Step 1

How to Purchase Your Patio Stones

How to Purchase Your Patio Stones

Cobble Systems features cast cobblestones connected to cast-in grids to make handling and application easy. Cobblestone patterns and color options are available. The calculation of square-foot ground coverage is necessary before ordering from the nearest dealer.

Purchase Materials

Cobble Systems features cast cobblestones connected to cast-in grids to make handling and application easy. Cobblestone patterns and color options are available. The calculation of square-foot ground coverage is necessary before ordering from the nearest dealer.

The two-part epoxy grout mixture from EcoSystems is permeable when mixed with silica sand, allowing water to pass through the grout rather than running off into unwanted areas. Silica sand is available at local home improvement centers or block and brick masonry retailers. Bedding sand may not be used as epoxy joint sand. Only clean, dry silica sand may be used. This sand is often called medium-grade or coarse-grade sandblasting sand. Some contractors refer to it as #22 sand.

Step 2

Prep Patio Site

Grade is a term often used by contractors to indicate the slope of the land from one point to another. Grade stakes, driven into the ground, along with a 6' level and string line can be used to keep the grade consistent, either flat or slightly uphill/downhill. A laser level with tripod, which can be rented for about $50 per day, is a more advanced and accurate method for determining grade.

At the Blog Cabin 2011 site, a load of fill dirt was imported and graded downward, away from the house. This 20' x 50' top-filled area was outlined with tight nylon string. Additional grade stakes were set and string lines were pulled tight to calculate grade. The graded fill dirt was compacted using a 20” vibrating plate compactor, available for rent at about $100 per day.

A second load of material was delivered, piling 20 tons of crush and run gravel (3/4” and smaller) near the site. Help was needed to wheelbarrow and spread the crush and run into a four-inch-thick compacted base course material. Spreading gravel to grade with rakes and shovels is labor-intensive. Either grab a group of neighborly DIY supporters or rent a small skid steer. A skid steer is a back-saving option, available for rent at about $175 per day. The vibrating compactor compresses the leveled crush and run in prep for the final layer.

The final truck delivery dumped 15 tons of stone dust. This bedding material was also spread evenly to a three-inch thickness. An important step in the process is to level the stone dust. A screed-board system, using a straight board or aluminum tool, with level side boards, was set up to smooth out the stone dust to a level height. It takes three people to complete this phase of ground prep, two screeding and one filling in the holes with a shovel or rake.

Purchasing Information: Not all sand and gravel prices are identical. Delivery distances, location of the rock quarry, types of gravel and quantities of load are all variables that affect costs.

Pro Tip

Dirt, crush and run, stone dust: Most DIYers have had little experience with these building materials. Do not let 18 tons of gravel be an intimidator. Call the local sand and gravel yard. They will answer clarifying questions, provide square-footage coverage and thickness data, give prices per ton and deliver to the DIY site.

Step 3

Lay Stones

Lay the sheets of stone down on the prepared base. The sheets link together, providing a continuous application over the prescribed area. Once a sheet of stone is laid down, it may be walked on gently. Continue laying the sheets of stone until the entire area is covered.

Pro Tip

If a fan design is desired, lay stone sheets outside of the perimeter boundary. The rough edges can be trimmed away, leaving a smooth edge

Step 4

Run the Compactor Over the Stone Surface

To set the stones into the base of stone dust, run the vibrating compactor over the entire stone surface. The compactor will compress the stone into the dust, stabilizing the sheets.

Step 5

Trim the Edge

If a fan design is laid, trim the sharp edge. First, using a marking pen or pencil, draw the cut line on the stone. Then rent a portable concrete cut-off saw (about $50 per day) to cut the line where drawn.

Make certain the saw blade cuts entirely through the stones. Now, take the snips and cut the cast-in grid cord to remove the excess stones on the outside of the perimeter.

Pro Tip

Using a portable concrete cut-off saw is dangerous. Use caution and follow the directions provided by the rental center. Wear heavy boots and safety glasses.

Step 6

How to Keep Your Patio Stones in Place

How to Keep Your Patio Stones in Place

To secure the stone patio, mix up some Type S mortar and trowel an outside edge frame around the perimeter. This will keep the stones from slipping and stabilize the area.

Photo by: Frank Murray

Frank Murray

Apply Edge Mortar

To secure the stone perimeter in place, mix up some Type S mortar and trowel an outside edge frame around the perimeter. This will keep the stones from slipping and stabilize the area.

Step 7

Grout the Joints

Empty a bag of silica sand into a small rental mortar mixer (about $45 per day). Add the two-part EcoSystems grout, then add the recommended amount of water. Mix for three minutes. Wet the stones with a light hand sprayer. Empty the mixed grout onto the stones and squeegee the sand and epoxy grout mixture around to cover the joints between the stones.

The sanded grout joints will set up by themselves. No pressure is needed to compress the sanded joints.

Pro Tip

On a hot day, the stones will warm up and the water spray will evaporate. Keep spraying as needed prior to application of grout.

Step 8

Finished Stone Patio

Finished Stone Patio

Use a push broom to sweep the excess grout from atop the stones. Sweep the stone-covered area clean. Allow the grout to set for 48 hours prior to placing heavy objects on the stones.

Clean and Finish

Use a push broom to sweep the excess grout from atop the stones. Sweep the stone-covered area clean. Allow the grout to set for 48 hours prior to placing heavy objects on the stones.