As a new decade dawns and we head into 2020, the thoughts of many of you turn toward the building projects you want to undertake as soon as the weather starts to improve in the coming months. Throughout the early part of this year we will be posting articles on a variety of topics regarding outside building jobs. Some of these you will be able to do yourself, while others you will want to strongly consider bringing in an experienced contractor.
The first several articles to kick off our series on outside projects starts with walkways and patios, and the materials you will use to build them – in this case concrete and mortar, or dry-set. Concrete and mortar are both cement-based materials used in a variety of building projects, including the aforementioned specific types we are focusing on.
The first type of project we focus on is a walkway. A well-designed walkway incorporating the right materials can add a strikingly beautiful element to the entrance area of your home. In addition, a walkway can help to prevent erosion from other landscaped areas you have built or plan to build.
Things you need to consider to when properly building a walkway:
- The distance from one end to the other to be covered by the walkway.
- The elevation the walkway will require, particularly when nearing a door so that your finished product does not impede the door in any way.
- The amount of use your walkway will receive.
- The overall theme of the rest of your landscape around your property.
*** STRONG RECOMMENDATION: Consider building your walkway in sections – that way you can more easily handle any curves you need to include or changes in elevation of the topography.
THE BASE: You have 2 choices on how to build the base for your walkway – pour in cement or, use crushed stone base – DO NOT USE mortar between the joints in this case. Over time the crushed stone base will cause gaps between the joints to separate, eventually leading the mortar to crack and fail.
Conversely, if you are going to use mortar between the joints, you MUST use cement as your base, not crushed stone.
Dry Set – Dig out your area. The distance you dig down depends on the thickness of the stone you are using for your project plus 2 inches of crushed stone base, compacted plus 1 inch of granite sand (M10). As an example, if you are using 2” stone then you will have to dig down 5 inches (2” compacted CSB + 1” M10 + 2” of stone). Your crushed stone base DOES NOT have to be perfectly level. Why? Because you will use the next layer consisting of approximately 1-inch of granite sand to level off the stone base underneath it. Make sure to purchase 2 – ¾” PVC pipes (this size PVC pipe is actually 1” in circumference on outer edge, which is the optimal size for this job) and 1 – 2” x 4” to level off the granite sand. After you have compacted the CSB then you can take the PVC pipes and lay them apart less than the length of the 2 x 4. Shovel in the granite sand and then screed the sand by pulling the 2×4 across the PVC pipes. This will give approximately the 1” you need. Lay your flagstone down and afterwards you can go back with either sand, river sand, or granite sand for the joints.
DIG AMOUNT = 3” (FOR BASE MATERIALS) + 1 ½” to 3” (FOR HEIGHT OF THE FLAGSTONE)
POSITIVES of Dry Set:
Cost – you will definitely have a lower cost by not pouring or using cement. The cost of gravels are significantly lower than cement.
DIY – depending on the size of the project this is one that can be done by you. Something I like to tell people when the take on any project but especially flagstone projects. The finished look is a jigsaw puzzle but always remember the solution is exactly how you lay it when your done. And as you progress you will get better at seeing and fitting pieces next to each other.
NEGATIVES of Dry Set:
WORK! – it is not easy digging in Georgia clay, especially if you have to go down at least 5”. Stone is heavy and if you job is not accessible to get the pallets close to the job, you will be moving individual pieces of stone to the site.
Loss of Friends secton (lol): If you ask some of your friends to come help, by enticing with food or beer, be ready for what happens afterwards. I guarantee they will not show up again after the first day. And they will probably start screening your calls. They might even volunteer to take you to the airport or help you move, instead of helping you with a stone project in the future!
In the next article we will discuss how to create your new patio/walkway using cement and mortar. For more helpful information on walkways, patios all other stone and landscaping materials and projects you have, come on into Stone Distributors and our knowledgeable people will be happy to help you. We have a large variety of different types of Flagstone, Fieldstone, garden boulders, stones and other landscaping materials available.
Contact us at (678) 354-0566 or by visiting us online at https://www.stonedist.com or on our Stone Distributors Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stonedist/. We are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed on Sundays.