Flagstone is a generic
description of flat stone that is most often used in building and landscaping.
It is a sedimentary
stone that is split into thin layers, allowing it to be used in many applications.
Flagstone is usually a sandstone containing feldspar and quartz, often cemented
together with calcium, silica or iron oxide. Flagstone is not to be confused with
slate, which is also a sedimentary rock but composed primarily of clay or volcanic
Flagstone is quarried most any place where there is sedimentary stone: from Texas to Pennsylvania, from Arizona to the west coast of Ireland. Where the stone is formed and what its primary binding materials are determine the stones' predominant color. Among the colors most commonly found in flagstone are red, pink, peach, chocolate, buff, green, blue, gold, beige and white. Some flagstone has a record of its formation with fossilized tracks of marine worms and ancient insects.
The variety of colors, versatility of uses, wide availability, durability and beauty of flagstone make it an ideal material to use in a range of projects. It has a naturally non-slip surface which makes it perfect for both indoor and outdoor uses. Flagstone can be used for paving, roofing, fences, headstones, patios, walkways, pillars and facades. The stone ranges from ½" to 3+" thick. The slabs are usually cut or broken into irregular shapes, adding to the beauty many find in the look of the random, less contrived pattern of a flagstone walkway or patio.
Some major home
renovations can be frustrating, expensive, time-consuming, and, in the end, not
give the best returns on your investment. However, something as simple as a new
patio can be reasonably-priced, add more resale value to a home than the
construction costs, and will provide immediate enjoyment to the homeowner and
their guests. The organic look of the stones fits nicely with any residential
environment, matching the more rural setting of a home or adding a cozier
quality to a more urban setting.
Available in a number of different colors, it has excellent esthetic compatibility and its composite design allows the patio to be any size or shape you desire. It's the perfect patio to fit around a garden or to allow for a small, grassy area within the stones. If you're thinking about putting in a patio or you want to do something to improve your home but don't know want to do, this is where you should start!
Add a Flagstone
The perfect complement to a flagstone patio is often to put in a flagstone walkway. Since flagstone has a more rustic appearance, many homeowners who choose these patios live in a rural area or have secluded properties, and yet they are a perfect complement to any home. Naturally inviting, the almost instinctual pull of a stone walkway draws one to follow that path and to see where it might lead.
Many homeowners know the difference between what it means to have a yard and what it means to have property. Have you ever said, "Our yard ends here, but the property actually goes back another 200 feet?" If overgrowth or trees keep you from extending your yard to the end of your property, a flagstone walkway can allow you and guests to walk through your entire property and enjoy its natural landscape without extensive landscape construction.
Dry v. Wet
One of the basic questions you'll have to answer is whether you want the patio to be set in sand or a concrete mortar. Laying the patio in sand is known as dry construction. This process is easier and cheaper, but yields a patio that will need maintenance or repair over time. Placing the patio in concrete results in a permanent patio that requires no maintenance. Do-it-yourselfers tend to choose dry construction for simplicity, while homeowners who hire a service professional tend to opt for wet construction. Not only does a permanent patio require no upkeep from the homeowner, it also goes a lot further in adding resale value to your home.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing which type of flagstone patio you will install is that dry construction requires thicker, wider stones to gain stability, while extra concrete—which is cheaper than the flagstone—can provide the stable base the patio needs. Flagstone prices can vary widely depending on location, thickness, type, and color. As transportation costs rise, location is becoming more and more important, but for adequate stone for a patio of about 100 sq. ft. you can pay anywhere from $200 to well over $1,000. On the other hand, the better stone you buy the more durable the patio will be and the more visually appealing it will look. For an additional cost, stones can also be cut to a standard size that will create a more refined look and allow for easier installment.
Flagstone patios and walkways generally require little maintenance beyond routine sweeping to remove debris that could, over time, cause organic staining or mold growth on the stone. However, occasionally staining, mold or mildew growth may occur especially in areas of high moisture such as a pool or hot tub deck. To remove these types of stains, first wet the stone surface very well with water. Bleach is a great product for killing mold and mildew on stone -- try it in a small sunny spot first to make sure it won't discolor the surface. Mild detergents are also good to try. Use a 50% bleach and water mixture, or a solution of diluted mild detergent, with a soft brush to gently scrub the stain. For tougher stains such as rust or grease, harsher chemicals may be necessary. First Coast Flagstone recommends that a professional be called in for removal of these more difficult stains. Many of the chemicals used to remove these stains are highly toxic and require very careful handling and proper safety equipment to avoid injury to both the user and the stone.
Sealing flagstone outdoors is not recommended. Topical sealers applied to stone installed in full weather conditions may actually enhance the stone's susceptibility to staining and discoloration. Sealing stone outdoors leaves no escape route for moisture vapor that may enter the stone from the bottom. As a result, moisture is trapped and may cause a white film to develop and even cause parts of the sealer to bubble or peel. Once peeling occurs, removing the remainder of the sealer that does stay contacted is a very laborious task and requires additional chemicals.
If a sealer must be applied outside, a penetrating, sub-surface sealer is the best alternative. Always test the performance of your selected sealer before full application. Color changes may occur. These sealers, also called impregnators, usually allow moisture vapor to escape from within and are designed to keep droplets of moisture from being deeply absorbed into the stone. If this option is used, re-sealing is usually necessary. Time between resealing can vary greatly depending on weather conditions and frequency of use. Wear of the stone and regular cleaning techniques will affect the performance of sealers.