How to: Clean stains from pavers, other hardscapes

Updated Sep 13, 2023
Leaves that are not swept up can result in unsightly stains that are hard to remove from hardscape surfaces. Photo: Tony Alter/FlickrLeaves that are not swept up can result in unsightly stains that are hard to remove from hardscape surfaces.
Photo: Tony Alter/Flickr

Nothing is worse than having a beautiful hardscape installed, only to see it stained brown with the outlines of fallen leaves.

With fall upon us, now is the time to let your clients know how to properly care for their pavers to prevent this from happening.

Photo: Greg Younger/FlickrPhoto: Greg Younger/Flickr

Clean up

Yes, it’s a chore to sweep, but letting leaves settle on patios, walkways, and driveways for any period of time increases the chances of them leaching pigments into the pores of the hardscape material.

Some trees, like maples, drop samaras – more commonly known as “helicopters” or “whirligigs” – that stain much easier because they require very little moisture to dissolve.

The reason why leaves stain substances such as concrete is because while they are decaying, they release a dye known as tannins, which reacts with the alkaline in concrete.

If your client is reluctant to blow or sweep the leaves off of these surfaces, you can always use this as an opportunity to sell that service, provided your crews aren’t too busy with more lucrative work.

Seal it up

Another preventive option is to seal the pavers with a siloxane/silane sealant. This type of sealer is able to penetrate into the capillaries of the pavers, and is also “breathable” so that water does not get trapped inside the brick or concrete.

Some sealants only create a film over the paver, but a water-based sealant with a siloxane/silane blend protects against freeze-thaw damage and can withstand high-traffic areas without being worn off.

Permeable pavers can also be sealed with a sealant as long as the sealant does not affect the joints where rainwater flows through.

Wash up

If, for whatever reason, your customer does end up with stained pavers, all hope is not lost. Advise them to pressure wash the surface to clear it of debris and then use a detergent designed to remove organic stains. Granular detergents are more effective with the added friction they provide.

Allow the detergent to soak in a few minutes and then scrub vigorously. Rinse off the surface and repeat until the stains are gone.

The amount of labor required to clean pavers should be enough incentive to encourage clients to be proactive about leaf stains this season.

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