While the correct maintenance of your patio should be incredibly simple, people can often receive bad advice that could end up creating far more problems. With your patio experiencing every weather condition throughout the year, it is extremely common to see a build-up of dirt and debris. You should look to clean your paving 2-3 times a year. However, you should be very careful with what you are using for your cleaning.
A lot of cleaning materials and substances that you would potentially think about using can actually be very harmful to your paving. Your paving stones can actually be far more delicate than you think, after all, they are natural stones that are thousands of years old.
It is also very common to make mistakes when looking after your patio. We have put together a separate article on what mistakes to avoid when taking care of your patio.
Many places and many people will tell you that using acids is a brilliant way of cleaning and getting rid of tough stains. This is because natural stone is incredibly durable which gives people the false pretense that the acid cannot damage the stone. However, this is false and can actually be very harmful to the stone.
Strong acids can deteriorate your natural paving over time and cause considerable damage that could be extremely difficult to reverse. With constant use of acids on your natural stone paving the surface of the stone will begin to break down and therefore cause problems such as cracking and discolouration. The acids can also create their own stains that can be extremely difficult to get rid of.
While using harsh acids can be detrimental to your paving, you can actually use much less harsh acids if they are diluted in a water solution. The best acids to use are acids that you can commonly find at home such as lemon juice or vinegar. Simply mixing these with half water will create a much less harsh solution that will work wonders at bringing up unwanted stains on your paving.
Using A Power Wash
There are a huge amount of misconceptions about using power washers to clean your patio or paving stones. While it should not be overall avoided, if used incorrectly can cause a huge amount of damage to your paving stones. Most popular paving stones are natural stones and are therefore pretty robust, this normally allows people the confidence of using power washes.
However, if you are using a power wash that has too much power and using it too often then you will start to notice imperfections in your paving. If not used correctly then a powerwash can cause pitting, cracks and other general degradation to the surface of the paving. Imperfections such as cracks and chipping can hugely affect both the aesthetics and functionality of your paving as it, therefore, becomes vulnerable to harsh weather conditions.
It is important to note that power washes are by no means a must stay away from, they can work pretty effectively if used correctly. While you are jet washing your paving you should always ensure that the jet wash is not set to its highest pressure as this can cause damage to your paving. You can also reduce the risk of damage by making sure that the nozzle of your washer is always over a foot away from the surface of your paving stones.
Using A Hard Bristle Brush
Using a brush during the cleaning of your paving is something that most people would traditionally do. However, what you may not know is that if you are using the wrong brush then it could actually be damaging the surface of your paving stone more and more every time you use it.
The brushes that you should be actively trying to avoid using should be hard, stiff-bristled and especially wire brushes. Your natural stones need a softer bristled brush for cleaning to avoid harsh scraping against the age-old natural stones. While you may think that they would be extremely effective at getting rid of tough dirt, which they are, they can also cause a considerable amount of damage to your paving slabs.
Consistently using a hard or wire-bristled brush will wear down the surface of your paving, causing discoloration, cracks, and also making it less weather resistant. This can then pile up to cause a considerable amount of damage that can become almost impossible to fix and therefore have a negative lasting impact on your stones.
Using Salts During Winter
While using salts on your paving over the winter months should in theory create a gripper and less dangerous surface, it can actually be to the detriment of your paving stone. If your paving is a natural stone such as limestone, sandstone and slate then they all have natural slip-resistant properties and therefore do not need anything extra to improve their grip. The salts can actually cause a considerable amount of damage to the paving.
Salt is a bad choice for the simple fact that it is incredibly erosive. It will undoubtedly erode away at the surface of your paving and cause cracks and imperfections to the surface of your paving that will then worsen continuously over the winter months. The whole purpose of the salt is to melt any ice on the surface of the stone, however, the stones are usually weather sand ice resistant and therefore the salt only eats away at the surface of the stone.
If you do feel like you need an extra layer of protection against the extreme cold elements then there are a number of alternatives that you can use. Most of the time, a thin layer of sand will be more than enough to melt the ice and provide an underfoot grip. Or you can even purchase salt-free deicing substances that are less abrasive and therefore kinder on the natural stone.