How to Build a DIY Flagstone Patio: Tips and Tricks

Upgrade your backyard by constructing an inviting patio area perfect for your outdoor activities.

It’s hard to go wrong with the versatility of stone designs for your home’s patio area. Kickstart your next patio project with this do-it-yourself flagstone patio construction guide. We’ll also give you a few tricks to help your project go smoother.

7 Easy Steps for Constructing Your Dry-Set Flagstone Patio

Note: This is a nice DIY project even if you don’t have a lot of masonry experience since you don’t need to worry about mixing mortar or concrete. If you want to tackle a bigger project or even add a stone wall to your design, it’s best to consult a professional masonry company like A&X Masonry.

Do you want a patio that is more rustic-looking or something more refined? Do you want it to blend in with the surroundings or stand out?

Here are a few pictures to help you visualize the possibilities.

In addition to the aesthetics, you need to take into account other practical aspects of your design, such as good water drainage. Make sure you direct water off of your patio and away from your house. This will help prolong your patio’s life and protect your building.

You should also investigate which colors and types of stone are available in your area. Choosing stone that is locally available will help your design look more natural and will usually save you money.

*Note: “Flagstone” refers to large flat stones in general and can include a variety of stone types. 

Also, if you’re planning a small patio area without a lot of heavy traffic, you can choose smaller stones that are easier to handle. However, if you’re laying flagstone in a larger area to accommodate a lot of foot traffic, look for stones that are up to 2 inches thick.

Depending on the thickness of the stone you’ll use, dig and remove around 4-6 inches of topsoil in the area where you’ll lay the stone. This is enough for 3-4 inches of gravel, about an inch or two of leveling material, and the thickness of the flagstones.

The top-level of the stone patio area should be the same level as the surrounding ground. It can help to place guide strings to help ensure you dig to the right depth.

Once you’ve removed the topsoil, add a base layer of gravel and compact it. Most masonry companies will do this with a mechanical compactor. You can also use something that’s flat and heavy with a pole on the end as a homemade compactor. (If you’ve got the energy you can even jump up and down on it for a few minutes!)

If you’re not using a mechanical compactor, it’s best to add a 2-inch layer of gravel at a time and thoroughly compact it before adding more.

Properly compacting this layer will ensure the stones don’t sink over time.

Add 1-2 inches of sand or decomposed granite. Compact and grade the sand using a mason line, straight board, and level. Once flat, you can even dampen it with a hose to help it set.

Since this is the last layer before you add the stone, you need to make sure that it has the final slope you want. Remember, this is dry-laid so you don’t need mortar.

Start at one end and work towards the other, always placing large stones around the perimeter of the patio first and filling in with smaller pieces towards the center.

It’s also a good idea to place larger stones in heavy traffic areas like at the bottom of steps.

You can make the joints as wide or thin as you want, but it’s best to keep them consistent throughout the design.

As you work to lay the stone, level the edges as much as possible. Since individual stones may vary some in thickness, you’ll probably need to add or remove sand underneath them in order to get a level surface.

You can also use a rubber mallet to help level the stones and firmly set them in the sand.

Once the stones are placed, now it’s time to fill the gaps! You can fill in the joints with sand, mortar, crushed stone, or even topsoil and grass.

Flagstone Patio Tips: Choosing your materials

Flagstone Patio Tips Choosing your materials DIY Flagstone Patio | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Here are some things to consider when buying your materials and construction supplies:

1. Practical Selection: The best base material is crushed limestone. However, if this is rare in your location. You can use the usual sand and gravel combination instead.

2. Smart Sourcing: If you’re on a budget, look for budget stone suppliers or quarries and tweak the original design according to what your budget allows.

3. Stay Safe: Anytime you’re cutting stones with a grinder or hammer and chisel, don’t forget your safety glasses, gloves, and earplugs.

4. Don’t forget about your grass!: If you have to pile materials on your lawn, don’t forget to remove them within two days so you don’t end up with a big spot of dead grass.

How much does it cost to build a flagstone patio?

How much does it cost to build a flagstone patio DIY Flagstone Patio | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Gravel and sand are cheap, so a lot depends on how much your stone costs. Generally, a flagstone patio will cost about $5-15 per square foot for materials. If you hire a contractor, you can add an average of $8-15 per square foot for labor depending on if it’s dry-set or mortared in.

If you’d prefer to hire a contractor and want to find out exactly how much your patio will cost, give us a call today for a FREE quote.

It’s definitely worth it to invest in your yard and make it an enjoyable place for you and your family.

If you’re in the Garland, Texas area we’d love to help make your dream project a reality. Give us a call today!

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