Natural stone is beautiful and durable, which is why it’s a popular choice for walkways. But like any material, a little maintenance will go a long way in ensuring that it looks as good decades from now as on the day it is installed. Here are 10 tips from masonry contractors to maintain your natural stone walkways in Rochester Hills, MI.
1. As needed, use a broom to sweep away any debris. Leaves, fruit, and grass clippings can cause staining (even on sealed stone). Sand and dirt can act as sandpaper that will mar the finish. This is the most effective way to keep your natural stone walkway looking great for decades.
2. Clean stone surfaces with a mild detergent or specialty stone soap along with a relatively soft-bristled brush to remove any spills, deicer, household chemicals, or lawn fertilizer. Always follow the directions if using a commercial stone cleaner. Rinse thoroughly to prevent soap residue buildup.
3. Be sure to avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach, any cleaners that contain acids (like grout cleaners or tub/tile products) or abrasive cleaners (such as soft cleaners). These can not only damage the surface of the stone and leave unsightly stains, but they may also damage any adjacent landscaping.
4. Blot up spills immediately to prevent staining. If there is staining, first determine whether the stain is oil-based or acid-based. There are many commercial natural stone cleaners available to remove specific types of stains.
5. To remove mold and mildew, you could use pH-neutral stone cleaners. Again, avoid using bleach wherever possible. You can prevent mold and mildew buildup by thoroughly sweeping the walkway and keeping it dry.
6. You generally want to avoid using lemon juice or plain white vinegar to clean natural stone. While these natural cleaners are effective, they are acidic, and the acid can break down the sealant or in some cases even etch the stone. The only time you want to use lemon juice or white vinegar is on stones that have hard water stains; and then, the best remedy to prevent future hard water staining typically involves thoroughly cleaning, drying, and sealing the stones.
7. Power-wash your walkway periodically to remove any stubborn stains or debris. Be careful, though, not to get too aggressive with this approach since power-washing can wash away jointing compound.
8. Periodically inspect your natural stone walkway for cracks, crumbling, spalling, or any other structural defect. While natural stone is incredibly strong and durable, different types of stone have different water absorption and some, like flagstone, are more prone to water infiltration that can cause spalling (flaking), which can become a tripping hazard.
9. Periodically inspect the jointing compound between the stones. If jointing compound becomes too loose or sparse, it can offer a place for weeds to take hold. A spot treatment herbicide can be used for weeds, and jointing compound may need to be replenished as needed.
10. You could have a sealant applied once the walkway is thoroughly cleaned and dry. This will help weather-proof your walkway, make it easier to clean, and help prevent staining or abrasion from heavy use. Sealant can be surface sealant or penetrating sealant, and it can be solvent-based or water-based. It’s important to choose the right type. You have to know what type of stone you have, and whether you want to maintain its natural look or go for a richer, enhanced look (such as a glossy “wet look”). Because every situation is different, consult with your masonry contractor for the best solution for your natural stone walkway.
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