Sand versus Cement versus what else for Flagstone Sidewalk

by Susan
(Street, Maryland USA)

I'm looking to have a Flagstone sidewalk installed and have spoke to some contractors - each seem to have their opinion of what is best...I'm confused since I have no experience in this area.

My concerns are cracking of the in the northern part of Maryland, concrete sidewalks in this area eventually crack (ground freeze). Looking for a sidewalk surface that will not crack (if that's possible), I don't know what would work best. Can you offer and suggestions or let me know what questions I should ask when getting a quote from contractors?

Comments for Sand versus Cement versus what else for Flagstone Sidewalk

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by: David

Thanks for the comment Bart. Your expertise will help a lot of people.

Take care,


by: Bart

I to agree with David. Always ask if using stone what part of the country it is from, different stone has freeze/Thaw threshholds. I would definately visit with a few stone yards, ask many questions and visit installation sites of the stone chosen and the masons, they are more than proud to show you there work. Do some research on the projects they aim, visit with the BBB, and always look for comllaints on the mason or contractors, it will pay off in the end.

there are differences
by: David

Dear Susan,

You probably will get a few hairline cracks, but if your contractor installs the stone correctly, it will be strong and look good for years by laying it in concrete.

We live in Denver where we probably get more of the freeze-thaw cycle than many places, and the stone holds up very well.

There will always be hairline from natural settling of the stone. Take a look at the pictures on this page:

You can see the differences in flagstone over many years between concrete and sand. The concrete will not settle as much.

There are new products called polymeric sand and gator dust that will hold stone in more solidly, but you'll still get some settling.

You can read comments on them here:

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO is get references and pictures from any contractor who does work on your house. Don't skip that step. I've received a lot of e-mails to this site with "horror" stories of messed up jobs. Talk to local stoneyards about who they suggest lay your stone. They tend to know the good masons from the bad ones.

You might spend a little more for an experience mason, but in the end it will be worth it. My dad gets about $10 a square foot for installation in Denver, Colorado. I don't know how that compares to Maryland, but maybe that gives you an idea about how much you should expect to pay.

Great luck with your project and we'd love to see any pictures of your completed sidewalk.

Take care,


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