June 19, 2008

Build A Simple Stone Patio You Can Be Proud Of

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patioYou may think that creating simple stone patios is far beyond your abilities. This is not true if you have some basic experience working with concrete and have the strength or assistance available to move the stones you wish to use to create your patio. It is necessary to do some careful planning and follow instructions carefully in order to obtain good results when creating your simple stone patio. The whole process is much easier if you have some help from friends or family or hire someone to help you with the more difficult tasks.

Choose Stones:

First, you must choose the type and size of stone you wish to use for your patio. If you are going to be working primarily alone, select stones or pavers which are small enough and light enough in weight for you to move them by yourself. If you wish to use larger stones or pavers, you'll need to enlist reliable help since some of the steps must be completed without stopping for long periods of time.

Planning:

You'll need to know if there are any lines for gas, electric, or telephone under the soil where you plan to lay your patio. You can learn this information by calling your local utility companies. Determine the exact dimensions for the patio, keeping in mind that you do not want to bite off more than you can chew. In the case of do-it-yourself stone patios, it is better to tackle a reasonably sized project so you can be happy with the result rather than trying for a massive project that will be difficult to successfully complete.

The thickness of the stone or pavers you will be using when creating your stone patio will be important to your construction. Be sure to measure the stone thickness so that your bed will allow room for the stone without raising the stone higher than the doorway opening onto the patio.

Prepare the Site:

You'll need to excavate the site to a depth of 6 to 12 inches below the height of the finished patio. This means removing grass or other plants and leveling the soil using a builder's level. If necessary, ask someone to teach you how to use the builder's level to level the soil. Mark stakes at each corner and in several locations along each side so that you know exactly where the finished patio top will be located. The site will need to be compressed with a plate compactor which can be rented at a hardware rental center or a home improvement center.

Create the Bed:

Use a blend of crushed stone and stone dust, called pack, to build a bed on which your patio will rest. This is completed by laying 3-inch thick layers of pack, wetting the pack with water to reduce dust, then compact that layer with a plate compactor. Repeat this process until the top of the bed reaches a point below the finished grade mark which is the thickness of your stone plus one inch (for example, for 2-inch thick stone, the bed should remain 3 inches below the level of the finished patio top.

Spread Setting Bed:

Mix one part dry cement mix with 12 parts stone dust, adding water to create a stiff mix. Start in one corner of the bed and place concrete mix into bed over an area large enough to lay one stone. Level that portion of the bed with a hand trowel. Spread the concrete thicker than the space allowed for the dry bed because stones will settle into the wet concrete when laid. Depending on the size and weight of stones or pavers used, the settling may cause the stones to sink one-half to one inch or even more into the wet concrete. Move on to setting the stone in this concrete before spreading and leveling the concrete for the next stone.

Lay the Stone:

Place your first stone onto the wet concrete, jiggling it into the exact location desired. Place a bubble level on top of the stone. Use a rubber hammer to tap the stone securely into place, checking that it is level. Add or remove concrete as needed to get the stone perfectly level.

Once you have leveled the first stone, spread the setting bed for the next stone and lay that stone. Be sure to leave space between stones to allow for swelling and shrinking due to heat, cold, and moisture. Repeat until you have laid all the stones. Cut stones or pavers to fit those areas which are not large enough for a whole stone.

Fill Joints:

After the concrete has set, spread stone dust over the stones and sweep it into the spaces between stones to fill the joints. Spray the [patio] with water to cause the stone dust to settle and compact in the joints between stones. Spread more stone dust and again sweep it into the joints. This time, use a trowel to tamp the dust into the joints after wetting the dust. This creates a stable fill for the joints.

Finishing Touches:

If desired, you may wish to lay an edge around the stones using bricks, cobblestone, smaller stones, or other material. This is not required but can give a completed look. If using edging material, spread stone dust between the edge of the patio stones and the edge material. Wet the stone dust to settle and compact it.

Sweep off the finished patio or hose away any debris. Bring out the patio furniture, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Now it's time to start planning some fun and easy patio parties for friends and family. You'll love telling them about creating your fun simple stone patio.

Filed under Deck Design by landscapeliving.