How to Repair a Broken Stone Walkway

Posted by in Home Improvement Tips, on November 1, 2015

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This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook helps a homeowner repair a cracked stone walkway. (See below for a shopping list, tools, and steps.)

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Shopping List for How to Repair a Broken Stone Walkway:
– Bluestone slabs
– Stone dust, to be mixed with water to create a mortar setting bed
– Polymeric sand, for filling the joints between the stone slabs

Tools List for How to Repair a Broken Stone Walkway:
– Flat bar, used to pry up broken stones
– Shovel, for removing the existing sand base
– Wheelbarrow, used to mix and transport material
– Pointed trowel, for smoothing mortar
– Rubber mallet, for tapping down stones
– Level, used as a straightedge
– Angle grinder with diamond masonry blade, used to cut stone
– Circular saw with diamond masonry blade and water pump, for cutting stone
– Hearing protection and dust mask, used while cutting the stone
– Steel stake or slotted screwdriver, for scraping mortar from joints
– Push broom, used to sweep polymeric sand into joints
– Garden hose with nozzle
– Hand tamper or plate compactor, for compacting stone dust

Steps for How to Repair a Broken Stone Walkway:
1. Pry up the walkway stones with a flat bar.
2. Use a shovel to scrape all the existing sand from beneath the stones.
3. Mix stone dust and water in a wheelbarrow to create a mortar setting bed.
4. Shovel some stone-dust mortar onto the concrete base.
5. Smooth the mortar with a pointed trowel.
6. Set the new stone into place; add more mortar if the stone is too low.
7. Using a rubber mallet, gently tap down the stone.
8. Shovel more mortar onto the concrete base right beside the first stone.
9. Tap down the second stone until it's flush with the first stone.
10. If necessary, cut a stone slab to fit using either an angle grinder or circular saw fitted with a diamond-impregnated masonry blade.
11. Set the remaining stones in a bed of stone-dust mortar.
12. Clean the walkway surface of all wet mortar.
13. Scrape the fresh mortar out from between the stone slabs with a steel stake or slotted screwdriver.
14. Use a push broom to sweep polymeric sand across the surface, filling the joints between all the stone slabs.
15. Sweep the surface clean of excess sand, then use a garden hose to mist the entire surface with water.
16. Wait 15 minutes and spray the walkway again.
17. If there isn't a concrete base under the walkway, remove the stones, dig out the topsoil, and then fill the area with stone dust.
18. Compact the stone-dust base, then set 1 1/2-inch-thick stone slabs.

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