Slate patios have a natural look that complements the landscape rather than competing with it. Square slate tiles are most commonly used for building outdoors, but a patio made with different sizes and shapes of stone can be more appealing in a less structured outdoor area. Laying a patio without concrete simplifies the project because there is no need to set rebar or wait for the concrete to dry. This project doesn't require any special skills and can be completed in a weekend.
Mark the sides of the new patio with stakes and string.
Dig out the area inside the string to a depth of about two inches. Use a tamper to flatten the excavated area. Uneven spots will lead to an uneven patio.
Pour pea gravel into the excavation to a depth of about one inch. Use a rake to smooth the gravel out.
Lay the slate. Start in the middle and work outward to both sides if you're working with square or rectangular pieces. If you're working with uneven shapes, start in the middle and fit the pieces together as you work outward. Leave about a one-fourth-inch space between the pieces.
Check that the slate is level as you work. Lay a two-by-four across your work area and look for high or low spots. Adjust them by adding or taking out gravel beneath them.
Spread builder's sand on the slate when you're finished. Use a hose to rinse the sand into the cracks between the pieces of slate.
How to Build a Slate Patio
Measure the area where the patio will be built. Mark the area with spray paint. Convey these measurements to a professional at your local home improvement store. Their calculations will tell you the quantities needed for each of the materials you purchase.
Cut along the marked area with a spade. Then, remove the sod in the enclosed area with a shovel. If this is a large job, or if the material being cut into and removed is pavement or concrete, use an excavator. It is best to hire a professional for this segment of the job, if that is the case.
Use a level to determine that the cut area is level. Once this step has been taken, you are ready for the work to proceed. If it isn't level, spread the dirt around with a shovel to level the area.
Lay the slate pieces on the patio area in the desired pattern. The slate may come one of two ways. It may be in individual pieces or may come as several pieces connected with a mesh material. Either way is okay. Pour stone dust between the pieces of slate. Compress the dust with a barrel roller. Sweep away the excess with a soft broom or clean paintbrush.
Apply grout between the pieces of slate. Wipe away excess with a damp rag or sponge. Then, apply a coat of weatherproof sealcoating with a paintbrush or roller. Allow to dry for six to eight hours before stepping on or putting furniture on the slate patio.
Run string along the intended walkway line. Make the pathway 3 feet wide.
Plunge a spade into the ground along the string marker to create a guideline.
Dig the entire pathway down 3 to 4 inches. Cut through any large roots with loppers
Set long pieces of flexible steel edging along the edge of the pathway. Slide a spike into the metal clip on the back of the edging and pound the spike into the ground with a hammer.
Cut two notches with a jigsaw 3 feet apart on a two-by-four and place it over the steel edging to keep the steel in place.
Unroll a sheet of landscaping fabric into the walkway to keep roots and plants from growing up into the stone.
Spread a 4-inch layer of pea gravel into the walkways, spreading it even with a rake.
Place the slate onto the pea gravel, best side up. Wiggle the slate into the pea gravel, then hit it with a rubber mallet to work it into the stone. Repeat with each stone in the walkway.