Frequently Asked Questions

Natural Stone

What is natural stone?

Natural stone is a natural product that has been formed over many years.
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock. It is made up of debris and particles that have been compacted together over millions of years.
Limestone is formed in the same way, but consists mainly of marine debris and particles, making it a softer stone, which gives Limestone a more rustic look.

What should I expect from natural stone paving?

Ethan Mason’s natural stone is calibrated at source to ensure it is easier to install. However there will be some tolerance because it is a natural product.
No two paving slabs are the same. Colours, veining and textures will vary across all paving slabs.
Make sure you love your natural stone paving when it is both wet and dry. Colours, ie undertones in the paving will become enhanced when the paving is wet.
Ie EM Rainbow is lighter almost red, pink when dry, but in the wet the pattern and veining in the paving are greatly enhanced.
EM Black Mix Limestone is a mix of grey paving slabs when dry, but when wet, will become black.
(This is also the case when you choose to seal your paving with a colour enhancing sealant, the colours within the paving will become deeper.)
All natural stone is porous, due to its natural formation. Porous means that the paving will absorb liquids easily.
Natural stone also contains a natural alkali, which naturally attracts dirt and algae onto the surface of the paving. This can be more prevalent in the colder, wetter months.

Where does Natural stone come from?

Natural stone can be found in many countries around the world, however Ethan Mason sources its natural stone from Kota in India.

Is Natural stone ethically sourced?

Yes, all Ethan Mason natural stone is ethically sourced.
We support fair trade and are committed to trading with suppliers who ethically source their products. We monitor all aspects of the supply chain, regularly, including quality standards, working conditions and general employment practices.
Our aim is to ensure that our products are delivered, using suppliers that have manufactured to the highest technical standards as well as adhered to ethical standards including:

Fair treatment of employees
Respecting basic human rights
Operating ethically and with integrity
Our Indian supplier is part of the ETI.

Does Natural stone last?

Natural stone is hardwearing. If it is cared for and cleaned regularly it will stand the test of time.
Natural stone like all materials used externally will weather over time.

Where can you use Natural Stone paving?

Natural stone is beautiful and will create a stunning patio in your garden. It can be used as a base for sheds and as a pathway etc… but we do not recommend that you use natural stone on a driveway.
Natural stone can be used indoors, but because it is porous we recommend that you consider sealing the paving to protect it from spillages.
Natural stone can also be used with under-floor heating. However we recommend that you speak to the manufacturer of the heating before installation to ensure the paving is the right specification. Ie depth.
Natural stone can be used around a pool and spa area. However regular maintenance and cleaning is a must to ensure that paving stays clean so that it does not become slippery. Always be careful using chemicals on or around the paving, as this can stain the paving’s surface.
Natural stone can be used on balconies and terraces. Always speak to the specialist installer regarding the required specification for the area. Ie the paving will need to be a certain size and depth to fit the framework. Also ensure that adequate supports are used with the paving, ie that the paving is secured in all corners and in the middle to stop breakages.



Purchasing Natural Stone

What should I consider before purchasing natural stone paving?

Natural stone is a beautiful and unique product, however we understand that natural stone is not right for everyone.
Natural stone will weather well and once installed transforms your garden space, however because of its natural formation, natural stone is naturally porous, meaning that liquids will soak into the stone easily.
Natural stone contains a natural alkali, which naturally attracts dirt and algae to the surface of the paving especially during the colder and wetter months. Ethan Mason highly recommends that you clean your paving regularly to stop the paving from becoming slippery.
Consider the following before choosing a natural stone patio:
- Aspect of your garden, ie north facing
- Is your garden surrounded by mature trees and plants? This will affect the amount of dirt and algae that collates on the surface of the paving.
- Traffic – Ie children playing, animals etc… (you may want to consider a darker coloured natural stone rather than the lighter blends.)
- All natural stone has its own natural grip, however if left to become dirty will become slippery in the wet.

Where can I purchase Ethan Mason natural stone?

Ethan Mason supplies natural stone paving to many stockists, which are located throughout the UK. For more information regarding your local stockist, you can contact us via phone, email, Facebook, Instagram or via the contact us form on the website.

Who will deliver my Ethan Mason natural stone paving?

The stockist who you purchase your paving from, will deliver your paving to you. They will advise you directly on delivery times, dates, availability and prices (if applicable)

Can I get a sample of Ethan Mason natural stone?

Yes.
All stockists hold samples within store. However, you can purchase samples from our website. Delivery is free.
If you decide to purchase online, samples are sent via Royal Mail. Sample orders normally take between 3-4 working days to be delivered. During peak season it can take between 5-6 working days.

What is a patio pack?

A standard RIVEN patio pack consists of 48 pieces of natural stone paving. The paving slabs come in 4 different sizes.
900mm x 600mm – 13
600mm x 600mm – 13
600mm x 290mm – 13
290mm x 290mm – 9
Riven Sandstone and Limestone is calibrated to 22mm.
Our standard SMOOTH patio pack consists of 48 pieces of natural stone paving. The paving slabs come in 4 different sizes.
900mm x 600mm – 13
600mm x 600mm – 13
600mm x 295mm – 13
295mm x 295mm – 9
Smooth Sandstone is calibrated to 20mm
All of our standard patio packs cover 15.3m2.
Please note that our EM Vanilla (Long Aspect Ratio) and single sized packs are different to this. (Download our brochure for more details.)

Can I purchase individual paving slabs?

Unfortunately we do not sell individual paving slabs, nor do we split packs.
Please ensure that you measure your area actually, so that you have enough paving slabs to cover the area.
We also recommend that you dry lay your patio before it is fixed to ensure the measurements are correct.
If you are using 2 or more packs of paving, always mix/blend the packs as colours blends will differ from pack to pack.

What is the difference between Riven, Sawn and Sandblasted?

Ethan Mason offers different ranges of natural stone, Riven, Sawn and Sandblasted.

Riven
Riven natural stone means that the surface is textured with natural veining, meaning that the surface is naturally uneven. This paving has a natural grip. You will notice that when the paving is wet it will hold water in its natural ceases. This is a normal, and will soak through the stone and dry.

Sawn
Also known as smooth, sawn natural stone has a polished surface. The paving will have its own natural blend of colours and veining, but this is polished on the surface of the paving. Sawn paving can become slippery when wet, so it is important to regularly clean your patio. Sawn paving also has a more consistent colour blend, unlike riven paving which tends to be a mix of colours.

Sandblasted Sandblasted is paving that has been shot blasted with sand to give the surface a slightly textured feel.

If I have a broken slab/s what do I do?

Firstly ensure that you take pictures of the slab/s that are broken and DO NOT discard these paving slabs.

Contact your local stockist where you purchased the paving and they will advise further.

More information regarding EM Rainbow, EM Silver and EM Black/EM Yellow Mix Limestone.

EM Rainbow
Due to the natural formation of the EM Rainbow, it is a more dense natural stone. It is beautiful and has a unique array of colours and veining, but will hold water easily. This particular paving must be cleaned regularly!
The EM Rainbow is also a “softer” paving, meaning that care must be taken when installing, to avoid breakages.

EM Silver (Riven and Smooth)
The EM Silver range contains natural iron, which when exposed to the colder, wetter elements will be drawn through the paving and react. This will appear as brown/rust marks on the surface of the paving.
There are rust removers that can be purchased to help remove these marks.

EM Black Mix Limestone
The EM Black Mix Limestone is a collection of grey paving slabs, but when wet will become black. To create a permanent “black” look you will need to consider sealing your paving with a colour enhancing sealant. We highly recommend before sealing any natural stone that you obtain advice from the sealant manufacture.

EM Black/Yellow Mix Limestone
Limestone is a “softer” natural stone. This is due to its natural formation that consists of mostly marine debris and particles. This means that extra care must be taken when installing this paving to ensure there are no unnecessary breakages.



Installing Natural Stone Paving

How do I install a natural stone paving patio?

We always recommend seeking professional guidance and support from an expert installer.
Your installer will be able to advice further on the best way to lay a patio.
Here are some things we highly recommend you consider before installing your natural stone patio:

- Always install your natural stone paving on a full mortar bed
- Make sure you install the paving with a slight fall, to ensure any excess water runs off.
- Consider joint widths, butt joints or close jointing.
- Apply a SBR bond or slurry to the back of the paving slab before it is installed.
- Dry lay the patio before you fix. This will ensure that you are happy with the colour mix of the paving slabs.

Please click here for the Natural Stone Installation Guide

Do you offer help with laying patterns?

Included on your patio pack you will see a general laying pattern for the standard patio pack. We only offer a general laying pattern to help when installing a standard patio pack, however we understand that all gardens are different, so this is just a general guide.
Please see our website for more information on laying patterns.
If you research “laying patterns” online you will find calculators which will help you to plan and install 1, 2 or more packs of paving.

Please click here for the Single Pack Paving Layout
Please click here for the Double Pack Paving Layout

What do I use in the joints of my paving?

This is down to personal choice. There are many different options, so it is highly recommended that you speak to a professional installer for more information. Some prefer to use a sand mix, grouting for smooth paving or brush in “easy Joint” product.

How do I install 2 or more packs of paving?

We highly recommend that when using 2 or more packs of paving that when you install, you mix the packs. Ensure the colour blend is right, so dry lay the paving before fixing.



Natural Stone After Care

I have dirt marks on my natural stone patio, what should I do?

Regular cleaning is important.

You can clean your natural stone patio in many different ways, we recommend the following:
- Always sweep the patio before you clean it, to remove any excess debris.
- Brush, soap and hot water (But not boiling, so you harm yourself).
- Scrub the area where the stain or dirt is and then rinse.
- A power washer is great for cleaning more stubborn, ground in stains.
- Always use a power washer with a patio cleaning attachment.
- Never use the jet directly on the paving as this can dislodge the grouting from in-between the paving. The circular motion of the power washer attachment will clean off the surface dirt.
- There are cleaning solutions available to purchase on-line, at your local EM Stockist, Builders Merchant or DIY store. This can be used in conjunction with one of the above options.
- Always read the label and try the solution on a test area first before you cover the whole patio area. You can then ensure you are happy with the finish.
- We always recommend that you speak to the manufacturer of the solution before you purchase.
- Never use bleach on your patio or any Acid based products.

What if I have a specific stain on my patio, what should I do?

You can purchase a cleaning solution to remove just about any stain from your natural stone. Ie mortar staining, black spot, rust etc…

Always read the label and try the solution on a test area first before you clean the whole patio. We always recommend that you speak to the manufacturer of the solution before you purchase.

I have rust on my patio, what should I do?

Rust in very common and will occur mainly on the surface of the EM Silver natural stone. This range of natural stone contains a higher content of iron, which when exposed to the elements (damp, cold weather) rust will be drawn through the paving and will appear as a staining on the surface of the paving.

There are rust remover solutions available to buy. Always read the label. We always recommend that you speak to the manufacturer of the solution before you purchase.

What is efflorescence?

Efflorescence will appear as white marks or staining on the surface of the paving.
Efflorescence is a phenomenon. It is no fault of the paving material as Efflorescence can only occur from concrete mixes or products.
Efflorescence is formed by a normal chemical reaction between cement and water which causes lime (calcium hydroxide) to migrate through damp concrete bedding and in some cases appears on the surface of natural stone products which are porous in their nature (i.e. natural sandstone).
Efflorescence can be more prevalent when concrete dries more slowly than normal i.e. due to mix or atmospheric conditions. (Cold, damp weather)
The good news is that efflorescence will eventually disappear as it reacts further with the atmosphere / or it can be cleaned with the appropriate product/ agent.

What is reflective staining?

Similar to efflorescence the staining will appear as white circles on the surface of the paving slabs. Reflective staining will occur when a patio has been installed on a half or spot bed. As the mortar from the bed below dry’s it will appear only in the places where the paving has been fixed, ie the spot of the mortar.

Should I seal?

Even though natural stone is porous, it is extremely hard wearing and does not need to be sealed. However, some people do prefer to/or consider sealing their paving.
A sealant can help to provide an extra layer of protection. This would be the same as fence paint on fencing and stain for decking.

Sealing is a personal choice and we cannot give you a definitive answer on whether sealing is the right thing to do. Again, we would always recommend that you do your own research, speak to your installer/landscaper and the manufacturer of the sealant to ensure it is right thing for you.

If you do decide to seal, there are many different sealants on the market. You can purchase these online, through your local Builders Merchant or DIY Store.
Please note that sealants can also change the appearance of your patio, for example a colour enhancer can provide a “wet look” or you can purchase a natural sealant also known as an invisible sealant that gives the paving a natural look.
If you do decide to seal your patio, it is worth trying the sealant on a test area first to make sure you are happy with the overall look and finish. It is safer to do this then cover the whole patio area and then decide you do not like it.

We would also recommend that you shop around as sealants can work out expensive per m2.

When should I seal my natural stone patio?

As you can imagine we get asked this question a lot. “If we seal our patio, when is the best time to seal?” Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, and no matter who you speak to you will also get a different answer too, here is why…….

Sealing before laying the paving - If you decide to seal the paving slabs before they are installed, the paving must be completely clean and dry. Each paving slabs must be left for a couple of days in order for the sealant to completely dry, before the paving is fixed.

Sealing after laying the paving - Please note that natural stone needs time to settle into its environment and must be completely dry before a sealant is applied. During this time, it is recommended that nothing is added to the stone. (Ie cleaning solution) In some cases natural stone can have a reaction to the bedding mortar underneath, this is known as efflorescence. This is not a fault of the paving but because of a chemical reaction from the mortar bed and the mix of chemicals. If this occurs and you have sealed the paving, the staining will remain on the surface of the paving slab. It will come off over time but will take time to remove.

Sealing after some time - So you have waited (this could be weeks, months, years) and you decide to seal. Again, the paving must be completely clean and dry before any sealant is applied, otherwise the damp from inside the paving will appear on the surface of the paving slab and will stain. Again, this will come off over time, but will take time.

If you decide to seal your paving, please note that a sealant is not lifelong. It will need to be reapplied because it will weather like all products used externally.



Porcelain

What is Porcelain?

Porcelain is manufactured that is made from clay that is “baked” in a hot kiln to create a strong and hardwearing material. The colour, textures and patterns on the paving is then printed on, to create the look of real natural stone.

What are the benefits of porcelain?

Porcelain has many benefits, some are listed below:

- Strong and hardwearing
- Little to no water absorption, because it is not porous like natural stone
- Easy to clean
- Stain resistance because it is not porous.
- Slightly textured so that it provides a non-slip surface.
- Can be used indoors and outdoors to create flow within your home.

Where does Ethan Mason porcelain come from?

We import our porcelain products from Italy.

How do I install porcelain paving?

We always highly recommend that you seek professional advice on installing any porcelain or natural stone patio. A professional installer or Landscaper will be able to help you.

We have some basic tips to help get you started:

- Prepare the base
- Dry lay your paving. (Please note that using 2 or more packs will require you to mix them when laying. Colours will vary from pack to pack, so ensure the patio blends before it is fixed.)
- Prime your paving slabs
- Use a full mortar bed
- Like all paving installation ensure that you lay your porcelain paving with a slight fall, so that water will run off easily.
- When installing ensure that each paving slab is tapped into place to help with grip.
- Porcelain can be cut with a Disc Cutter, fitted with a diamond cut blade suitable for cutting porcelain. (We recommend that you always cut feeding the cutter with water as you go.) (Always wear the appropriate PPE when doing this)
- Allow for joints in your paving, normally 10-12mm
- Use an outdoor jointing compound with your porcelain. Speak to your local EM stockist for help with available jointing compounds.
- Ensure you clean the porcelain once you have installed it, so that any mortar, jointing compound does not stick to the surface.

How do I clean my porcelain paving?

We would recommend always brushing away any loose dirt and particles before you clean your patio.

Firstly try cleaning your patio with soap and water, as this can be just as effective in removing surface dirt and grime.

There are porcelain cleaning solutions available to buy. We recommend having a look around and choosing one that is right for you.

Never use bleach or any acid-based product on your patio as this will affect the paving.

If you have a power/jet washer you can use this, for more ground in dirt, however we recommend that you use a patio cleaning attachment with it, so that it does not dislodge or damage the jointing in-between the paving.

The patterns on my porcelain do not match, what should I do?

Like natural stone, porcelain paving is manufactured to mirror that of real natural paving. This means that textures, patterns, colours and veining will vary in a pack.

We always highly recommend that you dry lay your paving before you fix it, this is to ensure that the colours are blended right.

Porcelain will not have as an extreme variations as natural stone.
Also allow for some tolerance with the paving, by dry laying you will see this.
Some veining or texture on the paving will vary and will be enhanced in the sunlight and wet. This is normal and like real natural stone.

Porcelain paving packs will also have a degree of repetition, so by dry laying the paving first, will allow you to see this in the pattern. You may rotate the paving to lessen this repetition.



Contacting Ethan Mason

How do I contact Ethan Mason?

If you have any questions or queries regarding our product range, local stockist details or any aftercare information, please feel free to give us a call, our office hours are Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm. Alternatively you can contact us via our social network; Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can email us at info@empaving.com or there is a contact form available on our website that you can complete.

We will endeavour to come back to you as soon as we can. However, during peak times, it could take up to 48 hours to respond to any emails or messages.