Friday, 9 March 2012

How to clean the Yorkstone in your garden,

Cleaning york stone paths, terraces, steps and patios is a chore but a necessary and easy one which can reward the effort.
There are, I think several important points to remember, particularly with reclaimed yorkstone paving, it is the patina on the surface that distinguishes it from freshly quarried stone and which commands a small cost premium, so aggressive,  abrasive cleaning should be avoided simply because it will remove that patina. Both reclaimed and newly quarried yorkstone are the same age, formed in the same geological periods, reclaimed looked like freshly quarried stone when it was freshly quarried.
York stone is a porous material, lots of very small particles glued together with minute pores, whilst in the ground the pores are full of liquid ( nature abhors a vacuum) that liquid will hold in suspension and solution minerals associated with the stone. After quarrying as the moisture evaporates those minerals are deposited on and just under the surface and start to oxidise, changing the appearance of the stone, this, and the polishing effect of wear is the process that causes the difference between newly quarried and reclaimed yorkstone, therefore if you remove the weathered surface the exposed substrate will not be as mineral rich as the surface removed and will almost certainly never look the same again.
This is why I recommend avoiding all aggressive, abrasive cleaning and particularly the use of chemicals, because the stone is porous it will absorb the chemicals and you will not be able to remove them. I include, soap, soda, bleach, detergent and acidic cleaners in this category as well as fungicides and selective herbicides.
Pressure washers in my view simply don't do a very good job they leave the paving unevenly cleaned making it look "streaky" and in my judgement are so abrasive it most probably will cause uneven erosion and even delamination.
So far I've been writing about what shouldn't be done to clean yorkstone paving.
So, what should be done to clean your yorkstone, nothing? that is often the best answer. But, not always, depending on where the stone is the likelihood of algae and other organisms that flourish in situations that vary between damp and dry and cold and warm,  in fact just about everywhere outdoors is pretty much inevitable, and they can be a little slippery. Elbow grease is still by far the most effective, safest and most environmentally beneficial cleaning agent known to man, especially when enthusiastically applied with a very stiff yard brush and water, occasionally a little soil or possibly even sand on areas which provide the kindest growing conditions for algae usually damp shaded corners and areas of paving that are subject to pooling.
So as spring approaches and everything warms up, out with the scrubbing brush!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Flat Yorkstone

This picture is of the flat yorkstone paving waiting to be loaded on to lorry for delivery to my yard


I took delivery of some very flat reclaimed yorkstone paving from the paths around a large Victorian Parish Church. Some of the flagstones are huge, the largest measured 1.77m x 61cm, I can't recall seeing a bigger slab. It is also the flattest reclaimed york stone  I have ever seen.
I believe that part of the apprenticeship, that masons undertook included making a one foot by one foot square, perfectly flat tablet, they would have a full week to produce this test piece of yorkstone paving. I think the yorkstone flag that measures 1.77m x 61cm is equal to 11'7" square. I reclaimed just over 113 square yards and I wonder how long it took to produce. 113 sq yds is about 1020 square foot, if it takes a week for an apprentice to produce one square foot of flat york stone , we're getting on for 20 years labour. But, I have to believe that a fully skilled time served mason would produce a flat foot square a lot faster than an apprentice. I am constantly amazed by the skill and ingenuity and plain hard work that went into the working of York stone before the mechanisation we now rely so heavily upon.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

the Meaning of Yorkstone

York Stone

I started Stone Heritage more than 22 years ago to supply the best quality new yorkstone paving and reclaimed York stone paving to landscapers, designers, architects, contractors,local authorities, gardeners and everyone who appreciates the timeless beauty of English York stone. Over the years I have been asked lots of questions, it seems to me that a blog talking about some of the more often asked and more interesting questions might be helpful for those of us who use yorkstone paving, or are considering using York stone or reclaimed yorkstone. Whether indoor or outdoors for a terrace, path, steps, patio, drive or outside rooms York stone has for centuries proved to be the most beautiful and the best. 
Recently I have noticed more people choosing reclaimed yorkstone for small secluded areas, used as retreats from the pressures of life, for contemplation, reflection, reading and most importantly relaxation. I think the qualities  of yorkstone, something that has been created over hundreds of millions of years, York stone's timelessness, yorkstone's solidity,  its durability, its permanence brings a special tranquillity an atmosphere unique to yorkstone.  When writing about Stone Heritage I often ponder about whether to write "yorkstone" or "York stone",  one or two words it makes little difference when laying  or choosing yorkstone but what would my English teacher think? In future blogs I will try to give a little of the history of york stone paving, how it was used and how it was worked. I also hope to be  relevant to those of you who wish to use yorkstone paving, passing on advice from the professional landscapers, designers and architects I supply as well sharing my own views and experience as a supplier and stock holder. Finally if any of you have any questions about York stone , please ask and I will do my best to provide answers. You can contact me by email' or telephone 01629 650647.