Flagstone: What You Need to Know Before Starting a Project

Flagstone or sandstone. © Lisa Hallett Taylor

Flagstone is an extremely popular type of natural stone for various landscaping projects, especially patios and pathways. These large, flat slabs of stone come in thicknesses of 1 to 3 inches. Part of flagstones' appeal are their irregular shapes. Their slightly roughened surface texture offers good, safe traction -- especially when wet -- making them an ideal choice for outdoor flooring.

Stepping Stones and Patio Flooring

Consider using flagstones that are at least 1-1/2 inches thick as stepping stones or patio flooring. With the latter, simply lay the flagstones directly in soil or a bed of sand. Thinner slabs should be laid in wet mortar or concrete to prevent cracking.

Flagstones for Walls

Although not traditionally thought of as a wall material, flagstone can be stacked to make a natural-looking low wall. It comes in a wide range of colors, from white sandstone to black slate.

Considerations When Choosing Flagstone

Visit a local stone yard to find out what's available and what you find most appealing for your particular project. By choosing stone from a local source, it will likely fit in with the environment and be available if you need to buy more slabs or get inspired to build more outdoor landscaping structures.

Since flagstone is often used for flooring, consider the types of activities that will be taking place on the surface before buying. For front pathways, think about who might be walking across those flagstones. Any relatives on walkers or in wheelchairs? A smooth and even pathway will make the walk from the street or curb to your front entry much easier. Some cities have building code requirements for ease of access and entry.

Backyards can be more casual and creative, with flagstones separated by low-growing plants or pea gravel rather than cement or mortar. If the flagstone is for a patio, any furniture that sits on top of the stone should be flat, even and steady.