Introduction

laying a stone patio tout »
With all the beauty of a well-manicured lawn but without the maintenance, a stone patio makes an elegant addition to any home. A variety of flat stones will do—smooth squares of slate or rough flags of limestone—as long as they can withstand foot traffic and the local climate. For most of his patios, This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook favors 1 ½- to 2-inch-thick bluestone, a tough sandstone quarried in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

"Setting stone is similar to laying bathroom tile," Roger says. You prepare a base, level each piece, and fill in the joints. But while tile can be set with one hand, laying a 100-pound stone slab takes brawn and is best handled by two people. "You only want to move them once," Roger says, "so take your time to set each stone straight with uniform 3/8-inch gaps between them."
Shannon Brady Marin
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    Tools List

    • metal garden rake
      Steel rake,
      for spreading stone dust
    • push broom
      Push broom,
      for sweeping stone dust
    • pointed shovel
      Spade shovel,
      for digging and spreading
    • square shovel
      Square shovel,
      for measuring and mixing
    • wheelbarrow
      Wheelbarrow,
      for mixing wet material
    • torpedo level
      Builder's level,
      for determining pitch
    • leveling rod
      Leveling rod,
      for measuring pitch with builder's level
    • angle grinder
      Angle grinder,
      for cutting curves in stone
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • circle cutter
      Circle cutter,
      for scribing stone
    • four-foot level
      2- and 4-foot levels,
      for leveling stones
    • pointing trowel
      Pointing trowel,
      for adding cement mix and packing in joints
    • hand rake
      Hand rake,
      for leveling wet material
    • tamper
      Hand tamper,
      for tamping base along walls and siding
    • plate compactor
      Plate compactor,
      rent, if needed, to compact base
    • circular saw
      Circular saw with diamond blade,
      for cutting stone
    • mallet
      Rubber mallet,
      for tapping stone into cement mix
    • sledge hammer
      Hand sledge,
      for driving stakes and snapping stone
    • Skid-steer loader,
      rent, if needed, to clear and dig base

    Shopping List

    1. LEATHER GLOVES

    2. MASON'S TWINE

    for establishing reference points between stakes



    3. GOGGLES

    4. DUST MASK

    5. CARBIDE-TIPPED AWL

    for marking stone



    6. EAR PROTECTION