Flagstone Patios

Learn all you need to know about flagstone patios and browse design options for your outdoor space.


By: Sean McEvoy

Flagstone patios are attractive additions to any home, and if you're considering adding an outdoor living space to your backyard, you may want to consider this classic and convenient design option.

The first thing you'll want to do if you're considering adding a flagstone patio is to choose a location and a size for your patio. Remember that your patio is likely to be a gathering space—you don't want to build too small and have guests knocking each other off the patio. In terms of location, pick as level a spot as possible—this will help the patio's overall longevity and ease of maintenance.

When you've decided on a size, plot out your measurements in a rectangle with string, tape or marking paint. Next you'll need to do some digging with a spade and shovel—cut four inches down with the spade (at a minimum) around the perimeter, then excavate four inches of soil from the entire rectangle with the shovel.

Your next step is to ensure that the area is level. Set a scrap plank down the full length of one side of the area, and place a level on top. Scrape dirt from one side or the other until it's level, then repeat for the other side and the middle of the area. Next, perform the same test for the width of the area. Next up, moisten the area, tamp it down so that it's packed tightly, then set landscape fabric down to prevent weed growth.

Now you're ready to frame your area. You'll use 2x4s nailed together to enclose the entire rectangle. So that your form can precisely contain the sand you're going to use later, you want to bury it two inches down around the perimeter. Once it's buried two inches down, shovel two inches of sand on top of the landscape fabric. Once the sand is level (you can use a scrap of wood to level it), tamp it down. Once it's solid, you're ready to lay your two-inch flagstone pieces. Begin in one corner, and tamp each stone down with a rubber mallet. Keep checking that they're level—if a stone is high, scrape sand from underneath it, if it's low, add sand underneath it.

When all stones are laid, pour sand over the entire patio and then brush off, so the sand fills any cracks. Lastly, remove the 2x4 frame and fill the vacant area with sand.

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