Puzzle Together The Flagstone
Start by grabbing the larger stones and placing them around the perimeter of the patio. You want to use the larger stones on the outside because smaller stones will move and shift with time. Large stones;will lock the smaller stones toward the center in place.
Then, start adding the rest of the stones to the center, working toward the middle of the patio. Cutting the stones is time-consuming and dusty, so spend a few minutes trying to puzzle them together, so you have to make as few cuts as possible.
Heres a quick tip: The tighter and more consistent you try to make the seems, the longer its going to take because youll have to make waaaay more cuts. If you dont mind bigger gaps, youll save a ton of labor, and you can get by with fewer stones to save some cash.
To cut the stones, you can use anything with a diamond blade on it. You see me using an angle grinder in the video, but there is a much easier way to cut the stones, which is to use a concrete saw with a larger diamond blade, as I demonstrate here.
How To Determine How Much Flagstone You Need
Tools Needed To Build Your Stone Patio On A Gravel Base:
- grabo, the hot new vacuum lifter that makes lifting flagstones a bit easier. My review can be found HERE.
- hand tamper (might want to rent a plate compactor too, depending on how large your project is.
- dead blow type mallet. Many types to choose from.lately I mostly use my rawhide mallet, but the rubber headed modern style .deadblow is in my tool bucket too, and Ill use whichever is closer on hand.
- 4.5 angle grinder, with diamond blade. keep this on hand for cuts that the hammer wont successfully make, or that will take too long with the hammer.
- knee pads dust mask ear protection
- 4 level
- square trowel, for smoothing out stone dust to level the flagstones.
- rakes, shovels, pick-maddock, wheelbarrow, 5 gallon buckets and shop broom.
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Consider A Roadmap Before You Start
If you’re using irregularly-shaped flagstones, you’ll have to wing the design. For flagstone patios with square or rectangular stones, make a to-scale replica of each stone , and organize how the stones will fit like a puzzle. If you’ve ever designed a picture frame gallery wall, follow that organizational concept for success. You can do this digitally, but trimming pieces of paper into “puzzle pieces” works well.
Doing this exercise early in the process isn’t guaranteed to make your install perfect , but it helps make it possible for visual people to understand how the stones will be organized:
- you wont accidentally put all of your biggest stones down first
- youll be able to plan how to stagger joints from stone-to-stone
- youll get a better sense of how many stones will need to be cut along the way
- you can map and plan any obstacles or existing structures to work around
How Do You Attach Flagstone To A Concrete Patio
You have to use the sand and cement in a ratio of 2:1 each. If you are taking sand in 2 cups, you have to make cement in 1 cup composition. Now start mixing in a container, pour water to make a consistency into the mixture, and continue pouring until it reaches the cake frosting-like consistency. Now start applying the mortar, then set stones one by one into the mortar. If your stones are not in an exact position, then apply more mortar under uneven stones to make it even. In this case, start by identifying the thickest stone, then applying more mortar, then working outward from this stone.
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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.
Design To Fit Your Site
Relatively flat sites are the easiest to build on. The more sloped your site, the more you have to excavate, fill and build retaining walls and steps. Our project is set on a gentle slope just out the back door. The wall on the low end does double duty. It allows us to build up the grade slightly to form the flat patio. And because the wall rises about 16 in. high above the patio surface, it makes for comfortable seating .
We incorporated one 6-in. x 3-ft. long stone slab step between the two walls to transition back down to the natural slope of the yard. Keep in mind that these walls are designed as decorative walls, not retaining walls. If you need more than one step or if you have a steeper slope, have an architect or engineer detail the lower part of the wall to handle the extra pressure.
Our wall is made from mortared stone that rests on a reinforced concrete floating footing . This type of footing works well for walls up to 2 ft. high and less than 20 ft. long built on average-to-good soilsthat is, sand, gravel and stable clay. But it wont do on soil rich in organic matter or expansive clay. Youll need a deeper footing in those cases. Call in a local structural engineer or architect to review your plans.
The flagstone patio rests on a 6-in. thick gravel and sand bed that you prepare exactly as you would for a brick or paver patio .
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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.
How To Lay A Patio
Our useful how to lay patio laying guide will give you all the information you need to install our range of paving products, if you choose to do-it-yourself.
Ensure you read our advice before beginning work on your new design project – this will mean you are fully prepared and have everything to hand, ready to complete your perfect garden.
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Spread The Crushed Stone
Some strategy here overlaps with chess: It’s best to minimize the amount of moves you have to make to get the pieces in position. Unpile the heap of gravel bags, for instance, by tossing them into the pit at roughly the spots you expect they’ll spread evenly. It may feel like you’re overthinking it, but by the end of the project you’ll be reluctant to bend over, even empty-handed. Using a utility knife, split the bags open like a fish belly and use the back side of a garden rake to start spreading an even layer throughout the pit. Pack the gravel down using a tamper.
How To Make Mortar By Hand:
Top Tip: Try to avoid making more mortar than you need. While it takes 24 hours for mortar to fully set, it can become unusable quickly if its left to dry, particularly on hot days. Our golden rule of thumb? Only make enough mortar for two or three pavers at a time.
Make A Flagstone Concrete Mold
Homemade flagstones are an inexpensive alternative to store-bought ones and can be customized to any size and shape that you want. Flagstone molds are often made of silicone and other expensive materials, but you can make them out of concrete so long as you take a few considerations into account. This will help you remove the completed flagstones from the mold. Use a wire brush to add texture to the top and sides of the flagstone form, if desired. Use light pressure to avoid tearing gouges in the foam. These details should be shallow; they are only to give the appearance of cracks. Glue the flagstone form face-up into a plastic or cardboard box. Allow each coat to completely dry. Brush the form and the interior of the box with a thin coat of petroleum jelly. Mix a small batch of ready-mix concrete with water according to the instructions on the package. Pour the concrete into the box to the side of the form, allowing it to fill and cover the foam. Allow the concrete to harden for several hours.
- Homemade flagstones are an inexpensive alternative to store-bought ones and can be customized to any size and shape that you want.
- Use a wire brush to add texture to the top and sides of the flagstone form, if desired.
How To Construct Your Patio
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Mulch and Dirt yards sell crushed granite. Google it or look it up on the map, and call one close by. One place quoted $65, and another quoted $85 per yard and should fill the back of a pick up truck.
We are putting in an above ground pool, and I accidentally bought masonry sand, and then had to by bank . Bank sand is $18, and masonry sand is $25 per yard. The place I ordered the sand from will deliver in a dump truck if your within a short miles distance near them for $75.
Can I use the masonry sand under the flagstone? And then the granite on top? Or is the masonry sand to pose-able? Like it will slip and move too much. I dont know what I can use the masonry sand for thats in the back of my pick up.
Dan where have you been? Ive been searching for a practical way of laying flagstone since my first home purchase in 2010. My feverish search waned over the years but the fire never went out and now here you are. Thank you so much for the information, demonstration, ideas and video. My flagstone project can now begin.
Very formative instruction. I got a question: can I fill the flagstone gaps with cement/mortar? I want a match with other laid area.
Dig Out The Foundation
The first, most labor-intensive step is digging the footing for the patio. Begin by using a square-nose shovel to outline the patio perimeter. Loosen the soil within and scoop it out, tossing it either in buckets or a wheelbarrow so it can be easily relocated to planting beds or some inconspicuous mound. You’re only going down a few inches, but even a shallow ditch spread out over 120 square feet adds up to a lot of digging. Fortunately, subcontractor Alan proved as deft with the shovel as he was at hauling 50-pound bags of crushed rock, one on each shoulder, up the stoop and through the house. He also had a great back-saving technique for ensuring a flat-bottomed hole: Place the back face of a square-nosed shovel flat against the earth, so that the butt of the handle hits around your hips. Then just keep your spine straight as you walk the shovel forward, plowing forward with your leg muscles while the shovel collects the loose dirt like a dustpan. At the end of the first day we had a shapely, flat-bottomed hole in the outline of the patio-to-be.
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.