Building a flagstone patio is physically demanding, but the end result can be rewarding for years to come. All it takes is a little planning and a few days of hard work before you'll have a beautiful new outdoor space to relax and entertain, while adding value to your home.
Things You Will Need
Sand or crushed granite
Clear off the spot designated for the flagstones. I started with a 10' by 10' cement slab, but had room to expand the patio to a 10' by 18' area. I also had an adjoining walkway that was 4' by 20' that I wanted to use flagstone on. This gave me a total area of 260 square feet (10x18=180, plus 4x20=80 for a total of 260). You'll need your total square footage to determine how much material to buy.
Choose your flagstone. I went to my local flagstone dealer, and was told how much sand and flagstone I'd need based on the square footage of 260. Flagstone comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. I picked out the stone that I liked the best, and set up a day for delivery.
Lay down the base material once everything is delivered. Make sure it is level, with a 2 or 3 degree slope away from the house. This will help with drainage on those rainy days. To level the base material use a string level and a scrim.
Start laying the flagstone. Laying the flagstone is remarkably like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Choose pieces that will fit in the allotted space, while being visually pleasing. Use the hammer and chisel if you need to shape or re-size a piece. Use the rubber mallet to seat the flagstone onto the base material so that the stones don't wobble. Try to leave about a 1/4 to 3/8 inch space between each flagstone. This is important for a number of reasons: expansion in the summer, it aids drainage, and it will help you to pack more of the base material around the flagstones during one of the last steps.
Once the flagstones are in place, add more of the base material. Just dump it on top of the stones and sweep it into the cracks. Water down the patio with a light spray, let it settle, and repeat this step as needed. This will give the flagstone patio a more finished appearance. Now you are ready to place the patio furniture.Array
Tips & Warnings
I used sand when I built my patio, but if I were to do it over again I would go with the crushed granite. It's a little more solid as a base, drains well, and inhibits weed growth.
I used a thin border material for the patio, and over time it began to "drift." The next time I build a flagstone patio I'll use 2X4s or railroad ties for the border.
It's hard work! The concept is easy enough to figure out, but the job itself can be physically demanding. Take breaks often, and lift with your legs instead of your back to avoid injury. Always wear gloves and safety goggles.