Cleaning a brick patio doesn't have to be hard or time consuming, provided you have the right materials.
The Appeal of Brick Patios
Brick patios are popular with homeowners who want to create an outdoor living space with old world charm. Brick is durable, decorative, and functional. What's more, it can add value to your home's patio. It also retains its natural beauty longer than most other building materials. However, brick needs to be maintained on a regular basis if you want to preserve its attractiveness. If you don't clean your brick patio regularly it will attract dirt and grime. In addition, if you live in an area that sees a lot of precipitation, you run the risk of battling mold, moss and slime build-up on your brick patio. The only way to retain the appeal and integrity of your patio made from bricks is to set-up a schedule to have it cleaned properly.
Tips for Cleaning a Brick Patio
Fortunately, cleaning brick is no more difficult than cleaning most other materials. If you have a brick patio it's a good idea to have it coated with masonry sealer to make cleaning easier. Brick patios that have not been sealed will require more time and effort to clean.
Once you commit to making cleaning a brick patio a part of your regular household chores it's time to choose a cleaning method. Options include:
Power washing is the preferred method to clean a brick patio. However, it requires special equipment that most homeowners don't have lying around the house. If you can get your hands on a pressure washer either by renting, borrowing or purchasing, then moss and mildew stains will be a breeze to remove. Simply apply the water from the power washer evenly over your brick patio. Just be careful not to use maximum strength pressure. Experts warn that anything above 3,000 psi may damage the brick.
If you have stubborn stains on your brick, but don't have a power washer, you can try scrubbing. Simply mix a 10-percent solution of chlorine bleach to water, and scrub the area with a stiff-bristle brush. Once you remove the stains, rinse the brick thoroughly with clean water. If you plan to use chlorine bleach, be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection, as scrubbing and spraying can force some of the bleach mixture toward your face.
For regular cleaning of brick patios, opt for a milder cleaning solution. Mix one tablespoon of borax with a gallon of warm water. You can also create a mild solution that contains one part vinegar to 15 parts water. Pour the solution on the brick and scrub with a stiff brush. Move the brush back and forth paying close attention to the crevices and nooks on the bricks. Rinse with clean water and repeat if necessary. Be sure to replace the water in the bucket frequently to avoid streaks on the brickwork.
Make sweeping your brick patio a regular part of your outdoor chores. Sweeping is good preparation for a thorough patio cleaning, but it is also beneficial in keeping your brick in pristine condition. Use a broom with stiff bristles to brush the crevices and corners of your patio. Also, look for and remove any small brick pieces that may come loose when you are sweeping.
Homeowners with sealed brick patios may find gray or white dust build-up from time to time. This dust is a combination of grout and the muriatic acid used in cleaning up after the grouting job. You can remove this dust by flushing your brick patio with water. Depending on the size of your deck, this method could take a while, as you need to keep flushing the brick flooring with water until the remaining muriatic acid stops leaking lime from the grout. Once the flush is complete, you need to dry the brick to see whether you have completely removed all of the muriatic acid.
Weeding should be a regular part of your patio-cleaning regimen. Pull all weeds that grow along the ridges and canals between the bricks on your patio. If you don't do this chore regularly, stubborn weeds can eventually cover the bricks, and in some cases, cause them to break apart. Once the weeds are pulled from the roots be sure to remove any dirt, leaves, or branches that may have fallen on your brick patio.
Other Cleaning Tips
You can prolong the life of you brick patio by cleaning it on a regular basis. If you are unsure about the type of stains that are covering your patio, consider consulting look the Brick Institute of America's website. It features a comprehensive section on how to get rid of a variety of stains.