Black Limestone paving is a popular choice for outdoor spaces. It's a unique stone with characteristics that aren't really found elsewhere in other natural stones.

Black Limestone 90x60 Paving By Jacek Mazur-min

However, in recent times there have been a rise in reported issues with the stone. Whether that is maintenance or installation related, there has certainly been a trend towards alternatives that can provide a similar effect without any of the reported issues.

We've written another article on these issues, so if you are not familiar with them, you may want to read up and come to your own decision on whether it is the product for you. Curse of Black Limestone - Myth of Fact?

But if you have decided you would sooner opt for an alternative, here are 4 alternatives to black limestone that may suit!

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Black Limestone is chosen for it's dark, consistent colour, it's smooth surface and it's budget friendly price tag. So how well do the alternatives stack up? Is there an option that is lower maintenance, whilst retaining as many of the features that made Black Limestone so popular?

Brazilian Slate Paving Slabs - A Popular Alternative

Brazilian Slate By Lily Tree Paving 3
Brazilian Slate Paving by Lily Tree Paving

There is one option that is consistently suggested when people are opting for an alternative to Black Limestone - and that is Brazilian Slate. The reason Brazilian Slate is regularly recommended, is because the colour palette of the slate is a very close match to the colours of Black Limestone. 

On top of this, slate is much better at dealing with the elements and less likely to fade over time when compared to limestone. Indian Limestone can quickly turn a charcoal grey colour when it is exposed to UV light and harsh rain after installation, rather than the initial black colour it was when purchased. But Brazilian Slate is a tougher stone and better equipped to retain it's initial colour.

An important thing to remember is the colours of Brazilian slate aren't an exact match. As you can see above, the slate has varying shades of black and grey, where black limestone is a much more uniform black colour. 

Additionally, marks and scratches are more easily visible on Slate than they are in Limestone. As slate is formed in layers (a metamorphic rock), scratches and marks simply mark the top layer, which is incredibly visible until washed.

Pros of using Brazilian Slate 

  • Lower maintenance - less likely to fade or stain.
  • Strong, dark colour palette.
  • Similar colours to black limestone.
  • What you see is what you get. The colour should hold for much longer than Limestone.

Cons of using Brazilian Slate 

  • More expensive than Limestone. Often around 50% extra.
  • Not as 'black' as limestone. More grey tones present throughout.
  • Scratch marks are more obvious on a slate surface.

A Viable Alternative to Black Limestone?

Absolutely. The colour may not be an exact match, but it's incredibly close. The slate might scratch easily, but this is easily fixed. Overall, this is a fantastic option. It's a lower maintenance product, it looks great and is still the dark colour you would want if you liked the look of Black Limestone. 

The price is slightly inflated, but it is still a great option.

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Sagar Black Sandstone Paving Slabs

Sagar Black by Avery LandscapesSagar Black Sandstone by Nick Avery

Sandstone is a very similar material to Limestone, and therefore makes on obvious choice for an alternative to limestone. It's a much lower maintenance choice than Black Limestone, which is a great start. But how does it fair aesthetically when compared?

For a start, you can see in the picture above that the material has a very different surface. There are lots of riven markings on the slabs, where Limestone is very smooth. This gives the slabs a more rustic feel and they appear more suited to a traditional space.

Overall the colour can easily be described as black, however the slabs are entirely different to look at than black limestone. Sandstone as a material is much more variable - some slabs will be nice a dark, but others will have lighter, dustier patches of golds and yellow. Overall, if you opt for this alternative, you are going to get a very different finish.

However, this is on the lower end of the price scale when compared to other alternatives. So whilst you may be getting a different finish, you do at least conserve some of your budget and will still be getting a very low-maintenance option.

Pros of Sagar Black

  • Black!
  • No premium price tag.
  • Low maintenance option.

Cons of Sagar Black

  • Not the same black as Black Limestone.
  • Rough surface - Limestone is much smoother.
  • Variable colour from slab-to-slab.

A Viable Alternative to Black Limestone?

Not really. Overall it is a much different effect than what you would want from Black Limestone. The stone itself is a very attractive stone and well suited to more traditional projects, but if Black Limestone is what you were initially after, it's probably best to opt for an different alternative!

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Black Porcelain Paving Slabs

Cathedral Noir paving by SBD PavingBlack Porcelain Paving by Sam Deegan

Porcelain is the new trend in the landscaping industry. But is it a legitimate alternative to Black Limestone? It certainly seems like it.

Porcelain is described as an 'ultra-low' maintenance product, meaning that once it is laid, you shouldn't have to spend any time maintaining it at all. The perfect solution to the maintenance issues of limestone. Porcelain is very resistant to the elements, and completely scratch and stain proof. So lots of ticks in the boxes here.

Porcelain slabs are manufactured, which means they are accurately produced each and every time. This means the surface of the stone is smooth and consistent from slab-to-slab. You are able to rely on each slab having little variation in colour and texture which means they are going to create the same modern effect that you would want from the Black Limestone.

However it's important to note that this is a very expensive option. We can't really fault it in terms of suitability, but the price is likely to sting when compared to Black Limestone. Porcelain is roughly double (!!) the price. It's a wonderful alternative, but lacks the affordability which made limestone so popular.

Pros of Porcelain Paving

  • Ultra-Low maintenance.
  • Wont fade over time.
  • Consistent from slab-to-slab.

Cons of Porcelain Paving

  • Twice the price of Black Limestone.

A Viable Alternative to Black Limestone?

Very much so. It satisfies in every category that black limestone does, but be prepared to pay for it. 

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* - Loses half a star because of price only. Otherwise it is a 5 star solution.


 

Kota Blue Limestone Paving Slabs

9 Rockingham Close11
Kota Blue Limestone Paving Slabs by Jamie McCullough

It is worth considering another type of Limestone before looking at an alternative material. It's going to have the exact same properties of Black Limestone, but just not the colour.

Kota Blue Indian Limestone paving is incredibly similar to Black. It has a smooth surface, a consistent colour and is as affordable as Black Limestone. But it is a light-grey/blue colour rather than Black. 

On top of this, this slab also ages incredibly well when compared to Black Limestone. It doesn't fade as quickly and doesn't need the maintenance and aftercare that Black Limestone will.

Understandably, if you were looking for Black Limestone, you are likely going to be looking for dark slab. But if this is something you can be flexible on, you can get an affordable slab with the exact same properties at the exact same price. So worth considering. 

Pros of Blue Limestone Paving

  • Matches black limestone in every way apart from colour.
  • Smooth surface.
  • Consistent colour.

Cons of Blue Limestone Paving

  • Not a dark colour.

A Viable Alternative to Black Limestone?

Only if you would be happy with a different colour.

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Our Recommendation

It's a toss up between Brazilian Slate and a Black Porcelain. Overall, porcelain is a fantastic option but comes with a hefty price-tag. If you wanted to keep the prices down, then you can't really go wrong with a Brazilian Slate.

Whichever way you go, there are fantastic options out there. We're not for one minute suggesting that you write Black Limestone off altogether, make sure you refer to our article so you can make your own choice. But whatever your decision, we are here to make sure you are 100% confident you've made the right choice.

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