1. Wheel Barrel for transporting Masonry Sand and Flagstone.
2. Shovel for spreading the sand and digging out 4" to 5" from the area where the stone will be laid.
3. Masonry or Concrete Sand for laying the stone on.
4. Steel Edging for the border around the patio.
5. Broom for sweeping sand into the joints.
6. Transit, Line Level, or a Long 2x4 with a 4' Level in order to get a fall on your patio.
7. Compactor for packing the sand down.
To start you need to shovel 4" to 5" deep in the area where your patio is going to go.
You need at least 3 inches of compacted Masonry or Concrete Sand and 2 inch-thick flagstone.
Let's say you want the stone to extend up 1 inch out of the ground, then you only need to dig 4 inches deep. If you want it deeper in the ground, then you obviously need to dig deeper.
Just make sure that the flagstone you are using is at least 2 inches thick and you have 3 inches of compacted sand underneath it.
You'll need to make sure there is a fall in the patio so the water drains away from your house. You can use a transit, line level, or a straight 2x4 the length of your patio with a 4' level to get the job done. Just Make Sure There is a Fall!
After you have dug your patio out, you need to put steel edging around in order to hold the sand and the stone in. You can buy steel edging from your local hardware store or Lawn and Garden Center.
You'll want to dig the edging in a little below the 4" to 5", so that it hold when you start to dump sand in.
It is real important to compact the sand as much as possible. Without compacting, the stone will settle down. You could rent a tamper or compactor from a rental shop or make your own compactor out of a 4x4 or something like that.
I found a free video for sand installation that will help.
Here is a Free Video of My Dad Laying Down Stone in a Sand Walkway. This Will Give You Some Tips For a Sand Patio.
Here is a Helpful Article from Popular Mechanics on How to Lay in Sand.
Make sure you have at least a 3 inch base of Masonry or Concrete Sand. That will be enough for the stone not to settle.
You can now install the stone. You have to decide how wide you want the joints. Generally, it is better to have the joints fairly tight, so that you won't have to keep filling the joints with sand. If you don't mind filling the joints once or twice a year, then, by all means, have wider joints.
If you will be doing a lot of cutting, we recommend you rent a Masonry Saw like the one below.
If you need tips on cutting then click on Flagstone Cutting for any help you might need.
Now that you have installed all of the stone, all you need to do is fill the joints with sand.
This part is real easy! Just take a normal broom and sweep as much sand as you can into the joints. It's best to sweep some in and return a little bit later to sweep more in. The sand will need to settle. That's why you want to go over each joint three or four times.
After that, you're done! Depending on the size of joints, you shouldn't have to sweep sand into the joints more than once every few years.
**New Info** I got this tip from Richard at CALCASIEU STONE. There is a new product for filling joints called polymeric sand. You can see his comments here. And you will also want to read this tip with polymeric sand.
You'll be very happy with the work that you've done and it will look great!!