We’re such big Phillies fans in fact, that my now four-year-old son refers to any baseball game regardless of who is playing as “The Phillies”. I have to point out that no, these teams aren’t all the Phils. Those navy pinstripes belong to some other team from New York, those red hats with the little bird on the bat are from St Louis, and the “LA” on those blue hats stands for Los Angeles, not Larry Andersen.
It’s very cute and endearing in a little kid sort of way. But when adults use the wrong words and terminology, not only is it not so cute, it can lead to all sorts of confusion. It’s important that we know what we’re talking about.
So I want to spend a minute or two this week clearing the record on some basic terms, specifically “flagstone”.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten calls from new prospects asking me to install a new “slate patio”. With a few specific exceptions, a “slate” patio is not what they’re looking for.
What clients typically mean to say is “flagstone” patio. And that’s where the confusion begins. Not to mention the fact that the misuse of the term “slate” is a nails-on-the-blackboard major pet peeve of mine. So without further build-up, here’s a brief run-down on terminology.
“Flagstone” is the umbrella term for any flat stone that can be set in a flatwork or horizontal application. Nearly any patio or walkway using a natural stone material consists of flagstone. There are endless amounts of different types of flagstone, including slate. But for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into on this post, I generally wouldn’t recommend slate.
Here in Southeastern PA, or nearly anywhere else on the east coast, the majority of flagstones we use are PA graystone or bluestone. This is a very dense, durable, sedimentary sandstone that comes mostly from the Scranton area of PA, parts of upstate New York and Connecticut. For most of my flagstone projects this is the default flagstone that I use due to its durability and affordability. Three out of four times when the customer says “slate”, this is what they mean.
But flagstone is not limited to just PA graystone. I could go on and on with various types of stone, but there is limestone, quartzite, mica schist, granite, and yes slate. And much, much more. And selections vary depending on what part of the country you come from. But no matter what geologic type of stone it is, no matter what the size and/or shape of the stones are, if it’s flat, and you’re building a patio or walkway, then it’s flagstone.
Just like “Baseball” is the general term and the “Phillies” are a specific baseball team, “Flagstone” is a general term and “Slate” is specific type of flagstone.
So there you have it. When you call to inquire about my services and that new patio or walkway you’ve been thinking about, be sure to ask for a “flagstone” material, not slate. I’ll be happy to go in to much more detail on the various types of flagstone when we meet, let you know what type of stone would best complement your existing house and landscaping features, and what the costs are for various types of stone. And who knows, maybe “slate” is what you’re looking for, but lets at least keep our options open.
And if its summer, and I don’t answer the phone, it’s probably because I’m busy watching the Phils with the kids. Now if we can just get some offense going consistently this year…