Sandstone or Limestone: A Guide to Riven Stone Pavers

Posted on: 8 January 2016

Riven stone paving slabs have been massively popular in recent years, and the trend doesn't seem to be waning. A surprisingly large number of garden landscapers and paving contractors now rarely lay anything else; they're versatile, they're attractive, they're hard-wearing and they come in a huge range of shades and sizes. They're not all the same kind of stone, though—so should you be looking for sandstone pavers or limestone ones?


Most of the riven paving you'll see is made of Indian sandstone. By and large, it's pretty good stuff; it's extremely widely available, prices are usually decent, and there's a lot of flexibility in style and specifications. You'll be able to find almost any hue you fancy, from jet black to brilliant white and all kinds of shades in between. Keep an eye out for the rainbow variety, which includes gorgeous bands of color that look lovely in the rain. You may see some suppliers offering stones containing "fossils"—and the marks you'll find on those flags do indeed look like fossilized ferns! In actual fact, they aren't fossils at all—they tend to be trace stains resulting from a chemical reaction that happens when stone that has been buried for millions of years is quarried—but that by itself is still an interesting talking point, and they do look lovely.

The main thing to bear in mind here is that you need to source your stone from a reputable stone paver company. There are any number of cheap knockoffs saturating the market in the hopes of making a quick buck from the popularity of these slabs. You may also want to give some thought to buying calibrated pavers, which means that every flag will be the same width as all the others in the pack.


In many ways, limestone paving is a great deal. It doesn't come in anything like as many different colors as sandstone, but it looks very similar indeed and it tends to be a lot cheaper. Like sandstone, you'll be able to find both calibrated and uncalibrated limestone flags in plenty of shapes and sizes—including convenient 'patio packs' that can be used to create a varied look.

Black limestone paving is especially popular, as it's inexpensive and has a lovely rich black tone. The only trouble with it is that unless you treat it properly, that shade won't last—after a few months out in the sun and rain, it'll fade dramatically to a pale steely gray. Thankfully, this can be dealt with; all you need is to have your pavers treated with a sealant, many of which are also impregnated with color so they can be used to restore a lovely deep black look to pavers that have already faded.

If you don't mind having fewer color options and you're prepared to spend the extra time necessary to have your limestone sealed, this could be an easy way to save a little money when you're having your garden paved and landscaped.