How to Maintain Your Patio

When spring is just around the corner you’re likely to be thinking about showing your garden a little TLC. No doubt, tending to the plants and pruning the shrubs will be on the job list but what about a new patio just in time to enjoy the longer, warmer days.

In our latest article, our friends at Bradstone have some handy hints and tips which we’ll share with you to help you care for and maintain your patio. We'll discuss a number of topics from cleaning you patio, to sealing and re-pointing. Topics include:

  • How do you clean natural stone paving slabs?
  • Cleaning concrete paving
  • Cleaning porcelain pavers
  • Pointing and repointing patio slabs
  • What is the best stone sealer?
  • Efflorescence
  • How long do paver sealers last?

How to clean your patio

All feature patios will continue to look their best for years to come with periodic cleaning and regular maintenance essential in keeping your paving looking pristine.

Whether the material you have used on your patio is natural stone, concrete or porcelain, Bradstone recommend thoroughly washing paved areas three or four times a year and not just at the beginning and end of the season.

What is the best way to clean a patio?

The most straightforward and certainly the safest way to clean your paving is to scrub with warm soapy water. You can use washing up liquid but please check the product for any warnings about use on certain materials such as limestone.

Wash off the area with clean water to ensure no soapy residue is left behind.

How do you clean natural stone paving slabs?

For natural stone pavers, simply sweeping with a stiff broom and warm soapy water is usually enough to prevent the build up of dirt from day to day foot traffic and all manner of stains and marks left by Mother Nature.

You may notice that after cleaning natural stone some discolouration may occur due to minor imperfections and mineral deposits. Don’t worry as this is perfectly normal and part of the inherent make up of natural stone.

If sweeping with warm soapy water doesn’t prove to be enough, then you may need a more effective cleaning method than just repeating the process. If this is the case, you may want to consider a specialised patio wash. There are plenty of options on the market but they can vary quite widely in terms of quality and performance. It is highly recommended that you check the suitability of the product for use on the particular paving you have and also that the product will actually remove the dirt or stain that you want it to. We suggest speaking directly to the manufacturer or the product stockist to confirm this information.

Patio cleaners can be acidic or alkaline. We advise extreme caution with acidic cleaners in particular as they are not always suitable and can even cause irreversible damage when applied to certain types of paving. There are certain natural stone slabs that you should never use acidic cleaners on and limestone is one of those.

You must also take into account the jointing material that your product is pointed with when selecting a cleaner to ensure no chemical reactions affect the performance of the joint. This is especially true if you have used a jointing compound such as Bradstone’s Bradpoint.

Cleaning concrete paving

Again, for concrete slabs, sweeping with a stiff broom and warm soapy water is generally sufficient to give your patio a new lease of life. If you’re thinking of taking a shortcut with a pressure washer... DON’T! Bradstone do not recommend cleaning in this way as it is too aggressive and may affect the surface of the paving and the future performance of your patio slabs.

As with natural stone pavers, concrete slabs can be cleaned with specific patio cleaners, however, the same caution must be taken and again we suggest speaking directly to the manufacturer or the product stockist to confirm suitability for use with your paving and the jointing material.

Cleaning porcelain pavers

Bradstone strongly recommend washing down or cleaning your completed porcelain patio and also periodic maintenance to keep the area looking “as new”. This will help remove any general build-up of dirt, grout residue and grease deposits that may be present.

Bradstone porcelain paving can easily be cleaned using specialist porcelain cleaning products. As with other patio cleaners, there are a number on the market and each can vary in its effectiveness. We always recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions and testing on a small, discrete area before using on other areas of your patio.

General guidance on cleaning your patio

Bradstone advise not using patio cleaners more than two to three times throughout the lifespan of your patio. It is highly recommended that you test any patio wash on an inconspicuous area first to ensure suitability before applying to the patio as a whole.

Whilst cleaning your patio there are a couple of other things that you can look out for; check for any loose paving slabs and also ensure the jointing material is fully intact. If there are any loose pavers or damaged joints, action will need to be taken to repair ensuring the longevity of your patio.

Pointing and repointing patio slabs

In the case of jointing, it makes sense to use the same material that is already laid. If repointing the whole area or a large proportion of the area, consider using a jointing compound such as Bradpoint.

An alternative would be the traditional method of using a strong semi-dry mortar mix. For this, you can use a mix of 4 parts building sand to 1 part cement. Make sure when mixing that there is sufficient water content to bind but not so much as to stain the paving when applied. This is the recommended method for those ranges where Bradpoint isn’t suitable.

Sufficient pointing mortar should be mixed to be used within 30-45 minutes, with less mixed at a time in hot weather conditions, as it may become too dry to bond.

Using weedkiller near your paving

Whilst cleaning your patio you may be tempted to apply a weedkiller near to or on the paving itself. Be very careful if you do as some weedkillers may cause staining to the paving slabs.

Ensure the weedkiller has been specifically developed for use with paving and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions testing on or near an inconspicuous area to ensure suitability.

Can you seal patio slabs?

You’ve cleaned your patio, and checked the condition of the joints and paving, so what next?

If you have laid porous slabs or stones such as an Indian stone like Bradstone Smooth Natural Sandstone Paving, a good quality sealant can help protect your patio from dirt, oil and water-based staining, and even prevent the growth of moss and algae.

What is the best stone sealer?

As with patio cleaners, the quality and performance of sealants varies from one to another and it is important to check suitability with the stockist or manufacturer.

A good quality sealant can make your patio easier to clean for a period of time and some may enhance the colour of the paving.

Efflorescence

It may be recommended that a sealant is not be applied for a period after the paving has been laid.This is to prevent efflorescence from being trapped beneath the sealant.

Efflorescence is a normal chemical reaction which results in white patches or lightening of the surface of the pavers. This will disappear over time, however, that length of time depends on a number of factors such as weather conditions.

It is recommended that some products are actually sealed prior to laying and specific sealants should be sought in these cases. These sealants may actually help prevent efflorescence.

How long do paver sealers last?

Remember that a sealer will not improve the durability of the product and the most important thing to bear in mind is that once it has been applied it cannot be removed. You need to be 100% certain in advance that you do want to seal your patio and what you want to achieve by doing so.

Do porcelain pavers need sealing?

When it comes to porcelain patios you’ll find it’s a different story altogether.

If you want to reduce ongoing maintenance and you are thinking of updating your patio area, look no further than our porcelain paving. You’d be amazed how little maintenance it requires and how good your patio will look for years to come.

Firstly, there will be no change in colour unlike concrete paving or even natural stone. Porcelain is also incredibly hard wearing and scratch resistant, and offers an excellent level of slip resistance owing to a slightly rougher texture than the porcelain tiles you will find in your home.

The major benefit when it comes to maintenance, however, is that porcelain is also non-porous. So how does that help?

  • Being non-porous means that you don’t need to apply a sealant to preserve the paving EVER!
  • It also means that spillages, such as chemicals, oils or the errant burger jumping off the barbecue that can stain other paving materials can be easily wiped up without ever knowing they’d even been there.
  • Porcelain is considered a low maintenance paving solution as it is excellent at resisting staining and it’s absolutely possible for the patio to be cleaned using just a mop and bucket on a periodic basis.
  • This just leaves you to occasionally check that the paving is not loose and that the jointing material is intact.

Once all the hard work is done, all that’s left is for you to sit back, relax and enjoy your patio.

For more information, give our friendly customer service team a call on 0800 032 6306 or start a live chat.