Cleaning Your Hardscapes

By John Voket

 

In our last report, I began examining the value and enhancement homeowners can bring to their hardscapes - driveways, patios, pool decks, walkways and many other applications - through proper protection and sealing.

But before you seal, homeowners must be sure their hardscapes are properly cleaned and prepped. The folks at Illinois based Surebond, a manufacturer of joint stabilizers, sealers, cleaners and adhesives for most hardscape installations, offer the following advice before you clean:

ALWAYS TEST FIRST - Choose an inconspicuous spot to test before carrying out a full cleaning.

ACT QUICKLY - Attacking a stain as soon as possible reduces the likelihood of it setting into the surface.

WORK UP THE SLOPE - Starting at the bottom of a sloped pavement allows cleaning fluids to drain down.

Now it's time to get down to business:

  • For fresh stains with un-absorbed oil on the surface, Surebond recommends you put down kitty litter or sawdust to soak up the stain. Then clean up after a few days.
  • Older oil stains can be complicated to remove completely but boiling water can help lift the stain. Blot area with absorbent cloth and repeat as needed.
  • For food, grease from your grill, or beverages, apply liquid dish detergent at full strength and allow it to penetrate for 20 to 30 minutes. Then scrub and rinse with hot water.
  • For stubborn stains, use a professional cleaner and stain remover, and for gum, scrape off any excess and scrub with naptha or mineral spirits. Then, rinse area thoroughly with hot water.
  • If you spill fresh paint, blot immediately with a rag or towel; do not wipe as this may spread paint. Soak the area and scrub with hot water and a stiff brush.
  • For dried paint, Surebond says to scrape any excess paint off of the surface. Apply a commercial paint remover and do not rub the loosened paint into the surface.
  • For mortar, let material harden and carefully remove spots with a trowel, putty knife or chisel.
  • Finally, there is efflorescence - the whitening that occurs naturally as water evaporates bringing salts to the surface. To remove efflorescence as well as other mineral deposits like rust and hard water stains, use a professional efflorescence and rust remover and follow all instructions on cleaner label.