Knowing how to take care of flagstone will help you maintain its stylish natural appearance and extend its life. Flagstone is a flat stone that can be square, rectangle, or in irregular shapes. The name refers to how it is cut rather than the material. The actual material itself can be shale, limestone, or sandstone. Typically utilized in patios and walkways, flagstone ranges in shades from red to brown to deep blue.
Flagstone takes a lot of wear and tear and exposure to the elements. It shouldn’t take a lot to maintain it, but it’s essential to keep it looking its best. Here’s a guide on how to take care of flagstone from the very moment you have it installed.
As soon as your contractor installs your flagstone, make sure they also seal it. All stone is porous to some extent. Common types of flagstone such as sandstone and limestone will absorb liquids which can lead to staining or discoloration. Decaying wet leaves release acids that can stain. Grease spills from outdoor barbecues or other oily substances can also permanently discolor or blotch the surface of flagstone.
There are specially formulated stone sealants available that can be applied after the stone surface is installed. Your outdoor construction contractor will usually apply this first sealant as part of the installation project. Because UV rays and rain degrade sealant, flagstone should be re-sealed every two years as part of regular maintenance.
Regularly sweep your flagstone surfaces to keep dirt, leaves and grass clippings from staining. In damp areas of the yard without much sunlight, moss may grow on flagstone as well as mold and other fungi. These naturally occurring growths can also discolor a stone surface. Apply a solution of diluted bleach or muriatic acid at the first sign to neutralize fungal growth before it becomes established. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after applying any acidic substance to a stone surface. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to take care of flagstone safely and effectively.
If your flagstone is installed with mortared joints between each stone, water gradually seeps into the joints from melting snow and can freeze or fragment the mortar. Clear freshly fallen snow off of flagstone before it melts to prevent damage.
Because it’s installed as individual stones, flagstone may occasionally need minor repair. When a stone is cracked, scratched or stained, that individual stone can be removed and replaced without needing to rework a large area. If a stone shifts in its place or sinks, the stone may be raised and repositioned, or sand can be added underneath to make it level. If mortar between stones is fractured by the freeze or thaw process in winter, the damaged mortar can be pried out with a screwdriver or removed with a chisel, then fresh mortar replaced in the joint.