Hardscaping a brick path
August 13, 2014 7:50 AM   Subscribe

I have a flagstone/fieldstone walkway to my back door. There are a lot of trip hazards from uneven stones, and we'd like to replace it with brick. What should be written into the bids I get from contractors to make sure I get a quality replacement?

Obviously, I'll be looking for bonded/licensed workmen, get a few bids, seek recommendations from neighbors. We're looking for a simple running bond path, set with sand, not mortar.

What I'm specifically looking for advice on are the particular parameters for the job. For instance, some of the issues with the current stone walkway are partially from heaving, and partially from erosion of the soil between the stones. (This is Massachusetts.) When hiring someone, do I need to specify how I want the bed under the bricks set to deal with the heaving? Like how many inches of 3/4" stone I want for draining below the sand bed?

Should I specify the kind/quality of brick? If so, what kind of brick should I be asking for?

We want to invest in quality work, done right--but we also just want this done simply. Probably standard 3' wide by maybe 50'. You are not my hardscaper, but what would you expect this to cost, and how long would it take?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You definitely should specify the brick. A decent contractor will have various samples of brick that they will bring out when taking measurements and doing other pre-bid work. They should be able to quote you price per square foot for every type of brick as you are checking them out.

When you approve a type, that goes into the bid.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2014

You should wrap your stone in filter fabric to keep both the sand and soil particles from migrating into the voids. Also make sure the stone is uniformly sized (like 3/4" or #57), otherwise it won't drain particularly well.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:25 AM on August 13, 2014

Ask for 3/4" road crush, not just 3/4" stone. Road crush includes the smaller stones, which filter into the spaces between the larger stones and pack down tight. This reduces shifting.
posted by Deodand at 6:24 PM on August 13, 2014

Hi! I'm a gardener / landscaper, and I do quite a bit of hardscaping.

Anyone you approach who is qualified to do the walkway should have numerous samples from which to choose - typically, I will go to my local stoneyard after the initial consult with the customer and pick up samples suited to their project.

I would hope to see a proposal that included any grading(and if that required a Bobcat) that might be necessary to smooth out existing problem spots, including any soil that may need to be brought in to make an even surface, enough crusher run to provide a 3-4 inch base for the new brickwork; sand overtop the stone to 'set' the bricks into.

A few details that make a huge difference: Edging for the outside of the walkway. Not that horrible plastic stuff from BigBoxDepot - it is a short, strong edging specifically for holding stonework in place. Around here it goes for about a dollar a foot (that's my price, so probably a bit less than what you'll see).
Polysand is another one - it is a polymer/sand blend that you sweep into the cracks of the stonework, then when you add water, it hardens. It still looks like sand (albeit a bit shiny), but it really helps keep the work in place!

It's a bit hard to say how long it should take - for a job like this, I'd probably get one other person to help me, and it would take a couple full days (that's from grading to finish). Someone with a crew of 7 is obviously not going to take quite as long:)

Random thoughts: Your cheapest bid is probably not the best one to choose. Take the time to get several bids, even if it means you pay for some consults you don't necessarily 'need'. You will have a rapport with one of these folks-maybe someone like me, who is a perfectionist, in love with all things garden related, and who will want your walkway to be beautiful.

Also take the time to seek out stone/brick-yards in your area and go visit. You might find the perfect brick and will be ahead of the game when you start the consulting process. Don't be shy about asking your hardscaper if you can go with them to the stoneyard. I take clients all the time!

Don't neglect to ask about clean-up / disposal of the crap that is left over after the project is done. Whomever you choose should have a solid plan in place to get rid of the empty pallets / bags / junk. If you want any extra bricks left with you, that also needs to be said - otherwise they will be gone.

You didn't mention whether or not you have existing plantings along the walkway - if you do, I would recommend taking photos, and also have the removal / replacement of these in the original paperwork.

I'm sure there's more I could add to this novella, but will stop here. Feel free to memail if you have other questions:)
posted by PlantGoddess at 8:26 PM on August 13, 2014

You actually don't want crusher run because of the particle size distribution. It doesn't drain as well as uniformly sized stone.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 6:40 AM on August 15, 2014

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