Sealants and power washing of a brick paver driveway, sidewalk, or patio are recommended. But those things are about beauty more than function.
Brick pavers have become the elegant substitute for concrete and asphalt in attractive hardscapes for homes in all climates. Besides adding color and character to a driveway, patio, or walkway, they can help reduce pooling of rainwater if they are set to be permeable (i.e., with sufficient space between each brick to allow water to naturally percolate into the soil instead of running off the ends of solid pavement). Each of these things adds curb appeal, if not absolute value, to a home at the time of sale. Just ask the local driveway contractor. He’s doing brisk business.
But as with all things, time and sunshine and dirt (including dripping motor oils) can sully the surface of brick pavers. So cleaning them once or twice a year is a way to maintain a fresh look. Some homeowners might also choose to apply a sealant to brick pavers as a way to ward off dirt, stains, and fading color.
How is this done properly? There are several pitfalls and tricks to effectively care for your brick paver driveway, patio, or walkway.
First, about sealants. Asphalt contractors advise – as do home maintenance gurus – against DIY sealants sold in hardware and paint stores. Made of acrylics, the lower-end products sold to consumers often break down quickly and discolor, sometimes even being subject to chipping or, if applied too thickly, creating a glossy coating that can create a slip-and-fall hazard.
Reputable professional contractors can provide a better type of sealant, albeit at a higher price than the DIY brands.
Where it comes to cleaning, a type of power washing is recommended. But be sure to use an appropriate surface cleaner to evenly distribute water pressure, which might otherwise erode the surface of the brick.
Washing out the sand in between the bricks can and will happen with power washing. Replacing the ordinary garden sand with polymeric sand might be a better choice when doing brick paver maintenance. This is a blend of fine graded sand with a polymer binder compound. This will be more durable against wind and rain, it prevents weed growth and ants, and it comes in different colors. It is less accepting of rainwater, however, leading to more run off and potential puddling on the property.
If the bricks are shifting and separating, however, more than just a cleaning is required. It speaks to either seismic events or poor installation or both. The proper sub-pavement of gravel, plus a stable base below that, is necessary, as is a locked type of edging. All of these things are standard practice by professional installers.
Brick pavers do require attention, just as concrete and asphalt would, however it’s largely about what the pavers look like than how they function. For the most part, the design of interlocking brick pavers, coupled with proper installation, enables a hardscape that lasts up to 30 years without replacement.