Planning to build your own patio? Then you are probably in the process of thinking what materials to use. When it comes to patios or any other exterior home projects, the best material to use for patios and walkways is flagstone.
What is Flagstone?
Flagstone is exactly as its name suggests a type of stone that can come in various shades and hues of color. It is a type of stone or rock which is many times used for making walkways or patios, this type of material has been preferred for years both by homeowners and landscape artists because of its natural beauty that simply cannot be matched by concrete and other materials. Some of the most common type of flagstone includes slate, sandstone and limestone? Flagstone patios are elegant yet they still manage to lend to the area a sense of naturalness not found with brick or cement. They can also be more durable and require little maintenance for their return. Unlike wood patios or decks, there is no need to worry about rot, and unlike cement and brick, they look better weathered and stained.
Why Use Flagstones for Patios?
One of the reasons why people prefer flagstones over other kinds of materials is its natural vintage look. These stones come in many different colors such as grey, red, blue, green and even white. They have a certain kind of shimmer that is quite pleasing to the eye. For a more unique look, you can try to mix and match colors and size. You can also mix flagstones with other kinds of stones to create a wonderful effect.
Flagstones come in different sizes. If you are going to use for a patio though then you should use a stone that is around two inches thick. Sand and stone dust is usually used as a base material for a flagstone patio. You can also cut the stones unevenly to create a more casual feel to your patio.
There is another reason to use flagstone apart from its appearance and that is its durability. The patio is a part of the house where plenty of people usually converge in and this is the reason why it needs to be made of a material that will last for a long time. When it comes to durability, few materials can outlast a natural flagstone patio.
It is probably a lot cheaper to use wood for patios but wood is a material that can be easily destroyed by termites or even by water. On the contrary, flagstones do not get cracked or damaged easily. A patio made from flagstones can last for years and is definitely worth the monetary investment. Indeed, there is no wiser decision when building a patio than using flagstones.
Flagstone Patio Design
A flagstone patio is versatile. The design used can be formal or informal. Flagstone works over concrete slabs or laid directly on existing stable soils. Flagstones are either irregularly shaped for crazy paving or pre-cut usually in squares or rectangles. Flagstone is available in multiple colors with buff, red, brown, and pink being most common. Gaps between flagstones can be filled with sand, planted with grass or creepers, or filled with mortar.
Squares are more expensive than un-cut pieces. If you are working with a patio restricted to a small area with firm fixed boundaries, pre-cut stones may be worth the expense to skip the headache some people get trying to fit random shapes in small spaces.
Planning a pattern with pre-cut squares is like setting-up any tile job. Draw the patio area to scale. Find out what size pre-cut stones your supplier carries. Decide what kind of spacing you want between stones. You may want a larger gap between stones if you are planning to plant grass or a creeper in the gaps rather than just filling in with sand. Determine how many cut squares you need and ask the supplier to cut any partial stones. Edging with timbers or bricks provides a clean transition from the patio to lawn or garden. Edging also provides a clean transition between slightly different grades.
The first design that most people use is called the ridged and spread out design. This design is used for a pathway that has multiple spaces in between the flagstone. By placing a few pieces here and there, you will have what looks like steps or stepping stones for a path. This looks great for people that live by a lake and can incorporate this with going down to the lake or boat house.
The next design is very creative and it involves buying multiple colors of flagstone. Place a different piece of flagstone next to each other but make sure that they are not the same color. As a result, you will have a patio that looks like nothing of its kind. It will stand out from the rest of the house and people will surly be amazed.
The third design that can be used when building a patio is the old school design. This design is used when you would like to have the same color throughout the entire path or patio. Simply place all of the flagstone pieces together to make one uniform looking structure. This will make everything come together and it will look amazing.
Designing crazy paving patios can be a little trickier. The ideal use of irregular stones is as a path or free-form patio. The free-form patio will eliminate the need to cut straight edges on outer stones to fit within rigid boundaries.
For a crazy paving patio, first lay out your general boundaries. An oval works well as a general shape since it is easily approximated with somewhat irregularly shaped stones. Take the measurements and draw a sketch to bring with you to the supplier. If possible, pick your own stones. This will help assure they will fit and give you an idea about how many you need. The supplier can help estimate what you need based on your sketch. However, if you don?t pick the pieces yourself, you may end up with all small pieces or an uneven mix that will be difficult to place in a pleasing pattern. You may also need to do more cutting if you purchase a pallet.
If your patio area is large ? say bigger than 4 feet by 6 feet ? you may want to get half the stones you think you need. Take them home and lay them out. Measure the area remaining and figure out about what size pieces you want to fill the rest of the area.
Building Your Flagstone Patio: Supplies you will need
- Gravel (preferably crushed granite)
- Sand (course, especially recommended for paving)
- Flagstone (the thicker lasts longer)
- Some 2×4 boards sufficient for the project
- You can also use metal or plastic edging
- Landscaping cloth
- Biodegradable ground marking spray paint
- Landscape edging of stone or plastic
- Flat spade
- Round shovel
- Metal rake
- Water and hose
- Safety goggles (wear when breaking stone)
- Steel toe boots (protection from falling objects)
- A shop broom and a light duty broom
- At least one assistant
Flagstone Patio Installation
When using flagstones, you would need a base. The best base for these kinds of stones is stone dust or sand. The key to a good base is that it should be solid and compacted. Having a lose base will greatly affect the way the flagstones will be set. You would not want your flagstone patio to be sinking slowly in the ground because of a lose base.
The best, longest lasting patios are usually laid with sand and/or gravel. Some people may elect to use a cement foundation or mortar. While beautiful for the first year, heaving still takes place and the cement and mortar will still crumble and break away faster than gravel and sand foundations. Then when it comes time to repair the cement or mortared foundations, the whole patio will have to come up and new flagstones will need to be purchased.
The best materials for the job are course sand and decomposed crushed granite. Although, any crushed stone such as crushed flagstone, crushed cement, or crushed limestone will work well too. However, make sure you do use course sand instead of round sand or beach sand since the rounder the sand grains are, the less likely they will hold together.
Optimally, ground granite works best. It acts much like cement in that it won’t track into the house and won’t come out of the cracks. As an added bonus, it provides excellent weed protection. Ground granite also resists heaving and shifting better than any other material. Crushed granite is usually cheaper than pea gravel or other gravels. Crushed granite might even be found for free from local quarries, granite processing plants, or local compost yards. It does pay to shop around.
DIY Flagstone Patio
You can actually install flagstones in your patio yourself, provided of course that there are people with you that can help. Installing a flagstone patio can actually be a fun activity but the greater joy of course would come while you are viewing your new beautiful flagstone patio.
Flagstones are very easy to handle and install which makes them perfect for DIY projects. In fact, you can probably finish a small flagstone patio in a day. There are many guides available online on how to install your own flagstone patio.