In 2012, we first wrote about the impact of the Marcellus Shale mining activity on the availability of Pennsylvania Bluestone. Since that time, as predicted, the issue has become more severe. The original article with minor updates appears below. The key factors are the reduction in operating bluestone quarries and cost of labor for those still in operation. The result is increasing prices and decreasing supply.
Bluestone is a fascinating and complicated natural stone native to Pennsylvania (for whom the material is named), New Jersey and parts of New York. Bluestone has many options to consider in designing and installing your outdoor living project. But, if you have decided on the uniquely beautiful bluestone, you must also deal with the issues of quality and availability.
Quality: The primary quality consideration occurs in natural clef flagstone, both pattern and irregular. Because the appealing unique surface of natural clef flagstone is formed by natural forces, the consistency of that surface is unpredictable. Some pieces can exhibit huge variation in thickness, dramatic shifts in surface texture, even natural warping creating a bowed rather than flat piece. Some people find this variation exotic and attractive, some do not. If you are looking for flagstone with the flattest surface, the least variation in surface and thickness, you are looking for the rarest material.