As winter sets in, homeowners across the country will be preparing their homes and gardens for winter. Clearing gutters, tidying away garden furniture and clearing the garden.
Many will have spent the summer getting the garden refurbished and transformed, investing in quality materials like paving stones for a new patio or even driveway.
The winter months can undo all of that hard work if the right steps aren’t taken to look after your paving. Here, Cass Heaphy from Paving Direct gives some top tips on how to care for your paving this winter:
The biggest threats to paving during the winter months
Stone and concrete have microscopic fissures and capillaries in their structure. Those capillaries will fill with water when it rains, so any dirt or particles that are soluble in the water can be deposited in the stone or concrete as water evaporates.
Moisture is one of the biggest issues for natural stone and concrete paving. The inherent porosity of stone paving and concrete means that in the high humidity of a British winter – generally more than 85% humidity – paving will be susceptible to both chemical erosion due to the slightly acidic rain in the UK and physical erosion from freeze-thaw action.
As well as waterborne deposits of fine particles which can leave staining and blemishes, so can windblown organic debris, e.g. leaves, twigs, berries, bark etc. All of these can stain paving with their natural tannins – a soluble dye found in most vegetation – being transferred into the capillaries when conditions are wet.
Four key steps to protect your paving this winter:
Sweep off windfall detritus
Leaves, twigs, bark, fruit & berries, conkers, acorns, beechnuts etc will all leave tannin staining if left on your patio. So sweep or leaf blow the patio clear every week or so – like most things, prevention is easier than cure.
Clean & Seal your paving
The solution to most of these issues is to enhance the protection of your paving with a sealant that protects the capillaries, and stops water and other gunk getting into them.
You can use a natural finish sealer, which leaves the paving looking as it was prior to sealing, or a colour enhancing sealant. Before you seal paving, you must clean it properly with an appropriate patio cleaner that actually lifts the dirt and grime out of the capillaries. Leave the patio to full dry and then seal it.
The sealant will reduce the porosity of the stone or concrete whilst still allowing it to breathe. By sealing the capillaries, many of the inherent vulnerabilities of stone and concrete are significantly reduced. If you seal your pave every couple of years you will extend its lifetime and keep it looking in tip-top condition, saving you money in the long term.
Your patio should have a fall (1/60 – 1/80 gradient) which should ensure water drains into your soak-away area. However, if you do have standing water for some reason, use a yard broom to disburse it and sweep it into your soak-away area, i.e. lawn or drain.
If you have iron or steel garden furniture where coatings have abraded on the feet, be aware that contact rust can occur. The best solution is to re-coat the feet or winter store it in your shed or indoors if you can to prevent it staining your paving.