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Fed-up of stains developing on your paving slabs? Then maybe it’s time to invest in some extra equipment to ensure your pavers look pristine. Explore the five best gadgets to help avoid efflorescence, staining and low spots.
Before we get to the good stuff, a quick note on efflorescence.
Although not every problem can be solved with a gadget, when it comes to efflorescence and stains, there are certainly some gadgets that can help you avoid the tell-tale signs from developing.
Efflorescence generally develops on porous sandstones or granite flags in springtime when the weather starts to warm up. If you’re laying pavers over the coming colder months, it may take until next year for the signs of efflorescence to appear.
Essentially the stains are caused by minerals and salts migrating up through porous paving slabs, and is called secondary efflorescence.
This secondary efflorescence occurs as moisture, together with the lime and salts, migrate to the surface of the slab from the bed below. (Note: primary efflorescence usually develops in a factory – generally on block paving – and tends to disappear within a few weeks or months. But secondary efflorescence is much harder to eradicate, if not impossible).
Professional landscaper, lecturer and expert witness, Gareth Wilson, explains that the major cause of secondary efflorescence in the paving industry is down to voids in the bedding mortar.
“You must create a full contact bed for your paving to avoid efflorescence,” he advises.
“Any voids below the slabs will collect moisture. When the weather heats up, the moisture along with the lime and salts are drawn up through the slabs.”
Gareth adds that contained within the moisture and salts can also be iron deposits (rust). These are the elements that cause the different types of stains on patios, driveways and pavements.
Before we get onto some of the handy bits of kit that will make your paving job that much easier and help in the fight against efflorescent stains, there are two things that Gareth strongly advises to avoid efflorescence in your paving.
“Number one, fully prime the slabs. Number two, create a full-contact bed.”
He adds that once you have created a bed that is in full contact with the paving slabs then there are no voids within which moisture can collect – so the pavers are less likely to develop efflorescence.
Now we’ve got those essentials covered, let’s explore the five best gadgets available including the number one piece of equipment that will not only help keep paving stains at bay but also massively save your landscaping business time and money on each and every job.
Wondering how a Grabo can help avoid efflorescence?
Gareth shares how stains referred to as picture framing can be resolved by using a Grabo.
“Nine times out of 10, picture framing occurs when you haven’t fully primed the entire back of a slab.”
Simply put, a Grabo vacuum lifter allows you to fully prime the entire paving slab all the way to the edges so you can pick it up without getting your fingers covered in primer.
The Grabo also makes lifting and laying slabs practically effortless, allowing you to place them with precision on a full-contact bed.
As a renowned paving expert, trainer and mentor, Gareth regularly hears excuses for not applying primer right to the edges.
“People say, ‘Oh, we get our fingers covered with primer!’,” he shares. “Don’t give me that nonsense… It’s easily remedied by buying a Grabo!”
The new and upgraded 2021 Grabo Pro comes complete with a built-in digital vacuum pressure gauge and digital display.
This small and very handy vacuum lifter automatically monitors the suction and if any vacuum pressure is lost, the pump powers itself up until pressure is restored.
The clever device can be used on smooth, rough and even damp paving slabs, lifting up to 170kg and with a charge time of two hours.
Grabo Plus is an earlier model without the digital display.
Yes, you read that right. The fourth best gadget for avoiding efflorescence while completing a paving job is a leaf blower.
The reason being that you can use this gadget to easily remove standing water from the paving joints.
Gareth shares, “My lads will use a leaf blower to blow all of the moisture and debris out of the joints.”
He explains that using it before applying a slurry grout such as Flowpoint helps to get the joints free of dust, dirt, debris and any water so they are ‘nice and clean’ before applying the grout.
Any standing water in the joints will add extra water to the grout formula. It’s this excess water that can be a cause of paving stains and low spots.
Gareth explains that if your slurry grout contains too much water, the excess can even cause the grout to crumble once fully dried.
You may find that using a rubber squeegee for clean-up doesn’t quite hit the mark.
If that’s the case, it’s time to throw that rubber squeegee away and replace it with a Neoprene Squeegee.
Neoprene is a special type of rubber that is commonly used in commercial-grade floor squeegees.
Thanks to its natural resistance to oil, grease, water, and the common chemicals and polymers found in grouts, the Neoprene squeegee literally glides across paving surfaces without any bounce.
By using a Neoprene squeegee instead of a bog-standard rubber grout cleaner, you’ll get the majority of the slurry grout off the slabs, making clean-up that much faster and easier.
What’s more, by using this superior industry-standard squeegee you’ll use less water to clean your slabs, eliminating the risk of overwatering – a common cause of efflorescence.
Adam Gould from Terrafirma shares his experience of switching to a Neoprene squeegee:
“We’ve used hard rubber squeegees for years and they bounce off your slabs!
“These Neoprene squeegees are great,” he explains. “They allow you to remove most of the grout from your paving and make wash off and clean-up easy.
“The aluminium handles are strong too when compared to old wooden broom stales.
“Overall, a mint product!”
The Neoprene squeegee is available to buy complete with a three-section aluminium pole. Three sizes of squeegee heads are available.
Replacement poles and squeegee heads can also be bought separately.
When it comes to cleaning off cement-based slurry grouts, such as Flowpoint, Fuga-Pave and Larsen FJM, you want a piece of kit that does the job quickly, efficiently and limits the amount of extra water added to the area.
The best non-mechanical gadget for avoiding efflorescence is by far the Large Pedalo Washboy by Raimondi.
Consisting of a huge 40-litre tank and a long pole designed with ergonomics and pain-free backs in mind, the pedalo washboy allows you to clean-off grout in just two passes.
The first wash is a rough one where you get rid of the bulk of the slurry excess.
Let the sponge glide and do the work for you on the second wash. Zero pressure on the pole is recommended.
Choose a replacement sponge with intricate cuts to more easily remove grout from all the nooks and crannies. A replacement pole is also available.
Read on to discover the best overall gadget for helping to avoid efflorescence…
The number one gadget for avoiding efflorescence?
“Beyond a doubt, it’s the Raimondi Berta Machine”, shares Gareth.
After applying slurry grout to the paved area, this compact and lightweight 110v grout removal machine will have pavers and slabs clean in no time.
In fact, the Berta cleans off grout at an estimated rate of 100m2 of paving per hour!
“The amount of time the Berta will save you is unbelievable,” says Gareth.
“When it comes to exterior grouting, it’s the one tool that cleans off the grout that I feel everybody should have.”
So how does the Berta help in the fight against efflorescence?
Along with the speed of clean-up, the Berta ADV Sponge Machine removes any risk of overwatering the area, which is one of the common reasons for efflorescence and stains developing.
By adjusting a pressure lever you can control the moisture level in the Berta sponge to ensure no more water than necessary is added during the clean-up operation.
Also, by using a Berta you don’t need to keep the paving surfaces damp by using a spray hose. The highly effective sponge machine provides the right amount water for the job.
“Although it might feel like a big initial outlay, the Berta is more than worth it. It will pay for itself within a few months due to the time you save.”
Another major benefit of the Berta is that it’s super-easy to transport. The machine folds down for easy storage and transportation and can easily fit into the boot of a car.
For a limited time only, make use of our special bundle deal on a Berta which includes an additional sponge, anti-foam liquid and free delivery.
* For the Berta Bundle Deal, delivery is free in England and Wales. There may be a small charge for delivery to some parts of Scotland.
If you’d like to see for yourself what the electrosponge machine can do before committing, you can hire a Berta for a week through The Paving Experts.
Drop us a line if you’d like to find out more about any of these great gadgets for avoiding efflorescence and making your paving operations more efficient.
These gadgets are a fantastic addition to helping you and your crew to work more efficiently and effectively.
But remember, as Gareth advises, to avoid efflorescence or stains you need to always ensure you’ve laid the groundwork correctly by fully priming your pavers and laying them on a full-contact bed.
Whatever mortars, primers and grouts you choose, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. We’re here to help if you have any queries.
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