Flagstone can be expensive, mostly because it is a natural stone material that is more costly than manufactured and artificial materials like concrete pavers. However, this expense can be lowered if you install the flagstone yourself. Flagstone patio installation can be difficult, though, even with the right tools and information. The skills and experience needed working with hardscaping materials may be above the ability of many homeowners, and they may benefit from contacting a contractor to do the work. However, if you believe you can do the work, here are some flagstone patio installation tips that may be useful for you during the project.
(Note: These flagstone patio installation instructions will depend on the specifics of your project. We can only offer you some general guidelines to keep in mind when installing your patio. There are many ways to ‘skin a cat,’ and there are many ways to install flagstone pavers. Contact a contractor or your flagstone supplier if you have specific questions about your project.)
- Before you do any installation, you need to be clear on the design of your flagstone patio and the pattern in which you want to lay the material. Do you want to lay it directly into the ground, or do you want to install a sub base? Do you want the pattern of flagstone to be irregular, or do you want them to be regularly cut and in a specific patter, such as herringbone? You need to be clear on all of these questions before you begin, as the answers will have consequences for your flagstone patio installation.
- There are many different bases you can use. The general distinction here is between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ installation. Wet installation requires the use of wet concrete and/or mortar, while dry installations do not. Dry are usually easier, but if they are not put together securely, they may not hold together as well. Some like to install it over a concrete slab. Others put it directly on top of the soil or ground. Still others simply put in a concrete/cement base underneath and mortar in between the joints. Still others use an installation akin to concrete pavers, with a base of aggregate concrete and a bed of sand for a more precise fit. The type of base you select will depend on where you’re installing the flagstone, what shape the stone is in, what patterns you want to lay, and other considerations. Each base type has advantages and disadvantages in terms of price, work required, and skill required, so weigh them out carefully before making a final selection.
- Always measure out the area of your patio before beginning. Use spray paint, stakes and strings, or anything that will help you.
- Don’t skimp on the sub-base if you’re going to use one. Whether it’s aggregate concrete, sand, or concrete, the foundation of your flagstone patio will be the crucial element that determines the strength and longevity of your installation. Make sure you dig deep enough, at least 6 inches, and use a plate compactor to compact the area after you’ve filled it in to the right depth with crushed aggregate or some other base material. You might consider having a contractor do this part for you, as it will be relatively cheap compared to the total installation process, and you’ll be sure that your base is properly installed. He or she could also give you tips and instructions on how to do the finishing touches on the installation.
- The difficulty of the actual laying of the flagstone patio will depend on the type of flagstone you are using. If you are using cut flagstone that arrives in regular shapes, such as rectangles or squares, the job is easier, as you can just put down a uniform base and lay the flagstone in the pattern you’ve selected. You’ll have to do some adjustments to make it level, but otherwise it’ll be pretty simple. However, if you’re using irregularly shaped flagstone, you may have to make adjustments while installing the stone in order to make sure that the final product comes out level. Simply use a rubber mallet and extra base material to even out the areas as necessary to ensure a level surface.
- How you hold together the actual project will depend on the installation method you’ve chosen. Some simply fill the joints with sand and wet it down. Others fill it with dirt and sprinkle grass seed in between to allow grass to grow in between the flagstone pavers. Others use a cement base, while still others mortar the joints. Others also add edging to the outside of the patio to hold it together.
- Use a wet saw, circular saw, or masonry saw to cut the flagstone if necessary to fit in your pattern. This may be important if your pattern is irregular, or if you are putting the pavers together in a ‘jigsaw fashion.’ Always be careful when using this equipment to avoid injury.
- Make sure that the area is graded, or sloped, properly, to allow the proper flow of water away from vulnerable areas and towards drains and other water sinks.
- You may need to use a plate compactor to secure the flagstone pavers properly, but this will depend on the type of installation you are doing.
If you have any other tips, share them in the comments!