Building With Pavers, Stone, And Brick

One more element to consider when using brick or segmental paving is these products are installed for the long haul. If there is a chance a park will be redesigned in 5 or 10 years, or some of the hardscapes will be re-configured, consider materials that are easier to move or remove.

Stone Veneer

Stone veneer is a popular way to add the look of full-sized natural stone to park spaces. It normally costs less than other materials, and is easier to install.

When added to either internal or external walls, the veneer gives the impression of a solid stone wall. Veneers are often employed where a full stone wall is cost-prohibitive or impractical.

In some areas, the style and color of stone that architects need simply aren’t available. Veneers come in more than 100 colors and textures.

Not only are they versatile, but they also have the advantage of being low-maintenance, and can tolerate a wide variety of climate conditions.

What exactly is a stone veneer? One example familiar to many is Cultured Stone. Basically, it’s an exact replica of natural stones cast in flexible molds and hand-colored with mineral-oxide pigments. Made with Portland cement and lightweight aggregates, the veneers are approximately one-third the weight of full-thickness stone, and can adhere to most wall surfaces.

Cultured Stone products also have a minimum 54-percent recycled content.

These hardscape materials require little maintenance. Photo Courtesy Boral

To help break up a monolithic look and minimize the mass of a structure, use a variety of stone facades, textures, and colors.

“Certain materials really create elements of delight. While color blocking with paint is very effective in achieving this, stone cladding placed on important pedestrian-level building planes creates a warm and inviting atmosphere while visually de-massing the environment. Repetition, height, and consistent materials can make spaces seem dehumanizing, but clever use of materials will make it much more friendly and inviting,” says Miriam Tate, president of Miriam Tate Company.

Are there drawbacks? Stone veneer should not be submerged in deep water, or be exposed to heavy sprinkler saturation.

Be Creative

Stone veneer and brick can be used almost anywhere, even as architectural features. Here are some other ideas:

• Use as an accent or a full wrap for exterior facades. Depending on the intent, the effect can help a structure blend into a natural environment, or set it apart.

• Add texture to columns. Stone-veneer columns most often are featured at entrances and can vary in design from traditional Tuscan to sleek and modern.

• To achieve a Tuscan vernacular, completely clad elements–as if the materials were “pulled off the land”–and use the same materials on out-buildings (such as a bathroom, utility building, or snack bar).

• Construct a low wall to surround a flower bed, or build a retaining wall to contain plants.

• Clad a barbecue or cabana.

• Line walkways and/or park borders. A mortared stone veneer or brick wall is strong and stable, and adds the feel that it’s been there for years.

“No matter where it’s used, pavers, stone, and brick make a lot of sense,” says Kurt Buxton, senior principal for ValleyCrest Design Group.

“Its raw beauty can be used throughout the park space. Because they’re such strong design elements, even using a little will make a large statement. The smallest spaces often can be the best, and because they’re small, as a park designer, I can invest more money in the highest-quality design and materials. High-quality hardcape design is definitely appreciated by my clients because that small attention to detail is often overlooked.”

Christine Rombouts is a freelance writer specializing in the building industry. She can be reached at

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