Nothing adds character to Orange County, CA, homes like natural stone accents. The right choice of accents can significantly enhance the aesthetics of a home, bumping up its curb appeal and even adding to its market value.
However, installing natural stone accents offers a significantly larger challenge. This is partly due to the high cost of the material, requiring minimal cuts and the addition of extra support to reduce the amount of material used.
The strong choice of colors, unmatched durability and ease of maintenance makes natural stone an ideal material for walkways. The soft feel of limestone or the intricate speckled surface of natural granite adds a new dimension to the exterior of a home. That said, a stone walkway and patio requires significant work in making sure the underlying base is strong enough to support it over the years. This is especially relevant to using larger tiles which are susceptible to cracking should the underlying base start to sink at any one point. This makes choosing the correct thickness for the gravel layer and the installation of polymer geogrid an extremely important decision on the installer’s part. In addition to this, choosing and correctly installing the right adhesive material is vitally important if you want your walkway or patio to stand up to the stresses of everyday use.
When it comes to retaining walls, the first image that comes to mind is often a classic stacked flagstone retaining wall, weather worn and textured from years of use. The weather-beaten façade and the irregular shapes coupled with the strength and durability of natural stone makes it the go-to material for retaining walls. However, natural stone offers a variety of challenges when used in construction.
For starters, the unevenness of natural stone as a building material with its high variation in thickness and sizes of pieces means significantly more work in installing the wall. For a stacked wall, interlocking the individual pieces correctly for maximum stability can take up a lot of time. For wet walls, the correct use and consistency of the mortar are important elements in determining the strength of the wall and can mean the difference between a safe, dependable landscape and a hazard waiting to happen. The need for a strong base which achieves the fine line between adequate drainage and strong support makes natural retaining walls, especially tall ones, a project best left to experienced masons.
For more exuberant masonry projects such as fireplaces and fire pits, natural stone is an ideal material to work with. A stacked natural stone fire pit or fireplace requires experience in working and stacking the materials, as correct installation of the base and interlocking the stone pieces appropriately can be a matter of fire safety. Fireplaces, especially more extravagant ones, are a challenge in their own right, requiring adhesive such as mortar and a strong base especially if a large chimney has been integrated into the design.
That said, there is no material like natural stone that can make these focal points of your landscape more attractive. The softness of natural hues work remarkably well alongside landscaping, giving an outdoor space a natural feel hard found in manufactured materials, making natural stone well worth the added cost.