With the warmer weather drawing us Aussies out of our homes and into the outdoors, now is the time to make sure your patio is in tip top shape. No matter how old your outdoor patio may be, maintaining it every year is the only way to make it last — so you can keep using it summer after summer. It’s always a good idea to sweep daily, wash yearly, and seal or polish every two to three years. Depending on whether you patio is made of stone pavers, concrete, or timber, and whether it is covered or uncovered, you will have different concerns, but whatever the case, it’s not hard to maintain your outdoor patio yourself.
Maintaining a stone paver patio
Weed Growth – If your outdoor patio is made of separate stone pavers placed on the ground and levelled, there will be small gaps between each paver. When it comes to grass and small plants growing up between the stones, maintaining your patio is much less of a hassle than replacing it.
If you are just installing a new stone paver patio, you can make it more difficult for plants to grow underneath it by laying a mesh weed screen before laying the pavers. If you do notice weeds growing between pavers in your outdoor patio, pull them out immediately, or use a weed killer spray to prevent regrowth. A natural, green alternative to store-bought weed killer is vinegar. Make sure that the space between the pavers is filled in with sand.
Cleaning & Stain Removal – Cleaning and sealing your patio regularly can also prevent dirt and stains from getting into the pavers, helping it to last and look fresh and new for longer. Make sure that you clean your patio prior to sealing or polishing it, or you will seal the dirt in.
To clean and remove dirt or stains, first try pressure washing or water from a hose and a scrub brush on a handle. If you have tough stains, you may need to use chemicals to remove them. Make sure to use protective gear, and try to use natural materials or diluted chemicals when possible to avoid killing any plants around your patio, or contaminating the ground.
Maintaining a concrete outdoor patio
If you are sweeping your concrete patio daily, it should not require much maintenance except for a twice-yearly cleaning to get rid of the dirt build-up, similar to a stone paver patio. Try pressure washing, or using a pressure nozzle on your hose and a broom or scrub brush. If you need to remove stains, use eco-friendly chemicals to avoid damaging your backyard. After washing and removing stains, apply an annual layer of paint or a sealant to protect your patio from the elements.
Concrete can be easier to maintain than pavers because it is one large piece, but if you do have cracks, make sure to repair them as soon as possible to prevent plant growth and further decay of your patio.
Maintaining a timber deck
If you have a wooden deck instead of a patio, it still needs to be well maintained in order to look its best and last as long as possible.
- Keep your deck clean and dry. Sweep it regularly, and pressure wash all vertical and horizontal surfaces yearly. You can use diluted laundry detergent or diluted, eco-friendly bleach to wash your timber deck if you have stains. Be careful not to leave cleaner on the timber for too long, or to pressure wash one spot too long as you could damage the wood.
- When it comes to timber patios, you will need to inspect the wood for signs of rot, loose or protruding nails and splinters. Replace those pieces that could be a danger to you and your family and sand away areas that may have splinters – which typically means the railings.
- Protect your deck with a deck stain or sealant designed for timber outdoor patios. Paints, stains and sealants can help protect your patio from damage caused by use, water, temperature fluctuations and more.
— Marcus Fulker is the managing director of Great Aussie Patios, Perth’s leading patio builder and patio design company since 2000.