes more closely resemble the polished look of marble, than sandstone.
Lastly, Raj Green, named for its affluent Indian resemblance, has a very slight green tinge to it, tying it more closely to the lush verdancy of Irish fields and gardens. Check out our range of sandstone paving slabs here.
LIMESTONE NATURAL PAVING SLABS
Limestone, with similar water-resistance properties to sandstone, is absolutely perfect for the Irish market, as it is non-porous – thus keeping it dry and resistant to slip throughout the year (even when wet). Like our sandstone natural paving slabs, our limestone is ethically sourced from India, and its various options are equally good-looking and versatile: available in Kilkenny Blue, Black, Kota Green, Kota Grey, and Kota Yellow.
Kilkenny Blue resembles the rich natural hue of slate, in many ways, and can offset the greenery of your garden spectacularly well. Black and Kota Grey natural paving slabs, similarly strong in colour, are a serious statement choice, and will set your patio, paving, or garden boundaries apart from your neighbours’. Remember, black is also a natural retainer of heat, so these darker colours (blue, black, and grey) are great for patios on which you’ll spend late evenings and nights.
Lastly, Kota Green and Yellow natural paving slabs bring a surprisingly light finish to limestone. The green is bright and akin to a light grey, resplendent under a kind sun, whilst the yellow is even warmer, and closely resembles the natural warmth of sandstone, whilst retaining all the natural advantages of limestone.
Check out our range of limestone paving slabs here.
GRANITE NATURAL PAVING SLABS
And finally we have our granite natural stone paving slabs. Granite is one of the toughest, most durable natural materials, second only to diamond in strength (and a mite less expensive!). Formed of igneous (volcanic) rock, it is certainly the most naturally long-lasting of all the available natural paving slabs.
Our silver granite comes either bush-hammered or polished, making it anti-slip and even more durable. The classy, livening silver colour, when polished, offers a decadent and flashy option, whereas bush-hammered is a more understated, yet bright and attractive finish.
Making over your garden, or creating an inspiring outdoor patio with natural stone paving slabs is something you can quite easily do yourself, and with our Dublin warehouse stocked full of all our natural stone paving slabs, you can start installation just 2-3 days after ordering.
Before you do, though, you’ll need to decide on some basic things, and know how to work with your new material. First off, you’ll have to decide where to install your natural stone paving. These slabs cannot be placed directly onto soil or grass, instead they’ll have to be placed into a full bed of mortar, and to do that, first you’ll have to dig out your (precisely measured) installation site.
For the job, you’ll need protective clothing, a rubber mallet, a spirit level to ensure the evenness of your new patio or paving, measuring tape, a trowel and pointing tool, a spade, rake, plate vibrator, sponge, sand, cement, water, spray paint and sub base material, as well – of course – as your choice of natural paving slabs. Once installation is complete, you’ll also want to seal your natural stone slabs to prolong their (already considerable) lifespan.
For a full installation rundown, see our natural stone paving slab installation guide, here.
Kandla Grey Sandstone Paving Slab
Here we have two examples of our stunning Kandla Grey Sandstone, used as entrance paving (left) for a front door, built to conform to the porch as well as to an existing tree.
We also see Kandla Grey being built adjacent to wooden decking (right) as an attractive patio area in the back garden, built to complement the colour of the decking and shed, and raised to a higher second level to facilitate entrance to the shed
Kota Grey Sandstone Paving Slab
By utilising a wide variety of sizes, and the slightly varying hues of our Kota Grey Limestone, this recent Dublin installation has maximised the potential of the back garden, transforming the space into a darkly beautiful patio.
The grey of the limestone perfectly complements the rich wood of the in-built seating, and would be perfect as an outdoor BBQ area. You can even see that the paving from the garden shed has been completed with the same limestone, unifying the garden’s aesthetic.
Mint Sandstone Paving Slab
If you didn’t know better, we’d swear you’d think this back garden belonged in the Mediterranean – what with its crisp white walls and decorative plants topping the sun-kissed warmth of our Mint Sandstone natural paving slabs.
This Indian sandstone slab has, as you can see in the first picture, a pleasing natural variation to its textures and colours, giving a good deal of character to this recent Dublin outdoor makeover – cleverly designed to complement the uniform brown and blue-black of the wooden patio and shed.
In the second picture, mint sandstone paving slabs are paired with artificial grass.
Kota Green Limestone Paving Slab
Accompanying the neat, bright turf and darker pebble path of this back garden is our Indian Kota Green Limestone which – thanks to its delicately grey-green hue – shines radiantly in the sun, and lifts the darker tones of the grass, shed, and walls around it.
Here, the limestone slabs have been measured and installed in order to create a versatile patio area by the garden shed, perfect for BBQs, friend and family gatherings, or a spot of gardening work (see the flower bed in the corner).
Camel Dust Sandstone Paving Slab
And finally, let’s bask in the glorious warmth of our Camel Dust Sandstone’s reds, golds, greys, and oranges. Here, this Dublin garden has been made over to create a patio area that will stay dry and slip-resistant year round; constructed alongside a drainage system, and laid along the severe angle of the garden’s back wall.
The choice to use this sandstone was an inspired one, when we view the similar hue of the garden wall, and the nicely contrasting darkness of the benches and table. What a perfect way to ensure you’ve got an attractive, year-round space for BBQs and outdoor dining (or just a quiet drink in the sun, whilst the kids are at school!)
Blog by Calum
Cal Bannerman is a freelance writer, editor, podcaster and voice actor from the Scottish Borders. They run the storytelling podcast “Stories from the Hearth”, and live in a wee Glasgow flat with their partner and cat.