Once your driveway or patio is looking tip-top, there’s nothing worse than noticing the slow development of paving stains. Rust, mould, lichen, spills, calcium deposits and reflective staining are all blemishes that can affect the aesthetics and longevity of a patio or pavement. Read our review of the best stain removers for pavers, plus our essential tips on how to prevent efflorescence stains from developing in the first place.
A quick word of warning. When choosing a paving cleaner, always pick the one most suitable for your paving slabs. For example, paving cleaners are available that work specifically for natural stone, and porcelain or ceramic tiles.
We also recommend always doing a patch test before applying the stain removers to the rest of the patio.
What causes stains on paving?
There are many types of paving stains that can develop – and for a variety of reasons. They include:
- Efflorescence staining – also known as reflective stains or picture framing
- Calcium or lime deposits
- Lichen stains – also known as black spot or white spot
- Oil, grease or other contaminants
- Rust stains
- Leaf stains
- Mould and algae
- General dirt
We’ll take a look at some of these aesthetic annoyances in detail and suggest some handy products to have in your landscaping toolkit that may just save the day.
Efflorescence and reflective staining
Efflorescence is reflective staining that develops through water and minerals evaporating through the paving slabs. They sometimes develop around the edges of pavers creating white blotches, often referred to as a ‘picture-framing’ effect.
With efflorescence staining in particular, the stains may only develop as the weather starts to heat up. The extra heat during the spring or summer months causes water and minerals to evaporate. Then, hey presto, efflorescence can start to appear.
When efflorescence is a problem, there are remedies that can fix it. But remember, preventing reflective stains is always better than cure.
How to prevent efflorescence stains developing
Always use a quality bedding mortar (in full-contact with the pavers), paving primer and grouting compound to best avoid efflorescence stains from developing in the first place.
These three products are otherwise known as UltraScape’s BS 7533 Mortar Paving System. It is British Standard Approved and has the UKAS seal of approval.
While a full-contact mortar bed and priming the underside of paving slabs with a quality primer will help to prevent efflorescence staining (see our article on steps to prevent efflorescence for more advice), there are products on the market that can help to remove these common eyesores once they’ve developed.
Best stain removers for pavers
There are lots of positive murmurings amongst landscapers and paving contractors about Lithofin’s range of paving slab and tile cleaners.
Lithofin can be used to remove most types of staining including efflorescence, rust, limescale deposits and even residues of cement and mortar. Available in handy sized 1-litre bottles, the solution can be diluted up to a ratio of 1:10 water – depending on the scale of dirt – and used to clean across the paving surface with a scrubbing brush or wire brush.
A bottle of Lithofin can be used to cover an area of 15–30 metre squared, based on the extent of the dirt. On polished pavers, it can be used to remove stains from an area of up to 50 metre squared.
Range of Lithofin paving cleaners
There are a variety of Lithofin formulas available through stockists. You must choose the right formula for your paving materials.
Here is a breakdown of the different Lithofin products and the types of pavers they should be used for:
Types of pavers
Porcelain, ceramic, terracotta and quarry tiles
Porcelain and ceramic tiles (polished and unglazed)
Granite, quartzite and other acid-resistant stones
Natural and artificial stone including marble, limestone and sandstone
Each of these products clean all types of common stains such as rust, efflorescence, mould, algae and the rest of common stains.
Both Lithofin MN Builders Clean and MN Power Clean products are also ideal for removing paving grout stains. The difference is that Builders Clean should be used on acid-resistant stones like granite and quartzite, and Power Clean is the choice when cleaning other natural and artificial pavers.
Just as the name suggests, Lithofin KF Cement Residue Remover takes away (you guessed it) cement residue. It is also handy at removing other paving grout and the rest of the common stains on tiles made of porcelain, terracotta or ceramics, or standard quarry tiles.
Another solid tile cleaner is Lithofin KF Intensive Cleaner, a go-to product for both polished and unglazed porcelain and ceramic tiles. As an intensive cleaner, it can also remove residual white polymers that have not been properly cleaned off, efflorescence, rust, algae and general dirt.
As when applying any new chemicals to pavers, always do a patch test first.
While popular flowable slurry grouts like Flowpoint and Larsen FJM do not create efflorescence when they’re applied correctly (see our blog post on preventing paving stains during application for more info), if you are left with the tell-tale reflective stains then you will need to apply a solid stain remover to get rid of them.
Remove black spots or lichen from pavers
Lichen are the black spots (sometimes showing as white spots) that can develop on patios and are very difficult to remove by scrubbing and power washing alone. Caused by algae and bacteria, they create blemishes on pavers that, if left to their own devices, can easily spread and get out of hand.
We’re pleased to now be stocking EASY Black Spot Remover, a high-performance treatment that has been proven to kill lichen spores and algae, helping to remove them altogether with the aid of a pressure washer. This lichen cleaner contains no acids or solvents, is safe to use on sensitive stones and is licensed by the Health and Safety Executive.
All-purpose driveway and paving cleaner
For those general types of stubborn stains such as dirt, oil, grease, fat, mouild, mildew and algae, Nexus has formulated PaveCare Paving & Driveway Cleaner, which is suitable for use with pressure washers.
As a concentrated, high-strength formula, PaveCare is used by many professionals to clean driveways, patios, stonework, steps and brickwork and can even be used for professionally cleaning masonry, gravestones and garden ornaments.
Preventing stains is always the best option
When it comes to pesky paving stains, prevention is always better than cure. By using a quality sealant you can seal and protect block paving – whether it be made from natural or manmade stone – for years to come. High-quality paving sealants, such as EASYSeal BCS for block paving and Nexus PaveCare Pro-810 for concrete and natural stone will also enhance the colour of the pavers and protect against weed growth.
Before applying a sealant, it is crucial that you clean the whole area and wait at least two weeks, just in case efflorescence develops. Reflective stains are common after cleaning, and applying a sealant straight away may mean that you ‘seal in’ those stains forever.
Efflorescence is the same reason why sealants should not be applied immediately after laying pavers. Allow at least three months (some landscapers say much longer) to see whether these stains appear before starting the deep clean followed by sealing process.
Ask a professional for more advice
As always, if you’re unsure about the best stain remover to use on pavers, just get in touch with our team of experts for a chat and some tailored advice for your project.
The same goes for paving sealants too. There are many types of sealants available on the market so a little expert advice can go a long way.
Call us on 0845 862 1099 if you need a hand. We’re available weekdays from 8.30am to 5.30pm.