May 11, 2009

Brick Paver Cleaning, Sanding, and Sealing

It has always astonished me that homeowner's spend a lot of money to have a brick paver patio, walk, or driveway, and then proceed to neglect the maintenance requirements of these brick pavers to enhance the aesthetic value or functionality. Some simple steps can be taken to keep your brick paver investment from losing its value and appearance.

The very basic step is to sweep jointing sand in the brick paver joints each Spring after the Winter Frost has subsided. Keeping the joints of the brick pavers filled with a proper joint sand will keep your paver patio bricks from moving and keep in tact the interlocking brick paver lock up. Keeping the paver joints filled will also keep weed seeds from falling in and establishing down in the joints where they receive protection and moisture to flourish. The most important reason to keep the paver joints filled with joint sand is the tunneling effect from run off water can produce. Water travels with the least path of resistance, so if the brick paver joints are not filled, the water will "tunnel" down these joints instead of traveling along the surface and begin damaging the sub base. It is noteworthy to mention that there is a new and improved joint sand on the market call "Polymeric Sand" which combines the proper joint sand and polymers. This paver joint sand hardens like mortar but is still flexible. This polymeric sand greatly reduces the times or amount of sweeping that is required from year to year.

Brick Paver cleaning is important for not only appearance of your brick paver patio, brick paver walkway, or brick paver driveway, but also to keep damaging weed roots, moss, and creeping grass from damaging paver joints. The obvious reason to use powerwashing, cleaners, or scrubs is to improve the aesthetic appearance of your paving stones. But the paver joints need to be free of damaging vegetation that clog joints from letting water pass through and keep the brick pavers loose from locking up. A lot of neglected paver patios, walks, and driveways need a vigorous powerwashing of all joints and then require a re-sweeping of joint sand.

The final and optional step in brick paver maintenance is Sealing of brick pavers. Most paver manufacturers lifetime warranty the structural integrity of their brick pavers. But all pavers will show signs of weathering or wear over time. "Etching", the exposure of small stones on the top, is the most visual sign of the weathering or wear of your brick pavers. These paving stones are made of high density concrete and require a special penetrating sealer. This special sealer is not available at Lowe's or Home Depot, even if they say for brick or masonry products! These thermoplastic sealers run about $115-$125 for a 5 gallon drum. Thompson Water Sealer runs about $40 for a 5 gallon drum, so do you think there is a difference? These special brick paver sealers last about 2-3 years where Thompson Water Seal may only last 3-4months. I tell my customers that the number one reason for sealing pavers is the aesthetic appearance. If you like the "wet look" of your pavers that enhances the color, then seal your pavers. Another note is if you do a brick paver sealing, there is no reason to use polymeric sand since the sealer will absorb into the paver joints and harden the sand.

I hope this brief description of the three main brick paver maintenance requirements will help you enjoy the full benefit of the investment you made in the function and appearance of your brick paver installation. Here's the Doctor, I can Help!