DIY Paver Maintenance
It seemed as if nicer weather would never arrive. Now that it is here, you’ll want your paver driveway, patio, pool deck or walkway to look as good as the flowers that are beginning to bloom. A paver installation is a big investment, but they fall victim to nature’s elements, including freezing temperatures, humidity, and months of rain. And you never know what has been hiding under that snow. We’ve compiled a list along with some tips to get your pavers looking their best.
Inspect for Creep
You’ve probably not taken a good hard look at your patio, walkway or driveway all winter. Now is the time. Look for areas where the joints between the stones are getting bigger. This is referred to as ‘creep.’ is typically caused by a failure of the edge restraint, stresses of the winter months and pedestrian/vehicular traffic that forces the paver stones to push out. Creep affects the structural integrity of your paver project leading to loss of interlock and joint sand washout. It is important to note that these creeps and gaps will get larger inevitably leading to other issues with your project if they are not resolved as time goes on.
If your pavers are showing signs of creep, you need to figure out the cause. If there is no edge restraint installed, you should consider installing some. All projects, regardless of their use, need to be restrained. If pavers are not restrained they will slowly creep into the softer surrounding materials and large gaps between the pavers will appear around the perimeter of the area. Sometimes the edge restraints do not have enough spikes installed to hold the pressure exerted by the paving surface, in which case additional edge spikes need to be added. You want to remember to lift any areas along the edge that need repair. Be sure to clean any old sand from the sides to ensure a good fit when you put them back in place. You may also need to replace some pavers, or add a few additional stones.
Cleaning Before Repairs
Unless you enjoy spending thousands on restorations every few years, take the time to clean your pavers before repairs will save you some frustration. By simply adding your pavers to your weekly chores you can prevent your pavers from becoming tarnished and keep them looking more attractive than ever.
Sweep your pavers with a broom on a regular basis. You want to remove all of the dirt and debris, especially if it looks like rain. That can help prevent staining and save you some work in the long run.
You will also want to rinse off your pavers with water at least once a week. All you need is your garden hose and a spray attachment. This will help clear away any debris left after sweeping. You will also avoid potential damage by making sure all of your pavers are dirt free.
Look for Dips & Bulges
Deformations are usually caused by a base or sub-base settlement. New homes that have had a lot of property grading are usually susceptible to this. These settlements will typically show themselves within the first few years after your project’s completion. A level or other straight edge placed on the surface of your paver patio, walkway, or driveway will show the area in need of repair. Common (and easily corrected) causes of dips and bulges include:
• Ground Shift
• Shifting of Base Sand
• Eroded Gravel Base
• Eroded Joint Sand
If you find this is happening to your paver project, mark the affected area with chalk. This will make it easier locate the problem area after your start the repairs. Unlike concrete and asphalt surfaces, paver patios can be easily repaired with a few tools, some additional materials and a little bit of labor.
Inspect for Staining
You may be surprised to see how much a good cleaning will help after a long winter. If there are no serious stains, a good pressure washing will typically restore the beauty of your pavers. If you do not have access to a pressure washer, simply use a bit of dish detergent with water and brush the area with a stiff bristle broom. It is important to read the instructions for any cleaning product that you use before using. Severely stained pavers can easily be removed and replaced.
If you want your pavers looking and functioning their best for many years to come, you might want to consider sealing them. Benefits of sealing your paver patio, walkway or driveway include:
• Protection from Fading
• Color Enhancement
• Stabilizing Joint Sand
• Protection Against Stains
Pavers can be resealed periodically to maintain the high quality of the materials for the long term. Generally, sealers should be reapplied every 3-5 years.
Apply Joint Sand or Poly Joint Sand
Many of the problems with patios come from the use and proper installation of the joint sand. The joints between patio pavers are usually filled with sand, which has a tendency to wash out of the cracks over time. That means it needs to be replaced regularly.
A better, yet slightly more expensive option is to use polymeric joint sand. This is special sand that has a polymer dust added that when activated, binds the sand in the joints between pavers. Its primary function is to improve the interlock and therefore the durability and stability of a paved surface. It is designed to resist weed growth and to harden and stay in place for a long time. It also makes the joints resistant to water washouts and ants.
Concrete pavers are durable and low maintenance and come in a nearly unlimited variety of sizes and colors. Pavers can last a lifetime if taken care of properly, but if neglected, stains or fading can reduce the visual beauty of your investment over time.
If you need help with your paver project, contact Twin Oaks Landscape. We’d be happy to talk about any paver-related questions you may have. Call us today at 734-213-6911.