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The ultimate guide to cleaning block paving

Block paving is a common way to transform the look of gardens, patios, and driveways. It’s tough and lasts a long time. However, moss, strong weeds and mould can grow through block paving.

Maintaining paving keeps it strong and looking nice. Not looking after block paving can result in more problems, such as intense algae or moss growth, which is much harder to rectify.

In this guide we’ll run through the best way to clean block paving and what you’ll need to get the job done. However, it’s important to remember that every job is different so it’s important to seek specialist advice if you are at all unsure.

The importance of block paving maintenance

Neglecting maintenance can result in a build-up of weeds, moss, algae, and lichen, which damages the look of paving. And during rainy and colder months, the surface can turn slippery.

Good upkeep with stretch the overall lifespan of a section of paving. Routine maintenance helps avoid bigger repairs down the line, saving time and money. Investing a little effort each month into maintaining block paving increases its durability and longevity.

Block paving cleaning tools

Before jumping straight in, make sure you or your customer have the right block paving cleaning tools to tackle the task. Here’s some general info around the tools you’ll likely need.

  • Broom/outdoor brush
  • Weed preventative
  • Power washer
  • Block paving cleaner
  • Water
sweeping block paving

Preparing the block paving for cleaning 

It's essential to begin with thorough preparation. 

Clear any debris from the area
Begin by sweeping away any loose debris from the area. This makes the cleaning process easier and prevents dirt spreading around and creating mess.

Remove weeds
Carefully remove any weeds that might have found their way between the paving blocks. Pull them out by hand, removing the entire weed, including the roots. Apply weed killer and a preventative solution at this stage to prevent future weed growth that can displace paving through sand disturbance. 

Check for loose bricks or uneven areas
While cleaning, inspect your block paving for any signs of damage or instability. Look for loose blocks or uneven areas that might require attention before cleaning — this allows you to address potential issues.

Cleaning block paving

How to clean block paving 

The way you clean block paving really depends on its condition.

A simple clean
After clearing the area of debris or weeds all you need is a brush, water and soap to get the job done. Gently brush the water across the block paving while also sweeping the surface. This simple method can quickly bring a fresh look to a paved area and is an easy way to maintain it. Make sure to rinse the surface afterwards.

Pressure wash
One of the go-to tools for cleaning block paving is a pressure washer, which relies on powerful high-pressure water spray to clean surfaces. They offer a fast fix for removing dirt. 

Position a pressure washer at a 45-degree angle. This helps to lessen the force applied to the sand. Remember that when you do this, some of the top sand might come off — usually a few inches.

However, it’s important to remember that using a pressure washer wrong — like turning up the pressure too much — could harm the paving blocks. Doing this task requires some physical work; some homeowners choose to hire a pro who knows how to use a pressure washer properly to give their paving a new lease of life. This avoids any blunders.

Steam clean
Another popular approach is steam cleaning, an effective method for removing dirt from block paving to reach deep into the cracks of the blocks for a deep clean.

While steam cleaning takes more time than other methods, it’s good at tackling stubborn stains caused by oil or tyre marks. Steam cleaning machines are often big and tricky to move around, so most opt to bring in professional steam cleaning experts to handle the job. These people are experienced in operating the equipment and used to dealing with any minor complications.

Block paving cleaner 
Block paving cleaner is specifically made to remove dirt, moss, mould, and algae from block paving surfaces. However, using this cleaner might not deliver the desired result if your area has a large amount of dirt and debris.

Different block paving cleaners contain various chemicals, so prioritising safety during cleaning is crucial. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and wear appropriate protective clothing as recommended. If at all unsure, speak with a specialist in the area.

Instructions for using different types of block paving cleaners can differ. While some can be applied and left to work on their own, others may require specific equipment for application. 

Remember that any product involving chemicals carries the risk of causing long-term damage. Make sure to be cautious and approach the cleaning process carefully to prevent any issues.

How to remove oil from block paving

Dealing with oil stains can be challenging, as they’re tough to get rid of. 

Steam cleaning is one way to tackle stains. However, there are some other things you can try too. You might consider using a special cleaner for paving designed to fight grease, along with a brush with tough bristles. This approach will require some firm scrubbing, and you might have to repeat it a few times, but it should make the oil stain look much better.

How to stop sand washing out of block paving

Losing sand from your block paving is a common issue, often triggered by different weather conditions or forceful cleaning.

No need to worry — there are methods to avoid sand loss:

  • Seal the paving: This step is typically taken after laying the blocks. It involves applying a protective sealant to the paving.
  • Refill the gaps: Using a high-quality jointing compound will cost money, but it's a simple process that helps keep pesky weeds away.
  • Regularly add sand: To maintain the sand level, periodically add kiln-dried sand into the gaps. This task might seem a bit tedious, but it's effective.

By following these steps, you can ensure the sand stays where it belongs, providing stability to block paving.

When it comes to cleaning block paving, it’s important to know it might take time and energy, particularly when dealing with tough stains. 

If you’re a homeowner, taking a closer look at your specific situation will help you decide whether it’s something you want to tackle on your own or if it's best to bring in the experts.

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