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Stone DIY - How to Build Flagstone Walkway or Patio


Disclaim. This article on flagstone patio or flagstone walkway installation is for reference only, not intended for use as specific installation guidelines. Consulting with your local professional contractors for any construction projects is strongly suggested.

Prepare Materials and Tools

The following tools and materials are suggested for installing flagstone patios or flagstone walkway:

Carpenters Level and Ruler; String Line and 12" - 18" Wood Stakes; Shovel and Pick; Spray Paint; Rubber Mallet

Wood Boards 2" x 6" or 14g Roll Top Edging plus Edging Pins; Masons Hammer and Chipping Hammer; Mechanical or Hand Tamp

Crushed Rock 3/4"; Sufficient Amount of Sand; Flagstone, Greater than 1-3/4" in Thickness

Estimate Materials Needed - Flagstone, Sand and Crush Rocks

Determine the desired shape or area of your path or patio. This is a simple process and at this stage only a "rough-in." Your rough-in and final project should ultimately be similar, you are doing this step only to estimate the amount of materials needed.

Outline the walkway or patio with spray paint. There is a type of paint that is specifically made for marking lines. It should be available at your local hardware stores. Measure the area of the walkway or patio based on the spray-painted lines. Length times Width will be the area. With the total area to be covered, you can calculate the amount of material needed.


Construct Flagstone Patio or Flagstone Walkway Construct Flagstone Patio or Flagstone Walkway

Install String Lines

Install string lines and stakes to define the final layout. Use a line level to determine drainage slop and if you didn't know, always slope away from the house.

Excavate Soil

Excavate soil to a depth of 6". The excavated soil can be used to bottom fill for planter boxes. Prepare the area for the base course of 3/4" crushed rock by moistening and tamping the soil inside the project area.

Install Edging

Use treated 2" x 6" boards to form straight edges for the walkway or patio. If you are doing "free forming", then use edging. Preferably 14 gage galvanized roll top edging. It typically stays in the ground longer than the plastic type you see in so many big box supply stores. Good galvanized metal roll top comes in ten foot lengths and when installing you generally overlap each piece six inches. Most local rock or stone yards should carry this type.

Calculate the perimeter or length then number of edging pieces need. Install either along the straight line and or free form. After the stakes are pounded into the ground and the boards are level, nail the stakes to the 2" x 6" boards on the inside of the boards about half way down. Make sure they are on the inside of your project so that the stakes will not show. Now you are ready to create the base layers.

Create and Tamp Base Layers

Create the first base layer by using 3/4" crushed rock. A depth of 3" after tamping is suggested for this layer. Crushed rocks like crushed granite should be readily available in most areas. They work really good as a base. Moisten the 3/4" rock and tamp thoroughly. This is your base course.

Cover the base course with 3" of sand. Moisten and tamp as you go. This will become the final base for your flagstone. Crusher fines come in several colors that may match or add character to your flagstone. Using a color that differs from the flagstone to fill joints will create a nice contrast so don't be afraid to experiment. Ask the folks at the Rock Depot for suggestions.

The actual depth of this final base will vary based on the thickness of your flagstone. Ultimately, you want the flagstone to be within one half inch of the top of your edging so you may have to add or remove bedding material as you go.

Lay Flagstone

This is the major yet tricky portion of the project. It is tricky because flagstone tends to be random in shape and size. It is sometimes like a puzzle. Choose any piece to get started then try placing different pieces as you go.

It is recommended to start at an edge and work out from there. Many people prefer to set the edge pieces first and set larger pieces at the entry or exit points. This process is fundamental to the project. So don't be afraid to try different stone or two until you find the one that fits best.

If you need to break a piece, you may use mason's hammer or chipping hammer to achieve the desired shape, size and edge. Do this by firmly striking the flagstone to create a desired edge or line. So if you strike the flagstone at starting point "A" and finish at point "B", it will typically break along the line between the two points resulting in the desired shape and size.

When you have the "right" piece, wiggle it down by hand or tamp it in place with your rubber mallet. For a more refined appearance, try to keep the joints uniform and tight or for a more casual appearance, random sized joints. Once all the stones have been laid you are ready to fill the joints.

Fill the Gaps with Sand

Fill the joints and gaps between the flagstone pieces with crusher fines or sand which ever you are currently using. If using crusher fines, fill in the joints in layers moistening as you go. It is important that the joints are filled completely so take your time and do it right. This will save you enormous time of repairing and filling as time goes on. If using sand, fill joints with sand same as crusher fines. Once dry, moisten again and fill any needed joint areas. Sweep clean and enjoy your new beautiful slate patio or walkway.

Important Notes

We recommend the tools, materials and procedures from experiences. This in no way mean what being discussed here is the sole approach to complete flagstone patio or flagstone walkway projects. This informational article is not intended for use as specific installation guidelines. Instead, this only can and should be used for reference. Always consult local building codes and professional industry advice when constructing any project. Make sure to obtain a construction permit from the city if required. Always contact the local utility companies to locate they service lines before digging.

Flagstone and Paver Coverage Estimates

Flagstone: 0.5"-1.25": 140-180 sq.ft per ton;   1"-1.33": 100-150 sq.ft per ton;   1.5"-2.25": 70"-120" sq.ft per ton

Paver:       2.25"-3": 40-90 sq.ft per ton;   4"-6" Strip: 120 - 140 lineal ft;    6"-8" Strip: 90-120 lineal ft per ton




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