When it comes to paving slabs, there are lots of different sizes available. The majority of paving slabs in the UK are sold in "Patio Pack" format, meaning they are sold in multi-size packs ready to install in a random pattern. Patio packs come in two different laying patterns: the 60 series and the 56 series, both of which contain slabs of different sizes.
Why did Patio Packs start being produced?
Years ago, when importing stone was less common, natural paving slabs were irregular sizes and very expensive. During this period, it was single size cast concrete slabs that dominated the market. But fast forward 10 years or so, more affordable natural paving slabs were landing from overseas. The more agreeable price point resulted in the popularity of the product soaring.
Suppliers sought to capitalize on the popularity by making the product more user friendly, thus opening the product to an even wider market. To make the product more user-friendly, suppliers chose to introduce more consistency in sizing. If the size of the slabs could be relied on, then installers would be able to lay the slabs with comparative ease. A patio pack that consisted of 4 or 5 reliable sizes means patterns could be planned in advance, and could be laid them without needing to measure them individually.
Why are some sizes more common than others?
At this point, quarries began to produce two "series" of slabs. The 60/56 Series. The 60 series and the 56 series patio packs have a common multiple (60cm or 56cm), which makes installation easier as we mentioned above.
The introduction of two consistent series of paving slabs sizes made the natural stone market more accessible to the general public and slowly became industry standard within a matter of years.
What are the different slab sizes within the series?
The sizes are as follows:
- 90cm x 60cm
- 60cm x 60cm
- 60cm x 30cm
- 30cm x 30cm
You can see common multiple of 30cm on each paving slabs.
- 84cm x 56cm
- 56cm x 56cm
- 56cm x 42cm
- 56cm x 28cm
- 28cm x 28cm
The common multiples are a bit less little "round", and you'll notice there is also an extra size. But while not as good as the 60 series, the 56 series will do the job in a pinch.
What to watch out for when buying "Patio Pack" size slabs
There are cheaper paving slabs out there that are not from 60 series of 56 series, but these can be problematic. Some suppliers will sell boxes of ‘quarry rejects’. These will come in sizes such as 760 x 590, 550 x 360 and 880 x 720. The biggest issue with these quarry rejects is that there is no way that these paving slabs can fit together with making many, many cuts. Even when the cuts are made you can still end up with a paved area that looks muddled, odd and uneven. Stick with a trustworthy supplier of 60 series paving, or 56 series if absolutely necessary. Cheap slabs can be nothing bud headaches.
Which is best, the 60 series or the 56 series paving?
Here at Primethorpe Paving, we will often recommend the 60 series over the 56 series. This is because the slabs with the 60 series will cover more are per slab. In turn, this means less labour is required for laying the paving slabs.
The 60 series has only 4 sizes compared to the 5 sizes of a 56 series, so it's less of a headache to install in a pattern. Plus, the 60 series slabs are bigger! This means you will need to install less of them. While only marginal, it is another factor to take into account.
If you are looking to create a random-looking paved area, we would still recommend the 56 series on occasion. It’s a lot better than the other random paving options out there. However, where possible it's best to opt for the 60 series.
Can you buy slabs in single sizes?
Yes! Single size paving is getting more popular as people decide to opt for a more modern finish. A single sized pattern creates long, straight lines which are perfectly in keeping with a modern style.
If you wanted a repeating, single-size pattern, the 60 series sizes (above) are readily available to purchase in just one size at a time. If you're unsure, you can always give us a call to check availability on these single size paving slabs.
In conclusion, it's certainly easier than it used to be
Before imported natural stone took off, when you bought stone.... you got what you got. You had to make do with whatever turned up. But now sizes are consistent and guaranteed and even the most inexperienced DIYer should be able to work out a pattern.
Make sure you are buying your paving from a trusted specialist with a reliable size guide and you'll be good to go.