Now that the sunnier months in the year have passed, the wind is beginning to get a little chillier, and the rainfall a little heavier and more frequent. It’s not everyone’s favourite kind of weather, and the same is certainly true of your Indian sandstone paving too. They’ll need some proper care if you want to ensure that they remain free of all the sorts of things that could damage them, and even more crucially cause them to pose a danger to you and your family.
Moss and algae, surface water, and ice are all amongst the factors that can make them dangerous to walk on, while water seeping through the gaps can freeze and expand, which can also cause lasting damage. So, here are our top tips to keep your Indian sandstone slabs safe and, most importantly, usable throughout winter.
1. Clear and clean your Indian paving slabs
One of the best ways to protect your paving slabs against the dangers that winter can pose is to start early and beat the chill. Start by checking your paving slabs for any weeds and other unwanted growth that could be trimmed. Then give you patio a quick sweep down with a stiff yard brush, which should get rid of any dirt and debris which could encourage the growth of mould or fungus over the winter months.
Once that’s done, if there are any stains that remain, a good way to clear them is simply by using soapy water. (Steer clear of any strong bleach or similar chemicals, as these can end up permanently damaging your Indian stone.) If necessary, some people recommend using a power washer, but personally here at Bridge Street Stone we’d always advise extreme caution if you make the same decision. The nozzle of your pressure washer needs to always be at least one foot away from the surface of your patio stones, or you risk damaging your Indian sandstone. What’s more, you might even end up accidentally loosening any sealers or jointing materials between the stone.
As you can tell, there’s a very delicate balance to be struck when it comes to the necessary force required to clean your paving stones!
2. Seal your patio to prevent frost damage
Once you’ve cleaned your patio, it’s also a good idea to cast your eye over it for any small cracks or emerging gaps. Winter has a nasty habit of making these worse, as water can seep between the cracks and freeze. When it does this, it’ll expand, forcing the cracks wider and damaging your paving stones in the process, so make sure that you point (fill in) these existing cracks before they cause further problems.
It’s normally best to wait at least a few days after pointing your paving stones, before you can then move onto sealing them. The standard advice is that patios generally need to be re-sealed at least once every three years, so if it’s been that long since you last did yours, this might be a good time to do it.
We should note: the frequency with which you need to re-seal your patio depends on a number of factors, including how much foot traffic it gets. Outdoor areas tend to get more foot traffic and intensive use than some internal areas, so these will need to re-sealing more frequently. Don’t be afraid to make a judgement call, but if you need any help on that, we’re always happy to lend a few words of advice here at Bridge Street Stone.
We have several sealants and cleaners for sale on our website here at Bridge Street Stone. Our Nexus Pro-410 Paving Sealer and HG Impregnating Protector are both strongly recommended options. They’re perfect choices for protecting your paving from staining against most liquids, including oil, petrol and water.
3. Be careful with shovelling snow
The chances of us getting an actual White Christmas are probably minimal this year - as with most years! However, it’s not impossible that you might have to deal with a bit of snowfall on your Indian sandstone, so when you go to clear that up, make sure you’re equipped with the right shovel to do it. We’d recommend a shovel with a plastic or rubber head rather than a metal one, as these are less likely to cause damage to your paving slabs if you accidentally scrape or knock the shovel against them. And on a similar note…
4. Be very selective with your de-icing method
Rock salt is obviously the go-to choice for most businesses and local authorities when it comes to increasing traction and safety on public highways, but be very wary of it when it comes to your own driveway or patio. Rock salt is corrosive by nature, which means it can easily end up permanently damaging your natural stone. What’s more, when it mixes with rainwater, it can seep into the cracks between your paving slabs, which can degrade the mortar.
If this rock salt rainwater gets as far as other areas in your outdoor space, it can also end up causing damage to your greenery. Specifically, if it seeps into the soil it can end up affecting the roots, browning shrubs and trees and potentially stunting their growth come the spring. In the meantime, it can make them far less resistant to cold in the winter, and make them more vulnerable to freezing and dying.
These are just a few of the reasons we generally wouldn’t recommend rock salt - instead, sand is often a much more viable alternative. It’s granular and equally effective in establishing grip on your patio stones in snowfall, but without the risk of damage that rock salt presents.
5. Consider investing in an all-weather patio
Another common recommendation is to invest in an all weather awning. It’s exactly what it sounds like - essentially a protective sheet of fabric that you can extent and retract to cover a large section of your patio (or even all of it), protecting it from the worst of the winter elements. They can vary widely in construction and sophistication, spanning from cost-effective manually-operated ones to variants that use electric motors, enabling them to be extended and retracted using a remote control. They’re rarely the be-all and end-all solution to protecting your patio in winter, but they can certainly help take a lot of the effort out of the rest of the maintenance.
These are just a few of our suggestions - if you’ve got any questions or you need any more in-depth advice about your own patio, don’t hesitate to ask! You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call on 01282 860 571, and one of our friendly members of staff will be only too happy to help. And if you need any replacement Indian sandstone slabs, we’ve got no shortage to choose from right here on our site, from our Kandla Grey to Golden Leaf.