Revive and repair
A paved area in any garden is aesthetically pleasing but should be regularly cleaned and maintained to keep it looking good
By Gina Hartoog
A beautiful paved driveway, garden path or pool area adds value to your home. Aesthetically, it looks neat and tidy and is pleasing to the eye. Paving is durable, but it is important to remember that it does require some maintenance to keep it in good condition.
Paving is exposed to the elements and sand and other debris may build up on the surface. Surface stains can be very unsightly. With a bit of time, effort and the correct products, you should be able repair and revive the paved areas around your home.
General cleaning and maintenance
New paving or paving in good condition can be cleaned once or twice per year, depending on your personal choice. Some homeowners opt for a thorough clean once per season. Additional cleaning may be required after periods of heavy rain.
Brush off the surface using a stiff bristle broom. If the area is heavily soiled, use a good quality cleaning product that is safe to use on clay or cement pavers. Rinse well with clean water.
Use a hosepipe with a trigger nozzle set at medium pressure to remove any surface grime – don’t use a high pressure washer as it can mar the paving surface. Once the paving is clean, check paving joints and re-grout any damaged areas (see the box on how to replace a paver).
Stain and surface debris
The surface of clay or cement pavers may become stained. Some stains are tougher to remove than others, but with the correct products, you should be able to remove them. Always test the chemical first in an inconspicuous spot. Some chemicals can damage or stain the brick face.
Apply a commercial paint remover or a solution of trisodium (1 part to 5 parts water). Apply the paint stripper to soften the paint spots, then remove with a plastic scraper. Wash well with soapy water.
Rust or iron:
Rusty metal items like garden furniture stored on paved areas may result in the paving becoming stained with dark rust spots. This can be a very tough stain to remove from paving. Corobrick suggests a solution of oxalic acid (1 part to 10 parts water). Undiluted lemon juice may not completely remove the stain, but it will lighten it. You can also try neat white vinegar.
An oil stain that is treated promptly should not be too difficult to remove. Mop up as much of the oil as you can. Apply very hot water and dishwashing liquid. Scrub with a stiff bristle broom and rinse well.
This can be particularly difficult to eradicate in very shady or damp areas on paving, like those at the base of guttering or under big trees. Moss has no roots, so you should be able scrape the sections loose with a stiff bristle broom.
First apply a moss killer and allow it to sit according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you do not want to use a herbicide, sprinkle dry baking soda onto the moss or add a mixture of bleach and boiling water (1:2). Give it time to sit before sweeping with a stiff bristle broom.
Weeds and grass:
Remove grass and weeds on paving using weed killer. Apply the weed killer on a sunny day when there is no threat of rain. If the poison is washed off the paving, it may run into flowerbeds and kill the plants. Once the weeds start turning brown, sweep the paving to remove the dead weeds.
Once your paving is clean, should you consider sealing it? This is a good question and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s optional – you don’t have to, but you can. Frikkie Greeff, managing director at Woodoc, says that there are as many disadvantages to sealing as there are advantages.
“One of the greatest advantages is, of course, that the paving should, after being sealed, be impervious to staining,” explains Frikkie. “But one of the greatest disadvantages, in my opinion, is that the paving no longer absorbs water and any water will pool on the surface until swept away or evaporated.
A wet surface is a slippery surface and this may be of particular concern around a swimming pool or any other areas subject to foot traffic.”
If you decide to seal your paving, Frikkie says that the secret to success is making sure that the surface is correctly prepared prior to applying the sealer. No other sealer or coating should be applied to the pavers.
“The easiest way to check is to see if a drop of water will penetrate into the pavers. If water does not penetrate, it is an indication that the pavers were sealed and no other sealer can be successfully applied without first removing the existing sealer.
If water penetrates, you can proceed to the second step, which is cleaning the pavers. Clean the pavers with a good degreaser (also available at most hardware stores) and wash thoroughly.”
Leave the pavers to dry for at least a week, with good air flow, before applying the sealer. If you live in a damp climate or experience rain during the period, the drying time may be longer. For best results, only apply the sealer once the pavers are completely dry.
Replace chipped or broken pavers
If upon inspection of your paving, you notice any chipped, cracked or broken pavers, you can lift the damaged ones and replace them.
You’ll need: Replacement pavers, plaster sand/cement mix (50:50), water, spirit level, screwdriver/chisel, paintbrush, mallet/hammer and trowel.
Step 1: Assemble materials and tools. Mark the pavers to be removed. If the pattern is complicated or pavers are a different colour, make sure you know which colour to replace them with and where.
Step 2: Use a chisel and hammer to break the joint alongside the paver. Once the joint is broken, use a screwdriver to pry up the damaged paver.
Step 3: Check the cavity. Clean out any old sand and cement. Use a paintbrush to remove finer particles. If needed, level off the ground, then add a layer of sand, taking care to get into the corners. Tamp to get a level surface.
Step 4: Lay the new paver, making sure it is level with the old pavers. If it looks too high, lift the paver and remove more sand. Once level, tap into place.
Step 5: Prepare the mortar mix (50:50) and grout joints between the pavers using a small building trowel. Use a garden hose set to medium spray and wash off excess mortar. Leave to dry. Dry sweeping is an alternative method for grouting pavers. Mix the sand and mortar and sprinkle the dry mixture onto the pavers. Add a little water and sweep into the paving joints.
Tip for sunken paving:
Remove the bricks in this area only. Add sand to level the area. Use a piece of hardboard to level the surface. It should be firm before you replace the pavers.
Use a chisel and hammer to break the grouting joint alongside the paver
Once the paver starts to loosen, it is easy to lift with a screwdriver
Remove any sand or debris from the cavity or the new paver may not be level
If the ground in the cavity is sunken, add a layer of sand and tamp well
Clean away excess using a hose set on medium spray
Re-grout the new paver and allow to dry completely