You can create a flagstone patio yourself or you can hire a professional to do the work for you. Either way, you will love the look of a new flagstone patio.
Creating a flagstone patio in sand is not as hard as you might imagine. It should be kept in mind, however, that the stones can be very heavy so those with bad backs should avoid taking on this project. Those with good backs should take precautions and always wear gloves, back brace, and safety goggles.
You have options when it comes to the thickness of the flagstone, but a common size is two inches thick. Flagstone, by its very nature, does not come in neat, tidy shapes. It is much like putting a puzzle together which allows you to be as creative as you want. Remember, though, that the widest and thickest pieces offer the most stability so use these where people will be walking the most. Save the thinner and smaller pieces for fill in around the edges.
Here are some tips to help get you started:
Choose a level spot for your patio. If need be, go ahead and make the spot level using a shovel and a rake. This is a dry construction project, which means you will not be using mortar between the stones. This is one reason to make the area as smooth as possible.
A Note: You can create a flagstone patio using mortar if you wish. This is known as wet construction and it has its own procedures. For some homeowners, wet construction is a project best left to a professional contractor as it involves many more steps than dry construction.
Back to the project—if you are placing your patio up against the house, you should make sure that the final surface of the patio slopes away from the house. This only needs to be a slight slope so that water can run off of the patio. This will help keep water out of your basement and away from the exterior materials of the home.
If possible, have a helper. This is useful not only for handling the stones, but also for when it is time to do the screeding, which is the process by which you level out the sand on the surface of the patio. One person can work on each side of the screeding board which can be time saving.
Once you have the area prepped, place a bed of sand onto which you will lay the stones. This needs to be about two inches thick. You can then begin to place your stones. When you are finished laying the stones dump sand onto the surface and begin to smooth it out so that the spaces between the stones fill with sand.
Using a two by four, you can now screed the area. This means running the board over the surface of the patio to make sure that everything is smooth and that the spaces are well filled with sand.
Remember, that stones set in sand will normally have to be re-adjusted as time goes by. They will settle into the sand and you will need to add some more sand over the years.