Most of us have been there. Searching for the best way to use natural stone to enhance our outdoor spaces; wanting to create something functional, and beautiful, and lasting.. but have found ourselves underwhelmed. What went wrong? Did the flagstones shift or settle unevenly? Have they all mildewed, and lost their original beauty? Maybe some of them cracked – a lot, losing the appeal of having the larger pieces you intended. There can be several reasons why we were not as satisfied as we expected we would be, but the problem was not the flagstone, maybe simply how it was used.
The appeal of creating a flagstone patio almost goes without saying.. The rustic beauty of natural stone, the irregular shapes that come together to form an inviting gathering place, and the feeling of timelessness that evokes a sense of comfort and stability, all are reasons we tend to gravitate toward flagstone. Pinterest doesn’t make it any easier to not fall in love with flagstone, flooding your imagination with countless options of stunning displays of expansive walkways and meandering paths. A quick Google search of flagstone patios can leave you scrolling down a rabbit hole of all the designs you think you might want to do to your own backyard, but they do not offer many clues on how to achieve them.
Choosing the right stone for your application is critical. Determine the overall design of your project, and know the environment in which you will be creating your patio. For example, are you looking for a refined, smooth patio that is set in concrete and cement? Do you want more of a rustic feel, with gravel or some short grass between the flagstones, encircling a small fire pit? Is it going to be a fairly low-traffic, cozy outdoor nook in the shade– or the featured spot for entertaining right outside your back door?
For your cozy, shaded nook type of patio – you want to lean toward a flagstone that is more suited for that environment. A stone that is denser, and less likely to mildew from the moisture in the ground would be a wise decision. Bluestone from Pennsylvania or Oklahoma works well in these applications due to their density, even in shady locations. Using thicker and larger flagstones helps ensure that the patio does not shift under the weight of your feet and is less likely to crack over time.
Laying the flagstones out in a compacted base of crushed stone will also help maximize the strength and weight of each stone in your patio, adding to its stability.
For your high-traffic addition to an outdoor space, which can handle the gathering of many people, you can use a wide range of flagstones. Often a patio like this is tied seamlessly to the rest of your home.
In this sort of environment, it is wise to steer in a different direction. Setting your patio into concrete, with cement in the joints, is truly your best option for this setting. You can still have the allure of stone, and all of its rustic beauty, while creating an environment that can easily be maintained for decades with hardly more than a leaf blower.
When you are setting your flagstones into cement, your options for which stones you use becomes a bit more flexible. You are able to use thinner flagstone since the strength will be provided by the concrete beneath it. There are beautiful flagstones from Arizona and Tennessee which are perfect for an outdoor patio like this. Pattern-cut flagstone is also an excellent choice for an installation like this.
Installing a flagstone patio is never a wrong choice, but it is important to use the right types and cuts of stone in certain settings. Like so much on social media, photos can be deceptive. Make sure to seek advice from not only your installers but from the retailers who handle the material every day. Know the environment in which you will be setting your patio and do some research on your own. And never be afraid to ask questions.