How to Lay a Stone Patio
This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to work with this durable material
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."