Stone building EDUCATION part 3: Laying down a walkway or patio over existing concrete pads

In this next article in our series on walkways and patios we outline a step by step process for how you can build a stone walkway or patio on top of existing concrete pads. In our most recent articles, we laid out the process for building a new walkway or patio from scratch, including digging out and laying a foundation.

But many times, there is already an existing foundation that is easier to work with than starting from scratch. Particularly if the concrete pads that are already present are in good condition, with few or no missing chunks or heaving cracks. When a strong foundation already exists, we will often recommend taking this route over going the full monty, digging and laying a foundation and all that comes with it.

As you can imagine, this process is significantly easier than trying to build a walkway or patio from the foundation up. Therefore, are larger percentage of you reading this can consider taking this on as a DIY project. On the other hand, this type of project is also less expensive than a build from scratch, so more of you will feel comfortable bringing in a knowledgeable, experienced contractor to do the job for you.

STEPS TO OVERLAYING A STONE WALKWAY OR PATIO OVER EXISTING CONCRETE PADS:

STEP 1: Prepare the existing concrete. Thoroughly check it for cracks and broken pieces – repair any significant areas that may cause your finished product to be uneven or weakened with new cement or thin set. Remove all debris. Use a level to ensure the existing cement is flat and even.

STEP 2: Do an initial “lay down” of your flagstone on the cement to get an idea of how to best lay out your pieces before deciding on their final layout.  This is the standard line mentioned everywhere.  Now, my input.  Laying several stones on the yard next to the pad works just as well.  I have always thought why I would put the stone on the pad then take it off and try to remember where it was just to put it back.  Don’t over think the layout.  It is a jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t have a solution until you are complete.

STEP 3: Trim your stones as desired for the best fit. Just like when you are building a patio or walkway from scratch, look to place your bigger flagstone pieces around the outer areas, and the smaller pieces toward the middle. This step will require you to use a mortar hammer or circular saw, so keep that in mind when you are deciding if you have the skills to DIY or hire a contractor.

STEP 4: Start laying your stones using mortar for the joints. 

IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATION: lay your patio or walkway in sections of 3’ by 3’ or 4’ by 4’ at a time. Otherwise you will find your mortar drying too quickly which will lead to uneven sections and problems in the future as things settle. Also be aware that at least 25% of the height of your flagstone should be settled into the mortar. This will ensure the flagstone fits solidly and more permanently into the mortar base.

STEP 5: Tap the stones gently using a rubber mallet to get them to settle even more into the mortar while also using it as an evening out process. Once again use your level to check how you are doing.

STEP 6: Fill in any cracks or spaces that are left between your stones using either the mortar or gravel. Apply liberally knowing that you will be scraping or brushing off any excess material.

STEP 7: Allow the mortar to dry for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the air temperature. Then use a wet rag or sponge to clean the surfaces of your flagstone.

Two suggestions from me.

  1.  Most existing pads are rectangular or square.  You are going to want to lay your stone from left to right or from the house out to the edge.  DO NOT lay it that way.  Pick a corner of the pad and go out from that corner to the opposite corner.
  2. Before you start laying the stone imagine what you will have on the patio.  Whichever corner you pick to start, make sure it is where you will have something covering that area.  Like a plant, grill, etc.  As you progress through the project you will get better and better.  You will even be able to look at a piece of stone and know right away if that is the piece for the spot you are working on.  That being said, if you are like me, you will look at the starting point constantly and think it looks like crap!  Keep in mind you will be the only person who sees and thinks that, of course unless it really does look like crap, lol.  Everyone else will be impressed at the job you did, so this is why you want that spot covered.  Out of sight, out of mind!

Want to learn more about how to build virtually any type of stone-related project around your property? Then come on into Stone Distributors THIS holiday weekend. Our knowledgeable owner and staff are happy to help answer all of your questions and help show you the right materials (and contractors, if you are looking for one) to make your project a successful and long-lasting one. Your vision combined with our knowledge, experience and service. That is a winning combination you can trust.

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 (including this coming holiday 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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