Our Old Flagstones get a New Home

…. from a pile of slabs……. to a classy stone floor ….here’s how…

opus romain patternslabs laid out in the courtyard
We laid these flagstones in an “Opus Romain” pattern — laying the flags in regular rows,  but varying the row-width across adjacent rows.

You need to decide beforehand on which widths you are going to use. Commercially available flooring in this pattern usually come in 3 widths; for example, 60cm, 45cm and 30cm. The lengths of the individual slabs will vary so that each width will have say a couple of rectangular sizes and maybe a square size.

“Sounds complicated?” “Not really, once you see a picture or two of how the pattern works, it all pretty obvious.”

Opus Romain stone flooring

…….so onto a few ‘Tips & Tricks’…….

  • Sizing  the Flagstones : This is perhaps the trickiest part of the job! There are no hard and fast rules—you need to assess what you have to work with and try and work out the best width options to choose—to achieve a pleasing pattern without undue waste.
  • Essential Tools — Angle Grinder (preferably with a diamond/carbide disc), club hammer and bolster cold chisel, eye protectors, ear protectors and face mask, tape measure, T-square and marking chalk or pencil.
  • Cutting stone with the grinder – make the straight cuts with the grinder steadily and evenly, letting the machine cut gradually to its maximum depth, around a few cms or so. It isn’t necessary to cut a stone “all-the-way-through.” Then with the bolster chisel inserted around the middle of the cut, give it a few sharp blows with the club hammer—and it should split away cleanly and easily.
  • As you can see in one of the images above, I’ve angled the grinder slightly “off-vertical” — undercutting the edge. This is a little trick to make it easier to lay the cut edges of the flags closer to each other, avoiding the chances of odd lumpy bits left after breaking stopping the close fitting of two adjacent flags.
  • Then carefully and gently tap along the top of the cut edges with the club hammer, chipping little fragments away to leave a more natural looking stone
  • Finally, should it be necessary to remove some stone from the underside of a particularly thick slab, make a series of close parallel cuts, and repeat again at 90°, and then chip these away carefully with the hammer and chisel. (A great way, incidentally, to make your own stone dice!).

"Opus Romain" style of laying paving
You may then decide whether to grout the spaces between the stone with a lime mortar — or simply brush in some sand or fine gravel. Depends on what look you’re after.

And if the floor is exposed to light and rain, then you’ll need to weed the cracks from time to time if they haven’t been grouted.

So give it a try and “Bonne Chance!”


3 thoughts on “Our Old Flagstones get a New Home

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  1. This is a brilliant piece. Working with two different friends, I’ve laid two stone floors in my life, one inside, (in a cottage in the west of Ireland) and one outside (outside a cottage in Snowdon in North Wales) Absolutely loved both of them. So satisfying, I should have been a builder! Your piece is so clear and helpful, I am itching to do it again! Also very jealous of where you live. Going to for a walking holiday between Carcassonne and the Pyrenees next spring/early summer, but really, I think I’d like to live down there. Great blog, I am going to follow, and learn all the tips I can. Regards and many thanks for reading and for following my blog. Yours, in mutual admiration. – Arran.

    1. Thanks Arran. If you are ever over in our little corner of France, do drop in and have a cup of tea. I see on your blog you like Cathedrals and Churches – our nearest town is ALBI and has a fabulous cathedral. You have inspired me to write a future post!

      1. Delighted to hear it ! It’s impossible to visit too many churches and cathedrals in my view, or spend to much time in them; they are a never ending source of beauty & inspiration, to me at least. As for where you live, Albi sounds particularly lovely. The wife of one of my colleagues at the scholl here in Dublin hails from there so he/they spend most of their holidays there, (the lucky blighter) Okay, if I am day-tripping anywhere near Albi next April-June, I’ll take you up on your kind offer of a cup of tea, with pleasure, thank you. Speaking of lovely old church architecture by the way, you may have already come across this blog, but if not, may I point you towards the beauty and wisdom of blog of the wonderful P.J and Dennis Audrey? There is so many great people and so much good stuff here on WordPress, but if I had to choose one blog…
        best regards – Arran.

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