While some people decide on a regular concrete paved walkway, some people rather go for a more rustic kind of patio. This is where bricks come in. A brick patio has many advantages when compared to a regular walkway and the sweet look is only one of them.
There had to be a reason why bricks are used in construction, right? Well, these properties are used when constructing walkways and patios as well. Bricks are highly heat resistant while still retaining it during early night hours. This makes them ideal for places where people may gather during summer or autumn nights, such as a fireplace or a grill.
Now, the key to your patio being and looking at its best is taking care of it. This usually means that you need to keep it clean. There are a lot of patios that lose their shine due to owner negligence after a couple of years. It would be a shame for one of your yard’s most attractive features to be reduced to nothing but a regular walkway.
This article will outline how you can keep your patio squeaky clean and make it the pride of your yard.
Brick patio construction
If you haven’t constructed your own brick patio, you may want to know how brick patios are usually made. They are not designed to be a temporary solution for a walkway, so it makes sense that certain precautions are made to avoid as many complications as possible when it comes to patio maintenance.
Before bricks are laid into the excavated area where the patio is to be constructed, layers of gravel, landscaping fabric and sand may be put in to avoid trouble with weeds. Then the bricks are laid in the pattern that the customer had ordered. Stabilization of the patio itself is done by interlocking these patterns – that’s why you often see zig-zag lined bricks. To finish the job, sand is put in to solidify the construction even more.
However, no construction lasts forever. If your patio has no roof over it, weather conditions may adversely affect the stability of the construction. The moisture will eventually reach deep enough to promote the growth of weeds and your patio will soon be invaded. Not to mention the amount of walking people will do on it, which brings its own set of problems, such as dirt, bricks potentially getting loose, and so on.
Cleaning the patio
Typical cleaning of the patio area can be divided into a few parts. The first is of course the preparation. The preparation consists of clearing the patio of everything that does not require to be there immediately. If you decided to clean it, do it right.
Move all unnecessary objects off the patio – You probably have some furniture such as garden bistro sets out on your patio. Move them away so you can do some thorough cleaning. You would be surprised (and potentially embarrassed) if your patio was squeaky clean, but the moment your friend sat down; they saw that you skipped some parts. To avoid this, simply move your furniture to another part of your yard. The same goes for plants. They should also be protected from chemicals, so either moves them further away or simply cover them with a tarp.
Weed removal – the easiest way to remove weeds is to use weed killer spray. However, this may take longer than it would if you would use your hands – some weed killers take up to two weeks to do their magic. This depends singularly on how often you actually clean your patio – if you do it regularly (every 3-6 months you should check your patio for any irregularities) then you should not find it necessary to use weed killer. However, if you fall behind with the maintenance, then you might find your hand forced.
Brick saturation – What some people recommend is that you use a regular hose and do a quick spray to saturate your bricks and the surrounding sand with water. Bricks are not very absorbent, but some water may be retained. Therefore, clean water saturation should be done to avoid the bricks absorbing any chemicals which may mess with their structural integrity.
Cleaning the patio – When you are ready for the cleaning part, be aware that there are several methods you can choose from, depending on your needs and wishes.
Spraying the patio with the pressure washer – This method is kind of controversial. Some people recommend using a pressure washer to clean your patio, others do not. Whichever way you might stand on the issue, it is a moot point that a pressure washer is by far the fastest and the most efficient way to clean the patio. The cons of this is that pressure washers use such high pressures that they might easily damage your patio. Therefore, a low setting is recommended, at least until you check if it hurts the surface of your patio. You really do not want to destroy the beautiful mosaic or color patterns by being overzealous with the spray strength.
When spraying, follow the rule of working outwards – you do not want to spray the dirt and grime on your house. Do not spray the walkway directly, but rather from a distance and angularly to avoid any unnecessary damage. If done correctly and without over-spraying any particular part of your pavement, your progress should be easily noticeable and you should be able to keep track of when you are done and if you have missed anything pretty easily.
These advantages are the reason why pressure washers are the most popular way of cleaning nowadays. Still, making sure you are using them correctly is advisable.
Cleaning the patio with soap – Perhaps the most manual of the ways that you can clean your patio, soap, and brush are still very effective when it comes to patio cleaning. This is best done when you have light stains and the patio overall is not very dirty. You can make your life easier by pouring soapy water over your patio – if you have sprayed it with clean water before to saturate the bricks, you should have nothing to fear. Then, focus your brushing efforts on the more stubborn stains if there are any. After a day of drying, you should see if you have done a good job or not. If yes, then reward yourself for a job well done. If not, you can do another sweep or even go for a stronger solution.
Cleaning the patio with vinegar – Seriously, in how many home-trouble remedies will vinegar find itself? Apparently, white vinegar is one of the best non-toxic, environmentally friendly solutions to use when confronted with patio cleaning problems.
When using vinegar, keep it away from plants, as it is very acidic and will hurt any plants. Mix it with water in a 50/50 ratio or increase the vinegar percentage if the patio needs serious cleaning. Use water can soak your patio for 30 minutes, then brush away! Remember how we said that vinegar is acidic to plants? Well – while your plants will not appreciate this, the weeds will not either. Vinegar will not do as well as commercial-grade weed killers but may stop any smaller weed infestations.
You may be worried about the smell, but vinegar dissipates quickly so it will not be a problem.
Allow for drying – If you are satisfied with the looks of your patio, you should allow it to dry out before placing your furniture back.
It is hard to tell exactly how long you should allow it to dry out since it depends mostly on what solutions you used to wash it in the first place. For water-based solutions, a day should be enough. Of course, be prepared for this to take longer since you might have missed something, or the stains may prove more stubborn than expected.
Whatever the case, we are sure that your patio will be in much better shape after a nice cleaning. The most important thing is to clean your patio regularly. How regularly? It all depends on the size of the patio, the weather, the amount of traffic it gets...
As a rough estimate – do a thorough yearly cleaning in spring well after winter has passed. During summertime, avoid leaving stains on the patio for a long time. Cleaning it sooner rather than later will help you reduce workload later on and preserve the patio itself. During autumn, you should sweep it regularly if leaves get on it since the decay may feed the organic matter into the sand which can cause weeds to spring and annoy you even more.
By following these steps, you will surely be on your way to having a patio that will be the talk of the neighborhood for all the right reasons.