How-to Tips For Making Hypertufa Flagstones For A Patio

D-I-Y Hypertufa Flagstone Project Questions

I received an email from a sweet lady named P.J. asking me about how doable a “large” DIY hypertufa flagstone project might be and I think lots of you can benefit from her questions and my answers. So here goes:

Hi Claudia,

I love your website and blog and I have been reading all your info about hypertufa but I have a few questions. I want to make a patio in my yard and I would like to use the flagstone or slate mold. I am a widow and I will be doing this myself. I guess my question is can I do it myself?

I know the regular stones are too heavy for me to lift by myself and thought that the hypertufa stones would be lighter. I live down in Southern Florida where we do not usually get any freezing so I don’t think that I have to worry about the cracking of the stone. How long will they last with people walking over them?

Would your e-book on hypertufa address making the patio stones? I love the look of slate or flagstones and I will be doing the work myself. I am quite handy at repairing & fixing things so I know I could do it if it will not be too heavy.

Thank you,
P.J.

My reply:

Hi P.J.:
Thank you for contacting me and for the kind compliment about my site.

To answer your questions, yes I am sure you can tackle a project making hypertufa flagstones if you are at least a mildly active person.

flagstone pathThere isn’t anything that is going to be horribly difficult in the process, but I guess the biggest thing to consider is the weight of the bags of Portland cement and sand you’ll be having to take out of your vehicle and transport to your working area.

The bags are normally between 40lbs – 80lbs. Can you wrestle 80lbs of dead weight?? (It’s not as easy for me as it used to be, I must admit.)

Next, though you won’t have the need to mix up huge batches at one time – as I am going to guess you’ll only have a few molds that can be used at a time – be aware that the mixing up and blending can put a strain on one’s back. Lots of crafters will mix up everything in a wheel barrow to keep from having to bend way down to mix up everything. Or many folks rent a small concrete mixer – it all depends upon how many flagstones you’re going to have to make, to determine if the cost of the mixer rental is worth it.

Yes, the ‘tufa stones will be lighter, and over time the peat moss will decompose leaving a more natural looking stone – that is unless you want super smooth stones (with minimal texture) like real slate. Then I’d use a pure concrete recipe. No peat moss (which means you can’t call the recipe a hypertufa recipe).

As I teach on my website (and in my eBook) … IF the recipe ratios are correct; IF the mixing and application method is correct; and IF you allow the object to cure properly, then you ought to have stones that will last almost indefinitely. But I always advise that you do some test runs – and I think especially so for this project. Make a small batch; record the exact ratios; the curing time, etc. If you have success (or failure) with your test run, then you know you are either good to go with your project … or if you’ve had a failure … then it’s back to the drawing board!

I caution you to NOT attempt this project without first getting a real hands-on feel of what working with concrete and such is like. It can be a temperamental animal … but not so bad because thousands of people are successful all the time once they get the hang of ingredient ratios and proper curing methods. After all, hypertufa making is NOT rocket science! 😀

Yes … my Hypertufa How-To eBook does go into much more depth on the subject of hypertufa, however I can tell you that for the project you are wanting to do, you’ll find everything you need to know for free on my site. (How is that for being honest and not trying to sell you my eBook?)

Your main decision is what recipe to use. I would suggest one that includes a bonding agent which will help add more strength. I don’t suggest using reinforcing fibers in your recipe for a variety of reasons – mostly to make the project easier for you. However … even one of the basic hypertufa recipes most likely will do fine, too. But make a test batch first!

To review all the hypertufa pages on my site, you can easily see all the pages listed under the “Hypertufa” sub-heading on my website’s directory page. Check out the different recipes and projects – I do have one for flagstones – and I know you’ll find one that will fill the bill for you.

Oh … I had another crafter who wanted to tackle a “make homemade flagstones for the patio” project tell me she bought nice flagstone molds on eBay. I think the the cost was around $100, but a deal when you consider how much you’ll save in the long run if you DIY and of course because the molds are reusable.

Does this information help? I hope so. Keep me posted. Good luck with your hypertufa flagstone project!

Claudia

Comments

  1. Wonderful tips. It’s always best to ask for advice from the experts. It’s also good to know you could get a few extra tips for free from some sites like this.

  2. about mixing cement batches, I found this neat tool. Its a little plastic drum, you pour everything into it, tighten the lid, lay it on its side and rock it back and forth with your foot. Its a lot easier on the back, arms and shoulders. Of course unlike the spade and wheelbarrow, it has only one use, but you still save by making your own stones saving your back is priceless.

  3. Hi Doris:
    This is a “trick” I’ve got in my Hypertufa How-To Manual eBook. Yes … this is one way to save your back during the mixing process, especially when you’ve got large batches to mix up. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. awesome tips. I’m so glad i found this blog.

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