The Quick Answer
Paving Slab maintenance can be difficult depending on what style of slab has been used and the quality of the installation. In general, they are more time consuming to maintain in comparison with resin bound and tarmac. Block paving is still more demanding in terms of maintenance.
what does ‘routine’ Paving Slab Maintenance Mean?
The frequency of which you need to maintain your paving slabs depends on a number of factors such as; how close your slabs are to trees, fields and bushes, what climate they’re being exposed to and what style of paving slabs you have chosen. Routine maintenance needs to be kept up as weed growth can cause disruption to the sub base, which in turn can cause ground subsidence.
Concrete Slabs: One of the easiest to maintain out of all the paving slab options. Concrete Slabs only require cleaning with a jet wash every 12 months to prevent moss & algae build up. You can also clean them by hand using washing up liquid and hot water. It’s best to start at the top and work your way down using a soft brush and applying just enough pressure to remove the build up of algae.
Natural Stone: As well as requiring an annual clean with a jet wash, natural stone can be treated with a sealer every couple of years to help prevent UV damage and protect the surface from weather damage. Natural stone also requires re-pointing occasionally. How often this is required, depends on the quality of the product used and how well the pointing has been done. You will know when it needs re-pointing as the mortar will begin to crack and crumble within the joints.
Black Limestone: Maintenance is very similar to natural stone, however the importance of sealing the limestone with a quality sealer is imperative. Black Limestone itself is renowned for fading rapidly due to UV damage. Failure to keep on top of sealing these slabs (every year or two) can result in irreversible UV damage.
Porcelain: Although an expensive investment to start with, porcelain tiles require much less maintenance in comparison with natural stone and black limestone. In fact, the only required action to keep on top of your porcelain patio is to give it an annual clean with either a jet wash or by hand using washing up liquid and warm water.
top tips for Natural paving slab maintenance
- When planning to power wash the surface, use a weed killer a couple of weeks beforehand to kill off any weeds that may have embedded themselves within the joints
- Consider using a sealer. Sealing slabs will help prevent UV damage as well as repel weed growth to a certain extent. Ensure you use a quality sealer, some cheap products on the market do more harm than good.
- Mortar can crack and crumble within the joints, leading to the slabs becoming unstable. Consider using a polymer based mortar alternative such as ‘Easyjoint’ to point the slabs with. It will last longer than a cement based mortar and help prevent weed growth.
Minimising the maintenance of natural stone and limestone
Although asthetically appealing, some customers decide to go with an alternative slab due to natural stone and limestone having a stricter maintenance schedule to adhere to. The thought of having to pay someone every couple of years to come and repoint their patio, or attempting it themselves, often leads to them choosing alternative options.
Please don’t let this be the case with you! There is a well-known technique to maintaining natural stone and limestone which can minimise the required maintenance to an annual clean and a coat of sealer every 2-3 years.
In order to reap the asthetic benefits of these slabs without the demanding maintenance, you should consider using the following products and techniques:
⊕ A polymer based mortar should be used such as easyjoint, which will fill any crevasses within the joints and make it more difficult for weeds to penetrate the surface.
⊕ A sealer should be used once the paving is dry. This will create a seal over the joints, making it more difficult for seedlings to bed themselves into the joints and will also make the surface more resistant to the terrors of the British weather.
⊕ Clean the paving using a jet wash every year, use a grime remover if required to remove tough algae spores. Re-seal the surface every 2-3 years. Ensure a quality sealer is used to maximize the benefits.
Concrete slabs and porcelain tiles are relatively easy to maintain. Natural stone and limestone slabs can be easy to maintain providing the suggested steps are carried out.
Unfortunately no exterior paving solution exists that’s completely free of maintenance, the products that require the least amount of maintenance are porcelain, concrete slabs and resin bound.