How To Build A Flagstone Patio
Build a flagstone patio to create a welcoming outdoor living space in your backyard. Flagstone pieces fit together to form a solid platform that is both durable and attractive.
A flagstone patio can become the base for a variety of uses. Place outdoor furniture on top of the patio to enjoy al fresco dining. Add lounge chairs and savor your morning coffee in the fresh air. Install a fire pit surrounded by cushioned benches to experience atmospheric evenings under the night sky.
The possibilities are endless, but first youll need to lay the groundwork by building a flagstone patio. This step-by-step guide will cover how to build a dry or sand-set patio rather than a permanent, wet-set flagstone patio.
Step 10: Continue The Process
Congratulate yourself on a job well donethen move on to the next one. Continue this process until all stones are set into the ground.
Tip: If you do have non-grassy areas where your flagstone path will go, we found the most efficient method to be: remove top few inches of surface matter , cover entire area with 2 of sand, and lay flagstone rocks down in previously determined arrangement. Remove as much sand as possible from between the flagstones, then cut and set sod strips between them. That is what you see in this photo by the hose hanger.
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There you are! A gorgeous flagstone pathway that guides you intuitively from Point A to Point B. Perfect for summertime outdoor enjoyment.
Step 3: Adding In Coarse Gravel
Now that the area was dug out, it was time for gravel. The gravel helps to create a firm, level base, but it also allows water to drain.
To source the gravel and sand , we went to another local place that sold landscaping rocks and other supplies.
At first we thought we would just transport the gravel and sand in our SUV. But after a few calculations, we realized that would be a bad idea because it would be a lot of time and heavy-lifting to simply load and then unload the car, and we would have to make at least 2 tripsmaybe moreto get everything home.
Suddenly the $50 delivery fee seemed like a bargain.
Within a day, a big dump truck came to our house and dumped a pile of gravel and a pile of sand in our driveway.
The salesperson made sure to ask us which pile should go closer to the house. At the time, it didnt seem important. But once I started hauling wheel barrels full of rock, I realized that even 10 feet can make a big difference.
We gradually added in the gravel and used a metal rake to spread it out evenly.
Once we covered the area evenly, we got out the tamper and started tamping it down. You want to avoid having your patio sink down or become uneven because you either didnt add enough aggregate or you didnt tamp it enough.
Theres really no trick here, except I tried to follow some advice that I read. Essentially: if youre not tired after tamping, youre not doing it hard enough.
Step 1: Overview Of Flagstone Patio Ideas
You cant beat stone as a building material for a backyard terrace. It blends well with any back yard and garden, its always in style and it will last almost maintenance free for generations. We built the walls in this project from blue ledge stone and the flagstone patio from cut and squared bluestone.
Stonework is a big job, so we kept our flagstone patio at a smaller, intimate size, about 300 sq. ft. This size is perfect for a small dining table, a few chairs and a barbecueall in all, a nice space for a family of four and for occasional entertaining.
The modest size means you can complete this flagstone patio installation on weekends and in evenings without heavy professional equipment. We added the low, curved stone wall to enclose one end of the flagstone patio and provide plenty of informal seating. Thats the perfect place to position an outdoor fireplace to chase the chill on cool spring and summer evenings.
In this article, well show you how to build handsome, durable stone walls and lay smooth, close-fitting flagstone. If you enjoy building challenges and dont mind heavy work, this projects for you. But give yourself plenty of time. Figure on about 14 full days to complete it, or about a solid month of evenings and weekends. Its an advanced project because it requires meticulous work and patience to choose the stones and fit them together.
What Is The Best Material To Put Between Flagstones
Many do not want weeds to be grown in between the gaps of their flagstone patio. Hence, feeling the gaps is the only solution and it is necessary as well. It resists weed growth and keeps the flagstone in position. Also, if you fill the gaps, it will increase its beauty making it low maintenance. The right filler can make your flagstone patio level, safe, and gorgeous.
Read Also: 9 Best Flagstone Sealer for Outdoor 2021
However, there are many materials that are considered as good fillers. These are used to fix and fill the gaps of the patio. The materials are given below.
Sand is probably the most common and traditional material used as a joint filler in flagstone. It comes with an easy filling process. Also, it is challenging as it is tough to keep the material in place. Hence, it requires refilling.
However, the smaller particles of the sand work better for this purpose. Flagstones that have smaller gaps in between them and much closer to each other work well with the smaller sand for filling.
#2. Polymeric sand:
Polymeric also known as poly-sand is a special kind of mixture of fine sand and other additives mostly polymers. With water, this polymeric sand combination works as a strong glue. The glue is potential enough to hold on to the sand particles altogether to act as a decent filler.
#3. Small Rocks:
Steps To A Diy Flagstone Patio
Photo 15: Level The Top Row
Lay the top row perfectly level. Measure down from the top and find or break stones to fit the top course. As before, fill the voids inside the wall with mortar and scrap rock. Then cut the capstones to fit and set them in mortar.
The curved wall is somewhat easier to build than the straight wall, because slightly misaligned stones wont be as noticeable. Since the curved wall is so long, start building from one end .
You cant work off string lines. Instead, use a tape measure to check the position of each stone . And check the taper by holding your level plumb along the edges and measuring over to each stone.
Occasionally youll have to break a stone to get a nice fit. Hold the stone in your hand and strike the edge sharply with a masons hammer . Thatll usually do the trick. If not, set the stone on a soft surface and hit it harder. Wear goggles to protect your eyes from flying stone chips.
How To Lay A Flagstone Pathway
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Flagstone is a beautiful choice for landscape pavers. When we were planning out our garden, I knew I wanted to include large flagstone pavers. So we went to work and are so happy with the results! Learn how to lay a flagstone pathway stepping-stone style with this easy tutorial.
Can You Lay Flagstone On Dirt
Yes, you can, and you can do this with or without a grass/weed blocking material between the flagstone and the dirt. Flagstone walkway is a common landscaping addition along with flagstone patios, small retaining walls, and steps. Flagstone is reasonably heavy, so laying it directly on the dirt for a walkway, grass will grow up between the stones, giving it a rustic appearance.
Before You Start Building Your Flagstone Patio
- Choose your patio location. Its best if your patio area is located away from trees or bushes. Plants can intrude on the patio over time.
- Decide on the size, shape, and design of your flagstone patio. Mark out the border with spray paint.
- Measure the overall square footage of the patio area in order to .
When youre ready to build your patio, heres what to do:
Is Flagstone Cheaper Than Pavers
Let us provide this analogy: A flagstone walkway is fine cabinetry that paver walkway is Ikea stone. So, with that analogy, that should answer your question: A flagstone walkway is going to be more expensive than a paver walkway.
Does that mean you shouldnt consider using pavers? Absolutely not! You need to choose the material for your homes patio and walkway based on two things:
- Your personal style
- Your personal budget
If youre considering creating a patio or walkway, the hardscape industry has a constant stream of new products introduced every year. Most of the new products, marketed as cobble stone or rustic stone are really just concrete pavers that mimic natural stone like flagstone.
Walkways and patios can look just as good, but you need to realize the difference in the materials so that you can plan how to install them if youre doing the job yourself. A professional contractor that has experience in creating flagstone walkways and patios will know the difference in materials and how to install the material.
Getting to the dollars and cents of this question, the cost of a flagstone walkway can vary based on where you live. In this area, Texas, Arizona, California, flagstone is easier to come by because of the ground in the Southwest area. Areas up north, like Pennsylvania, New York, this natural material has to be shipped in, thus it is going to cost more.
Step 10: Set The Capstones
Check the top of the wall for level and mark the highest spot. Plan to set your first capstone at this spot and squish this mortar joint down tight. Then youll level the other capstones from it.
Dry-set the capstones on the wall and fit them. Leave a 3/8-in. space between each stone for mortar, or wider if youre using irregular-shaped stone as a cap. Youll probably have to cut a capstone or two to make the overhangs on the ends just right. But avoid small stones. Then remove the stone at the highest point and reset it in a bed of mortar.
Gently tap it with a dead-blow hammer or rubber mallet to level it in all directions. Set each stone, leveling off the first. On the straight wall, tilt the capstones about 1/8 in. to one side to drain off water. Work quickly. You wont have much time to position and level the stones before the mortar begins to set.
After you set adjacent stones, fill the vertical joint between them with mortar, let it stiffen, then smooth and round the joint with a jointer. If you slop mortar on the wall when you set the caps, wait until it dries. Then clean it off with a stiff brush.
Flagstone Patios That Are Set In Sand Are Vulnerable To Ants And Wash
Occasionally Ive seen a paver patio messed up by ants. But with flagstone patios that are set in sand ants always attack. I suppose its because the joints are inevitably wider with flagstone and/or because the flagstones are varying in thickness meaning you end up with deeper sand in some places. Whatever the exact reason, I can tell you that all of the flagstone patios that I have seen that are set in sand eventually get run amok by ants.
Another reason to use screenings is because screenings also make an excellent joint filler.
You do not want to use sand, even course sand between your flagstone joints because it can wash awayunless of course your flagstones are absurdly tight. For pattern-cut flagstone, yes, you can maybe get away with using sand as the joint-filler. Just make sure the base is course sand, not fine. You will need to use fine sand for the joints however because of how tight they are. Again, ants love fine sandbut in this application, pattern-cut stones, tiny jointsfine sand will not be the end of the worldso long as the base is course, of course. Thats for pattern-cut flagstoneor any flagstone where the joints are super tightin those cases you can maybe get away with sand, so long as you follow the guidelines that Ive set earlier in this paragraph. For irregular flagstone, or any flagstone with a joint wider than a quarter of an inch, you really really should try and avoid sand, and instead use stone dust.
Installing Flagstone Requires Some Expertise
Laying a flagstone patio is a project that requires precision, which is why its a construction project that is normally left to professionals or experienced DIYers.
If youre taking this project on with minimal experience the knowledgeable staff at Van Beeks can help! We carry a wide range of natural stone products from various suppliers including Unilock, which is a great choice for DIYers because of the step-by-step instructions offered on their website.
Flagstone can be laid in a few different ways: dry-lay or wet-set using mortar. The dry-lay method works well for residential foot traffic for patios and walkways and involves a number of steps:
Step 7: Fill In The Gaps
Now comes the easy part filling in the gaps. You can use whatever you want for this step. You can use soil which would allow you to plant moss or something in the gaps. Or, you could just use more DG, which will help keeps weeds at bay.
Whatever you add, just make sure and spray it down with a hose to lock in the stones, and youre ready to enjoy your hard work!
Sweep Sand Into The Joints
Spread dry sand over the stones and bricks and work it down into the cracks with a broom. Tamp with the plate compactor. Keep spreading sand and tamping until the joints are full.
Note: If your sand is damp, spread it out to dry before sweeping it into the cracks. If you run short, buy 50-lb. bags of mason’s sand at a home center or lumberyard.
Keep These Tips In Mind
Here are a few general tips and tricks to keep in mind in order to properly and efficiently install your flagstone:
- Place the larger stones on the outside perimeter with the smaller pieces in the center. This will allow the large stones to lock the small ones in place as they will shift over time.
- Cutting the stone is very time consuming and messy. Try to tetris the pieces together so that you only have to make very few cuts.
- Use bigger gaps in the stone to cut down on time. The more consistent and tighter that you are with the gaps will take you much longer and require far more cuts.
- To cut the flagstone, use any sort of device with a diamond blade. Although you can simply use a hammer to knock off the edges, a blade is more effective and gives you more control.
- Getting the stones to sit properly can be difficult. Try using some DG, or decomposed granite, to help level them out.
- If you want to avoid weeds or any other greenery growing in the gaps, use more DG to keep these at bay.
Why Is Gravel The Best Choice For Your Your Flagstone Patios Foundation
Cement will crack. Especially grade level cement. Especially in a climate with winters like ours in Pennsylvania. A worse way to go about it would be to lay the flagstone upon a bed of gravel and then cement the joints between stones. Horrible idea. The gravel base is flexible and will move ever so slightly during freeze-thaw. Well, if the base was done poorly the movement might be more then slight, but lets assume the base was done well. A gravel base will definitely move a bitlooking at any of my patios, youd never know that, but the movement does happen. Cement is rigidif you put a rigid top on a flexible base then systemic cracking is inevitable.
Cement based mortar is a fine joint filling material if the flagstone happens to rest upon a concrete foundation. But why on earth would you want to have a concrete foundation anyway? The concrete itself will crack, eventually. In a northern climate it will likely crack within ten yearsand the chances of it cracking within the next three years are pretty high too. Environmental impact of concrete production is no small issue either. Anyway, I personally prefer dry stone work. More harmonious, warmer, just better. The feeling you get from a well done dry laid flagstone patio, in my humble opinion, is just better than a flagstone patio set in cement.
How To Install A Flagstone Patio
Installing a flagstone patio or path can give your landscape design a huge boost and really impress your guests .
I love the natural feel they give to a landscape design. Instead of just using boring old paver blocks or even cement, flagstone will make your backyard more interesting and unique.
In this article, Im going to share exactly how to install a flagstone patio easily and without the use of concrete or special tools.
Just like everything else, there is more than one way to get this job done. The method Im showing you is optimized for a balance between simplicity of installation, longevity, and a high-quality professional look. So, not only will it be easy to install, it will last a lifetime.
Lets get started
Quick Disclaimer: Make sure to check local codes before installing anything in your home as your area may require a different process for building a patio. And be sure to use the proper safety equipment while using tools .
Also, the links below are affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you click on them and buy . This does not cost you anything additional and it allows me to put out free information like this.
Order The Base Materials And Stone
It’s what’s underneath that counts. Stone and brick are what you see, but the landscape fabric, gravel and sand are what hold them together and make your patio last.
Landscape fabric stabilizes the soil underneath the gravel base by keeping them apart while allowing water to drain through. We used 12-1/2 ft. wide, heavy, woven stabilization fabric purchased from our stone supplier. If this isn’t available, use the widest landscape fabric you can find.
Class V limestone forms the foundation of our patio, but there may be different materials available in your region. Any granular fill will work as long as the size of the granules ranges from 3/4 in. down to a powder and they’re angular, not smooth and round. These qualities allow the fill to be tightly packed for a firm base that allows water to drain through. A mixture of recycled concrete and asphalt is widely available and is a good substitute for Class V.
Depending on your soil, you’ll need a4- to 10-in. thick layer of gravel. Sandy soils require less gravel than soils with organic matter or clay. Gravel is sold by the ton or cubic yard. One cubic yard covers about 50 sq. ft. at a 6-in. depth by the time it’s compacted and weighs 1-1/2 tons. We used 12 tons of gravel.
Coarse washed sand is spread over the gravel in a 1-in. layer to form a setting bed for the stone and brick, and later to fill the cracks between the bricks and stone. We used 5 tons of sand.
Diy Vs Contractor: It Takes An Artistic Eye
The naturally occurring irregular shapes and colors of flagstones mean that putting together a patio is more like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It takes time and an artistic eye to know what pieces should go together and how to shape the stones to match the desired area. If your patio has a lot of border areas, it can take skill and time to shape the stones to fit them correctly.
One solution is to use a less defined pattern and put more space between the stones. By letting the size and shape of the stones dictate the pattern, you will have less trimming and shaping to do. This will save you time on the installation and give your patio shape a more natural look.
Breaking stones isnt as difficult as it may sound . A light hammer tap on the edge should break off pieces fairly easily. Or you can try dropping the larger stones on a hard surface and let the pieces fall apart naturally. A chisel and hammer can assist when more precise shaping is required. The key is dont try to take off too much at one time and you should be able to shape the stones to meet your design.
Choosing Flagstones For A Flagstone Path
Natural flagstone walkways are a great way to create welcoming paths for a beautiful landscape. Flagstones are rocks that have been split into slabs and cut into irregular flag-like shapes. Flagstones are available in varying thicknesses, depending on the job at hand, from 1 ¼ to 2 inches thick. They can also be found in different color variations and rock types to easily match the surrounding landscape design such as bluestone, limestone, or sandstone.
Care should always be taken in choosing the right type of flagstone for a flagstone walkway as they also differ in the way they absorb water. For instance, some types of flagstone absorb water quickly and easily, somewhat like a sponge. Then there are other types that actually seem to repel water, making them slippery when wet.
Spread Landscape Fabric And Gravel
Double-check your calculations for gravel and sand and arrange for deliveries. Then call the rental store and reserve a gas-powered plate compactor or tamper. This is a heavy beast; youll need a trailer or pickup truck and a couple of strong bodies to move it around.
After compacting the soil with the tamper and before you start filling the hole, roll out the landscape fabric, allowing it to extend at least 6 in. beyond the patio all around. Use spikes to temporarily hold it in place. Then we spread a 2-in. layer of gravel over the top.
Note: If your soil is soft or soggy, you might have to add more gravel fill to create a stable base. Ask your building inspector or a soil engineer to recommend the right base for you.