Building a patio with quality natural stone is an easy way to add to your home's usefulness, appearance and resale value. The satisfaction of doing the job yourself is extremely rewarding and economical as well.
This Gravel Base Method for patio construction is suited for the average handyman. For MILD climates, follow Steps number 1 - 11.
For COLDER climates -- where there is a frost line -- the following additional procedure is recommended:
Step 3a- FOR COLD CLIMATE ONLY -- pour 4" of concrete (1:3:5) on top of the crushed stone. Sink 6 x 6 wire mesh reinforcement halfway into depth of the concrete. When concrete is beginning to set, roughen the top surface with a rake or similar tool to insure bonding of setting bed to concrete slab.
Complete Installation Steps:
First, the size of patio should be determined and laid out with string and stakes.
The earth should be excavated to a depth of approximately six (6") inches ten (10') inches for cold climate procedure). While edging is not essential, it does make it easier to set the stone as well as retain the sand if the patio is built above the grass level. A wood edge, 1 x 10 inches should be staked into the earth. When setting the edging, care should be taken to make sure it is level. This will eliminate problems later on when setting the stones.
Pour in enough crushed stone (pea sized) to cover the area to a depth of about three and a half (3Y2') inches. Level and pack it down firmly.
Mix a damp grout composed of three (3) parts sand, one (1) part cement. The mixture should have a consistency of damp sand. Shovel it into the patio area. Level it off within 2' - 3' of the top, depending on the thickness of the stones selected.
Beginning in a corner, lay the stone flagging in the chosen pattern along one side. Work toward the opposite side, leaving Y2" joint spaces between the stones. Avoid long lines of continuous joints if possible.
Use a wooden or rubber mallet to tamp each stone level and into place. If some of the stones are not level, place some additional, grout under the thin stones, or scrape some out from under the thicker stones.
After leveling, turn stones up, one at a time, and wet the bottom of each with a mixture of Portland cement and water that has been mixed to the consistency of heavy cream.
Lay the stone down, tamp lightly again and check to be sure it is level.
Continue in this manner until the entire patio is laid. let the patio set overnight.
Mortar joints are now ready to be filled in. Make a mixture of lvvo (2) parts sand to one (1) part cement. Trowel this mixture into the joint spaces with a jointing tool.
When the joint is almost set, press the mortar down firmly and smoothly with a jointing tool or slicker (available from most stone dealers).
When mortar has hardened, take a dry cloth and rub off any excess mortar beads. Finally, with a clean wet sponge, wipe each stone. DO NOT touch the mortar joints with the wet sponge, only the stones.
There -- you have a patio - a natural stone patio that will provide enjoyment for the entire family and add- substantially -- to the resale value of your home. Be sure to select quality stone from a reputable stone supplier so you can be assured that the finished patio will endure. Bluestone, granite, quartzite and slate are among the many stones that are most suited for stone patios.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT FLAGSTONE OR STONE FLAGGING
Flagging is not a type of stone but rather a pattern of stone Flagging can include bluestone, granite, slate, argillite, quartzite and even some marbles. Stone flagging falls into two classifications: (1) Sawed Flagging and (2) Natural Bed Flagging.
SAWED FLAGGING usually consists of broken or random mill ends of thin stone from dimension-stone jobs. The thickness of this material will usually be from one-inch 1" to 1-1/2". The surface is diamond sawed and is smooth. Mill ends have enough straight edges so that no sawing or cutting is required in setting straight edges or borders. The installer simply picks out the pieces with straight edges to outline the installation. Surface area of these stones range from one-half to four square feet.
NATURAL BED FLAGGING is produced from deposits of natural stone that occur naturally in thin stratified layers. Surfaces of natural bed flagging, though fairly level, are usually rough textured. Cutting of natural bed flagging for edges, curves, etc. is usually done by tracing a chisel on both sides of the stone.
Slate and Argillite flagging are in a separate category. These materials are usually thinner than other natural bed materials. Both materials can be obtained in rectangles with natural cleft/ground surfaces. Some of the producers make available cartons of 10 square feet in a choice of pre-cut patterns.
BLUESTONE flagging is available in both sawed sizes in a variety of multiples up to 24-inches square and in natural cleft random patterns.
Before making your stone purchase, check with the stone suppliers in your area and discuss your project and the color palette you have in mind. Rough textured surfaces are preferred as swimming pool surrounds with the smoother stones for more formal settings.