Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, "Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind." Time and Mother Nature, though, leave more than shadows behind on your pavers. Fortunately, there are some tried and true tricks for keeping your patio pavers looking great year in and year out. When we install pavers, we often get asked about maintenance. For the most part, rinsing them off with a simple garden hose should be enough to get the job done. If it's been years of weather taking its toll on your pavers, you might have to take more drastic measures to get rid of those dark streaks, leaf stains, and the like, that come with age. In this post, we are going to take a look at a few different ways you can get those old pavers looking like new again.
Cleaning Leaf Stains
Leaf stains occur when the pigment from leaves settle into the cracks and crevices of your pavers. Yes, the stains will fade, but you may want take care of them before that eventuality. Leaf stains can be stubborn little buggers in that they can't usually be hosed off like many other stains. To get the leaf stains out, you'll want to wet the area then spray it with some Simple Green detergent. Then scrub the stain with a soft bristle brush until the stain is gone. When you are done, just hose it all down.
If you have black stains, which can be caused by mold or dark leaf pigments, you'll want to take a different approach. Try a 10:1 bleach and water solution, 10 parts water to one part bleach poured directly on the stain. Then scrub it off immediately. Rinse the area down when you are done, because leaving the bleach on for too long can fade the color of your pavers.
Autumn is when your patio pavers are at the most risk, so regularly sweeping or blowing off the patio from the start of the season is the best way to prevent leaf stains. On occasion, you'll have large stains in places where piles of leaves have gathered. In those instances, you'll want to approach it in smaller segments instead of trying to get it all at once. Just designate smaller, more-workable sections and clean them with the Simple Green or a bleach solution, then move on to the next section.
Resist the Temptation to Power Wash
In general, it is not a good idea to power wash your pavers. The velocity of the power-washer's spray can be enough to actually etch pavers. Once done, it cannot be undone. In some cases, an experienced contractor might be able to get away with using a power washer on pavers, because he or she knows the technique required to do so. If this doesn't sound like you, though, it's best to resist the temptation to power wash your pavers.
We don't recommend sealing new pavers. If you are looking to sell your house or maybe host a formal event and your home, you might be wondering how to spruce up older pavers. There are sealers, such as Techniseal Hardscaping system, which can give older pavers a fresh look. If you opt to go that route, you'll want to give the pavers a very thorough cleaning before sealing.
If you are considering a sealer with a high-gloss finish, you'll want to keep in mind that it will actually make the overall color of your pavers darker. If you go with a less-glossy finish, your pavers will remain closer to their existing color. To get an idea of what your pavers would look like with a high-gloss sealer, hose down your patio. If you like that darker, "wet" look, then you will likely want to go with a high-gloss finish sealer.
One other thing to note before you seal your pavers: Sealing pavers is not a one-and-done task. If you seal your pavers, you will need to keep sealing them about every two years. In addition, sealers require 48 hours to dry completely, so you'll want to check your forecast beforehand. Finally, warmer summer temperatures can hinder the sealing process. If it's an option, wait for a autumn when the temps are a little cooler and it's not raining as much as spring to start your sealing project.
Replacing Your Pavers
Part of the charm of having pavers is that they age very well. For the most part, you won't need to replace pavers. On occasion, though, it happens. For instance, if you have a paver driveway and the pavers are stained from oil or other car fluids, you might want to consider replacement. This is usually a pretty simple fix, but you'll want to enlist a professional to ensure it's done correctly.
Caring for New Pavers
New pavers are pretty low-maintainance. You can clean any stains or spots with the process described above. You'll just want to be sure that you sweep and hose down your pavers on a pretty regular basis to prevent leaves from gathering.
Again... Don't Seal New Pavers
We mentioned it above, but it bears repeating: don't seal new pavers. Every type of manufactured stone requires a time for settling. During this time, elements from the manufacturing process that are in the stone come to the surface and fade. If you seal pavers before this settling process is complete, you could permanently alter the look of your new pavers. This settling process is known as "efflorescence," and every type of manufactured paving stone will have some degree of efflorescence to go through. As these elements surface, they can leave a white residue on your pavers. For that reason, it's a good idea to hose down your pavers every now and again. Depending on the type of stone, it can take up to two years for the efflorescence to work itself out. So, if you really want to seal your pavers, that's what your timeline looks like.
Pavers are a beautiful way to adorn your yard. Whether you are using them for walkways, patios, driveways, or around the pool, they are made to look great for a long time. With a little bit of TLC, you can keep them looking like new for decades.
If you are considering adding pavers to your landscape, give us a call at (517) 990-0110 or contact us online today. Our experienced and helpful staff would love to help you plan out a new paver project!