Flagstones make an inexpensive and attractive base for any patio. In addition, installing this quality flooring can be done in as little as a weekend. Here are the five basic steps to install your own flagstone patio.
1. Choose a Design
Before doing any digging or hauling, determine how you want your flagstone patio to look. While most flagstone floors are created with a random look that feels very natural, you can also use specific stones to create a design. Start by determining the parameters so you know the total square footage you need to fill.
Look for quality flagstones at least two inches deep. Larger stones will be easier to place, but you can be more creative with smaller stones.
2. Clear and Level
Clear the area where your patio will be. If the flagstones will replace an existing patio or hardscaping, then this could be more challenging than installing the new materials. The ideal area for a flagstone patio will be as level as possible and free of large obstacles like big rocks, roots, and leftover patio material.
If you will be digging into unknown soil, then it's a good idea to check with your local utility company to see if there are any lines buried underneath the ground. In addition, a large patio or significant digging may also require a permit, so check with the local city zoning office as well.
3. Add a Base
While you can place a stone on any flat surface, installing a solid base underneath will help ensure less settling and more solid footing underneath your patio. A simple base material is crushed gravel or limestone, although you could add a layer of landscape cloth to prevent weed growth as well. Lay about six inches of this material over the ground, tamping it down until it's flat and solid.
Use taught twine or a carpenter's level - perhaps attached to a long two-by-four piece of wood - to check that the base is level.
Some homeowners like to lay down a layer of sand at this point, but it's up to you. If the gravel or limestone base allows you to move and settle the large flagstones into the base, then it should be sufficient. You can add sand as a stabilizing feature later on.
4. Install Stones
Now that you have a good foundation, start placing the flagstones in your chosen design. If you have a particular design in mind, sketch it out using the pieces you've chosen before placing them in the ground. Leave a little room between the stones. If you try to fit the stones together too tightly, then you'll spend more time and money making it all work together.
In addition to simplicity, leaving some space between flagstones helps prevent unnecessary water puddling by making places for runoff. You do run some risk of weeds growing through, but a proper base or a layer of landscape cloth should help take care of this problem.
5. Fill in with Sand
Make the flagstones steadier by filling in the cracks with a solid base of wet sand. Sweep sand over the stones and press it down into the cracks between them. You can sweep off the excess with a simple broom. Make sure the stones are comfortable by walking on them and tamping down sections that are higher than others using your hands and a rubber mallet. Once again, your carpenter's level could come in handy if you're unsure.
For the first step in creating your new, budget-friendly flagstone patio, contact the stone experts at P & L Concrete Products, Inc. today. We have a wide variety of flagstones, including Sunset Bronze, Pink Rosa, and Quartzite to fit all your decorative needs.