What is Bluestone?
In Australia there are mainly two types of bluestones, the most popular one is the Victorian Bluestone also known as Basalt. It is an igneous rock primarily made of feldspar and varies from grey to black in colour.
The European Bluestone
The European Bluestone is imported in Australia from Europe. It is consistent in colour, unlike the Harkaway bluestone that varies in colours and opacity. This variety of Bluestone pavers contains 20 to 30% catspaw. The European Bluestone is internationally recognized as a high quality of the stone. It is quite close to the Australian Bluestone in terms of colour and texture.
- Surface and Texture: It is quite close to the Australian Bluestone in terms of colour and texture. It might have occasionally occurring saw marks on its surface. Many people demand a visible cat’s paw on each paver because it is definitely something to show off, and it also gives it an elegant look! The European Bluestone has a slightly honed surface, which provides a high non-slip rating that acts as an added benefit. This is the best choice for anyone who wishes to avoid using the low-quality Chinese Bluestone.
- Features: The honed surface, this also makes it perfectly suitable for wet areas such as swimming pool pavers, coping tiles, garden area, patios, and outdoor pavers. It is also an excellent option for driveways, pathways, walkways, steppers, and other similar outdoor regions. It is highly recommended for areas with more risk of spillage. It does not require frequent sealing or repair because of its strength.
- Look and Feel: The European Bluestone generally makes a fantastic choice along with a deeper shade, such as charcoal grey. It can be used for domestic as well as commercial purposes. It is an extremely high-quality stone, unlike the Chinese Bluestone, and hence, it is always a good option for giving a classier look to your interiors or exteriors. This type of tiles usually gets stained easily, so make sure you clean any spills as soon as possible to avoid staining their luster and color.
- Availability: It is available in several types, such as rectangular tiles of various sizes and thicknesses, and a matching pool coping is also available.
How is European Bluestone Extracted?
Bluestones were initially formed around 345 million years ago when small sand grains and sea creatures like clams, got deposited in the Catskill Delta. With time, geological pressure and heat compressed these deposits into solid layers, eventually forming the Bluestone.
There have been a lot of adaptations and modernization in the extraction methods recently. The bluestone blocks are extracted with the help of a diamond wire saw. It is smoothened and given shape with the help of a hydraulic planer. They weigh about 5 tonnes to 15 tonnes on an average and are cuboid-shaped.
Usually, heavy quarry machinery with tires of a high loading strength is used to lift the massive bluestone blocks while enforcing the stripping related functioning. This helps avoid cracks on the Bluestone’s surface, which is very common during the explosion method of extraction.
The quarry is numbered and divided into different areas. The division of the quarry into several signed fields help gain better traceability of the Bluestone. The heavy quarry machinery traces at least three different areas for maximum exploitation. This also helps in the extraction of various types of bluestone blocks in varying beds of the earth.
The process of extracting Bluestone starts as soon as the extraction area is opened. The technique of extraction is sawing and excavation. The Bluestone blocks are extracted with the help of the excavation procedure, which demands using a “skidding tooth,” along with a suitable bucket being placed on a digger that works similarly.
Secondary Saws are used to remove the blocks’ crust to give a smooth texture and sheen finish with compromising on the quality.
Why Should You Choose European Bluestone Over Chinese Bluestone?
- The Chinese Bluestone Pavers are of inferior quality. It contains about 40 to 50% catspaws and can also have a little rust with holes in the surface. It has a very low non-slip rating.
- The Chinese Bluestone has a very low tensile strength and hence breaks easily. It does not last long at all. This variety of Bluestone is definitely not the right choice for driveways and other heavy loading places due to its low strength and durability.
- Also, sealing the surfaces is required more often in the Chinese Bluestone to safeguard it from chipping or breaking. It does not have a very smooth surface, which is quite a drawback. The quality of the Chinese Bluestone cannot be trusted at all due to its low density.
- It also oxidizes very quickly in the presence of moisture, making it a poor choice for outdoor projects like swimming pools because rust can be a non- repairable problem. The Chinese Bluestone is not at all salt resistant. It is softer with a highly porous surface all over.
At the end, all I can say, there is a good reason why Australians are inclining more towards European Bluestone Pavers as compare to other bluestone pavers for various good reasons. I personally love everything that European bluestone has to offer – Affordable price, Classy Natural Look, Great feel under foot and Longevity.
If you are looking to buy European Bluestone in Australia – You can buy from Slate Discounts, Stone Pavers Australia and Bluestone Pavers Warehouse. Based on my research, so far, these are the only paving suppliers who supply European Bluestone Pavers in Australia. Get in touch with them as they occasionally run discounts for landscapers and people who do bulk purchases.