Concrete is a sturdy, low-maintenance material, a go-to-solution for outdoor surfaces. But, it is also quite porous and tends to absorb stain-inducing liquids over time. To make it worse, its surface texture provides a lot of nooks and crannies for dirt, grime, and moss spores to take hold and create stains. Well, maintenance is the key to keeping your driveways, patio, and walkways looking fresh and new. Provided that you do it regularly, it will not consume much time, money, and energy. So, it is time to roll up the sleeves and perk up the look of your home.
Doing the spadework
To get the ball rolling, come up with a cleaning plan and schedule. In general, driveways require annual cleaning, while patio needs to be scrubbed twice as often. As for walkways that endure a lot of foot traffic, you can tend to them every three months. In all these cases, it is advisable to start cleaning early in the day because cleaning solutions evaporate a lot faster when sun rays are in full force.
The first actual task is prepping the surface. Remove anything that could get in the way— cars, grills, plants, decorations, furniture, etc. Cover any outlets and cords and protect delicate plants with tarps to prevent damage from spraying. Then, use a push broom to wipe the surface clean. This should do away with nails, glass, and other small objects.
If you want pro-like results, though, using a concrete grinder is the way to go. Depending on the head you choose, you can use it to remove dirt, paint or deposits from concrete surfaces, and prepare concrete pores for new paint application.
Next, make your own cleaner or opt for quality outdoor products that can make short work of moss, dirt, mildew, mould, and algae. Read the label to figure out the right mixing and applying techniques. Note that the appropriate dilution rate depends on the amount of staining and dirt on the surface.
Making a clean sweep
Go over each section and spray enough so that the cleaner does not dry right away. Once everything is coated, let it sit for up to 20 minutes on a wet concrete. Grab your natural bristle or plastic scrub brush. Metal brushes are to be avoided, as they release tiny fibres into porous surface and eventually create rust spots.
The scrubbing technique is relatively straightforward, so focus on putting in real effort. The more you scrub, the better your chances are of banishing dirt, debris, and grime. Pay special attention to corner areas in garages, where the build-up is the highest. You want to clean evenly and consistently to steer away from patchy results.
If you are dealing with a larger area, go for a power washer. Look for models capable of throwing four gallons of water per minute at 3,000 psi. Adjust the nozzle to a fan and keep the end of the nozzle one to two feet above the surface. Hot water is the only thing you need to put into the washer, although some can be used with outdoor cleaning products.
In some cases, complete cleaning is either unnecessary or it proves to be ineffective in dealing with all stains. That is when spot-cleaning comes into play. For instance, if you have a particularly persistent stain that has tainted your surface for a long time, fill a bucket with a water-bleach mixture. Scrub the spot multiple times and it should go away.
All that is left after scrubbing and spot-cleaning are rinsing the surface. Namely, spraying off should do away with dirt and foam that linger. When that is sorted out, you can sit back and relax. The concrete needs to dry and should you wish to speed up that process, make a good use of push squeegee. Finally, after a few days, see whether you want to apply a concrete sealant in order to ward off water erosion and freezing damage.
Start with a clean slate
Concrete we walk on is seldom given attention and care it deserves, until it shows clear signs of wear and tear, that is. If you want to make sure concrete surfaces look their best, do yourself a favour and take action before the build-up becomes a problem. Embrace a proactive approach and work out a solid schedule. Familiarize yourself with cleaning tools and techniques. Following the steps presented above, you should be able to complete your project without any unwanted damage being done to the concrete or surrounding objects.
Guest post by Lillian Connors
About the Author
Lillian Connors can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of green living/home improvement projects and spread the word about them. She cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. You can check her out on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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