What Causes Damage to Stone Walkways?

Image of Flagstone Pathway to Gateway Door

Damage to Stone Walkways?

Stone walkways add charm to your outdoor spaces. Over time, however, the stones and mortar can become damaged. Here are some reasons your stones might not look their best and suggestions for preserving their beauty.


Stains from spills can build up on your stones and cause discoloration. If you spill something on your walkways, simply hose it off to prevent stains from setting.

Leaves can also cause staining. To prevent these stains, keep your walkways clear by sweeping leaves from them once a week during the fall.

Rock Salt and other Deicers

Winter frost can leave your walkways slippery, and that may tempt you to use rock salt to melt the ice. Unfortunately, that’s a bad idea because rock salt can be very damaging to stones and mortar. Repeated applications of rock salt will cause cracks and weaken the stone.

Ice is slightly less corrosive than rock salt. However, it can also be very damaging to masonry, especially to mortar. Most masonry experts recommend using safer methods to remove ice and snow from your steps. Use a broom to remove the top layer of snow and a shovel to chip off the ice.


Plants growing between your masonry steps can look charming. They create a romantic look that many people enjoy. However, it’s important to use plants that won’t damage your stonework. Woody plants, trees, and bushes can take root in between the mortar and cause it to crack. Plants with heavy tendrils, like ivy, can cause serious damage to stonework.

To keep your walkways looking beautiful, choose plants with delicate tendrils like sweet pea, periwinkle, Hosta, stonecrop, and scarlet runner bean are all plants that are harmless to masonry.

Image of Flagstone Path and Stone Garden Wall

Dry-Set Instead of Wet-Set Masonry

When you install stone walkways, you have the choice of wet-set or dry-set installation. Dry-set installation is more affordable and easier to do, but it has disadvantages. It is not as durable as wet-set stone, especially because it allows moisture to seep into the spaces under the stones.

If you have dry-set walkways, you may have experienced these and other problems. To upgrade these walkways, ask a masonry expert to turn them into wet-set installations and add a sealer. Doing this will give you long-lasting, beautiful results.

Lack of Sealer

As you know, our region sees changeable weather that can range from hot and humid to icy. That means a constant freeze-and-thaw cycle that can lead to cracks. A properly applied sealer shields your walkways from the effects of weather, foot traffic, and other wear and tear. The sealer is invisible and won’t make your walkways slippery.

Contact Us for All Your Stonework Plans

Whether you’re ready to install a new walkway or need repairs on an existing one, contact Capital Masonry. We have created stunning walkways for dozens of satisfied customers in the area. Contact us to learn more.