How to Build a Granite Patio for $5
Well, actually, it was more like $6--but still, this was my final DIY project for the summer, and if I may say so myself, it looks pretty good.
Basically my sister wanted a patio next to her front door. Just something small where the kids could put their shoes and she may be able to put out a chair or two for red-neck company (ok I'm kidding about the redneck seating...kind of).
So, being the resourceful young women that we are (cough cough), we began hunting online. We contacted local construction (and demolition) companies for freebies. We found free fill, free flagstone (it's actually glorified concrete, but we'll just call it flagstone because that sounds better), and--yays!--free granite slices. So, all I had to buy was a bag or two of cement from Home Depot (random tangent: I am in love with Home Depot. If I could have a second home, I would choose that store).
Anyways, here were the steps it took to make my sister's patio (in ONE day!):
1. Raise land up 2.5 feet with fill (this took us a few hours, and several wheelbarrows and shovels later, we were ready to begin the fun part).
2. Strategically layer imitation "flagstone" pieces (I have never carried so much heavy concrete in my life!) around where you want the patio to be. Make sure the top pieces are 3-4 inches behind the bottom inches (make a gradient so it doesn't tip over).
3. Fun part! Stomp, stomp, stomp to level out the land. Yes, I use very fancy equipment--my own two feet adorned with very protective flip flops (I think they were a dollar at Old Navy).
4. Layer the granite pieces into a mosaic (this takes a long time and some patience). Make sure they fit together nicely. If you don't like this step, keep re-doing until you're happy with it because that's what it will look like when it's done.
5. Pour two 60lb bags of cement over the granite shards. With your bare hands (again, I use very fancy equipment when I work in the yard), fit the cement into the cracks between the granite and if there is any leftover then dump it between the "flagstone" retaining wall.
6. With the hose on LOW water pressure, trickle water all over until every single inch is soaking wet.
7. Wipe down the granite pieces and clean off all the wet cement from them.
8. Leave it at least 24 hours (if you bought the cheap cement, like I did. Fast-drying cement finishes in about 20 minutes) before actually using it.
9. Take pictures! All the photos here were taken while the cement is still wet (I was too excited; I couldn't wait). Ideally the photos will be taken after the project is 100% done and you have guaranteed that your cat didn't leave paw prints in the cement while it was drying.
10. The end!
I LOVE this project! We have so much granite left, we may be expanding the patio to the other side--but not this summer. I am exhausted. I think I put on 10lbs of muscle just from all the DIY projects we did around the inside and outside of the house.