Let me share my personal experience with you today.

My spouse has a bit more ingenuity in keeping our outdoor oasis clean and the patio walkway is bound to catch her attention first. She has weekly, monthly and seasonal schedules to keep the patio walkway stones in excellent condition. So, she gathers the entire family in her cleaning drives and then rewards us with a barbeque only if we offer her our exclusive dedication. 

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Natural Stone Surfaces

Therefore, I’d like to share my practical experience for cleaning natural stone walkways in the exterior of your homes. Also, for more insights, you can read my previous blog, “10 best cleaning & maintenance tips for natural stones in 2019.

Nature of Dirt on Natural Stone Walkway 

Before jumping on the bandwagon, I would like to share some valuable details about the nature of dirt that can occur on natural stone walkways.

Debris:  

  • Trees, shrubs, plants, and grasses are a natural occurrence in any natural outdoor landscape. It means you will have fallen leaves, twigs debris on your walkway. 
  • The next is sand and tiny grits in any open spaces, and your shoes or legs can carry some besides strong winds.
  • Sometimes children and even adults leave paper and plastic pieces in the living room which can settle down anywhere around the house, including your walkways.
  • Birds and animals in exterior areas are uninvited guests. The walkway could be a place for excreta, bird droppings & urine. 

Spills:

Parties are a frequent affair in gardens and backyard patios. To serve food and drinks to the attendees, we use walkways. Similarly, attendees also carry plates and bottles around with them while socializing with others. The walkways are frequently used in such scenarios.

The chances of solid and liquid food spill on your walkway increases. In addition to this, we often carry out various other activities in our outdoor arena and can accidentally leave spills of grease, oil, tar, painting solutions, and cosmetics on our walkways.

Rusts & Rots: 

Metallic objects like nails, nuts & bolts, cans, flower pots, and furniture items are usually made of steel/iron, copper, and bronze medals. As time goes by, oxidation of these metallic objects take place and leave stains of rust & rots on the stone surfaces of your walkways.

Mold, fungus, & Algae like Living Organisms:

Outdoor area means an open space where various biological flora & fauna can exist. Moisture fosters the growths of bacteria, fungus, lichen, mildew, moss, and algae depending upon the climatic conditions in that particular area.

Weeds: 

The seeds of various weeds can germinate & grow in your stone grouts, cracks, and seams between joints. It results in a weedy pasture on the surfaces of your walkway if not attended to at the right time.

Way No. 1 – Removing Debris

Cleaning of dry debris is easy with brush mopping. Regular sweeping or vacuum cleaning is mandatory for the health of your natural stones in walkways. So, it can prevent deposition and subsequent rots of debris on the surfaces of walkway stone pavers.

Way No. 2 – Cleaning Spills

If we know how staining materials act on the stone surfaces, we can take cleaning tasks accordingly. 

Spills mostly consist of water-born liquids, oils, and chemicals with acidic, basics, and neutral compounds with penetration capacities. Pores across the stone surfaces allow penetrations of staining materials. 

There are three types of dirt that cause staining:

  • Mild dirt
  • Stubborn dirt
  • Tough grime

Therefore, you have to treat natural stones according to the nature of stains and typical steps are:

  1. Plain water cleaning with wet mopping or washing water jets with force.
  2. Scrubbing with a nylon brush or hard scrubbers if stone type permits.
  3. Luke-warm or hot water washing. 
  4. Mild to strong washing detergents.
  5. Neutral to Mild and strongly acidic or base stone-specific washing solutions.
  6. Poultices.

Poultices are the best ways to remove any deep stain from the surface and within the mass of natural stones.

Way No. 3 – Mitigating Rusts & Rots

Inorganic metal stains are purely due to mild to strong chemical reactions on the surfaces and within the mass of stones. So, it demands water cleaning treatments like applications of cold and hot water. Afterward, you can go for applying poultices for deep routed and rusty stains under the supervision of experts & experienced professionals.

Apart from inorganic metals, water spots or rings occur due to salt deposition from water-soluble salts after the vaporization process of deposited water on the stone surfaces and within the stone mass itself. You can apply buff with dry wool or other washing techniques based on the intensity of staining.

Way No. 4 – Killing Algae & Fungus

Living organisms are hosting on and beneath the surfaces of natural stones by penetrating their roots. So, applications of diluted ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide can kill the organism and help in subsequent removal of their roots and damages with cold or hot water treatments. Scrubbing with a hard-bristled brush also assists in due course to clean strong stains from the stone surfaces.

Way No. 5 – Cleaning Weeds

Fortunately, I have described the subject of weeding from natural stone paving in length in my blogs before, “5 ways to prevent weed growth between paving stones. “5 Ways to Prevent Weed Growth Between Paving Stones

You can remove weeds manually or kill weeds using weedicides. The best way is to seal the gaps between stone pavers and fill up paving grouts with polymeric sands to prevent the depositing of seeds in advance. 

Way No. 6 – Cleaning Precautions

One thing you should keep in mind while using any cleaning tool or solution on the natural stone pavers for walkways is the stone type.

  • Siliceous stones are strong enough to react with acidic or basic pH conditions. They are almost impervious with low porosity and hence, low absorption rate.
  • Calcareous stones are comparatively softer than siliceous counterparts and prone to damage with acidic or basic pH conditions.

For solid & dry debris:

Soft bristles of the brush are preferable for high-quality and sealed natural stone surfaces of your walkway. You can use hard-bristled brush mopping seldom only to remove specks of dust and debris from stone grouts, cracks, and seems only. Such care may help you to keep surface coating/sealing intake for a long duration. 

For organic & inorganic spills to cause stains:

The right sealants and coating solutions/materials are handy and proven techniques to prevent staining on the natural stone pavers. However, sealing and coating are delicate and prone to wear & tear and weathering impacts in open spaces like walkways. So, be careful while applying acidic or highly reacting solutions to remove stubborn dirt or spill. 

The selection of low-porous stone types like siliceous stones can cut water or chemical penetration up front. 

For Biological Flora & Fauna:

Never try hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and chlorinated/bleaching solutions without prescriptions and guidance of experts or your stone suppliers. Therefore, World of Stones USA provides free of charge stone consulting services to guide you on what is applicable for a particular stone type.

Similarly, use herbicides or weedicides under the supervision of agriculture or botany expert services available in your neighborhood. 

Extra precautions:

Never try two or more solutions at a time or mix them before or on the surfaces of natural stones. You may not be aware of chemical reactions while integrating different cleaning solutions.

Worn out or faulty vacuum cleaners can damage stone pavers on your walkway, so check the status of the machine cleaner before applying them.

Way No. 7 – Cleaning Tools

If we are going to list all, it could be an exhaustive list. So, I’ll give you a summary of useful tools used in natural stone paving spaces like stone walkways.

  • Brushes with soft & stiff bristles.
  • Standard clothing mops.
  • Soft scrubbers made of nylon-like synthetic yarns.
  • Hard scrubbers made of metal wires.
  • Rubber mops or sweepers.
  • Cold & hot air blowers. 
  • Machine vacuums & sweepers for large-area applications. 

Way No. 8 – Cleaning Solutions

I have listed below some of the highly used cleaning solutions for different types of natural stones.

  1. Standard washing solutions.
  2. Common salts or sodium chloride.
  3. Lemon juice. 
  4. Baking soda.
  5. Vinegar/acetic acid.
  6. Hydrochloric or sulfuric acids.
  7. Fungicides.
  8. Weedicides. 
  9. Herbicides.
  10. Lacquer thinners.
  11. Commercial liquid paint strippers. 

Poultice material is made up of an accumulation of kaolin, fuller’s earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster, and talc.

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