Installing pavers for your backyard patio, driveway, or sidewalk is a great idea. Not only do pavers class up your outdoor living areas and enhance curb appeal, but they’re durable and low-maintenance.
Low maintenance, however, doesn’t mean no maintenance. Many people make the mistake of spending lots of money to have gorgeous pavers installed and then neglect them for years. Those same people are often astonished when their “durable” pavers get dirty and grimy or start to shift and crack. To stop that process, they need (some) regular maintenance.
The good news is that it isn’t too taxing to protect your investment—and because pavers are pretty durable, minimal effort will keep them looking terrific for many years to come. Here’s how to properly maintain your pavers.
Clean them regularly
Stone or brick pavers are designed to live outside: to be walked on, rained and snowed on, and otherwise abused. But your pavers need a regular cleaning in order to maintain their bright appearance. Sweeping and occasional hosing down will do wonders, and spot-cleaning stuff like grease, paint, or tar with mild detergent and a stiff brush can prevent staining.
You can use a power-washer on your pavers, but keep it to a low setting—high pressure can score or otherwise damage pavers. A good power-washing every year or two is all you should need. Never use a sandblaster or acid wash on pavers; while these techniques will yield dazzling-looking pavers in the short-term, they will also affect your pavers’ longterm durability.
Weed in between stones
If your pavers have been in place for a while you almost certainly have some weeds poking up through the cracks. You’re going to need to remove them before they get too much of a toe-hold; left alone, those weeds will spread and displace your pavers while also making your patio or sidewalk look junky and abandoned.
Pulling the weeds can dislodge the joint sand they’ve rooted in, plus it’s a pain in the back that only slows them down—they’re weeds, they will return. Using a weed killer is a better choice if you apply it immediately when you see growth, but you might want to use a natural, non-toxic solution so kids and dogs aren’t exposed to chemicals on the patio. Some vinegar, water, and dishwashing liquid will do the job without putting anyone at risk.
Re-sand the gaps
If the sand between your pavers has eroded, leaving visible gaps, you should re-sand before your pavers get loose and start to shift. This is a lot easier than you think: Just buy some joint sand (pay attention to the width of your paver joints when choosing joint sand), clean the area thoroughly. Cover any plants or furniture you don’t want sand getting into, then dump the joint sand on your pavers and gently work it into the joints with a broom. You might need to dampen the sand slightly here and there to get it to settle in. Then sweep the excess away. Soon, your sand will harden up and lock your pavers down.
Seal your pavers
Finally, once you’ve got your pavers looking new again, keep them that way with some paver sealant. Sealing your pavers isn’t absolutely necessary, but sealers can lock out dirt and grime, stiffen your joint sand and bedding sand, and prevent water damage. You have a few basic choices when selecting a paver sealer, depending on the material of your pavers (brick, stone, concrete, etc.) and the final look you want (gloss or matte). You can also choose a non-slip finish that can help prevent accidents.
Different sealers last for different periods of time, so depending on the specific product you choose you might need to re-seal your pavers in one to five years.
Pavers are a beautiful and lasting design choice, especially if you care for them properly. With just a few hours of effort every year you can keep your pavers looking near-new and ready for whatever traffic comes their way.