Beautiful Hardscaping Options with Paving Stone and Flagstone

Which Hardscaping Option is Right for You?

Paving Stone and Flagstone can be a great option when it comes to adding hardscaping around your Victoria BC home. Call our company today to discuss your hardscape design ideas


Flagstone pavers Frequently Asked Questions

Lay flagstone in concrete, or dry lay in gravel?

I’d recommend dry laid in a gravel bed, almost every single time. For the following reasons:

  • concrete cracks.
  • when the mortar joint fails (and it will–especially when the concrete foundation cracks. Grade-level concrete cracks. Step on a crack, break your……that rhyme exists for a reason) when the joint fails, it’s a lot of work to fix it. And not all masons are great at repairing the joints in such a way that the new mortar matches the old. So when it does crack, you get it repaired–and it looks all wonky. Sad story, right?
  • Less attractive. I’ll admit, this one is a matter of taste, and cemented in flagstone work can be quite attractive too–but after nearly 20 years in hardscaping, I still strongly feel that the most beautiful projects are dry laid. Cement between the stones….robs each piece of it’s individuality, forces all the small bits into a homogenous whole…
  • dry laid will have less impact upon our eco-system i.e dry laid is more green
  • in short a wet laid patio will be less maintenance in the short run but will require much more maintenance in the long run.

How long will a patio/walkway last?

It’s stone. Durable stuff. Take your time and select good materials with no cracks or faults–or hire a reputable guy who knows what they are doing–your hard surface will last for decades.

What type of flagstone should I use?

Local is always good. There are many different materials available in Victoria, BC. Bluestone is quite a popular stone in Victoria BC, if you live in this area, and of course you will cause less of an environmental impact, due to less shipping required.

I like my bluestone, but I’ll use other types of stone, depending on what look I am going for and depending on what is locally available.

Sometimes I’ll bring in different types of stone, mix them up, for different artistic effects.

you can get more local than that, if you already have any flat stones in your yard? Even slate can be used as flagstone, argilite which is sometimes sorted for thickness and sold as flagstone and more.

Removing snow from my stone patio–will shoveling, plowing, salting be a problem?

Nope. Salt can be damaging to most non-natural hard surfaces, Flagstone will be fine. Shoveling is fine to–just don’t pound down upon the stone with an ice breaker–that’s how you damage any paving material.

If however your hard surface has a concrete foundation and mortar between the stones then you do not want to use salt. Calcium chloride is fine, shoveling is fine, but salt will corrode mortar.

In any event, whether your flagstones are set in mortar or dry laid–or if you have brick patio or a paver patio–it’s kind of best to not let the snow sit on your patio, to melt and re-freeze repeatedly. This sort of repeated freezing and melting and freezing again can damage concrete, asphalt, brick, pavers, natural stone and etc.

Does flagstone require an edge restraint the way pavers do?

No, our company doesnt use any kind of edging. Leave that stuff to the paver guys…

Should I seal my patio?

I wouldn’t. Why bother? It may make cleaning easier….but people rarely bother cleaning a patio….maybe a hose off every once in awhile, a powerwash every ten or fifteen years, perhaps.

Sealant can also make flagstone slippery.

Now so far, I have not found any written articles to confirm this, but I have been told that sealing grade level flagstone that has been set in mortar can cause problems, causing the mortar joints to fail and possibly causing the stone itself to break apart. Victoria Blue stone and other types are porous and absorbent and so is concrete and mortar. Sealing the top of material can prevent water from absorbing down into the mortar from the top, so it can’t get down in there, freeze and cause the mortar joint to crack up or the flagstone to come loose. Sounds good so far, right? But moisture might be coming up from down below, trying to migrate to the surface….if the top surface is sealed, then that moisture is trapped. So now you’ve just created a problem. This is a potential problem for grade-level stone work, that is set in cement and outdoors. over-all, I just would not seal it–especially if its outdoors, and most especially if everything is set in cement.

Polymeric sand?

If the joints are less than half an inch thn possibly but usually we find that Stone Dust is a better product in this application.

Stone dust is better because:

  • more ecologically responsible/eco-friendly
  • easier to install
  • easy to maintain
  • cost less
  • polymeric sand is plastic mixed with sand mixed with chemical ick. Who wants a plastic landscape?

Natural v’s faux flagstone pavers?

The fake stuff looks fake. Disney-land style landscaping.

It costs less and is easier to install because it is molded in a form, and thus has the same thickness. And the pieces fit right together–unlike with natural types where you need to actually puzzle them together.

How to prevent weeds/stop weeds/get rid of weeds between joints?

Life happens. Weeds happen. If the weeds are an annoyance you can just pour boiling water over them. Simple, fast, effective, eco-friendly and no-toxic.

Sometimes, a weed or two doesn’t look so bad really

Is flagstone better than stamped concrete?

In a word…..yes.  Real flagstone will look real. And is much stronger. Stamped concrete…once it cracks it is very unappealing, and there’s no way to repair it without it being an obvious repair. Stamped will also crack–especially if you live anywhere that has the freeze-thaw cycle. It’s not too much of an issue here in Victoria, BC

Pattern cut flagstone v’s Irregular flagstone?

irregular pattern: generally, a more organic, rustic, or warmer feel then you get with squares and rectangles.

Cost difference between patter-cut and irregular flagstone?

The saw-cut square and rectangle products, which are called pattern-cut or dimensional flagstone is a more expensive material, than the irregular natural shaped types. However, the irregular natural stuff takes a lot longer to fit together–especially if your mason takes his time to fit the stones together nicely. For most of my jobs, I set them as close together as possible, with a nice, regular joint between them, and that can take a LOT more time than the pattern-cut.

An irregular natural shaped style patio will usually cost more.

How do I calculate how much gravel I will need?

At 4″ deep, you will need about 1 ton gravel for every 50 square feet.  About 37″ square feet if you are going 6″ deep.

How deep should my gravel foundation be?

I’m a professional landscape contractor living in Victoria, BC –subject to quite wet conditions. so I would go with 4-6″ usually.

How do I calculate how much flagstone is needed?

Depends how thick the material you are using is. And how tight you fit them together. And how much trimming you end up doing to get them to fit. I’ve found that 3000 pounds of product will get me about 90-100 square foot in coverage, give or take. This is with 1.5″ to 2″ average thickness, and .5″ thick joints. I generate a bit of “waste”–no, I really make no waste, but out of 3000 pounds of material, I’ll trim a bit, to make the pieces fit–and I’ll discard some pieces cause I’ll decide they are too thin or have cracks or other faults–as such, about 20% of the material that comes on a pallet is determined not useful as flagging, and thus the stone gets used as wall stone. It’s not waste–every stone has a place where it can be placed, where it will serve well–as wall stone, back fill, gravel, but never as trash.

 Natural cleft and thermal flagstone?

Natural cleft just means the stone has a natural surface, the result of splitting the stone along the bedding plane. Natural cleft will be sold in rough sizes ie. workers will sort it into categories like “inch and a half flagstone” and “one inch flagstone”. These sizes can vary greatly though.

Thermal, on the other hand, has been saw cut to a fairly precise size, and then surface treated with a hot flame which causes thermal spalling to happen, rendering you a much smoother and uniform texture then you will get with natural cleft.

Thermal has it’s applications….such as window sills, or step treads, or wall caps…but it is rarely used as a paving material for an entire patio. It costs a lot more than natural cleft This article has been a mixture of fact, of fact “as I see it” and maybe a bit of just plain opinion. And furthermore,  there is no one “right way”–nor is there any “one size fits all answers”–especially when working with natural materials. The location, the material and the builders skill level, will all play a part in determining how a project turns out and which methods will work.