When choosing materials for hardscaping projects like patios, walkways, and outdoor living spaces, we’ve got two popular options that often come to mind – slate and bluestone!
Both of these natural stone materials have unique characteristics and can add beauty and value to your home. But they are also similar in several aspects, making it hard for the untrained eye to distinguish them!
But not any longer! In this blog post, we’ll explore the properties of slate and bluestone and where to use them to help you choose the most appropriate material for your next home improvement project.
What is Slate?
Slate is a type of metamorphic rock made up of clay and quartz, accounting for up to 95% of the rock’s composition. This material has a fine-grained texture often described as “slippery” to the touch.
The material is often preferred for roofing tiles, flooring, and other building applications.
One of the slate’s unique properties is that it can easily split up into thinner and lighter sheets, one of the reasons it’s highly preferred for roofing and other projects requiring a material with such a characteristic.
And yes, to make the material even a more favorite suit for outdoor applications, slate is durable and weather resistant, which means it can withstand exposure to heat and extreme temperatures.
The material comes in gray, but it’s also available in other shades, including green, black, and red, depending on where it comes from. So, when shopping for this material, check the one that best suits your needs.
What is Bluestone?
Bluestone, as the name suggests, is a blue or gray-blue natural stone often used in construction and landscaping. However, it doesn’t have to always be blue – it can come in other color varieties such as lilac, light blue, green, brown, and other nice choices.
Bluesto is formed as a result of a region-wide river system. And like other sedimentary rocks, you can rely on the characteristics of the stone to reveal something about bluestone formation.
For instance, judging from the color, you can tell whether the stone was exposed to oxygen during or after formation.
Colors like orange, red, and brown result from an oxygen-rich environment. In contrast, green, turquoise, and blue shades indicate that the stone was exposed to oxygen-poor conditions during or after formation.
Bluestone, geologically called greywacke, consists of various ingredients, including mica, quartz, clays, feldspar, rock fragments, and more.
On construction projects, bluestone remains a popular choice for various outdoor applications, such as patios, walkways, retaining walls, and pool decks, and that has more to do with its durability, slip resistance, and natural beauty.
But outside the outside environment, bluestone is also useful. For instance, it serves perfectly well for interior flooring and wall cladding.
Are Slate and Bluestone the Same?
Slate and bluestone are both excellent materials for construction projects. They’re all built on sedimentary deposits and share lots of features that most people think the two names are used to refer to the same thing.
But is that so?
Well, not at all.
That’s right! As much as they can serve as substitutes for each other in several construction applications, bluestone and slate are two different materials with several distinct features between them.
That’s why when choosing the material for your project, it’s helpful to know the features of each of these materials and their differences. That way, you’ll know when to go for one material and not the other in your construction projects.
Differences Between Slate and Bluestone
If you’re among most homeowners who struggle to distinguish between slate and bluestone, you’re just about to pull out of that category. Let’s examine some of the key differences between the two construction materials.
The first and one of the main differences between slate and bluestone is texture. Usually, slate comes with a smooth surface, and that’s one of the properties that make it ideal for roofing materials.
This material’s smooth texture means that it won’t trap water on the roof. That’s a nice property for roofing materials since it means less likelihood of leaks and won’t attract moss, mold, and other elements that thrive better in humid areas.
Bluestone, on the other hand, usually comes with a rough texture. Of course, that’s not the best property for a roofing material as it would attract all the problems mentioned above.
But if you’re looking for a material that can work well for pathways and flooring, then bluestone is it. That’s because the rough texture provides some extra level of grip, minimizing the chances of slips while walking on the surface when moist.
But then, bluestone doesn’t always come textured. Sometimes it can come with a smooth surface. But again, that’s not just popular, and you may have to walk into several stores before you can get a smoother texture.
The other difference between the two construction materials is color. Bluestone typically has a color that’s blue-greyish in color, with some leaning more towards the dark blue hue and others towards the ashy grey end spectrum.
But then, contrary to popular belief, bluestone doesn’t always have to be bluish or grayish. You can find the material coming in green, brown, lilac, red, and other colors, but these tones are difficult to find, probably the reason some people don’t even think they exist.
On the other side, slate is available in a wider range of colors. Whether you want blue, gray, yellow, red, purple-gray, black, orange, tan, or just about any other color, you can easily find it in the stores.
So, what really brings the difference in these colors? Well, the only difference here is the color availability – that is, one is more readily available in a wide range of colors than the other which is more popular in a few select colors.
Obviously, when buying construction materials, one thing you want to factor in is durability. You want something that will stand the test of time.
So, what’s more durable between the two – Slate or bluestone?
Well, the two materials are both durable. However, bluestone is less likely to crack and chip than it’s counterpart, which is more likely to yield to heavy forces when compressed.
That means for a structural stone material, bluestone would be a more excellent choice than it’s counterpart.
In addition, bluestone is also heavier than slate, which is another good characteristic for a structural stone material to have.
But then, the lighter nature of slate and it’s ability to be cut into thinner sheets means it can do better when used for roofing as it doesn’t exert much downward force on the supporting structure!
The other aspect that sets the two materials apart is the cost. Slate is more budget-friendly than bluestone. That means if you’re on a small budget, you’ll want to work with slate if at all it can suffice for the purpose you intend to use it.
But then, being more available doesn’t mean it’s a “cheaper” material than its counterpart. The high cost of bluestone has more to do with its rarity to find and the more costly mining process than its superiority over slate.
Of course, bluestone beats slate in several aspects like durability and texture, but there are several areas where the latter emerges as the winner over its counterpart, like the ability to be sliced into thinner materials for roofing.
But generally, the expensive nature of bluestone means you’re more likely to be used for projects with bigger projects. But then, the price greatly varies depending on where you are buying it, so ensure to confirm with your local supplier before you write the material off.
Slate is generally a porous material that requires sealing to prevent it from absorbing moisture through the pores. You’ll need to apply two or even more layers of the sealer, depending on the type you buy for you, to make the material water-resistant.
Of course, when applying multiple layers, you’ll need to allow for some time in between the applications for the best outcome, with the amount of time depending on what the manufacturer says.
As for bluestone, it’s water resistant in itself, which means it can repel water even without adding any sealer.
But then, that doesn’t mean your bluestone material won’t require sealing. It does, only that the sealer, in this case, has more to do with protecting the material from discoloration and other damage than making it waterproof.
To help you understand better the key differences between the two materials, we’ve summarized everything we’ve talked about here in the table below. The table compares the materials based on different parameters.
|Color Availability||More color varieties||More often available in bluish/grayish colors|
|Durability||Relatively less durable||Very durable|
|Water-resistance||Not resistant||Naturally resistant|
While slate and bluestone share lots of characteristics, there’s a big difference between the two materials. Durability, weight, cost, color, texture, and water-resistance properties are just some of the areas where these materials differ.
Hence, when choosing between the two, consider the properties of each to know which is more suitable for your project. Each of the two materials can be perfect if used for the right purpose.