A limestone-slab patio looks both rustic and elegant, with its irregular patterns and solid, textured surface. Laying a limestone patio is something you can do yourself if you go with a loose-stone and sand-bed design as opposed to mortaring the stones together. Even though the stones aren't completely flat, the underlying bed should be, so there's still a lot of digging, hauling of sand and rocks, and other physical labour involved in this project.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Flat spade
- Flat, wide snow shovel
- Plastic or nylon weedblocker, a roll, to cover the area
- Four to six wooden stakes, each two feet long
- Ball of twine
- Razor knife
- Small string level (designed to hang on a horizontally tied string)
- Tape measure
- Sand to cover the area to a depth of 3 inches
- Garden hose with light sprayer attachment
- Limestone slabs of varying shapes to fill the area
Stake out the border for your patio with your wooden stakes and string. Cut the sod on the perimeter of the area with your spade. Dig up and discard the sod throughout the area.
Lay your weedblocker over the soil, letting the strips overlap as you roll them out, and cutting them at the ends with your razor knife.
Spread your sand over the area, smoothing it out with your snow shovel and getting it as level as you can by sight.
Adjust the strings on your stakes (the ones that marked out your perimeter) so they are about a foot off the surface of the sand. Put your string level on each span of string and adjust them again to get them level.
Run two additional spans of string, from the each corner of the area to the opposing corner. Put them at the same height as the first spans of string, and use the string level to adjust them to a level plane, as before. You should now have a level web of string over the surface of the sand.
Use your show shovel to level out the sand, using the web of string as a guide. Stop occasionally to measure from the string to the sand. The sand should be about one foot down from the string at every point you measure.
Once the sand is level, remove the stakes and string. Use your garden hose on light-spray setting to saturate the sand, taking care not to let the water pressure move the sand around. Let it dry a few hours, then saturate it again. Repeat several times, until the sand has compacted. Then let it dry completely overnight and sit in the sun for an afternoon.
Lay your limestone pavers on the flat, compacted sand, working from one edge of the area and standing on the ones you've already laid so you don't disturb the level of the sand. Fit the natural shapes of the slabs together as best you can, letting the spaces between them vary from a 1/2 inch to no more than 1-1/2 inches.
When all the limestone is laid, sweep additional sand over patio to fill the cracks. Wet it all down again and let it dry.
Tips and warnings
- Buy one cubic foot of sand for every 4 square feet of area, so a 10x10-foot patio will need 25 cubic feet of sand.
- The limestone slabs are heavy. Lift with your legs rather than your back, and don't overdo it.
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