Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How to Build a Stone Patio

Installing Stone Patio
With so many articles out there on "How to Build a Stone Patio" it will be a wonder if you find this article. But I hope you do, because from my pre-project research for "flagstone patio design", "flag stone patio designs", "landscape patio design", and other searches, I don't think I fully understood the scope of this project. Hopefully this article will help you understand the process of building a stone patio more clearly than what I found from the basic tutorials on the web.



Here is a "close to final" after photo of our stone patio build. The stone is natural, irregular bluestone, which is considered a type of flagstone, that has been "tumbled" with water so that the edges are rounded and have a worn look, much nicer on the feet, than catching a sharp edge. Keep in mind that irregular natural stone will have more tendency to catch your patio chair feet when moving around in your chair, and will be less forgiving for high heels, than using a stone that is cut, smooth, shapes. (Click photos to enlarge them)


Here is the before photo. We had a pea stone pit.

Actually, I always said, "if I ever write an article about how to build a patio, I'm going to start by asking the reader why the hell they want to build a patio themselves?" And then I was going to say, "okay, you want to build a patio, okay, you are an idiot!".

BUT... Now that it's been a few seasons since the building work is behind me, I love the patio. I'm proud of it, and happy that I did the work myself. So if you are a glutton for punishment and you don't mind busting your butt for 10 days, then go for it! You'll be very happen when your done!

Step 1. Measure and Create a Plan for your Patio Design

From your flagstone patio design plan, you will be able to determine the square footage of your patio, and thus will be able to calculate the amount of materials you will need (see foundation diagram below to calculate patio depth). I did this for my patio on the computer using drawing programs, but graph paper will work nicely too. If you want to get fancy you can also try Google Sketchup, which allows you to draw in 3D and offers a free download version for PC and Mac.

Note: During your planning phase, it's very important to have local utility companies check to see that there aren't underground power lines, communication cables, gas lines, and water lines in the area you plan to excavate. Google "before you dig and your state" to see what programs you can call for locating utilities in your area. If you don't, you risk: Death, injury to you or others, disruption of services, and other bad things.

Step 2. How to Determine Sub-slab Patio Foundation Depth and Materials for Your Region
Every book you read, internet article, friend, etc. will tell you something different. Run down to your local landscaping, stone, masonry dealer and ask them if they install patios. If they do, ask them what they recommend for stone patio sub-slab foundation depths and materials. There's no set answer to this, as every region has it's own climate and thus it's own physical abuse the patio must endure. Here in Northern New England it was recommended that I build a 12" gravel foundation (this is a aggregate mix of crushed rock that includes, varied sizes and, "fines", fine rock dust and particles. If you didn't have this mix of material it would not be compatible), with 1.5" of sand on top, with the patio stones on top of that, and then to fill the gaps between stones with stone dust. We have serious winter frost heaving issues here, that's why the foundation is so deep.

Dry Set Flagstone Patio Base Cross Section Diagram

My patio rendering diagram shows a cross section of all materials used in a "dry laid", or "dry set", bluestone patio base (meaning the sub-slab is not concrete or mortar). Other flag stone patio designs are set on concrete slabs, but are not within the scope of this article.

Step 3: How to Estimate Costs for your Stone Patio Design
Now that you've asked the local experts about the sub-slab foundation depth and materials, and you know the square footage of your plan, then you can calculate the materials price list for your patio. To calculate materials: (patio length ft). x (patio width ft.) x (depth of material layer ft.) = cubic feet of that material needed. Stone dealers work in "cubic yards" and want you to order that way. To calculate cubic yards: (cubic feet of material needed) / (27) and then round up to the next cubic yard.

Example
For a 20 feet long by 20 feet wide patio with a 6 inch deep layer of gravel: (20' x 20' x .5' = 200 cubic feet. 200 / 27 = 7.4 cubic yards. Then round up to 8 cubic yards of gravel.

Alternatively you can have your stone dealer do the math from your measurements. Remember too when you order your materials they will measure and load them on their truck uncompacted. So order more, as you will be compacting your materials. I couldn't find any good math on calculating this in, but it seemed to be true in my case, as I ran short on all materials. Ask your stone dealer about this. They may have a good answer.

Add to that price, landscaping fabric, which should go between the sub soil and your foundation, and landscaping fabric staples to hold the fabric up on the sides before the hole is filled.

And...
You'll need to rent a vibratory plate compactor, and perhaps a small walk behind Bobcat or a standard Bobcat, or if your not into running heavy equipment, high someone to excavate for you. If you are only building a small patio, or if the foundation doesn't need to be too deep, have at it, with a shovel. I could never have completed our patio without the rental of the walk behind Bobcat (needed to move in tight spaces), to first excavate the gravel and soil, and secondly to bring gravel back into the hole. We ending up renting the Bobcat for I believe 4 days, at $140 a day. The plate compactor will run you about $65 per day. We needed the compactor for 4 days as well... The scope of your project will dictate machine needs.

And...
You'll also need to calculate in tool purchases. Photos and caption are coming.

Stone Patio Sticker Shock
You might have it at this point. I did, and asked my materials supplier what it might cost to have them build it. They said, "figure your material cost, then double it, then add yet another half".

Step 4: Ordering and Delivery of Stone Patio Materials
Keep in mind that stone dealers charge not only for materials, but also for delivery. The closer you are to them, the cheaper the delivery price, so find someone local. The gravel will be one truck, the sand other and the stone dust another, as they can't mix them in the dump truck. The stones themselves will come on a flatbed truck, on pallets, and will be placed on your site by a fancy forklift.

If you are not sure on exactly how much material you need, err on the side of more, rather than less. If you have a place to keep the extra materials, you'll find they come in handy for other projects later. I also use the extra stone dust I had to replenish it between stones as needed. If you end up with lots of extra, you can place a sign at the end of your driveway offering "free materials". Much worse is having work stop because you didn't order enough gravel. I did that.

You'll also need to determine where you want the materials dumped. They'll be coming with dump trucks, so they'll need access. You'll want the materials near the patio build site as well.

Step 5. How to Stake-out the Patio Perimeter

You'll need 2" x 2" stakes with pointy ends (cut them on 2 sides to form a point, if you only cut them on one side, they will move off center when you drive them) that you can drive deep enough into the ground that they'll be truly solid, as they will take a beating during the build. Determine your corner points, and then use a sledge hammer to drive the stakes into the ground about 10" beyond your corner points. You put the stakes farther out (if you have room) so that you can dig and work near the stakes without disturbing them. You'll have to fill that area with foundation gravel, so don't go too far out.

Tie "Mason's String" (neon colored string, that doesn't stretch or sag), tightly between the stakes. Use a "Line Level" hung on the strings to determine level and also to determine slope of the patio for drainage (1/4" per foot). The line level will have that pitch marked on it.

Dig out the foundation area to the depth you need (foundation, plus sand, plus rock thickness). Do not disturb the sub soil surface below. If you do, you'll need to compact that down too. If you don't, that looser soil will later settle and your patio will sink in those spots.

(Note: Decide what you are going to do with the excavated soil. You'll have quite a pile of soil to deal this. I was lucky enough to have access to the woods where I made pile should I need it later. You might consider using it to raise areas of your property. Keep in mind only the top portion will be good grass growing topsoil, and it will be hard to keep seperated, so consider it fill, that you later cover with a layer of good growing top soil.)

With a black permanent marker, mark the levels for the "top of the stones", "top of the sand", top of the gravel" on each stake. You will later use the mason's string at those marks to determine material height for each layer.

Step 6. Put Down Landscaping Fabric

After moving your strings down to see that your hole is deep enough, move the strings back up, or remove them and add landscaping fabric. I'd go up the sides too (you can use special landscaping fabric staples to hold it in place on the side, which really helps on windy days). The fabric keeps sub-soil from migrating up into your foundation, and keeps the foundation gravel from migrating down. Cut the fabric to go around the stakes as necessary.

Step 7. Add Intermediate Stakes and Then Gravel

Depending on the size and design of your stone patio, you may need to add more stakes. Mark these stakes from the mason strings already in place with a black marker, then add mason string across the middle of your patio layout in both directions.

Start bringing in your compatible gravel in 2"-3" layers. Spread it around with a metal rake (not the leaf rake type) and use a plate compactor (rental) to compact the gravel. You should make multiple passes in various directions back and forth, round and round, to really get the gravel compacted. If you skimp, your patio will sink in spots later.

Have a partner mist water from a hose before and during compacting. This helps with dust, keeps the compactor moving forward, and helps with the compacting process. Too much water and you'll get mud, and a stuck compactor. If you try to compact more than 2-3" of gravel at a time, the compactor will not be able to do a good job. It's very time consuming to compact each layer, but absolutely necessary. Move your strings up as you add more layers of gravel to check for fill height. You should also check for level with a long 2x4, or a couple of 2x4 screwed together. You can place a long bubble level on top of your 2x4. It's a good idea to let it rain a few times before you set your stone. This really helps to let the base settle, removing any air pockets. Or you can soak the base down a few times with a hose, just avoid a direct stream to the base. The official term for this technique is hydrocompaction.


In my case I was working in a confined space. I removed a few fence sections for access.


Here you can see stakes in place and excavation in progress. The area to the right will become a garden. You may have to use more stakes and strings than my diagram shows depending on the complexity of your job. Here you can see I have a few lines running, and a few stakes in the middle to check how far I've excavated.


We rented this walk behind Bobcat that was essential for this project. I had thought at one time to dig it out by hand, and later laughed as I realized that would not have been possible. The Bobcat was also a great help in getting gravel into the hole. I think we rented the Bobcat for 4 days at about $140? a day? I'd never run one, and made some mistakes in the first hour, but by the end, I was showing off my skills. They are fun, but make no mistake, these are very powerful machines and you must keep your wits about you. It would be easy to back up over yourself.


After adding 5 or so layers of gravel and moving the strings up each time to check for level, we took a break and laid a few stones out to dream about how the finished patio might look.


I believe this is the sand layer. I'm checking for level with a few 2x4s put together to for a long straight edge. You can use a level on top of the 2x4s too.


In the background you can see the delivery of two and a half pallets of tumbled irregular bluestone. Around this stage we took off a few weeks, which was a good thing, as it rained a few times which really helps to settle the base and remove any remaining air pockets that didn't get compacted.

Here you can also see the plumping (white hooped pipe) and electrical that I ran under the patio while it was open. My plan was to have an outdoor kitchen in that area. I used Pex Tubing for the cold only water supply, which runs through my basement sill and taps into my domestic cold water pipes.


When I first jumped into this project, I didn't realize some of the bumps in the road I would encounter. After figuring out a reasonable slope for runoff, it turned out that the patio side by the fence/driveway would have to be much lower than before, when gavel was there. I had to build a cement retaining wall to hold up the now much higher driveway.

I don't have photos of it, but on the other side of the patio, the same problem came, but in opposite. I had to add an extra step to our stone stairs leading to the back yard, as the correct level and slope made the patio stones about a step higher than our existing top step.

Also note the left side of the photo, which is the driveway, as you start to layout stones, you will want to get stones off the pallets, so that you can see what sizes and shapes you have to work with. The stones and dirt was everywhere. It seemed we had way too many stones, and it also seemed the driveway would never be the same again. Both turned out to be wrong. We ended up short on stones, and the driveway cleaned up just fine, after lots of shoveling, sweeping and hosing.

Step 8: Laying Out the Natural Stones

What a joy it is to be done with the foundation and on to the fun part... puzzling in the irregular natural stones. Rats@! It's not really fun at all. I thought this would go quickly and we'd see the natural stone patio take shape before our eyes... Not true. This is may be the hardest part of the whole patio project. Imagine getting a large pile of rocks, each one weighing "a lot", and you are too complete a puzzle with a 1/4" space between puzzle pieces... only the puzzle manufacturer took no interest in giving you pieces that actually fit together! Holey Moley! I started on a section, than would get to a road block, then start another section, and have to take it all up, repeat.

I didn't know if I should start from the center or from the edges. I choose the edges, as that's what you do with puzzles. Wrong! This didn't work well I didn't like that all the pieces on the sides were square. I was creating a border I never intended. So I took those all up and did a few Googlings that relieved nothing on "how to place irregular natural stones in a patio". I then started in the middle and things got a bit better, but not much.

If I placed five pieces, I'd feel great satisfaction, and sit back to admire my work. But if you stop, the patio is not getting done... This is VERY slow and challenging work. The guys at the stone shop told me I should shoot for 1/4" inch between stones. I'm not sure what planet that they came from and I very good at Tetris, but this was mission, almost, impossible.

After a few full days of toiling and trying to keep quality control to a maximum, my wife came out and placed a whole section fairly quickly that didn't meet my spacing standards. But she had a section done, so I left them! After seeing that performance, I too started to cut some corners. Sometimes a stone fits and sometimes it doesn't and sometimes you have to remove 5 perfectly placed stones because you are stuck. You remove them and try something else.

Somehow, in the end they all fit! I know I could have cut the stones, but that would have left straight cuts that would not have looked right.


Here's a shot the new garden space that echos what was on the right side of the steps.


Here I have all the remaining puzzle pieces spread out to look at. You see a space and you think things like, "it's kinda like Nevada, but wider" and then you go in search of that stone... Good luck! I now have huge appreciation for anyone that does stone masonry work. It really is an artform, and I think that is why I couldn't find much on the art of laying irregular stone on the web. It's a Zen thing. You have to be one with the stones.


And can you believe it! All the stones have been used. Somehow I did get a package of stones that all go together. Actually I ran short and had to purchase individual stones for the remaining spots around the edges. Some of these edge stones didn't fit perfectly, so I used a diamond blade in my circular saw to cut the edges. It's very dusty and stone bits fly around, so wear a dust mask and goggles when you cut stone.

After all of the natural stones had been laid, I nestled them in with a few loving blows from a dead blow hammer. Do this with a level in hand to convince any high points to lower. Other places you may need to raise a bit with sand.

After that I added stone dust to the patio and spread it around to go in, and under, the voids between stones with a broom. You should also gentle spray water over the patio to encourage the stone dust to find a compacted home, but be very careful not to apply a stream directly to the gaps, or else the stone dust and sand will start coming up, and it ruins the stone dust only color when sand is mixed in. If you want mosses or other vegetation to grow between the rocks, use topsoil instead of stone dust.

You can also top off the gaps with a final 1/4" layer of Polymeric Sand. It has polymers which when wet, forms hard, similar to grout. I planned on doing this, but Googling reveal difficulty in working with it. Basically some found that if you had any polymeric sand dust on your stones, it would become hard and stick to the stone tops. I've not tried it, but I may try a section. It would be nice to finish off what I have there now, which is stone dust, that tends to spread around on the surface a bit.


As the patio on the driveway side was now much lower. I had to build a step down to the patio from the driveway.


Here's my little helper.






A few more views of the almost finished flagstone stone patio. I have plans to possibly add some semi cement like sand between the stones, but I'm okay with the look for now. More on this later.

So far the patio has been through 2 winters and nothing has budged.


Why Building Our Flagstone Patio Might be More Difficult than Building Your Patio.
1. We had to lay a very deep foundation, as the freezing and thawing of New England is not easy on patios.
2. We choose to use irregular stone for our patio. If you want to make it much easier, choose a square or rectangle cut stone, to avoid the puzzle piecing needed with irregular shapes.
3. We built our patio in a predefined space, which presented unforeseen snafus.
3. Every project has it's unforeseen snafus, and you may have less than we did. But you'll have yours for sure.

Installing Stone Patio Resources
Popular Mechanics: Build Your Own Natural Stone Patio
The Family Handyman: How to Build a Stone and Brick Patio: Plans and Instructions
The Family Handyman: Build a Flagstone and Stone Block Patio
Ask the Builder: Patios 101 (Patio repair, How to Build a Flagstone Patio, Patio Design, etc.)
This Old House: How to Lay a Stone Patio
Ron Hazelton: How to Build a Patio from Concrete Pavers
A-Stone, Inc.: How to Build a Dry Stone Patio

My Standard Disclaimer: This is what I did. This does not mean this is the best way, the right way, to building code, or even safe for your needs. So you are on your own with your project. I make no promises about the information presented here. I'm just a do-it-yourselfer, not a professional at all, sharing my story. So if something goes wrong with your project, you are on your own. Good luck, and have fun!

All content and photos, copyright 2009, Dover Projects
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43 comments:

  1. Great write up. Thanks for sharing. This will definitely help in my upcoming project

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  2. Thanks very much. I hope it helps you--Peter

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  3. I live in North West Arkansas and I plan on building a stone patio. I am going to face issues much like yours with deep foundations because my house is on a steep slope. I am in the process of building a retaining wall now for the patio. My yard has no grass, it is all rock because the soil is so hard and full of rocks, no one can plant grass unless you are willing to spend a fortune on top soil that will most likely wash away anyway. I was thinking of using the rocks to fill in the area and then compact some dirt over the rocks and then use sand.

    Do you think that would work?

    It looks like the builder did this with a sidewalk in my back yard. He pored the cement right over the top of the rocks and there is no cracks in the sidewalk.

    John

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  4. Hi John, I'm going to opt out of a real answer here as I'm not experienced with retaining walls. Seems you are planning to backfill behind the retaining wall with the rock and then compact some dirt over the rocks.

    I don't know what the right backfill for the retaining wall should be to achieve good drainage behind it. Our retaining wall was built before we own this place. Perhaps you already have that part figured out and just want to know if you can use the rocks you have as fill under the patio.

    The retaining wall issue aside, I can say that the concept for a good patio base is to use a compactable material. Typically that means crushed rock that contain "fines". Fines can vary in size from stone dust to small rock chips. Fines are created as part of the rock crushing processes, and are needed to make the base compactable and cement like.

    The fines fill the voids between the larger crushed rock pieces and hold it all tight together.

    So not knowing how big your rocks from your land are, and what the situation looks like from here in my living room, it's a bit hard to advise you. I think though if you have large rock, you must also mix in rocks of varying sizes, right down to dust size. You can not use loam or top soil, but it sounds like you don't have that in your "dirt".

    Typically you compact the crushed rock in 3 inch layers with a vibrating compactor. I'm not sure if you'll be able to do that, if your rocks are too big. Another way to compact the rock is with water. Using a garden hose to soak the layers will help settle the fines into place, making a tight compacted base.

    I'd recommend talking with your local hardscaping/landscaping supply company to see what they say.

    Perhaps the rocks nesseled in place with cement between and on top of them is a good way to go. Perhaps consult your builder?

    I don't think I helped you much, but thanks for asking. Perhaps someone else can add more.

    --Peter

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  5. Just deleted a nice comment, but their name was a link to a compactor rental site. While I'm all for putting up links, as shown on my site, I'm not keen though on comments that pose as regular Joes, only to find that their comment was most likely only a way to get a link back to a compactor rental site. I would much prefer you just come out in the open and say, "hey, I rent compactors, check out this site for rentals." than to be sneaky about. Thanks--Peter

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  6. Nice write up, this is going to be my next project.

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  7. I am so thankful I found your site before I ventured out. Just rototilled my flat square dirt area tonight so I can dig it out easier. I have read lots of sites and yours was the top two or three I believe will help me be successful. Thanks for the honesty on how hard it will be. I have almost no budget but I got all the flagstone for free. Rhonda from Texas

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  8. Thank you so much for your efforts to show your work! It is amazingly helpful to see it, read the directions, and learn from your process.
    I am going to attempt this and your article is by FAR the best and most thorough I have found on the Internet.
    Susan Young

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  9. I have been researching flagstone walkways for a couple of weeks and finally found this link on a blog. It has so much useful information, thanks for putting it together. I'll post how everything turns out in a month or so.

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  10. Dear Peter,

    Thank you so very much for sharing all of your helpful advice and wonderful photographs. Deep breath - I am planning on a slate patio in eastern PA (Philadelphia) and will follow your lead with a deep foundation and other great tips.

    Maybe I can convince my two huskies to help with the heavy lifting/dragging. They will do most anything for treats.

    I am so grateful that I found your blog!!!!!

    Abbi

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  11. Thanks all for the very nice comments.

    I got down on the stairs, down from the patio, today to check if the patio has any heaving or sinking... flat as a board! I'm ready for summer to come already! :)

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  12. Peter, did you run the compactor over the sand layer as well? Looks like you might have.

    Also, did you screed in the sand using pipes as guides? Many articles say to lay pipes down for the final grade and use them while screeding in the sand to keep everything level (ie. low spots in the compacted gravel).

    Thanks,

    Dave

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  13. Arg ... forgot to ask you this as well. My wife is concerned about the stability of chairs on a flagstone patio. Legs finding their way into joints or getting caught up when sliding a chair in/out. What is your experience with this?

    Thanks again,

    Dave

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  14. Hi Dave,

    Yes, we did run the compactor over the sand layer as well. Pipes might work well, I used a long 2x4 (actually 2 2x4s, for extra length with a level on top.

    As for the chairs question. Well I'm famous for not finishing a project all the way. Ask my wife! I never did the final polymeric sand between the stones (1/4 inch to almost level out the gaps between stones). So we have deeper gaps than we should. In the meantime moss has started to grow which looks great at some times in the year and not so great (brownish) in other seasons, so I'm still not sure if I want to add topsoil to finally fill the top layer of the gaps and encourage moss, or kill the moss and do the polymeric thing, or just top up with stone dust.

    That said, yes, currently chairs do not slide well at all. Really you have to lift your butt off the seat and lift and scoot the chair to move it. It's something we have gotten used to, so really not a big deal for us. Even if it's really topped up though the gaps, I don't think that any chair is going to slide that well on the type of stone we have, as even the surfaces are slightly irregular. The plastic "coasters?" inserts on the bottoms of our cheapo metal patio furniture have mostly come out/off. I've been planning to epoxy glue them back in. Someday@!

    You'd need a smooth surfaced stone for good sliding, and maybe even then some sorta coating, but I can't say much about what that coating would be. Have not research it.

    Good luck with your project!

    --Peter

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  15. NEW!!! DOVER PROJECTS ON FACEBOOK! Join in with your DIY spirit! Click on the BIG blue box for "Facebook, Dover Projects" in the right column above! See you there!--Peter

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  16. Usually when laying a flagstone patio joints should not align. Not only does this give the patio a "fractured" appearance, but if the stone does shift, the disparities can become much more pronounced over a ridge than a single edge. Otherwise you did a wonderful job with explaining the process of constructing the patio.

    In a similar situation as with your top of wall height difference, I have in the past installed an additional drain to relieve the retention wall (existing) of additional stormwater runoff created by the compacted base.

    I'm a landscape architecture grad student with 8 years of installation experience. A lot of people bite off more than they can chew deciding to embark on a project of this scale. It's a hell of a lot of work. Hard work as you can testify. 2.5 times materials cost as you were quoted is CHEAP. I bill out at $30 an hour for masonry work in the summer.

    Congrats on your patio, that is something you can be proud of the rest of your life... skip the polymeric sand. It is awful to get off the stone anywhere it spills - if you do use it, use a mortar bag to apply it and a brick striker to get it in there (2 person job ideally...) I use rock dust or sharp sand wetted and run over with a plate compactor. Also, an inexpensive silicone grout sealer applied annually to the stone can preserve the "wet" look and really highlight the character of the bluestone.

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  17. Awesome write up
    The pictures and description of your 'mistakes' are flawless
    Yu've saved me a ton of headaches
    Thank you

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  18. Nice site, wish I would have found it before I started my stone patio/walk project. I probably would not have believed what a chore it is to lay the stones if I hadn't done it myself.

    One comment about fitting the stones. You have to decide at the beginning if you are more concerned about gaps between stones or an irregular stone appearance. The only sane way to limit large gaps is to use more square-ish stones. Accept that at the beginning or at the end.

    As for sliding chairs, the only good patio surface for sliding chairs is concrete, maybe stamped concrete. Even wood decks do not allow sliding easily.

    Lastly, could you remove the "buyviagra" comment? I also hate that crass commercialism.

    Excellent job on project and site. Thanks

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  19. Hey thanks for the spam alert! I missed deleting that one. Damn spammers seem to attack these comment sections.

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  20. Hi Peter
    Great photos and description of the building process.

    It's still a year away from release but we are developing software to fit the irregular rocks together in the virtual world. Maybe a smart-phone app where you would quickly digitise the shape of each paver using the camera then let the software do the hard part.

    Some people have told me they would still prefer to do it all themselves because they like the challenge and then the satisfaction.

    You've been there and felt the pain and the satisfaction so if you ever did it again would you use software if it was available?

    Hope you don't mind me asking. I'm doing my market research.

    Malcolm Lambert

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  21. Malcolm, when I built this I actually considered taking photos of each rock and cutting them out in Photoshop and building the whole puzzle virtually.

    Not sure if I mentioned that in the article above. I didn't do it as it seemed almost as much work, and I've to shoot all the pieces at a perfect camera angle (numbered too).

    If your tool was a reasonable price I would consider it for a one time use ($50 or less). I think the problem you might have is end users getting the pieces into the program.

    —Peter

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  22. Maybe I didn't get this point across to you strongly enough. I would definitely want a tool like you are suggesting!!!

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  23. Thinking about it more though, I can see there will be a lot of technical issues trying to build a tool like this. I'm not sure it would work, as as things change along the way with the stone placement, and some stones are better than others. The program would have to be able to shuffle stone configurations even during a partial build...

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  24. Peter, thanks for your comments. You are quite right about the extra time to digitise the shapes and then the potential for the pattern to depart from the design as stones are laid, broken or misplaced.

    I think for pavers which are all the same thickness the digitising part will be quick because it's a relatively simple 2D process. Already there are some free applications which create 3D models from digital photos. PhotoSculpt which uses only 2 photos and creates a 3D model (it's not calibrated, so for aesthetic purposes only) and PhotoSynth which works out the camera-object geometries and creates quite a good 3D model from a series of photos.

    Accounting for cumulative errors is another thing. We won't know what are the best ways to deal with it until we do some more real-world tests but I think there will be relatively easy solutions. Having the capability to adjust the design part-way through, as you suggest, is possible.

    At the very least, I'm glad you like the idea. I'll keep working on it.

    Malcolm

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  25. Great Malcom, and I don't know how I missed your comment above here until today. Let me know how your progress goes. Fascinating puzzle for sure.—Peter

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  26. Wow it's beautiful. I wish I had the space for such a large patio.

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  27. Wow, this is amazing, such a wonderful reference. Entertaining and informative!

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  28. Awesome job Peter! I am currently researching this project to do-it-myself on my parents property. Very detailed and informative...Thank you! -Dan

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  29. Hi Peter
    I've just completed the fitting together of 38 irregular-shaped stone pavers following the plan devised by our software application. You can see the results here http://malbertsinvention.wordpress.com/
    We are also getting a smart phone app developed to make it easy to digitise the shapes of pavers. We'll release the app for free and have the Rocksolver optimisation application residing on a server. The first release will be later in the year. I'll let you know.

    Malcolm

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  30. you don't say how much your patio project cost and how much you saved doing it yourself. I really want a patio but don't think I can afford professionals to do it. I don't mind hard work but I just don't want to get in over my head so if a professional would charge me $10,000 but doing it myself would be $8,000 I might as well go with the pro. Do you know how much you saved?

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  31. Wow! i like your place but it would be good to see more furniture..

    __________________________
    Upholstery and Vancouver Upholstery

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  32. You promise to go above and beyond your expectations every time.
    Computer Repair Pearland TX

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  33. Coincidentally, when building stone walls, I often thought of putting together a jigsaw puzzle that has never been assembled before...

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  34. Can you give details about the table and sink you have by the grill. Thanks

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  35. Your post has lots of excellent information about build a stone patio . Stone patio is valuable and satisfying home improvements. Thanks for sharing!

    Patio Cèdre

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  37. Nice going! This is pretty cool. I'll definitely keep this in mind for a SHTF situation, after everything calms down again, but I wonder how creative a Vancouver roofer could get on a patio. I've heard a story once but I don't know.

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  38. This is a great source of information on how to build a stone patio. You will never go wrong with a stone patio. Aside from being aesthetically appealing, this material is actually affordable compared to other types of materials plus they have many varieties available in the market so there's definitely one for our budget and taste for our patio design.

    - DHLandscapeDesign.com

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  39. Great post! Been reading a lot about building a patio in my backyard. Thanks for the info here!

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Please leave your questions or comments here. I love to get feedback. You can do so without an account or user names and passwords, etc. Just select "Anonymous" next to "comment as". Thanks!--Peter