Everyone’s always trying to keep their home as beautiful as possible, and if you have a patio, you’re quickly going to learn that it needs some work throughout the year if you want to keep it beautiful. Patios are definitely wonderful additions to any home, but just like with any other addition – a porch or a deck – they need to be well maintained if you want them to add to the beauty of your home.
To take care of a patio, you’re definitely going to need some elbow grease, and in this article – you’re going to learn exactly what you need to pay attention to. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the cleaning process of a patio and learning exactly what you need to do to keep it beautiful and comfortable throughout the year.
Let’s get started!
Cleaning Your Patio
Your patio will continue to look its best for years to come if you keep it tidy and clean, and that is only secured through periodic cleaning and regular maintenance. It doesn’t matter whether your patio is made of natural stone, concrete, or porcelain – washing paved areas three or four times a year is always necessary if you want to keep it the way it is.
The best way to wash your patio is to scrub with warm soapy water. There are products that are made especially for patios, but you must check whether they’re compatible with certain materials that may be on your patio – such as limestone. You should wash the area off once you’re done so there’s no soapy residue.
Stone Paving Slabs
If you have natural stone paving slabs, you should be sweeping with a stiff broom before you continue to use warm soapy water to prevent the buildup of dirt from day to day foot traffic and all other stains that appear naturally.
After cleaning, you may notice that there’s some natural discoloration – this occurs because of minor imperfections and mineral deposits. It’s completely normal, and not a cause for concern – that’s just part of the natural makeup of the natural stone.
It might happen that sweeping the patio and then brushing it with soapy water didn’t make it too clean. In that case, you should consider a specialized patio wash. If you check the offers on the market, you’ll see that there are thousands of options for you to choose from, and the most important thing to factor in that decision would be the suitability of the product with the material your patio is made of. Not all patios are the same, and whether you have natural stone or even wood is going to make a huge difference.
There are also a lot of differences in performance and quality, so it’s best to check customer reviews to make sure you’re getting a product that will actually remove the dirt or stain that you need it to remove.
Since patio cleaners can be acidic or alkaline, you should know that you must be careful with these substances. Acidic cleaners need special attention paid as they are not always suitable and can even cause irreversible damage if you apply them to your patio. Limestone, for example, is a natural stone slab with which you should never use acidic cleaners.
Concrete Paving Slabs
If you have concrete paving slabs, then sweeping with a stiff broom and warm soapy water will get the job done in 9 cases out of 10! However, we don’t recommend that you use a pressure washer. Many people jump to this as a go-to solution, but it might actually be bad if you have concrete as the paving of your patio.
This method is too aggressive and may affect the surface of the paving, which could heavily affect the future performances of your patio slabs in a negative way.
There are also specific patio cleaners for your concrete slabs, but we recommend, once again, that you should be very careful when working with these substances. Make sure to confirm the suitability of this product with your patio, just to ensure that you don’t cause any long-term damage.
Porcelain actually needs a bit more work than concrete or stone, as frequent washing down or cleaning your completed patio with period maintenance is absolutely crucial if you want to keep it looking as good as new. You’ll notice a gradual accumulation of dirt, grout residue, and grease deposits that may be difficult to get rid of if you don’t do it frequently.
Once again, use specialist porcelain cleaning products, but make sure to check that they’re compatible with your patio.
However, you should not use patio cleaners more than three times throughout the lifespan of your patio – this advice applies to all three types of patios: stone, concrete, and porcelain.
It’s also highly recommended that you test the product you’ll be using on your patio in an inconspicuous area first to ensure suitability before you move on to using it on your patio.
There are also a few other things you should keep in mind when you’re cleaning your patio: check for loose paving slabs and make sure that the jointing material is fully intact.
Maintaining Your Patio
Pointing and Repointing Patio Slabs
When you need to fix the jointing on your patio, it’s best to use the same materials that were used when the patio was first being constructed. You can also use jointing compounds.
However, the alternative to that would be the use of a traditional method – using a strong semi-dry mortar mix. To do this, make a mixture of 4 parts building sand to 1 part cement. There should be enough water to bind, but not so much water to stain the pavement when it’s applied. When you make paving mortar, it should be mixed and used within 45 minutes, and even quicker if it’s hot and dry outside, as it will dry quicker.
Weedkillers are the go-to tool when you need to get rid of that pesky weed, but it may actually not be safe to use them with your patio. Even though we all hate the job of having to rip out weeds by hand – the truth is, weedkillers can actually stain the patio and you have to be careful when you’re using them.
Check your weedkiller to make sure it’s been specifically developed for use with paving – always follow the instructions made by the manufacturer and test the weedkiller out on an inconspicuous area.
Sealing Your Slabs
Once you’re done with checking the condition of the joints, you can seal your slabs if they have openings. There are porous slabs – Indian stone, for example – and a good quality sealant can help protect your patio from dirt, oil, and water-based staining – this will also help with the prevention of moss and algae growth.
When you’re buying a sealant, the rule is the same as with patio cleaners – make sure that the sealant is actually compatible with the materials used for your patio. Sealants can help a lot with the job of cleaning and maintenance, and you’ll be cleaning your patio more easily for a period of time, and it can even enhance the color of the paving.
It’s recommended by experts that you don’t apply a sealant for a period of time after the patio slabs have been laid. This is to prevent efflorescence from being trapped beneath the sealant. Efflorescence is a chemical reaction, and it results in white patches on the paving slabs or lightening of the whole surface of paving slabs. Efflorescence disappears with time, so you don’t have to worry about any long-term effects, but it’s still going to make your patio look somewhat dirty for a while.
Nobody can guarantee just how quickly it’s going to disappear, though. This mostly depends on the weather.
Since paver sealers are very effective and they last forever, you need to be very careful about applying them. A sealer will not improve the durability of the product and it can’t be removed when it’s applied.
Special attention must be paid to porcelain patios, though. There are many things that make porcelain better than concrete and stone – it’s incredibly hard-wearing and scratch-resistant while offering an excellent level of slip resistance. It’s also non-porous, which means that you don’t need a sealant with it. Spilling, be it chemicals, oils, or anything else that could stain a regular patio can simply be wiped off with a mop or a paper towel.
Porcelain is a low-maintenance solution, and it’s definitely the best solution for your patio if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require too much work. It’s very resistant to staining and you can clean your patio with just a mop and bucket on a periodic basis. All you need to do to keep it intact is check, every now and then, that your paving is not loose and that the jointing material is intact. That’s why we definitely recommend porcelain as the material to build your patio with!
Maintenance of Patios by Season
When spring comes around and those cold temperatures finally start to rise, experts remind us that it’s the best time to clean your patio. Since an unwashed wooden patio is an open ground for mold and mildew (causing rot), we recommend that you wash it at this point.
Start the cleaning by removing debris from between patio stones or boards – use a putty knife for that. Sweep the area once you’ve cleaned it thoroughly, and once you’re done with that, buy a cleaning solution (we’re reminding you once again that you check and make sure it’s compatible with the building material of your patio).
If the material in question is wood, then use a standard deck cleaner and follow its directions. If it’s composite, we recommend that you use a cleaner specifically formulated for composite material. If you have grease and oil stains, then use a commercial degreaser and detergents. If the material in question is vinyl, which is uncommon, you should stick to warm water and mild soap to remove mold, mildew, and dirt.
Once your deck is clean, you should clean the sealer that’s letting the wood’s natural grain and color show, use a toner that will add some color and reveal the grain fully (it will also provide protection against sunlight), using a semi-transparent stain that tints the wood but still lets the grain show, and lastly – use solid stain and opaque color that seal weathering damage and cover the grain completely.
We always recommend a gentle wash, rather than a power wash. We have already explained why using pressured water isn’t exactly the best idea when you’re washing your patio, so we’re recommending that you simply hose down the patio and that you scrub stains with a gentle household cleaner. If you have stains that are really stubborn – try bleach!
It’s now warm and dry and you should give your patio a detailed inspection. When inspecting, it’s really important to pay special attention to areas within 6 inches of the ground or areas that are close to sources of water – rot is what you’re looking for, especially if you have a wooden patio.
Rot can happen very easily when the wood is in constant contact with water, which can often happen if it’s particularly close to downspouts and planters. The simple test to find out whether you have rotted on your hands is – try pushing a screwdriver a quarter-inch or more into a suspect area, if you’re successful – you probably have rotted on your hands.
You’re also going to need to take a closer look at your grout. Look at the grout in between stonework on your patio. You’ll need to repair it if it’s started to come apart or if it’s disappeared altogether.
When leaves start falling from the trees, it’s time to do some preventive work and prepare your patio for the harsh and cold times ahead. It’s very easy for wood to rot during the winter – it’s actually likely to, as nature thrives during spring and summer and usually lays dormant or dies during the winter.
However, you don’t have to let your patio rot – you can take care of it in the fall, and it’ll go through the winter just fine. This is a good time to wash and seal your patio and get it ready for the colder temperatures that are about to take over.
Make sure to trim nearby bushes and trees. They should be at least 12 inches away from your patio area to slow mold, moss, and rot. Also, don’t leave debris and leaves piled up in a corner – they’ll rot and that’s never a nice sight, not to mention that it’s potentially harmful to your patio (and it sort of smells).
Something that’s often seen happening is discoloration of material when furniture is left on it during the cold winter. That’s a normal reaction, but we recommend that you take all the furniture from your patio and take it to the basement – this is going to preserve the nice coating and finish on your patio, and it will also keep your furniture safe.
Winter will mainly see you out too long for the days when you could sit out on your patio, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll still be able to do the same. However, there are certain climates that allow this.
In this case, feel free to enjoy your patio as if it were summer!
It’s important to keep in mind that your patio, just like your terrace, deck, and porch – is directly affected by weather conditions and you need to inspect it accordingly. If your patio has faced heavy snowfall, rainfall, or a natural disaster like a flood, a hurricane, or a storm – you have to inspect it after something like that happens. Just the way you’d inspect the rest of your house after something like that happens.
We suggest that you inspect your patio once a season, after which you’ll proceed with the duties of cleaning and maintenance. Patios are beautiful additions to a home, but they’re very exposed because they exist out there without anything to protect them from the weather. If you want them to keep hosting you and your family in comfort, you’re going to need to ensure that you upkeep your patio in the best way possible.