Block paving is a commonly used building material used for constructing Driveways, Patios and Pathways due to the robust nature and decorative properties of the paver blocks.
Regular cleaning is an important part of any property maintenance schedule to keep it in tip-top condition and prevent the headaches caused by failing to carry out regular maintenance.
Failure to carry out regular maintenance allows organic growth such as moss and algae to take residence on the surface, especially in shaded areas and the affected area will require greater attention to rectify, if regular maintenance is not carried out.
The good news is, there are a variety of methods to choose from and in the following, we will present 6 methods that can be used to clean block paving.
Method 1 - Pressure washing
This is the most common method used for cleaning block paving. Pressure washers use high-pressure water spray that can clean a wide variety of different surfaces!
Make sure to start with a low-pressure setting on the pressure washer if you’re using it yourself, as too much pressure can damage the blocks. It's important to choose the correct nozzle as well.
If you’re hiring a professional company, they will have the right equipment and knowledge to get the job done quickly and effectively.
A fast and effective method for removing, dirt, algae, moss, lichen.
A Pressure washer will clean almost any external surface.
Can be used to clean patio furniture, bikes, vehicles and much more.
Pressure washers are easy to use.
Can damage surfaces if done incorrectly.
Can be quite labour intensive.
Without the correct equipment, it can take a long time
To ensure best results are achieved, use a driveway or patio cleaner and re-sand the joints using jointing sand (Kiln dried sand) when finished as during the cleaning process jointing material will be removed from the paving joints.
Method 2 - Power washing
A power washer provides high-power jets of hot water to remove contaminants such as dirt, grime, moss, lichen, and algae from a block paved surface.
Power washing is generally more effective than pressure washing, but it’s also more likely to cause damage if not carried out by a professional.
Very effective (if done correctly)
Provides a hygienic clean and it is great for areas where animals frequent
Incorporating hot water provides similar benefits as to why we use hot water to clean our hands and cutlery.
Less pressure is required
Helps to remove tyre marks.
Can damage paving if not done by a professional.
Time-consuming and requires a lot of effort.
Requires specialist equipment
To ensure best results are achieved, use a driveway or patio cleaning detergent and re-sand the joints using jointing sand such as Kiln dried sand when finished.
Method 3 - Steam Cleaning
Steam cleaning is the best way to get rid of moss, lichen and algae from block paving.
A professional pressure cleaner will have a high-powered steam machine that can penetrate deep into the cracks in your block paving, killing off any harmful living organisms residing on the paving blocks.
Removes algae and moss efficiently and effectively
Penetrates deep into the joints of paving blocks, killing off any living organisms left behind
Great for cleaning roofs
Oil remover - Able to remove oil stains and tyre marks from a driveway
Great at removing chewing gum
Can be expensive if you hire a professional pressure cleaner
Equipment is more expensive than a pressure washer or power washer
As with the two previous methods consider using a cleaning detergent to ensure best results are achieved. Again, jointing material will be removed from the joints so re-sand the joints with jointing sand such as kiln-dried sand.
Method 4 - Soft washing
This is a less abrasive method that uses low-pressure water and chemicals to remove dirt, grime, and algae from the surface of the blocks. It’s also less effective than power washing in some cases e.g. heavily soiled areas.
A typical chemical used for soft washing is Sodium Hypochlorite aka Hypo. In the wrong hands it can cause significant damage. When using Hypo extra care must be taken when applying near grass, trees, plants, or shrubs.
Note: The application of chemicals must be done so in accordance with the manufacturers instructions and personal protective clothing must be worn. Also ensure there is sufficient ventilation within the operating area.
Less likely to cause damage than high-pressure cleaning techniques.
A relatively quick method.
Most soft washing chemicals act as a biocidal treatment.
Makes old paving look like new paving.
If the paving surface is heavily soiled it won't be the most effective method.
Requires in-depth knowledge.
Can damage blocks and surrounding areas if not used by a professional company with the right equipment and knowledge of how it works.
As this method relies on using chemicals it may or may not be to your liking.
Removing any weeds and/or moss prior to soft washing allows the soft wash solution to work more effectively and efficiently and saves you money.
Method 5 - Bucket of hot soapy water and a stiff broom
If the block paving isn't heavily soiled with dirt and grime, this is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to clean it.
Simply mix a bucket of soapy water (a couple of tablespoons of washing-up liquid will do) and use a stiff broom to scrub the blocks clean, until all the dirt is loose - avoid using wire brushes to prevent damage. Rinse the paving surface with a hose afterwards, and you're done.
Doesn't require specialist equipment.
Time-consuming - can take a long time to clean large areas.
May not be as effective on heavily soiled block paving.
May not remove stubborn stains.
Regular brushing of your pathway, patio or driveway will prevent the build-up of debris and make the cleaning process easier. Ensuring the paved surface is kept weed-free as well as conducting regular cleaning will also help. Neglected paving makes this method far more difficult if not impossible to utilise.
Method 6 - Block paving cleaner
If you do not have access to a pressure washer or power washer and require something more than soapy water, then you may wish to consider using a block paving cleaner.
A block paving cleaner is specifically designed for cleaning block pavers so you may find this suits your needs better. However, if the area hasn't been cleaned for an extended period, isn't weed-free and there is moss on the surface or in the paving joints, be prepared to put in a shift. Especially if you have a large driveway or patio.
Application of the block paving cleaner must be applied in accordance with the manufacturers instructions and wear protective clothing if necessary.
Some block paving cleaners are available as a ready-to-use cleaning solution that can be applied via a pump sprayer. This makes it quick and easy for the homeowner to clean their block paving with minimal effort required.
Some of these solutions can also be used on other surfaces such as concrete, stone, brick and tarmac so can be a versatile option.
Some cleaners provide a wet and forget approach. Meaning you can apply it and leave it to do its thing.
Some cleaners can be expensive and there may be a need to purchase specific cleaning products for different types of block paving, so it can be an added cost.
Some cleaners require specialist equipment such as pressure washers or scrubbing brushes which not everyone will have access to.
Wet and forget cleaners are only suitable for surfaces free from any debris.
Some cleaners are acid-based and can cause long term damage.
Give the area a good brush and remove any loose material before applying the cleaner.
Whichever method you choose, make sure to thoroughly rinse the area with clean water to remove all the muck or cleaning chemicals if used.
Tip Top Tip
PREVENT WEED GROWTH. Weeds left to grow, can affect the integrity and stability of the sub-base and cause significant problems none of the above methods will be able to solve, for example, if the paving becomes unlevel.
Even if you do not have the time to properly clean your driveway, patio, or pathway it's well worth taking a few minutes to apply a weed killer to the paving joints to ensure weeds are kept at bay when they rear their ugly head.
Whatever, method you choose to clean your block paving, make sure you are consistent with the cleaning regime. Block paving can last decades when properly maintained, but if neglected it will deteriorate quickly and become an eyesore. By using one of the above methods on a regular basis, you can ensure your block paving stays in great condition and prevent the headaches caused by failing to carry out regular maintenance.
What is the best thing to clean block paving?
The best method to clean block paving is undoubtedly steam cleaning. It's renowned for its capabilities to produce amazing results and is why it's the first choice for projects requiring an environmentally friendly, chemical-free clean with a delicate touch, such as when restoring old buildings.
Should you pressure wash block paving?
Pressure washing is a great way to keep your block paving in tip-top condition, but if done incorrectly or too frequently then the results can be damaging.
Is bleach good for cleaning block paving?
Cleaning your paving slabs with bleach and water is an effective way to remove algae, moss, or other unwanted substances from the surface.
However, it may not be right for everybody as there are some factors that need consideration before using this method, such as the type of stone/paving material.
Therefore, the following should be taken into consideration:
Bleach can fade your paving if constantly cleaned with it over a long period of time. If this concerns you, only use it on an occasional basis, as needed for best results!
Conduct a test on a small area first.
If there's a chance your bleach and water solution could runoff onto grass or planted flower beds, the first thing to do is wet any green areas so they don't get killed. Then rinse them off with plenty of clean water afterwards!
How do you clean block paving without a pressure washer?
Prepare the area for cleaning by ensuring any surface to be cleaned is free from any furniture, plant pots, bikes, ladders, bins, or anything else situated within the area to be cleaned.
Pull out any weeds by hand.
Sweep up any loose debris.
Using warm soapy water and a stiff broom scrub the area.
Rinse down the area using a hose.
Replace any missing jointing material with kiln-dried sand.
Apply a weed killer to keep weeds at bay.
Hopefully, you are now familiar with the different types of methods that can be used to clean block paving and the pro's and con's of each help you choose which path you wish to take. Good luck with whatever method you choose!
Block paving cleaning can be a very time consuming, laborious task, so, if you reside in Kent, and would rather get your paving cleaned professionally, get in touch for a free quote!