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Bluestone Steps Cost Per Square Foot

Bluestone, in the American context, refers to two distinct types of stone. The primary is the Pennsylvanian Bluestone, a type of sandstone that is quarried in New York and Pennsylvania. The second type is Shenandoah Bluestone, a type of limestone that comes from the Shenandoah Valley. Both types have a long history of use in the United States, dating from the times of the first colonials.

The Costs

  • Basic Quality: $416 - $453 per 50 square feet

  • Midrange Quality: $448 - $491 per 50 square feet

  • Best Quality: $485 - $523 per 50 square feet

Advantages of Bluestone

Apart from the historical significance of this rock, which has sheltered Americans from the earliest European settlers, bluestone is extremely durable. It withstands all weather, from the wet and freezing to the dry and hot. It has a range of colors, from purples and reds to gray, green and brown and is an entirely natural material with a classic beauty. It can be cut in various ways to provide a highly refined look, or a rustic and natural “broken stone” appearance. It is readily available to purchase in the United States, despite coming from a limited region. Thanks to its long history of use in the U.S., it holds a place of esteem among building materials.

Disadvantages of Bluestone

Bluestone is said to grow very hot, and is thus not ideal for applications where people will often be barefoot, such as around pools. It also requires a contractor with natural stone experience to lay it properly as it is a natural material and edges may not be exact. It may also require some cutting during installation, which means appropriate tools should be on hand. There is no universal standard for bluestone quality, so making sure a high quality stone is delivered for the price tends to be a little trickier. Low quality bluestone may flake excessively or even crack. Because bluestone is quarried in a very limited area of the north and east United States, buyers in the west may pay a high premium to get it.

Types of Bluestone: Form and Composition

Pennsylvania Bluestone is a type of sandstone that is only found in New York and Pennsylvania stone quarries. It is the most common of the two stones that bear the name and is typically differentiated from Shenandoah Bluestone through the name “Pennsylvanian Bluestone.” The rock was formed about 470 million years ago, and it comes in a myriad of colors.

Shenandoah Bluestone, however, is a limestone rock, and is currently quarried from only one location in the world — the Shenandoah Valley. It is uniformly a blueish-gray, though after time, exposed to the elements, it transforms to gray. It too is thought to be around 400 million years old, formed when the Shenandoah Valley was covered in seawater.

Bluestone comes in several varieties, and the supplier from which it is ordered may have its own "brands," or names to describe its various forms. However, the typical names generally indicate the following:

  • Thermaled Bluestone: uniform sizes and shape with a "flamed" top for smoothness

  • Natural Cleft Bluestone: Hand-cut for a more natural or rustic look, varying thickness, rough "natural" surface

  • Irregular Bluestone: pieces that have been broken during quarrying, forming irregular shapes. They are put together in a mosaic pattern

  • Tumbled Bluestone: these pieces have been tumbled for smoother, rounder edges. Uniform, but more rustic than thermaled  

Things to Know

Bluestone pavers are generally labeled 1” when actual measurements are approximately 3/4” to 1 1/4”. They are labeled 1 1/2” when actual measurements are approximately 1 1/4” to 1 3/4”.

Sometimes quarries will sell their lower quality stock to less reputable suppliers. Discount salesmen may be selling a lower quality product.

When putting bluestone down, it is important to work with a stable surface. If it has been raining, give the land a couple of days to dry out before continuing work. It is wise to buy a few extra pieces in addition to what the job estimate requires. A few leftover are better than coming up short and having to search for pieces that will match the original order.

Uniform pieces of bluestone are generally easier to work with than irregular, since irregular require a great deal more planning. A depth of at least 6 inches is recommended for excavation of the site. This ensures a sturdy base for the paver with less chance of shifting earth. Bluestone can be installed on any type of base material, such as sand, cement or gravel. Approximately one-third of the depth of the excavated area should be occupied by the base material.

Additional Costs

Bluestone, like other pavers, should be set on a base material of cement, mortar, gravel or sand. Depending on the material, the cost can be calculated by establishing the area of the excavation site times one-third of the depth of the site. Installation costs constitute the bulk of the expense, with estimates of approximately $560 to $590 per 50 square feet. Total costs per square foot come to around $20 to $21.

Final Verdict

Bluestone is an attractive and highly versatile material of wholly natural composition. It’s extreme durability makes it a great choice for heavy-traffic areas such as stone steps, and its surface provides the traction desirable in such applications. It readily conforms to a variety of styles thanks to the ways it can be cut and treated prior to installation.

Last updated on Jun 24, 2014

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