Flagstone or Natural Stone can add character and charm to your landscaping that can be the envy of your neighbourhood. In fact, I’m 99.9% positive that you have at one time or another have seen or walked across a flagstone patio or walkway in Mississauga or any other place in Toronto.
In fact, some people may install flagstone for more selfish reasons. Re/max Agent Jennifer Lagtapon says that “if you want to sell your home faster, adding flagstone to your landscaping can only add to the curb appeal and make that first impression last”. She also told me that ‘curb appeal’ is something you need to focus in on, because buyers will form their strongest and most influential opinions before they even step out of the car.
Whether you want to sell your home or just make your house look great, here is a little primer on flagstone (aka natural stone).
Background on Flagstone or Natural Stone
Right now, the biggest trend in landscape design is the use of flagstone. It is a key component of nearly if not all luxury and/or upscale homes. In fact, increased competition and international trade has made flagstone an affordable product for all homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area. Flagstone in the GTA typically comes from Northern Ontario, but nowadays it could come as far away as India and China. Aside from new construction, using flagstone is also excellent way to face-lift any pre-existing concrete applications such as verandas, porches, walkways, entranceways, patios and steps.
Although there are many types of flagstone in the marketplace, there typically two types that you will see in the Greater Toronto Area: Square Cut and Random Cut.
- “Square Cut” flagstone is either composed of limestone, sandstone or granite. Sometimes, you will also find square cut flagstone imported from China and Turkey, but are still suitable to the Canadian climate. The stones are symmetrical in shape and produces a tile effect.
- “Random Cut” flagstone has attributes that are associated with the area in which it was removed and as a result, the more specific or unique the stone is, the higher the cost of the flagstone. This is why most of “Random Cut” flagstone within the GTA is usually sourced out of Northern Ontario to help keep costs under control. The stones are asymmetrical shape and produces a natural and rustic look.
One other very important consideration is to look for the durability of the flagstone. Not all imported flagstone is meant to withstand the extremes of a Canadian weather and as a result, you may be disappointed by the time next season comes around.
The various colors of flagstone is determined by the binding materials that are part of its natural formation and region. For example, if iron oxide is a dominant binding material, the flagstone will have a reddish tint. Some flagstone colors include black, white, brown, orange, red, gray and gold, and even lighter colors such as lavender and pink. To create a unique look, flagstone also gives you the option or choice to use uniformly colors or mix and match complementary colors.
Square Cut flagstone is meant to be installed onto an existing concrete structure such as a patio or stairs using mortar. The difficulty of the installation depends on a number of factors such as size of the flagstone, the pattern or design you want to create and even the number of stairs you need to build. It is similar to installing floor or wall tiles in your home. You will need spacers for joints, string lines and levels to create that perfect clean look. Square cut flagstone can also be installed on a gravel or limestone base in the same manner that you would install interlocking pavers. Unlike interlocking pavers, joint sizes can vary (1 cm, 2cm or 1/8 inch, ¼ inch, ½ inch) and will need to be filled in with a grout or mortar cement.
Random Cut flagstone with its ragged edges opens up the possibility of installing on nearly any surface such as pre-existing concrete, limestone or gravel base, and garden areas. Compared to square cut flagstone, installing random cut flagstone is a simpler task because absolute precision is not necessary. If you are installing on a gravel or limestone base, the base will need to be compacted just as if you were installing interlocking pavers. The space between the joints will be uneven and will have varying widths and these imperfections will give your space a rustic character. The joints for random cut flagstone can be not only be filled with mortar cement, but also with wide joint polymeric sand, soil, and decorative plants such as moss.
For even more information on flagstone, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.