Step 1. Choose the ideal location for your patio or walkway and decide on the size of your area. Choose areas that are close to an entrance with level ground keeping in mind whether you will be in shade or sun depending on your preferences and needs. You will want an area large enough to have a table, chairs, and even a grill or kiddie pool. Make sure to measure the area of your patio or walkway for ordering stone and sand. Sand will be used as a stable base to set your flagstone into place.
Step 2. Mark the area with chalk or rope and dig down approximately three inches checking for level depth as you go, or use heavy metal edging from your local steel company or garden center if you want a raised patio. I recommend the installation of metal edging whether you dig down or not in order to keep weeds out of your patio. If you choose to install a raised patio, a good weed barrier is recommended, and the grass should still be removed prior to installation.
Step 3. Buy your flagstone and sand. Your local stone company should provide a good variety of 1½” flagstone for your use. Using stone that is less than 1½” is not recommended as you will have issues keeping your stone from being dislodged. Most stone yards will deliver for a small fee. You can expect to get anywhere from 50sq.ft. To 80sq.ft. Per ton of stone depending on the quality and moisture content. Sand can be purchased at your local block company, or you can have it delivered from most lumber yards. To figure out yardage for sand, multiply the width x length x depth of your area in feet, and divide by 27. This is how much sand you will need to finish the job. A little extra won’t hurt. 1½” is equal to .125′ (for calculator use).
Step 4. When beginning my patio layout I like to start with a cross in the center and then fill in the holes. This will allow you to get your patio level and make some of the joints line up easier. For large patios it may look like a multi pane window before the rest of the patio has been filled.
Make sure to use a 4′ level while doing this . Not so much for the individual stones, but so the stones will be level in relation to each other. This way when your patio is all filled in you will not have any depressions for water to collect. Try to keep your joints no larger than the thickness of your thumb. I have done large patios even smaller! This will not be easy for a beginner, so I recommend a good hammer and chisel to break off bad areas of stone, and to trim stone to fit.
I lay out all my stone around my work area so I can see the edges and puzzle it into place. When setting your stone use the other end of your hammer to pound the stones into place. This will vibrate the stone into the sand assuring a tight fit and no room to give.
Step 5. Once your patio has been completely filled in, you will want to fill in your cracks with pea gravel. Pea gravel can be bought at most garden centers in bags, or at landscape supply companies and gravel yards in bulk. Regardless of the color of stone, I find the small brown pea gravel to work and look the best.
This is no time to get sloppy. Expect to be on your hands and knees for a while working the gravel into the joints. Use of a pointed tool is a good idea to pack the gravel tight.
Step 6. Sweep off your patio well, filling in the cracks with the dust. The dust will gradually sink to the bottom leaving the pea gravel exposed and will serve to fortify your joints. Last but not least, spray off your patio using a hose to clean of your stone and gravel and bring out the natural colors of your flagstone.
Step 7. Throw a party! You just did a hell of a lot of work and deserve some relaxation. Everybody will be amazed with your work and knowledge of the craft. Of course, you can always call Cedar Masonry to install your patio for you, or to get a hint if you get stuck with a particular problem. Good luck and Best Regards, David Wyckoff – Owner, Ceder Masonry Company.