Irregular flagstone

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by OutdoorCreations, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. OutdoorCreations

    OutdoorCreations LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    What do some of you seasoned veterans use as a bedding sand for irregular flagstone? I have used stone dust in the past, but it is a PITA to level the stone and then I seem to have more rocking stones that I am comfortable with.

    I have seen some guys mix water and stone dust in a wheel barrow and then set the stone in the wet mix. I have seen guys use concrete sand just like pavers.

    Also, what are you guys using in the joints?

    BTW I just rather do pavers or wet set flagstone. This dry set sucks!
  2. 4Russl5

    4Russl5 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 160

    Ok...your foundation needs to be bomber and built to a realistic depth for your area. Here in Wa. I install 8" minimum of gravel compacted, and sometimes filter cloth, and usually 4" perforated drain pipe to control moisture content below grade and remove water. Stone needs to be minimum of 1 1/2" to 2" thick.... minimum! You have to pack under these well enough so they do not move... every one has their own technique. I have a minimum size also of 12" x 16" 'in the field of stone area' and 16" x 20" minimum for anything on the edge of patios. My system works well for me and my guys and I strongly warranty our work.
    Dry set doesn't suck... you just need to be patient and honor the stone, the client, the project, and enjoy the journey. If you don't like it, don't offer the service. It will show in your attitude and end product.
  3. Gilmore.Landscaping

    Gilmore.Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 645

    haha, Glad to see you didn't anwser any questions with this...:clapping: But I do agree with everything said above, I would add that we use 1-1.5" Stone dust so set our stone into, and depending on how irregular the stone is sometimes it can be difficult but that's why you need to buy grade A flagstone, not the cheap S**T. We use 'Envirobond' EnviroStone product for the joints.
  4. OutdoorCreations

    OutdoorCreations LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Thanks guys. I usually do not recommend dry set flagstone only because I can't seem to master it like other guys do.

    I try to keep a 1" gap for joint sand. In the past I have used a concrete sand and portland cement mixture. I sweep it in and then wet it down like poly sand. The only reason I do it like this is because an old timer told me to.

    To date I have not had a call back on my paver work or masonry, but this one job I did back in July (dryset irregular flagstone) has called me back for loose stones. In a 350sq/ft patio there are 11 loose stones. This is bothering me because I feel that I do good work and this job is a thorn in my side.
  5. Century Landscape

    Century Landscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    I would definitely only set flagstone over sand, not stone dust. If you check out one of my most recent posts, I just finished having serious problems with getting a stone dust setting layer to drain. It just seems to suck up moisture and hold it for a long time.

    Previously I've always used stone dust, but in the future it will be concrete sand for me. For a little insight, view the technical specs for Gator Dust - it specs to use sand, specifically not stone dust as it can hold moisture. I'm currently dealing with a job having problems with the Gator Dust and moisture problems. I'm afraid that it's probably because I laid it over stone dust.

    Just my opinion, and the specs if you're going to use Gator Dust, but I would go with sand.
  6. STL Ponds and Waterfalls

    STL Ponds and Waterfalls LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,174

    Concrete sand and a whole lotta cursing.:laugh:
  7. 4Russl5

    4Russl5 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 160

    OK... stone dust/gator dust or crushed stone... it doesn't matter if your your foundation and stone sizes are not substantial. I use 3/8" crushed for the top 2" of my foundation so I can level quicker, pack tighter, and the water can drain through. I often plant ground covers in the gaps between the stones. All those other products are junk in my eyes, and the root of the problem stems from lack of all my points in the first post.

    Sand is junk. It has it's purpose for other jobs in the landscape. It does not lock up like gravel and will constantly shift... trust your customers.

    If you are not willing to be present to deliver a great product to your customers, don't offer it!. Or do...

    Post images of your problem and let some of us help guide you down a path that will be more successful for you and your clients... respectfully.
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    We've done quite a lot of these over the years. Although for the last few years I've been steering people away from irregular flagstone patios. Mostly because our paver patios just turn out so much nicer. Tighter joints, more evenly level product, nicer to slide furniture and tables around on, etc. And if someone likes the look of flagstone, I'd rather see them do the Belgard Mega Arbel pavers. Those look just like flagstone but come out more perfect.

    Anyway, we still do a fair amount of them. Finished one just a few weeks ago.

    My installers prefer not to use bedding sand at all for flagstone. Or any stone, for that matter. Even on our Pattern Cut Bluestone Patios we do it the same way. They lay down geotextile fabric; lay down at least 4" of gravel, compact heavily with a plate compactor, then lay out the flagstone (or pattern cut bluestone). Now each piece of stone is usually a little thicker or thinner than the piece next to it. So up to this point it's pretty easy. But now they start on one corner of the patio and decide a piece that is at the proper height and slope. Then they go to the next piece and either add a little gravel underneath by hand or remove a little bit by hand until it matches the grade of the first one. Then they take up the next piece and do the same thing, until eventually every stone has been raised or lowered a tiny bit. All the while using "1/4" minus" gravel. No bedding sand.

    It's not quite as labor intensive as it sounds. We'll spend a little less labor doing a flagstone patio than we will a paver patio. It goes fairly quickly. But each piece is adjusted in this manner. And we make sure each piece is totally stable from every angle of standing on it.

    Finally, we'll use Gator Dust in the joints. Although we tried using Polymeric Sand this year in the joints and it worked perfectly. Maybe even better than Gator Dust. I was under the impression that Poly Sand wouldn't work for larger joints like flagstone. But our Techniseal rep. said that's not true. He advised us that their poly sand product would work great - even better - than Gator dust. So we tried it and it turned out great! We may be going that route from now on. Either way. Gator dust works fine IMO too. Just a little chunkier.

    Whoever said EnviroBond needs to be shot. That stuff is CRAP! I used it for years and years and years. I used to import it, several pallets at a time, from Canada. Over time, every single job we did using EnviroStone by EnviroBond failed. The stuff just doesn't last in rainy environments. We'd come back 2 years later and it would almost all be gone! Time after time after time we had to go back and do a free warranty repair on these patios. Once we started using Gator Dust, we have never had to go back and redo any joints. It holds up 10x better than EnvironStone does. It has something to do with the binding agent that they use. EnviroStone is an organic compound, where Gator Dust is just using straight polymer.

    Anyway, long story short - no bedding sand. Just compact gravel for the bedding and then a little gravel underneath each piece for leveling. That's what works well for us.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011
  9. Gilmore.Landscaping

    Gilmore.Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 645

    Not to take away from the o.p. questions but...

    I am going to guess your not using it right. All we ever use is Envirobond, for both pavers and flagstone. If installed correctly then it works just as good if not better then poly. And its an easy sell to customers because it is organic....and usually since they are doing flagstone they like natural organic. I have yet to return to a job for warranty work based on the joint material.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Of course we're not using it. It failed....miserably....dozens of times....year after year....

    I was using it. For many years. If you search here on Lawnsite you'll find several posts by me several years ago where I said it was great stuff. I used to love it. The problem is - over time it fails. And it's failed on every single job I ever used it on. Which was dozens and dozens of them.

    Now why it seems to work for you up in Canada and not for me down here in Oregon, I don't know. I had this conversation with one of the engineers at EnviroBond a few years back. Because they were trying to figure out why we quit ordering their product. And he was telling me the same thing, "Well, it seems to work great for us up here in our tests." And I was saying, "I'm sure it does. But for whatever reason the stuff just doesn't last down here in Oregon. Maybe it's our rainy climate or whatever. But for whatever reason, your stuff doesn't last and the Gator Dust works like a miracle."

    So it may be that the stuff works in certain environments just fine and not well in others. But I'm not the only one who has had this experience. I convinced one of the big suppliers in town to start carrying this product several years ago too. So they ordered 3 big cargo crates of the stuff, on my recommendation and started selling it to their residential customers out of their rock yard and within 6-12 months everyone started coming back and complaining about the product. So they ended up having to just unload the stuff at 75% off and once it was gone they switched to selling Gator Dust instead, which is now what every supplier in the NW carries. Because that stuff works and we've all learned over time that the EnvirStone fails here.

    It doesn't make me happy to say this. I really was a big fan of the stuff for a long time. But I gotta be honest. It just hasn't worked out like it's supposed to. But the Gator Dust has.

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