Cobblestones can have as much color variation as any other type of rock. Different types of cobblestones are different colors, and there may be additional color variations because of the types of minerals inside them. In early cobblestone construction, people had to use whatever color rocks were readily available. Modern construction and landscape suppliers make it easy to choose from the full spectrum of cobblestone colors. The colors include pink, tan, charcoal, gray, black, golden, brown, sand, green, yellow, beige, terracotta and various shades of red. Some stones may have multiple colors blended together, including light and dark shades of gray, shades of red and orange, and various shades of brown.
Cobblestones were once widely used to pave streets, making a sturdier and cleaner surface than original dirt roads. While many of these original streets have been paved over in favor of smooth asphalt, some streets have stood the test of time and are preserved for their historic value. Cobblestone can be used around the home and landscape to achieve an old world style that adds balance to the landscape's soft features.
The term "cobblestone" has its roots in an Old English word meaning "large lump," to describe a round, lumpy stone. Cobblestones are typically smooth, rounded stones that vary in size from stones slightly larger than pebbles to very large stones. Cobblestones can also be flat, square or rectangular stones, although unlike the typical definition of cobblestones, these stones are quarried stones that are cut into shape. Square stones are used in the same way as round cobblestones, but are often preferred because they make a road surface smoother. Round stones mean a bumpier ride and are more difficult to walk on than flat stones.
Cobblestones are extremely durable stones; quarried cobblestones are often cut from natural stones such as basalt or granite. However, any type of rock can be used as a cobblestone, provided it is strong and readily available. They were commonly taken from creek and riverbeds, where availability took precedence over rock composition. Modern cobblestones can be cut from any type of natural stone a homeowner desires, ensuring that there is a durable cobblestone available to suit any budget or design preference.
Cobblestones were widely popular because they were the strongest building material readily available for use in road construction. They could be found in creeks and riverbeds, and were most often available for free. It was also easier to select cobblestones of the right size and shape and pull them from a river than to carve and cut pieces from larger stones. Modern machinery can now cut and process cobblestones, so this benefit is not as important. The fact that some cobblestone roads still exist in good shape hundreds of years after construction is a testament to their durability.
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