Hints Tips & Advice from GCL including Block Paving Maintenance and Deck Maintenance
Block Paving Maintenance
Whether your block paving is brand new and freshly installed or old and looking a little tired, block paving will always need general maintenance. To preserve the appearance and longevity of your paving you must regularly sweep with a stiff brush to prevent dirt and foliage getting a chance to settle and take root between the blocks, especially in damp corners and in areas close to grass, trees and plants etc.
In order to control moss and weeds, we recommend you should treat the area about 3 times a year (depending on the severity of the problem) with a general all-purpose weed/moss killer. There are a range of products available in all DIY stores and they are quick and easy to use (please read the label for product guidance). These basic steps should help keep your area looking clean and respectable.
Block Paving Sealants
Block paving sealants are becoming more and more popular. Their main benefits are to enhance the natural colour of the blocks, stabilise the joint sand, protect the paving from stains and help prevent weed and moss growth. Sealants can be applied by either a pressure sprayer or roller. Manufactures instructions will recommend the best way for their particular products (please read the label for product guidance).
Typically, sealants come in 3 different types of finish: Matt, Wet-Look and Gloss. They are available in large DIY stores; the choice of these is simply down to your preference.
We will nearly always recommend applying a sealer to freshly cleaned and re-sanded block paving simply due to the reasons mentioned above.
Unfortunately, wood decking is not ideally suited for our good old British weather and therefore requires frequent attention. Regular maintenance is essential to preserve the wood's appearance and longevity.
Firstly, it is important to know whether the decking has been protected in the recent past. If it has, then (assuming it was done properly) it should last 2 – 3 years before it needs doing again. During this time a quick brush with Sugar Soap (please read the label for product guidance) 2 – 3 times a year followed by a cold water rinse should be sufficient.
If you are unsure and want to play it safe then it would not hurt to give the decking a more forceful clean using a pressure washer and rotary surface cleaner. Once you are happy that the decking is as clean as it’s going to get, give the area time to dry out completely before brushing in 2 coats of a good quality Decking Oil/Protector, available in DIY stores (please read the label for product guidance). This process helps to safeguard the area from rot and decay whilst nourishing the wood and giving a quality finish.
We would always recommend a decking oil over a decking stain as we are yet to come across a stain that lasts as long as it says it will on the tin. They often become patchy and flaky within 18 months leaving the customer to call us for a costly and time-consuming restoration.
Tarmac is very susceptible to a number of weaknesses: moss growth, colour loss and cracks being just a few. The best way to treat moss is with a fungicidal wash/moss killer (please read the label for product guidance). This will loosen the moss's grip on the tarmac making it easier to sweep up along with any dirt and debris. Once the area is clear, it's time to do a pressure wash. Make sure you clean the whole area thoroughly as this will help with the next phase. If your tarmac has holes or cracks then you can buy pre-prepared tarmac repair materials or crack repair compounds that are available in large DIY stores and are relatively easy to apply (please read the label for product guidance). Ensure the area has had time to completely dry out before applying such products.
To finish off, use a long handled roller to apply a good quality tarmac paint/seal (please read the label for product guidance) which will help revitalise the tarmac and replace the resins that the elements dry out, giving a quality, new look finish.
We recommend doing this every 3 years in order to keep the area looking new.
Imprinted Concrete Maintenance
Pattern Imprinted Concrete (PIC) can look very attractive when well maintained and as this surface is relatively low maintenance, it is widely becoming more and more popular for domestic customers all over Britain.
Once installed it is general practice to have a PIC Sealer/protector applied to help protect the surface from bad weather, stains and cracks. Assuming this has been done then you should get 3 years out of it before it needs sealing/protecting again. During this time all that is needed to maintain PIC is a general rinse with soapy water and a quick brush to stop any moss or dirt getting a chance to settle. We recommend you do this about 2 – 3 times a year.
The PIC sealer/protector is generally applied using a long handled roller or pressure sprayer and is available in large DIY stores (please read the label for product guidance).
UPVC and Conservatory Cleaning
Firstly, it is advisable to remove any foliage and debris from drain pipes and gutters. Once cleared you can then begin to clean the moss, mould and mildew with either a water fed extension pole or a pressure washer. Make sure you start from the top and work downwards. A good sturdy specialist conservatory ladder will make the job a lot easier, allowing you to get closer to the worst affected areas. Once the area is completely clean you may find that the UPVC still has dark greasy markings on it. The best way to get rid of this is with a specialist UPVC cleaner (please read the label for product guidance), a clean cloth and a bit of good old fashioned elbow grease. The glass can be polished using a micro fibre pad attached to an extension pole
Building and Roof Cleaning
Moss build up on roofs is a common problem for many homes and can be unsightly at best and damaging to your roof at worst. The main issue when cleaning at high level is how to access the area. The safest method is to try clean the area with an extendable lance with jet nozzle attachments (wall or roof crawler) from down at ground level or a flat mid-level surface like an extension or garage roof. However, this is often not possible so more extreme and costly measures need to be used like scaffold/scaffold tower or MEWP (cherry picker/man lift).
When cleaning any tile/slate roof it is always important to work from the top down to avoid high pressure water lifting and damaging the tiles, but also to prevent water getting underneath causing leaks inside. If you overcome these access issues then it is always good to treat the moss first with a fungicidal wash/moss killer (please read the label for product guidance). This will loosen the moss's grip on the roof making the cleaning process much easier.
Gutter, Drain, Facia and Soffit Cleaning
It is highly important that gutters are regularly maintained in order to prevent blockages that can lead to foul smells, leakages and collapse. There are a number of ways to do this and the main problem usually arises in accessing the area. The safest method is to use a specialised gutter vacuum that can be operated from ground level by raising the extendable vacuum pipe/pole and gently placing the curved, hook-like, end into the gutter. The vacuum can then be turned on subsequently sucking any dirt, moss and debris down the pipe and into the machine. If the area in question is difficult to access then you will need to consider which option is the safest to complete the task. Options we recommend are ladder, scaffold/scaffold tower or a MEWP (cherry picker/man lift).
In terms of restoring Facias and/or Soffits it is important to correctly prepare the area first. If the surface is UPVC then all you will need to do is wipe down and clean the area with a specialist UPVC cleaner, available in most DIY stores (please read the label for product guidance). But, if the area is wooden then it is important to sand down the area to create a completely smooth and flake free surface. Once this is done the area can be painted with a specialised exterior paint, available in most DIY stores (please read the label for product guidance), which are generally very good nowadays, containing primer and rust protection properties within. The same procedure and paints can be used for cast iron gutters and downpipes making the work much quicker than traditionally.
Oil Spills and Treatments
Oil spills on your driveway or anywhere else for that matter can be an eyesore, especially when you have to see them outside your home or business every day. Unfortunately there is no guaranteed remedy to completely eradicate an oil stain. Whether the stain can be removed or not depends on the surface on which it was spilled, how long it’s been soaking into the surface and whether the surface was previously sealed. However, in almost all cases, it is possible to significantly fade the oil patch using a range of methods.
White Spirit or Turps – Paste generously over the stain, leave for 1 hour (approx) then rinse with hot soapy water and a scrubbing brush (this process may take 3-4 attempts).
Caustic Soda – Coat the stain generously, leave for 24 hours (approx) then rinse off using a pressure washer (this process may also take a few attempts).
Oil Stain Remover – There are a wide variety of Oil Remover products to choose from. Product instructions may vary slightly so it is important to read the manufacturer instructions. However, they generally involve applying the substance to the affected area, leaving for a period of time then rinsing off (again this process may take a number of attempts).
A good quality sealer will help prevent the severity of an oil stain but only if the sealer was applied properly within the last couple of years and had the recommended two coats applied.
GLC offers this advice based on our own experience of working in the sector. We assume that anyone who carries out similar work themselves will do so in a responsible manner in accordance with basic health and safety guidelines.
At the very least we propose you should have a basic understanding of High Pressure Water Jetting Codes of Practice, COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in order to limit the chances of harm or injury to yourself and others.