What Is Bluestone?

Bluestone is a popular building and landscaping material composed of limestone. It gets its name from its bluish-gray color. Bluestone has been used for centuries in construction due to its durability, aesthetic appeal, and availability.

What Is Bluestone Made Of?

Bluestone consists mainly of limestone, a sedimentary rock formed by consolidated calcium carbonate. Limestone originates from the mineral calcite which comes from marine organisms such as coral, clams, and algae. Over millions of years, the calcite accumulates as limey mud on the seafloor. Pressure and heat from the earth’s crust cause the mud to lithify into solid limestone.

The limestone that becomes bluestone forms in shallow, warm sea waters. Trace amounts of minerals are incorporated into the rock during the lithification process. These mineral impurities influence the eventual color and veining patterns of the stone.

Common mineral “contaminants” in bluestone include:

  • Iron – Adds bluish, grayish, and greenish hues
  • Clay – Creates earthy tones
  • Sand – Results in a sandy or silty texture
  • Organic material – Darkens the color

The interplay between these various minerals leads to the blue-gray color that gives bluestone its name.

Where Does Bluestone Come From?

Bluestone quarries exist in many parts of the world, but some of the most significant deposits are located in:

  • Eastern United States – The Hudson River Valley of New York and parts of Pennsylvania contain abundant bluestone reserves.
  • Northern Wales – Has historically been a major source of bluestone. The famous bluestones at Stonehenge were quarried in Wales.
  • Victoria, Australia – Limestone quarries northwest of Melbourne produce quality bluestones.
  • Ontario, Canada – Deposits found along the Niagara Escarpment supply bluestone across Canada.
  • Northern England – The Pennines region contains important bluestone quarries.

Bluestone from these quarrying hotspots is exported globally for use in architecture, landscaping, and other applications. However, bluestone can form anywhere limestone accumulates in shallow ocean environments. So localized bluestone deposits occur worldwide.

Properties and Characteristics

Bluestone possesses certain key traits that make it desirable for a range of uses:

  • Durability – Bluestone is very hard and resistant to weathering and breakage. It can last for decades outdoors.
  • Aesthetic appeal – The blue-gray tones and veining patterns add attractive visual interest. Bluestone has an organic, natural look.
  • Workability – Despite its hardness, bluestone can be readily cut, chiseled, and shaped as needed for specific uses. It is easier to work than granite but harder than marble.
  • Resistant to salts – Bluestone holds up well to salt exposure, making it ideal for pool copings, coastal landscaping, and other applications prone to salt water.
  • Slip resistant – The naturally textured surface provides traction when wet. This makes bluestone a good choice for pool decks, patios, and walkways.
  • Insulating – Bluestone has fair insulating properties, higher than most building materials. This can contribute to energy savings indoors.

These characteristics make bluestone suitable for a wide array of architectural, landscaping, and construction applications.

Typical Uses of Bluestone

Thanks to its unique properties, bluestone has been incorporated into many aspects of building and landscape design:


  • Walls – Bluestone is commonly used to construct exterior and interior walls. It offers natural elegance combined with structural integrity.
  • Floors – Bluestone flooring and tiles lend rustic beauty to kitchens, hallways, patios, and more. Textured surfaces prevent slips.
  • Kitchens – Countertops and backsplashes fabricated from bluestone provide an attractive, easy-to-clean surface that withstands heavy usage.
  • Fireplaces – The heat resistance and textural beauty of bluestone make it ideal for fireplace facings and hearths.


  • Patios – Bluestone patios bring elegant durability to outdoor living spaces. The stone withstands weather and foot traffic.
  • Walkways – Rugged bluestone paths connect outdoor areas with natural style. The slip-resistant texture prevents falls.
  • Steps – Bluestone steps and staircases make a striking, durable addition to yards and gardens.
  • Walls – Free-standing bluestone walls and veneers lend a refined look to gardens and yards.


  • Copings – Bluestone caps and edges help finish pools with beauty and stability. The stone stands up to water, sun, and salts.
  • Decks – Rugged bluestone decks offer relaxed poolside ambiance along with traction and durability.
  • Waterlines – Bluestone adds soft visual interest when used to line pool waterlines.
  • Pavers – Interlocking bluestone pavers surround pools with natural stone beauty and slip resistance.

Other Uses

  • Countertops – Bluestone offers an attractive and durable alternative to marble or granite countertops.
  • Monuments – Bluestone monuments and sculptures hold detailed carvings well and stand the test of time.
  • Furniture – Tables, benches, and decor made from bluestone bring elegance indoors or out.

From the floor you walk on to the facade you see, bluestone finds many applications thanks to its versatility.

Bluestone vs. Other Building Stones

Bluestone belongs to a category of dense, durable building stones that also includes:

  • Granite
  • Marble
  • Limestone
  • Sandstone
  • Slate

Though often grouped together, these stones have distinct differences.

Bluestone vs. Granite

  • Granite is harder and more resistant to scratching than bluestone. It takes polish well.
  • Bluestone is softer than granite but more slip-resistant. It has more pronounced veining patterns.
  • Bluestone is better suited for walkways while polished granite works well for countertops.

Bluestone vs. Marble

  • Marble is softer, lighter in color, and carved for elegance. Bluestone has a tougher, more rugged appearance.
  • Acidic substances like wine and tomatoes can stain marble. Bluestone is more stain resistant.
  • Bluestone stands up better outdoors and in wet areas like showers. Marble is preferred for indoor statues and vanities.

Bluestone vs. Limestone

  • Most limestone lacks bluestone’s familiar blue-gray hue. Bluestone is considered more visually appealing by many.
  • Bluestone is harder and denser than common limestone. It offers enhanced durability.
  • Limestone is easier to cut but more prone to erosion. Bluestone has good workability plus weather resistance.

Bluestone vs. Sandstone

  • Sandstone has a more porous, sandy texture while bluestone is denser and smoother.
  • Bluestone is harder and better for countertops and flooring. Sandstone works well for ornamental carvings.
  • Bluestone has low permeability while sandstone is more water absorbent.

Bluestone vs. Slate

  • Bluestone and slate can look similar but bluestone contains more calcite while slate forms from clay.
  • Slate has a slighty wavy, foliated appearance compared to bluestone’s granular texture.
  • Slate needs less sealing than bluestone. But bluestone offers superior salt resistance.

So while bluestone shares similarities with other stones, it possesses its own advantages that make it a top choice for builders.

How Much Does Bluestone Cost?

The cost of bluestone depends on several factors:

  • Type – There are different grades and classifications of bluestone that range in price. Architectural select grades cost more than rubble or dimensional bluestone.
  • Size – Larger bluestone slabs suitable for patios or walls cost more per square foot than smaller bricks or tiles. Thicker pieces also command higher prices.
  • Finishing – Bluestone that has been pre-finished with a smooth polish, thermal finish, or chiseled edge costs extra compared to raw stone.
  • Transportation – Origin from a local or regional quarry means lower transport fees and thus a lower overall price. Stone shipped longer distances increases cost.

On average, expect to pay:

  • Bluestone tiles: $5-$20 per square foot
  • Dimensional bluestone for walls: $25-$40 per square foot
  • Bluestone slabs: $40-$100 per square foot

Many factors impact the final installed price, so get an accurate quote from stone suppliers before purchasing.

How to Care for Bluestone

Bluestone’s durability reduces—but does not eliminate—the need for periodic maintenance. Following proper care procedures will keep bluestone looking its best:

  • Sealing – Seal bluestone every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealer. This prevents stains and erosion.
  • Cleaning – Use a pH-neutral soap and water for routine cleaning. For stains, use a poultice designed for natural stone.
  • Resealing – Reapply sealer whenever the stone appears to become more absorbent or susceptible to staining.
  • Winter protection – In cold climates, clean then cover bluestone patio furniture before winter to prevent cracking.
  • Drainage – Ensure structures with bluestone walls or floors have proper drainage to prevent water buildup.
  • Moss removal – Use a mix of vinegar and soap to gently remove any moss or algae growth on outdoor bluestone.
  • Crack repair – Consult a stone professional about repairing any minor cracks that appear in bluestone.

With proper installation and care, bluestone can remain an attractive, integral part of a structure or landscape for generations.

What to Look for in Bluestone

When sourcing and selecting bluestone, keep the following quality markers in mind:


  • Consistent blue-gray coloring without discolorations


  • Smooth granular finish without large pits or sediments


  • Visible veining that adds character without looking busy


  • Precise edges cut to specified dimensions


  • Matte, honed, thermal, and polish finishes should have uniform smoothness


  • Density that prevents excess water absorption

Size match

  • Similar sizing for pieces intended to fit together

Structural soundness

  • No obvious cracks, chips, dents, or flaws

Carefully inspect stone prior to purchasing and verify specifications with the quarry or stone yard. This ensures long-lasting performance and beauty.

Sources for Purchasing Bluestone

Many sources carry natural bluestone suitable for residential and commercial projects:

  • Local stone yards – Stone supply shops offer area bluestone along with queried stone. Support local business while reducing shipping costs.
  • Direct from quarries – Buying direct from the quarry, whether locally or via shipping, means less retailer markup.
  • Stone importers – Import companies ship a diverse selection of bluestone from top quarries worldwide.
  • Tile shops – Tile stores often stock popular bluestone varieties ready for residential tile jobs.
  • Landscape yards – Landscaping-specific retail yards sell dimensional bluestone for hardscapes along with other supplies.
  • Online – Many online vendors sell bluestone tiles, slabs, and dimensional stone for delivery across the country.

Be sure to thoroughly compare sources on selection, quality, and pricing. Examine product samples firsthand before purchasing.

Is Bluestone Sustainable?

Like all quarried stone, bluestone carries environmental considerations around mining practices and transportation impacts. However, bluestone offers some sustainability benefits:

  • Abundant resource – Bluestone forms readily where conditions allow, replenishing quarried reserves over time. Extraction levels are generally sustainable.
  • Durable – Bluestone’s extreme durability means it does not need frequent replacement like some building materials. One bluestone installation can last centuries.
  • Reusable – Bluestone’s strength makes it highly reusable. Old bluestone can be repurposed for new projects. No material waste.
  • Energy saver – Bluestone has better insulating value than many common building materials, reducing energy consumption during building operations.
  • Life cycle – Bluestone can be safely returned to the earth at end of life without special disposal considerations.

When sourced locally and installed properly, bluestone offers long-lasting elegance for a relatively small environmental burden. Specify bluestone from quarries with responsible, sustainable practices.

Key Takeaways

  • Bluestone is a type of durable limestone distinguished by its bluish-gray color. Traces of minerals like iron and clay contribute to the unique color.
  • Major bluestone quarries exist in areas like New York, Pennsylvania, Australia, and the UK. But bluestone can be found in most regions with limestone.
  • Builders value bluestone for qualities like strength, visual appeal, slip resistance, and salt tolerance. It sees wide use both indoors and out.
  • Bluestone costs $5-$100 per square foot depending on grade, finish, size, and transportation. Larger premium pieces run on the higher end.
  • Though naturally durable, bluestone needs periodic sealing and cleaning to look its best long-term. Take steps to prevent winter damage in freezing climates.
  • Bluestone offers a sustainable building material choice thanks to its longevity, durability, reusability, and natural life cycle. Responsible quarrying optimizes eco-benefits.

The combination of distinctive beauty, physical integrity, and eco-friendly factors make bluestone a go-to choice for discerning builders across history and geography. Its natural styling and durability complement both classic and modern designs. Properly installed and maintained, bluestone endures for generations while enhancing any home or building.

FAQs About Bluestone

Bluestone is a unique type of natural stone with centuries of architectural use. But you may still have some key questions about options and applications for bluestone. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What are the different finishes for bluestone?

Bluestone comes in a variety of surface finishes:

  • Natural cleft – Rustic, unevenly split surface
  • Honed – Smooth matte texture
  • Thermal – Ceramic-like consistent finish
  • Chiseled – Hand-worked beveled edges
  • Sandblasted – Etched appearance
  • Bushhammered – Coarse hammered texture
  • Polished – Glossy reflective surface
  • Tumbled – Rounded edges for old-world look

Each finish impacts the aesthetics, texture, and performance. Consider where and how the stone will be used.

Does bluestone need to be sealed?

Sealing is strongly recommended for bluestone, especially when used outdoors. The sealer penetrates the porous stone, preventing stains and erosion. Seal when newly installed, then reapply a bluestone sealer every 1-2 years.

What is bluestone used for outdoors?

Outdoor uses for bluestone include:

  • Patios, walkways, and pool decks
  • Wall cladding and veneers
  • Outdoor kitchens and fireplaces
  • Pool copings and waterlines
  • Landscape walls, pillars, and pavers
  • Benches, planters, and fountains
  • Steps, pathways, and driveway borders

Can you use bluestone indoors?

Yes, bluestone works beautifully indoors. Common interior uses include:

  • Kitchen and bathroom floors and walls
  • Countertops and backsplashes
  • Fireplace surrounds
  • Floor tiles and entranceways
  • Showers, tub skirts, and bathroom vanities
  • Dining tables, kitchen islands, and furniture

How thick is bluestone?

Bluestone comes in a range of thicknesses for different applications:

  • Landscape stone, average 1″-2” thick
  • Tile or veneer, around 1⁄2” to 3⁄4” thick
  • Dimensional stone for walls or floors, 1”-2” is common
  • Heavy bluestone slabs and counters, up to 3” thick
  • Hearth stones and heavy-duty pieces, 4” or more

How do you cut bluestone?

There are several effective ways to cut or otherwise shape bluestone:

  • Masonry saw with a diamond blade
  • Angle grinder with a stone-cutting disc
  • Chisels and hand tools
  • Water jet cutter for complex or intricate designs
  • Torch to singe chiseled edges

Is bluestone good for countertops?

Yes, bluestone stands up well to heavy usage on countertops. It resists stains, won’t etch from acid, and tolerates heat. The textured surface hides minor scratches. Bluestone needs occasional sealing to prevent deep stains when used on countertops.

Is bluestone slippery?

Bluestone has more natural texture than polished stones like marble and granite. This gives bluestone good traction and slip resistance, especially important for pool decks, patios, and flooring. However, bluestone