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Difference Between Patio Stones and Stepping Stones: A Complete Guide

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When designing your outdoor living space, it's important to select the right hardscaping materials to achieve your vision. Two popular options for landscaping stones are patio stones and stepping stones. Though they may seem similar at first glance, there are some distinct differences between these two types of natural stone pavers that impact how they can be incorporated into your yard.

In this blog post, we'll explore what sets patio stones and stepping stones apart. As long as you understand the unique characteristics of size, shape, and texture, you’ll be equipped to choose the best natural stones for your needs. Whether you're building a new patio, creating a garden path, or upgrading your landscape, read on to learn more about selecting patio stones vs. stepping stones to complete your project.

What Are Stepping Stones?

Key Features of Stepping Stones
Stepping Stones

Stepping stones are slabs made of natural stone like granite, slate, or limestone that can be used to create paths and patios in outdoor spaces. Arranging stepping stones in winding patterns allows you to add visual interest and texture to gardens, lawns, or other landscaped areas around your home. The natural colors and varied shapes of the stones complement plants and greenery. Stepping stone paths are an attractive, durable walking surface for outdoor areas.

Key Features of Stepping Stones

Stepping stones are versatile in design and offer numerous benefits for landscaping and gardens.


Stepping stones made from natural stone provide a practical, low-maintenance walking surface for outdoor spaces. For example, arranging stones in winding paths through your yard allows you to traverse gardens and lawns without causing damage to your plants.


Stepping stones offer endless possibilities for creative landscape design. You can arrange them in meandering paths, spirals, or geometric patterns to add visual flair to your outdoor space. Feel free to mix stones of different shapes, sizes, and colors to create a one-of-a-kind walking surface that reflects your personal style. Stepping stones are the perfect versatile solution for upgrading lawn aesthetics without breaking the budget.

Hassle-Free Installation

What Are Stepping Stones
Stepping Stones Landscaping

Stepping stones provide an easy upgrade to garden paths and yards. Installing stepping stones is a simple DIY project that doesn't require excavation or concrete work. Just place the stones in your desired pattern and they're ready for use! Stepping stones are the perfect solution for enhancing your landscape's appearance while avoiding complex construction projects. Let your creativity shine by arranging stones in fun patterns throughout your garden.


Stepping stones provide an anti-skid walking surface so they're ideal for outdoor walkways. Their textured natural stone material gives steady footing, even when wet. A stepping-stone path creates a safe route across your yard or garden for all ages. The stones can be placed close together or farther apart depending on your preferences. Stepping stone walkways add charm while preventing slips and falls in outdoor areas around your home.


Stepping stones that are made of natural stone are highly weather and waterproof. Unlike materials like wood that rot, the mineral composition of stones protects them against water damage. This means that rain and snow won't negatively affect your stepping stone path or cause safety issues. The stones won't warp or degrade from exposure to the elements. Stepping stones create a long-lasting walkway that withstands all types of weather.

Types of Natural Stones Used as Stepping Stones

Stepping stones come in a variety of natural stone types that offer durable options for pathways.


Slate is an ideal natural stone material for laying garden stepping stones. Its layered foliation and muted colors create visual interest underfoot. Slate is weather-resistant and provides reliable traction from its naturally non-slip texture. Slate stepping stones can guide the way through garden beds, patios, or pathways. They add durable charm and allow plants to grow up between them for a cohesive landscape.


Types of Natural Stones Used as Stepping Stones
Flagstone Design

Flagstone is a smart choice for a natural stone stepping stone project. It has a flat shape and is perfect for laying an eco-friendly path across the ground. Flagstone comes in many earthy colors to complement any landscape. This sedimentary rock layers nicely when setting multiple stones. Durable flagstone stepping stones offer a safe, reliable tread underfoot for moving through gardens and patios.


Fieldstone makes for an attractive natural stepping stone walkway in the garden. These uncut, irregularly shaped stones have an organic, rustic look when laid into the ground. Fieldstone comes from glacial deposits and comes in many colors and textures. This diversity provides visual interest underfoot. Fieldstone is one of the most readily available and affordable stepping-stone materials for DIY landscaping projects.

Stepping Stones Design Options

Stone Patio Pavers Design Ideas
Stepping Stones in The Garden
  • Natural stepping stones: Use natural stepping stones to create a rustic and organic look. Choose stones of varying shapes and sizes for a more natural and irregular pathway;
  • Stamped concrete stepping stones: Opt for stamped concrete stepping stones that mimic the look of natural stone or brick. This is a beautiful design that offers durability and versatility. You'll be able to customize the pattern and color to match your outdoor aesthetic;
  • Pebble stepping stones: Create a soothing and beach-inspired pathway by using pebble stepping stones. You can arrange smooth pebbles in a mosaic pattern or embed them in concrete for a unique and textured pathway;
  • River rock pathway: Use smooth river rocks of different sizes to create a natural and flowing pathway in your garden or yard;
  • Slate stepping stones: Incorporate slate stones with unique textures and colors to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your outdoor space;
  • Moss-covered stones: Create a charming and rustic look by using stepping stones covered in moss. This design adds a natural, organic feel to your garden;
  • Natural stone slabs: Implement large natural stone slabs as stepping stones for a more substantial and bold aesthetic. This design adds drama and will be a focal point in your outdoor area;
  • Gravel and stone mosaic: Combine smaller natural stones, gravel, or crushed shells to create a mosaic pattern for your stepping stones. This design creates visual interest and adds personality to your garden pathway;
  • Limestone slabs: Choose limestone pavers with various colors and textures to create a visually striking pathway. This design adds a sense of luxury and uniqueness to your garden;
  • Irregular-shaped stones: Embrace the natural beauty of irregularly shaped stones by using them as stepping stones. This design creates a rustic and organic look that blends into natural landscapes.

Add Natural Beauty to Your Garden with Stepping Stones

Create a unique walkway and highlight the natural charm of your outdoor area with custom stepping stones made from granite, slate, limestone, and other earthy materials. Contact us today to have durable, handcrafted stones made just for your garden.

What Are Patio Stones?

Benefits of Patio Paver Stones
Patio Stones

Patio stones, also called stone patio pavers, are solid patio materials made from natural stone, concrete, or brick. Installing a patio with stone pavers creates an attractive, durable outdoor living space. Patio stones come in many shapes, colors, textures, and patterns, so it's easy for you to add character and visual interest to your outdoor area. Arranging the patio stones in creative designs results in a customized patio perfect for relaxing, dining, or entertaining. Patio stones stand up well to heavy foot traffic and the elements.

Benefits of Patio Paver Stones

There are many benefits of patio paver stones; they're an attractive, durable, and low-maintenance solution for upgrading outdoor living spaces. Benefits include aesthetic appeal, longevity, and eco-friendliness. Let's explore these more in-depth below.


Patio stones made of natural stone or concrete pavers have excellent compressive strength. In other words, they're very durable for outdoor patio use, as they can withstand heavy foot traffic without cracking. Stone patio pavers don't dent or compress as other patio materials can. They have a sturdy construction that provides a stable surface for patio furniture.

Natural Variability

Patio stones are versatile for enhancing outdoor space. Natural stone pavers can be used to create patios, walkways, pool decks, courtyards, and around water features. Their durability makes them ideal for driveways and high-traffic areas too. The wide range of colors, shapes, textures, and patterns of patio stones enable you to use them for multiple purposes and tailor your landscape design.

Resilient Stone Base

What Are Patio Stones
Patio Stones in Yard

Patio stones made from natural stone provide a hard-wearing base for outdoor spaces. They have a dense mineral composition that makes them an extremely durable hardscape material. Unlike materials like wood that can rot, properly installed paver stone flooring will last for decades with minimal maintenance. Rest assured that patio stones stand up well to heavy foot traffic, furniture, and weather due to their hard stone construction.

Aesthetic Appeal

In addition to functionality, patio stones offer visual appeal for outdoor spaces. Natural stone comes in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing you to find the right mix for your aesthetic. The tones and textures of stone pavers create an attractive, high-end look that elevates any landscape. Whether you want a rustic or contemporary vibe, patio stones can complement the surrounding hardscape and plantings. Their versatility enables appealing designs for various purposes.


Another plus is that patio stones made of natural stone are an eco-friendly hardscape choice. Stone is one of the most common materials on Earth, so it's inherently sustainable. Installing patio stones avoids the use of concrete, which has a higher carbon footprint. Their solid form also works as a weed barrier. Overall, stone pavers are an environmental win for your backyard renovation or new build project.

Types of Natural Stones in Patio Pavers

Types of Natural Stones in Patio Pavers
The Stone Patio Pavers

Patio pavers come in a range of natural stone types that are beautiful, durable, and versatile.


A popular choice for natural stone patio pavers is sandstone. It has earthy beiges and browns that can unify your entire garden landscape design, unlike concrete or cement. Sandstone also has good slip resistance which means it's ideal for patios, walkways, and pool surrounds. This sedimentary stone stands up well to weather and foot traffic. Sandstone pavers bring warmth and texture to outdoor living spaces in an eco-friendly way.


Limestone is commonly used for natural stone patio pavers. Its neutral tones can complement an entire garden landscape. Compared to other solid patio materials, limestone offers more surface traction, especially important around pools. This sedimentary rock withstands weather well and blends with plantings. Limestone pavers create an elegant yet relaxed look for outdoor living spaces when installed in patios, walkways, or courtyards.


Slate is an ideal natural stone for patio pavers. It has inherent foliation that gives it a striking, layered appearance. Slate comes in muted shades of grey, purple, green, and blue that can match diverse landscapes. This metamorphic stone stands up well to weather and foot traffic and slate pavers add sophisticated texture underfoot. As a bonus, it provides a naturally slip-resistant surface around patios and pools.


Another option to consider is travertine. Travertine is a unique natural stone used for patio paving. It forms from mineral springs, creating an organic texture filled with small pits and holes. These cavities make travertine lightly porous yet still durable outdoors. The earthy beige and brown shades blend well with natural plantings. Travertine pavers offer a sense of movement and visual interest to patios, walkways, and pool surrounds with their distinctive look.

Stone Patio Pavers Design Ideas

Perfect Stone for Your Outdoor Area
Design of Stone Patio
  • Flagstone patio: Create a natural, rustic look by using irregularly shaped flagstone pavers for your patio flooring. This design adds texture and blends beautifully with outdoor surroundings;
  • Travertine herringbone: Achieve an elegant and timeless look by arranging travertine pavers in a herringbone pattern. You'll add visual interest and sophistication to your patio;
  • Cobblestone patio: Embrace a charming and vintage aesthetic by using cobblestone pavers for your patio flooring. This design adds character and creates a cozy atmosphere;
  • Versailles pattern: Create a luxurious and intricate look by using a Versailles pattern with stone pavers. This design features a combination of different-sized pavers arranged in a geometric pattern;
  • Mosaic patio: Get creative and mix different colors and sizes of stone pavers to create a mosaic pattern for your patio flooring. This design allows for endless possibilities and adds a unique and artistic touch;
  • Stacked stone patio: Use stacked stone pavers to create a textured and contemporary look for your patio flooring. This design adds depth and creates a modern outdoor space;
  • Circular patio: Add a focal point to your patio by incorporating a circular design with stone pavers. This creates a visually striking pattern and adds a touch of elegance to your outdoor area;
  • Sandstone patio: Opt for sandstone pavers to achieve warm, inviting patio flooring. This natural stone adds a beautiful range of colors and textures to create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere;
  • Brick and stone combo: Combine brick and stone pavers to create unique and eclectic patio flooring. Add visual interest and create a charming and diverse look;
  • Geometric patio: Experiment with geometric shapes and patterns using stone pavers for your patio flooring. Whether it's hexagons, diamonds, or triangles, this design adds a contemporary and artistic touch to your outdoor space.

Build a Stunning Patio with Natural Stone Pavers

Transform your outdoor space with a natural stone patio installed by seasoned professionals. Choose from bluestone, slate, travertine, and more to create a patio that's durable and beautiful. Contact us at Stone Center today for a free consultation on how to turn your vision into reality with custom natural stone pavers.

Patio Stones vs. Stepping Stones: A Comparative Overview

Stepping Stones Design Options
Stepping Stone Landscaping

While patio stones and stepping stones are both used in hardscape features, they serve different purposes and have distinct qualities that make them ideal for certain applications.

Application: Can You Use Stepping Stones as Pavers?

Patio stones and stepping stones serve different hardscaping needs. Typically, patio stones are used for high-traffic outdoor living spaces like patios, walkways, pool decks, and driveways. They have a smooth, even surface that allows for furniture, foot traffic, and accessibility.

Stepping stones create a path through lower-traffic areas like gardens, side yards, or lawns. They're spaced apart to allow plants to grow between them. Stepping stones don't provide the same smooth, solid surface but rather act as individual placeholders along a walking route. When deciding between the two stones, consider traffic flow and placement.

Cost: Consider Your Landscaping Needs

Patio Stones vs. Stepping Stones
Garden Landscaping

When it comes to hardscaping materials, patio stones are usually more expensive than stepping stones on a square footage basis. Patio stones are designed for broader areas like patios, walkways, and driveways. They require excavation, a gravel base, leveling, and cutting for a professional installation.

Stepping stones have a simpler installation for smaller spaces like gardens or side paths. They just need a shallow hole dug and dirt tamped around each stone. The irregular shape of natural stepping stones also avoids cutting costs. Overall, stepping stones are a more affordable option for small-scale projects.

Resistance: Are Patio Stones More Durable Than Stepping Stones?

Durability is another important consideration. Patio stones tend to outperform stepping stones in the long run. Patio stones are installed tightly together, which distributes weight and impact across the paved surface. This can help minimize cracking or shifting over years of use.

Stepping stones bear weight individually as singular objects. This makes them more prone to gradual sinking or deterioration from weather exposure on all sides.

However, both patio stones and stepping stones made from enduring natural stone materials like granite, bluestone, or limestone can last for decades with proper installation and maintenance.

Aesthetics: Choose the Perfect Stone for Your Outdoor Area

Patio stones and stepping stones each create distinct visual effects outside. The uniform pattern and smooth expanse of patio stones look formal and refined, working well for contemporary designs.

Stepping stones have a more organic, free-flowing look as individual objects spaced apart in the landscape. The gaps between them allow greenery to soften the hardscape. Stepping stones made from diverse natural stones like slate, sandstone, or fieldstone produce an eclectic, rustic aesthetic.

Whether you prefer a tidy, seamless paved surface or a whimsical garden path, patio stones, and stepping stones create contrasting visual styles.

Criterion Patio Stone Stepping Stone
Material Typically made of concrete or natural stone. Can be made of various materials such as concrete, natural stone, or decorative materials like mosaic tiles or glass.
Size Generally larger and thicker for stability and durability. Can vary in size, ranging from small individual stones to larger slabs or irregular shapes.
Installation Usually requires a more permanent and stable installation, such as being set in concrete or mortar. Can be placed directly on the ground or grass, making them easier to install and rearrange if desired.
Functionality Provides a solid and level surface for outdoor living spaces, such as patios or seating areas. Creates a pathway or stepping stones through gardens, yards, or grassy areas.
Design Options Available in a wide range of colors, textures, and patterns to match various styles and preferences. Offers versatility in design, with options for mosaic patterns, unique shapes, and artistic elements.
Maintenance Generally low maintenance, requiring occasional cleaning or sealing depending on the material. May require occasional leveling or adjustment if placed directly on the ground, but typically low maintenance.
Cost Can vary in cost depending on the material, size, and design complexity. Generally more affordable compared to patio stones, especially for smaller individual stones.
Durability Designed to withstand heavy foot traffic, weather conditions, and outdoor elements. May be less durable than patio stones, especially if made of more delicate materials like mosaic tiles or glass.
Versatility Primarily used for creating a solid surface for outdoor living spaces. Offers flexibility in creating pathways, focal points, or decorative elements within gardens or yards.

Final Thoughts: Choosing Between Patio Stones and Stepping Stones for Your Landscape

Whether you're looking to pave an outdoor living area or meander through your garden, understanding the distinctions between patio stones and stepping stones is key for your hardscaping project. Consider the costs, durability, purpose, and aesthetics to decide which option best fits your landscape vision and lifestyle needs.

For expert guidance in selecting the perfect natural stone pavers or stepping stones for your property, visit one of Stone Center's conveniently located showrooms in Columbus and Cincinnati. Our knowledgeable staff can help you find the right materials to achieve your ideal finished look. Contact or visit Stone Center today to get started designing your new outdoor oasis.


Can stepping stones be used for a patio?

Yes, stepping stones can be used to create an attractive patio. They provide a decorative and functional walking surface. Just be sure to space the stones close enough together so they're easy to walk on. Stepping stones allow you to have a patio with permeable gaps for drainage.

What are the best pavers for a driveway?

For driveways, some of the best natural stone pavers are granite, bluestone, and travertine. Granite is extremely durable for heavy vehicle traffic. Bluestone provides a timeless, classic look while travertine has earthy tones that complement the landscaping. Slate and limestone are also good options that withstand weather and wear well. Using natural stone pavers will give your driveway character. If you need help deciding, we are happy to provide guidance!

What is the best stone for an outdoor patio?

For patios, a natural stone like slate, bluestone, or granite is often best. These stones are durable, slip-resistant, and withstand the elements well. Bluestone offers a classic, timeless look. Slate has color variations for visual interest. Granite is very strong and low maintenance. Travertine and sandstone are other good options to create an attractive natural stone patio.

What is the most affordable stone for a patio?

Of natural stone options, flagstone is typically the most budget-friendly for patios. Flagstone comes in irregular flat pieces that can be laid in patterns. Locally sourced fieldstone is also relatively inexpensive if you don't mind a rustic aesthetic. Bluestone and slate are other affordable natural stone choices that offer a classic, timeless patio look without costing as much as granite.


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Jon Smiley

Jon, the owner of Stone Center, is a knowledgeable expert in natural stone products, specializing in various types of stone for landscaping and architectural projects. Passionate about promoting the beauty and versatility of natural stone, Jon aims to use these blogs to inspire readers with creative ideas to upgrade their homes.

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