flag stone walks

seems to me I remember reading an article a few years back on laying this kind of walk in sand or fine gravel and when you got done you spread some cement over the joints and misted it with water to bond it all together. Has anyone ever tried it and how did you go about it, and did it work????
--
b



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Let me share a few things I learned about while spreading about 9,000# of flagstone recently.
A LOT depends on the base. I live in the desert. We don't have soft soil. We don't have a lot of rain. We don't have frost heave. Where you put it is pretty much where it stays. We just used sand and decomposed granite for bedding.
Sandstone comes in uneven thicknesses, so is hard to get flat on top. You have to fit the stones, either roughly, or cut and fit, and then let them lay there for a couple of months and get walked on. And rained on. Then you have to pull up many and relevel.
The joints are very very critical, as you can do a really nice job of laying, and then mess it up with a bad joint job. If the slabs are big enough to stay put, you don't have to do much but fill in the joints. If you use sand, you have to keep doing it as the sand disappears to wherever stray socks go.
If you use ANY concrete technique, special care must be given because the flagstone is very absorbent, and will suck up the concrete and lime. If you use a mix of powder cement and sand, you have to be VERY careful to just get it in the joints, and not on the top of the flagstone. When you wet it, you need a mist that is finer than fine to just wet it and not form any puddles that can take the concrete onto the flagstone. You need to press it down so it fills any air pockets. This is usually a day long process of spraying a very fine mist, and then doing it again a few times a day for a few days.
Another way, which is the way I am going to do it is to use a grout bag. I still have to level the wayward stones, then, I will vacuum the sand out of the joints. Dig it out with a screwdriver and brush. Get it really clean. Then mix a fairly firm grout, and work in about three foot sections. This is a hands and knees deal, and you want to push the mortar mix into the joint with a striker, a plastic putty knife, popsicle sticks, wet fingers, whatever works to get it in there, and leave the cleanest strip of mortar you can do. What you see is what you're going to get. Coloring can be added to mortar to jazz it up from the standard gray. A final stroking with wetted fingers gives it a smooth top, but again be careful not to puddle water or create water runs because the concrete will go out and make your flagstone gray where you don't want it to be.
Keep it misted for a couple of days to slow drying and prevent cracking. Cleaning of goofs can be done with toothbrushes, small wirebrush toothbrushes, muriatic acid, or just real attention to details.
Flagstone is a pain in the ass to do right. But if you do it right, you have a beautiful thing that will last for a lot of years. Any amount of time spent to do it right the first time will save you time on going back and RE doing it later.
Please repost here and keep us posted on progress so we all can follow along and learn from your mistakes. I should be starting on mine soon, as I have just finished a 13 month remodel of the houses. I will also post my progress.
Steve
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On Sun, 03 Apr 2005 22:22:26 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

...not only that but unless you can lay down a good thick layer, the flagstone will settle and when it does, it'll crack and loosen the cement to the point it'll all have to be pulled after the very next spring thaw. Sand is the best way to go.
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Boots wrote:

I don't recommend the cement. Using proper sand with a good foundation will result in a stable good walk. Over time, (especial the first few years, the sand and settling will cause some movement in the stone. With sand all you need do is to lift up the stone and use a little more sand to level it out and fill in the joints.
If you use cement, you will likely have less settling, but you will still have some and when you do, it means tearing it up which is a lot more difficult and the results will not look the the original so it will look like a patch job.
--
Joseph Meehan

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Ive put in many flagstone walks, patios, dry and wet set, and use a solid base. Dry set is easier and looks better. Use fine gravel dry setting the stone in dry mortar with a mortar-gravel base. It allows you the excess time you need to level and place the stones , stones vary in thickness and wet setting is much harder to get it even with the limited time alowed. I just looked at one done 20 yrs ago it looks great. The mortar cures completly from ground moisture and rain. My uneven jobs are wet set.
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