Dark paving slabs set you apart. They say, “I want something different and I’m not afraid to do it.” It’s a choice that lends itself to contemporary styling but can be equally at home with period properties. We look at what you need to know.

Midnight Black limestone patio paving with blocky white raised beds and wooden seating and screens. Design by Lifestyle Gardens.
Midnight Black Limestone is naturally an inky black. Here Lifestyle Gardens have used it in a strong monochrome arrangement with geometrical white raised beds. Please note that to maintain the rich colour, black limestone should be treated with a solution such as Dry Treat Colour Enhancing Sealer.

Where will your dark paving slabs be laid?

Think carefully about lighting levels and when you’re most likely to use the space.

In an area without much direct light, dark paving could look and feel gloomy, especially in an area overhung with foliage. Here, dark grey and black tones could make an area feel damper, danker and less welcoming.

If you’re not sure whether the space is suitable, take time to watch how the light changes depending on the time of the day and the season.

Is it in direct sun?

By contrast, dark grey slabs can be a very good choice in a brightly lit area. This is because they’ll absorb some of the brightness, making it more restful.

However, it’s worth remembering that dark colours give off more heat. If you want to lay them in a sun-trap, be prepared for the slabs to heat up more quickly than lighter colours. If you’d like a dark paving but are worried about heat, consider choosing a more textured natural stone or porcelain. A smoother surface will feel hotter than a textured one.

Black granite paving in Matt Haddon's A Place to Ponder garden, RHS Tatton Park 2018, with wooden bench and DesignClad walls.
In his Silver-Gilt winning garden at RHS Tatton Park 2018, Matt Haddon used Black Granite paving. Adding pale furniture, such as the wooden bench, makes the contribution of dark paving to an overall design all the stronger.

Can you use dark patio slabs in a small space?

Received wisdom is that lighter colours make a space feel larger, but that’s not always the case. Darker colours can actually make more of the space you have.

Dark boundary fencing or walls (see our cladding for colour options) set behind multi-stem trees and bushes, can combine well with dark paving. Dark grey slabs that recede into corners, their edges hidden by arching leaves and lax planting, will disguise the limits of the space, unlike lighter colours which define edges very clearly.

The design in these circumstances is all-important. A small area paved with a rich deep Charcoal porcelain, for example, populated with brightly coloured blooms, vibrantly green architectural foliage, and with small uplighters carefully placed would make a cosy sanctuary for evening gathering. Add a firepit for a warm welcome.

A sunken seating area with long sofa and white firepit table is laid with Slab Coke porcelain in midst of paler paving.
This patio by Bancroft Lee delineates the sunken seating area in Slab Coke porcelain, setting it apart from the paler surround. The white firepit table shows how pale features are complemented by dark paving slabs. Here the Slab Coke porcelain is lifted with pale grouting, in keeping with the lighter elements of the design,

Dark paving in a large garden

A large area is an opportunity to give your chosen paving a starring role. It even lends itself well to larger formats, such as the 1200x600mm option in Trendy Black Porcelain. Placing furniture and features in lighter colours on dark paving adds strength to its part in the design.

If you fear that a large expanse of dark paving could be overwhelming, even in a large garden, then combine it with lighter colours and textures, such as a large lawn, or use a combination of paving colours to highlight different areas. Click through to see how it can also add bold colour contrast to patios.

Florence Dark Porcelain paving next to narrow flowerbed with bright-green heathers and purple heucheras.
Florence Dark paving from our Premium Porcelain range was used here by Thames Valley Landscapes. One of the deepest greys available, it shows how dark paving helps bright-green and purple-leaved plants such as the heathers and heuchera look more vibrant.

Do dark paving slabs need less cleaning?

Darker colours show the dirt less, so yes, dark grey porcelain and stone slabs need less cleaning than lighter-coloured ones. One thing that will show up more is bird droppings, so they might not be the best choice if the local pigeons love that tree on the edge of the patio.

Natural stone or porcelain paving?

The range of dark grey porcelain slabs is extensive, and it's worth noting that you may find some described as black. Our own Trendy Black porcelain is an example. This is deliberate. True black is rare in nature, so the darkest natural stone greys are referred to as black. Porcelain styles emulate nature. From a design point of view, true black would jar in so many outdoor situations, but a dark—even very dark—grey is far more versatile. In general, porcelain will offer more to choose from when it comes to really dark grey patio slabs. You'll find something across our ranges, in Luxury, Premium and Project porcelain.

Rustic Slate pathway next to wide gravel strip leading to front of period house.
Dark colours are often used modern settings. This design by GRC Landscapes shows how Rustic Slate tones with the period architecture and how the natural stone adds dark drama in wet weather.

Colour changes

Natural stone has a different character. Whereas porcelain looks pretty much the same wet or dry, natural stone looks darker when wet.

Depending on your point of view, this adds to the attraction of natural stone. For example, Black Slate paving will darken dramatically when wet, adding a dynamism and interest to the setting. However, if you prefer your garden the same whatever the weather, you'll probably enjoy porcelain more.

It is also worth remembering that natural stone weathers. Midnight Black Limestone, one of the inkiest and most gorgeous choices, will eventually fade if left to its own devices. You will need to care for black limestone in order to retain its rich colour. Porcelain is highly fade-resistant and lower-maintenance because of it.

Dark paving slabs are a sophisticated choice that add drama to a garden design. Browse our range of paving to be inspired.