Building a Bluestone Patio

There are two primary types of bluestone flatwork, flatwork referring to the stone being set on grade as a walkway, patio etc.  Arguably, the easier and more straight-forward style is with dimensional bluestone.  Dimensional bluestone is processed at a quarry, and cut into square and rectangular shapes measuring 12”x12”, 12”x18”, 18”x24”, etc so that all the pieces work and fit with one another when laid into a large area such as a patio.  This type of bluestone is generally considered more formal in appearance.  Many of our landscape customers in the lakes region prefer a less formal and more rustic style.  This is when we usually suggest a walkway or patio constructed with irregular bluestone, installed in a mosaic fashion. 

My preference of the two is certainly the mosaic style.  I love the irregularity of shapes, and also the cleft texture of the stone which you don’t get with thermaled dimensional stone (although you can get cleft dimensional as well).  Of course, the difficultly with a mosaic patio is the pieces are not cut for you.  Further, the thickness of the stone is much more variable than processed dimensional stone.  In order to lay a patio with tight consistent joints, it is necessary to cut EACH AND EVERY STONE.  In order to set each stone, it is necessary to shim or remove shim (sand or stone dust) beneath each stone to set it at grade.  People look at our mosaic installs and will often say “It’s like putting a puzzle together”.  Well, not really.  It’s more like building a puzzle.  We can’t take all the stone off a pallet, and assemble the patio without extensive work to each stone.  That’s the only way to get each stone to match up perfectly with one another.  This is done with diamond blades mounted on grinders and large demo saws, and also with carbide tipped chisels specifically manufactured to work with stone.  Once we are done, you could pick up every stone, put them in a giant cardboard box, and then reassemble it (although I wouldn’t want to).

I’ve included a time-lapse video of a mosaic bluestone patio we installed late 2013.  This customer specifically asked for small stones in the patio.  I generally prefer larger stones, but I have to admit that I loved the look after it was done.  It also made setting the stones much easier.  Usually setting to grade on stone dust or sand is a two-man job due to the weight of the stones.  In this case, the lovely and talented Tammy was able to do all the setting alone after the stones were cut and fit into place by the stone mason.

The mosaic bluestone has also been a very popular choice for permeable applications on several waterfront projects we have completed the past few years.  For more bluestone project photos, please visit our website.  If you are considering a patio, walkway, or just want to chat about stone, feel free to call Mark at (603) 387-7885.

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