Flagstone Patio Clues

What You Want to Know BEFORE You Do a Flagstone Patio Yourself!

[caption id="attachment_742" align="alignright" width="300"]A patio built using our Multitorial A patio built using our Multitorial[/caption] If I had a buck for every improperly installed flagstone patio I've seen, I'd be writing this in Figi. But I am in Tucson, Arizona - where folks seems to love this type of patio. I hear this a lot: "The flagstone company said, I didn't need a concrete base." If your stone patio is going to have grouted mortar joints and you want it to last, it must be laid on concrete. The concrete must be a minimum of 3.5 inches thick and the concrete should be reinforced.  I have seen some try to beat this simple system, all with dismal results. The joints crack, breathe crack again until in just a few short years you have literally tons of debris in lieu of a patio that was so pretty when it was first laid. [caption id="attachment_743" align="alignleft" width="300"]Substrate Ready to Pour Concrete Substrate Ready to Pour Concrete[/caption] The next most common line I hear is:  “They were licensed so I thought I was covered, but when the registrar came out he said the work is only covered for two years.” Most people with the ambition to undertake this kind of project themselves have probably been exposed to at least some construction advice, if not some actual experience.  Perhaps they've seen brick paving done on sand and think it makes sense to do flagstone that way, too! However the reality is: flagstone placed on sand is not the same as brick paving placed on sand and here is why: A flagstone patio incorporates mortar joints common brick paving does not. The two concepts must be approached differently after the initial grading and compacting is done.  A proper joint is 3/8" to 3/4" wide and you cannot expect that little bit of adhesion to withstand “sheer” stress.  A flagstone patio placed upon sand will settle and the adhesion will breach and a cracks appears. Once you have a crack it will act as a relief for expanding and contracting during temperature changes as well as further and farther settling. As this movement happens over and over again, in time grains of dirt and sand get trapped in the crack, then during the next expansion period the pressure will push now against anything  lodged in the crack, causing the crack to get larger until the mortar joint finally begins to actually crumble - unsightly to say the least. The mass resisting the strain of the flagstone, must out weigh the flagstone - simple physics - try putting one ton of flagstone in a vehicle that weighs less... enough said. [caption id="attachment_744" align="alignright" width="300"]Flagstone Patio Sealed Flagstone Patio Sealed Built from Our Multitorial[/caption] There is an option for stone without mortar joints:  A well compacted substrate under the stone.  Then grass seed and soil was pouted into the joints.   It can be  quite attractive and as the grass grows the stone is bound even tighter by the roots of the grass.  Still this is not"masonry" and will not last the duration you would expect in a flagstone patio.  Anything shy of proper flagstone installation is temporary at best. Ask your contractor how they plan to install your stone. If your contractor becomes defensive when asked about their techniques ask yourself why. If you can not afford to have a contractor build your patio properly (obviously a properly laid stone patio is a lot of work and will cost more) go for the grass or clay option or better yet, go to a colored concrete or brick paving, both are cheaper. If you want to tackle your patio yourself, I have a Multitorial for you (Stone Patio Secrets Revealed) it is easy to follow. Or buy it here now: Love, Light & Happy Building! Rusty Cline, President: Jorsty, Inc. DBA- MonumentMasonry.com