Stone building EDUCATION, part 2: building a long-lasting patio in Georgia

In part 2 of our series on installing a walkway and/or patio around the outside of your home we focus this article on patios. More specifically, we are focusing on building a flagstone patio versus using pavers to build your patio.

Raised flagstone patio surrounding outdoor fireplace

Is it more expensive? That depends on the type of pavers or flagstone you choose.  Remember to try and compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges when comparing the cost.   A paver patio requires paver bricks, sand, dirt, and your filler material to put in between the pavers. A dry set flagstone patio requires gravel, joint filler material, and flagstone. People always ask me what should they choose?  Here is my response.  Until I get the invitation to come over every day/night, it doesn’t matter what I prefer.  It is your house and your patio so choose what makes you happy and falls in your budget.  YOU and your family are the people that are going to enjoy it for years to come.

If you are going to take it on as a DIY project you probably should have done previous smaller projects using cement and mortar, or dry set. Otherwise you could easily find yourself in a situation where you have started in on this substantial project only to realize that you are in over your head.

Disclaimer: As has been noted in several previous articles, at Stone Distributors we work directly with numerous local contractors so we can be an excellent resource for you to find and hire someone to do the job for you. At the very least, you can get several estimates to help you decide if it is worth it for you to do the job yourself or have a professional come in and do it.

Circular flagstone patio surrounding fire pit

THE 8 STEPS FOR BUILDING A FLAGSTONE PATIO:

IMPORTANT “FIRST STEP” – Check your local building codes and regulations. Here in Cobb County you must obtain a building permit for building almost any new structure, including a patio. Go to the county’s Community Development page to learn more, including what phone # to call: https://www.cobbcounty.org/community-development/development-and-inspections/building-permits

STEP 2 – Plan Your Patio

Yes, you must always plan out the project before starting the actual construction. In addition to deciding whether you will do the project yourself or hire a contractor, you also need to decide on the tools, the materials (including type, size and thickness of your flagstone pieces), and the design (size and shape) you want the finished product to look like.

Other things to remember in this Step: are you planning on installing an irrigation system or a gas line to a fire pit or fireplace at some point in the future? You must plan those out in this step… otherwise, you will find yourself digging up a substantive amount of your patio at some later date.

STEP 3 – Start Digging

You are going to be digging approximately 4” to 6” (depending upon the thickness of the flagstone you have chosen) and clearing out a space that far down the entire area of your patio. 4-6 inches gives you enough room for 2” or so of packed gravel base, 1” of leveling materials plus the thickness of the flagstone you are installing.

Other things to remember in this Step: 4” to 6” of dirt and Georgia Clay are a lot of material. What are you going to do with all of that material? Make sure you have a good idea of what you are going to do with it before you get started.

STEP 4 – ADD YOUR 2-4” OF PACKED GRAVEL BASE

Installing the gravel base is important because it is what keeps your patio level over the long term. Do NOT add it all at once – instead, pour it in a couple of inches at a time, and then tamp it down until it is packed tight.

STEP 5 – ADD YOUR LEVELING MATERIAL (GRANITE SAND)

Here in northern Georgia your leveling material is granite sand – add approximately 1”. After leveling it a first time, wet the material down and level it again. This will compact the material even more giving it the best level possible.

STEP 6 – LAY THE INDIVIDUAL FLAGSTONE

Remember to put the largest pieces around the outside, and the smallest pieces on the inside. Otherwise, try to vary the pattern randomly for the most natural look.

STEP 7 – LEVEL THE FLAGSTONE

Important to level the flagstone by adding or removing the leveling material from underneath. Do not leave any edges that stick up as they are tripping hazards for you and anyone else who walks on the patio (causing a potential liability issue).

STEP 8 – FILL IN THE GAPS

Fill in the gaps between the stones with sand or gravel, whichever material you have chosen. With sand, gravel or some other loose material, water it down to settle it and add more wherever needed.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE STONES MOVE (as they inevitably do from time to time)

Here in Georgia as well as many other places seasonal cycles and changing weather will cause stones to shift around. Putting them back into place is relatively easy:

  • Dig out the material around the stone(s) that has moved, then pry it up. Either add or remove substrate material around the stone as needed, making sure the stone is flush with the surrounding stones when you are finished. Then repack the joints around the stone, and you are done.

Do you need materials and/or advice for building beautiful, long lasting stone projects around the outside of your home? Then 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 for you right here on our 5-acre lot.

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.

Published by Stone Distributors

We are a Natural Stone Supplier for Professionals and Homeowners in the Kennesaw / Cobb County area of Georgia

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