How To Cut Natural Stone Pavers – Easy Guide
Mar 20, 2023
What is a natural stone paver?
Ever heard of natural stone pavers? It is a common term when it comes to the exterior flooring design of a building, such as a house, an office, or a recreation center. Stone pavers are slabs and blocks that are used to build flat, easily accessible surfaces for pool decks, planters, fire pits, walkways, driveways, patios, and even garden stepping stones.
They can be classified under different categories, natural stone pavers, concrete pavers, porcelain, rubber, and others. However, since this article focuses on how to cut stone pavers, we will consider only the first category.
There are different types of natural stones that are used as pavers. Some of them are limestone, bluestone, sandstone, basalt, cobblestone, granite, marble, and the most common, travertine.
When using natural stones in design, you can be guaranteed a one-of-a-kind landscaping project because the stones are always different, though they can have the same relative uniformity of color and texture.
Unlike concrete pavers and most brick pavers, stone pavers do not always come in identical sizes. They are also quarried, that is, dug out of the earth where it formed naturally with the help of different sediments, over millions of years.
Natural stones are not suitable to be used immediately after being quarried. The stones are first to cut into blocks or tiles to be used in outdoor projects. Before considering how to cut stone pavers, it would be thoughtful to see the need to go through the stress associated with using natural stone pavers.
Why do some people opt for natural stone pavers?
Natural stones, with their beautiful rich colors and peculiar textures, make your pavers look aesthetically pleasing. Their unique and slight variations in color can also be an advantage since you can create your own design to add an organic beauty and personal touch to the areas you use them.
Using natural stones for your paver offers you versatile options, you can choose to use wet-laid or dry-laid methods when installing patios. For a wet-laid patio, you can use concrete as a base with the natural stone on top, while you place natural stone blocks or tiles tightly together over a bed of sand or crushed stone for the dry-laid patio method.
Installing natural stone pavers does not usually require as much professionalism or skills as concrete pavers.
Maintenance and durability
High-quality stone pavers are low maintenance, which requires just regular sweeping and rinsing. Since they allow for the easy removal of snow, there is no need to spend excessively or worry about it.
Natural stones are also known to stay for thousands of years since they can withstand snow, rain, and ice, or any other extreme weather conditions common to outdoor pavers.
Importance of cutting pavers
Unlike concrete pavers, natural stone cannot be installed without cutting. As mentioned the on-set, after natural stones are quarried, they are not suitable to be used, instead, they have to be cut into blocks or tiles first before they can be used in outdoor projects.
For concrete pavers, you can use a mold of your preferred size, eliminating the need to cut into blocks or tiles unless in uncontrollable cases. Therefore, when installing concrete pavers, searching for “how to cut concrete pavers” would not be the best option.
Tools recommended for cutting pavers
When cutting pavers, there are tools to be used for more effective, easier, and successful work to be achieved.
- Power saws
- Block and slab splitters
- Protective eyewear
- Measuring Tape
- Dust mask
- Square or straightedge
- Nonslip mat
- Masonry saw
- Demolition saw
- Circular saw
How to Cut Pavers with Different Tools
The steps to take when cutting natural stone pavers vary according to the type of tools used. Below are different tools and the steps taken to cut stone pavers when using them.
How to cut pavers using hammer and chisel
This is an old-fashioned but effective method of cutting pavers. It is best to use a hammer and chisel when you have few stones to split and you don’t need a perfect cut. It also works for situations where you need to fit pavers into irregular areas or around objects.
They can be used when installing pavers around drain lines that run under a patio, around posts for decks or fences around a patio or the edges of the patio, or general replacement of paver stones.
To install using a hammer and chisel, first, measure your installation, compare with the measurement of your paver stone and deduce how much needs to be cut off. Secondly, place your paver on a flat, soft surface, such as soil, sand, or a carpet scrap, to prevent it from bouncing, then measure and mark the side to be cut off with a pencil.
Next, you score your stone by placing the chisel over the pencil line and gently tapping on the chisel. Move along all the pencil marks until you reach about one-sixteenth of an inch deep along all the lines.
Ensure that the force you hit the chisel is equal to the toughness of the stone to avoid cracking. Next, you use a lump hammer (most preferably) and strike along the score until the paver stone breaks. Lastly, you clean up and smoothen rough edges by removing uneven bits from the broken paver.
How to cut pavers with a saw
This method of cutting pavers is used when clean cuts are required and there is a notable number of pavers to cut since it is faster than the traditional chisel and hammer.
When making use of a circular saw to cut stone pavers, ensure that the saw’s standard cutting blade is a circular saw diamond masonry blade because any other type would not be able to cut through stone.
First, measure and mark the cutting line on both sides of the paver with measuring tape and chalk/pencil. Next, secure the paving slab to the workbench with the C-clamps so that the paver does not move while cutting and the area to be cut off will be left hanging in mid-air.
Then, using your saw, begin cutting through the paver using the marked line as a guide.
While cutting, do not apply too much pressure, allow the saw to do all the work. You can turn the paver over and repeat the cutting process on the other side or make several passes with the saw depending on the thickness of the paver you’re cutting. Continue cutting until you have cut all the way through the paver.
How to cut pavers using slab splinters
The slab splinters are majorly used by professionals. This method is especially used when cutting really dense paving stones.
There are different types of slab splinters available, some of them are electrically powered and some are hydraulic versions, however, the most commonly used is the simple lever press. A simple lever press requires placing the paver between an upper and lower blade and applying pressure until it snaps.
The first thing to do is to set up your slab splitter on solid, level ground and compare the measurement of the space that needs to be filled with paving slabs with that of the stone. Mark the area to be cut off with chalk or pencil.
Lift the upper part of the splitter and place the slab into it with the chalk line at the point which will be cut. Lower the upper part and then apply the required pressure to split the slab. After cutting, place the newly cut paver into place, using a rubber mallet to consolidate it, if necessary.
Safety precautions to take when cutting pavers
- The equipment used in the cutting process should be handled according to the detailed instruction manual provided by the manufacturer and not be used in any way that is not intended.
- Before making use of any cutting tool, ensure that you receive the adequate training and practice required when in use.
- When cutting pavers either natural or concrete, it is mandatory to put a safety goggle on or face shield to prevent pieces of stones from entering your eyes.
- Using saws to cut off pavers, blocks and kerbs can produce very high levels of silica-containing dust. The accumulation of silica dust in the lungs can cause silicosis, a non-curable lung disease. To prevent this, a worker must use Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), especially one with an FFP3 disposable mask or half mask with a P3 filter.
You should also dampen the material you are cutting by attaching a water suppression connected to a supply of pressurized water container to your saw.
- Earplugs or earmuffs should be used to protect the ear, especially when using power saws.
- Safety gloves are required for firm grip and protection of the hands while safe footwear protects the feet from harm.
- Detach and put saw blades in a safe place when not in use.