How to Make a Homemade Stepping Stone Patio
Would you love to have a unique and personal place to hang out in the yard? You can make your own unique homemade stepping stone patio. We handcrafted our patio, and we LOVE it! It’s a great place to gather.
How to Make a Homemade Stepping Stone Patio
Our patio is 10 feet by 30 feet. We built it in 10-foot sections. It took us almost a year to build the entire thing. We made 507 homemade stepping stones. It was a labor of love and it is wonderful. There are few things as beautiful as this patio, to my eyes. It’s artistic and creative and was as much fun to make as it is to use.
Homemade stepping stones concrete
When building our garden back in 2012, we had learned in gardening class that we needed a place to gather. I just have a small concrete patio by the back door, but I wanted something larger that we could really use for working our harvests, cooling off in the shade, and doing projects. Click here to see how we started our garden.
The back of my house is fairly shady. In the morning, the house shades it and in the afternoon, the trees do. There is sun there from around noon to 2-3 in the afternoon most times of the year. Other than that, it was already a shady place. We decided to build a patio along the back of the house.
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Upcycling for patio pavers
We wanted to upcycle in as many projects as possible in the garden area, so we decided to make our own stepping stones. So we needed concrete, molds, and something to decorate them with. We were given some empty wine bottles from friends who were not recyclers, so we used the glass to create masterpieces.
We put the bottles in boxes and smashed them up with hammers. Making sure we used protective eyewear and clothing. This is a messy and perilous method. I suggest you find a safer way to break up the glass if you use it. In addition, you have to be super careful about making sure the sharp edges are inside of the concrete so none are exposed.
We also were given some old rocks, marbles, and tiles that friends were going to throw away. Then we used them in the decoration of the stones as well. Before we started, we had some square stepping stone molds from a craft project I had done with some friends.
We had some stamps to make letters in the concrete. Later my sister brought me some broken pieces of my grandmother’s china to make a few out of. That was super special too.
In the first 10 foot section, we made the centerpiece handprint stones of everyone in my family including all my cats. We made stones at family parties, invited daycare parents over to make them, had some friends do a few and I made them with the kids (not the glass ones of course) Everyone loved making them. The patio is a super special place, full of love and creativity.
Making stepping stones with quickrete
You need molds, quickrete concrete mix, and decorations. I suggest you get a lot of molds if you are going to make a big patio because dividing up a big heavy bag of concrete is not super easy. A large 80-pound bag of quickrete will make 26 of these little 11 inch stones. If you do the 11-inch ones as we did, you need 13 rows of 13 to make one 10 foot by 10-foot pad.
The price for a making a homemade stepping stone, although it’s a LOT of manual labor, is far less expensive than buying them. When we made this, it cost us less than 20 cents per stone to make them. That’s a substantial savings.
Decorative stepping stones
Dump your quickrete into a bucket or wheelbarrow, depending on how many of them you are planning to make at a time. We dumped in about 8 cups of water at a time and mixed by hand with a large shovel. Once your concrete mix gets to the consistency of brownie batter, you are ready to go.
Stepping stone molds
Plop a few shovels full of concrete into the stepping stone mold and drop it on the table to smooth it out and get out any large air bubbles. Your canvas is ready! Create away. One good tip to remember is you need to press your decorations far into the concrete or during the different temperatures, your decorations will loosen and come out.
You need to work quickly, you only have around 20-30 minutes to use all of you concrete before it gets too dry. By the time we finished all of these, we had a system down. My husband would dump the concrete, I would add water while he mixed. Then he would plop everyone some concrete to get them started and join us in creating.
I’m not going to lie, all of us got tired of making stones before the end of the project. Now, we look back on it fondly though.
Once you get the design finished, leave your stones on a flat level surface. We used the little slab patio at our back door to line them up on. Don’t disturb them for 24 hours. Then you can pop them out of the mold and leave them in a safe place to cure. It takes about 2 weeks before the concrete is fully cured and won’t break when you step on it.
Another tip is to make sure it’s above 35 degrees or the stones won’t set. They just turn kind of sandy and fall apart. Once you get enough stones to make the area you want, you need to prepare your space to place them. If you just set them on the grass, they will settle over time and be crooked.
How to make a patio
If you take your time to do the project right, your homemade stepping stone patio will stay fairly level. We have had a few tree roots move some of ours and a few have gotten broken when we were working out there, but only from a serious impact. By the end of the project, we made a few larger stones as well and we had some keepsake stones that had been given to us as gifts that we added to the design.
The first thing we did was mark off the area we wanted to use with spray paint. We measured out 11 feet from the house and 11 feet wide. Then we planned to have a 6-inch ring of pea gravel around the outside edge. We did one 10-foot section at a time.
Next, we dug out the grass and down to 4 inches to make the trench for the patio. The stones are about an inch thick. We took a straight shovel and dug it as flat as we could.
Mosaic stepping stones
Then we attached our level to a 10 foot 2 x 4 and raked it back and forth over the ground to make sure we had as flat a surface as we could. We took a sand tamper and tamped the whole area as flat as possible.
Next, we added 2 inches of gravel. This was about 1-inch gravel. We took our level board and raked it level again. Then we added an inch of sand over the top of everything, working it down into the spaces between the gravel. We used a broom and water from the hose to work it in. Then we used our level board to rake it flat and tamped it with our tamper over and over again until the sand was tight in the hole.
It took months, so we used a big tarp to cover the sand so the cats or kids wouldn’t dig it up once we had it level and then we could add stones as they were cured.
Personalized stepping stones
Once we had it tamped as tight as possible with our tamper and as level as possible, we started adding stones from the middle out. We repeated this until it was 10 x 10 and then we added small pea gravel around the edges on three sides. Click here to see some professional directions to make a patio.
DIY stone patio
Once you have the stones in place, you need to dump several bags of sand on the top of the patio. We did about 4 per section. Then work the sand into the cracks of the patio. This forms a mortar-like bond that keeps the stones from wiggling around. This worked great for us.
The only stones that move are the ones that tree roots have pushed out of their places. Boo for tree roots! Once we had this done, we repeated this process two more times until we had the entire thing done.
The most important thing to remember is to make sure you take the time to make everything level and you will have a beautiful homemade stepping stone patio to cherish for years to come. This was one of the most meaningful and fun things I’ve ever made and it will last a long long time. I hope you make one for your yard!
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