DIY This Weekend: How to Clean Concrete or Clay Pavers

DIY This Weekend: How to Clean Concrete or Clay Pavers

Though little maintenance is necessary, properly cleaning hardscaping can keep it looking its best for years and years.

The first cleaning should happen after installation — and before landscaping. This initial cleaning will remove dust or film from the manufacturing and storage process, enhance the color, remove any job site debris, help prevent future water staining and prepare the pavers for possible sealing.

For this initial cleaning, experts recommend lightly pre-wetting the paver surface, then applying NMD 80 (New Masonry Detergent) through an EC jet attached to a pressure washer. Let that sit for about five minutes, then re-apply the detergent. Finally, rinse using a pressure washer with a wide-tip nozzle on low pressure, starting from the highest elevation and working your way down with long, even, overlapping strokes.

Removing stains

Stains are a fact of life. Whether it’s oil on a driveway or grease from a grill, there’s a good chance that, at some point, you’ll need to deal with stain removal on your hardscaping.

If the stain is just on the surface, a good cleaner/degreaser should be able to remove it, whether it’s grease, oil, adhesive or tire marks. The right weather conditions are important before you use a cleaner/degreaser. The temperature should be above freezing, and ideally above 50 degrees F. To avoid potential damage, don’t apply to a surface that has been exposed to freezing temperatures until it has had time to thaw.

The detergent can be applied with a brush or mop, pressure washer or low-pressure sprayer. For heavy stains, dilute the cleaner/degreaser with water at around a 4:1 ratio, water to detergent. Lighter stains need much less detergent, maybe just a capful or less per gallon of water.

Apply the diluted solution to the stain and let sit for a few minutes, then reapply and scrub, then rinse with water to remove any residue. Once you’ve rinsed, you can check to see whether the stain had become embedded below the surface of the paver or concrete. If so, you may need an oil and grease stain remover.

Deeper stains

Oil and grease stain remover is a poultice with the consistency of pancake batter. You’ll want to apply it to a completely dry surface and then let it sit for up to eight hours until it is completely dry — which you’ll know because the surface of the poultice will have become a web of cracks. It’s a good idea to cover the poultice with tented plastic while it dries to protect it from rain or other weather.

Once it’s dried, sweep it up with a stiff brush or broom. One application may be enough, but tougher stains might require additional applications.

Find out how you can transform your outdoor living spaces with pavers here.