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Review the three recommended pieces of kit for grouting newly laid pavers, as chosen by paving experts. Includes the best time-saving electric equipment for slurry grouting, the favourite washboy and the must-have tool for every pointing job.
If you’re looking to save time on each paving job and greatly improve the effectiveness of the clean-off process, then hands-down the Berta electric sponge machine is the best time-saving equipment to use.
Compact, lightweight and easily transportable (it fits in the boot of a car), the Berta ADV Sponge Machine cleans off cement-based and epoxy-based grouts from all types of tile and stone surfaces, with just one pass.
The 100V Berta is dual speed (21 & 25 RPM) and comes with a free sponge that’s perfect for cement-based grouts.
This electric sponge machine has been designed specially so it does not pull grout from the floor joints. Instead, the Berta leaves the joints full and even.
The sponge itself sits on a drum, which means there’s no pump to clog-up.
The Berta can be used on all types of paving, and even in the smallest of areas. It can be used to clean indoor tiles and outdoor pavers, including natural and manmade stone, such as:
Paving experts look at the main benefits of the Berta for cleaning off slurry grouts such as Flowpoint, Fuga Pave and Larsen FJM.
With the Berta Sponge Machine you can clean cementitious slurry and epoxy-based grouts off with pavers at a rate of 100m2 per hour.
In fact, landscapers find that by using a Berta they can lay, grout and finish large areas of paving in just one day.
“I recently did a job that was 130m2,” explains Jon Gerrish from Paved in Stone, an award-winning hard landscaping business serving Somerset and Wiltshire. “The Berta was ideal as we had all of the paving laid and cleaned in a day!”
The Berta ADV Spong Machine costs around £1,560. Although it may seem like a big investment at first, Jon says it’s not long before your business starts to see a return.
“I bought the Berta 14 months ago and it has definitely paid for itself.”
He offers some advice to other landscapers: “I guess after using it for paving around 300m2 it’s well worth the money and gives a return on investment.”
Another time-saver by using a Berta is to do with water usage.
With a Berta you’ll use one third less water onsite compared with other methods of slurry grouting. Less water use means fewer trips to fetch fresh, clean water, and more time for finishing the actual job.
Alongside the sheer speed of clean-up operations when you use a Berta, this highly effective sponge machine pretty much stops the development of efflorescence, low spots and other grout issues.
How so? The moisture level in the Berta sponge can be adjusted via a pressure lever, ensuring the right amount of water is added during operation.
And there’s no need to add more water using a spray hose – the Berta provides enough water for the job.
So the Berta virtually stops the risk of overwatering the area and compromising the grout formula. Overwatering is the most common reason for staining and efflorescence (read this article on the subject to find out more).
“The Berta pretty much stops issues with staining, efflorescence, low spots or other grout issues in their tracks,” explains Cleo Canning of The Paving Experts. “Of course, that’s as long as you’ve allowed adequate time for the bed to go off.”
Hire a Berta for a week if you’d like to sample it on your next project.
Made from die-cast aluminium, the Berta is lightweight (29kg), easy to handle but is still a strong and resilient machine for cleaning pavers.
The handle of the sponge machine folds down so it can be easily stored and transported. And you can simply adjust the handle to get the right height and angle for each user.
“Even if you’re without a van, the Berta is compact enough so it fits neatly in the boot of a car!” says Cleo.
The Berta dimensions are 660 x 550 x 500mm.
Each Berta comes with a free, reusable sponge. Jon says he manages to reuse the sponge on a few jobs, particularly when cleaning smoother paving materials.
“I find that the Berta sponges are great for porcelain and other smooth stone, and can be reused a few times.”
Replacement sponge rollers are available in three specs:
Each sponge can last from 150m2 to 2,000m2 depending on the tile grout and paving materials.
As Jon at Paved in Stone contests, Berta sponges can often be reused on other job, as long as they are cleaned.
We recommend following these steps to extend the life of a Berta Sponge:
As with most equipment, just a little care and maintenance will help prolong the life of your Berta Sponge Machine.
We recommend following this procedure after every job to keep your machine in excellent shape:
Grout often collects and hardens in the area where the sponge sits. It’s particularly important to clean this part of the machine when the sponge is removed. Any unremoved hardened grout will stop the sponge roller moving freely during use, and can potentially rip the sponge.
Rich Buchanan of The Paving Experts offers some extra advice for keeping the Berta in excellent shape and reducing the risk of the drive motor overheating.
“Grout can also build-up beneath the drive chain cover on the side of the machine.
“This can easily be cleaned by undoing the three screws, removing the cover and cleaning off any grout residue from around the drive chain and cogs.”
An impact-resistant water tank sits adjacent to the sponge. This can easily be removed and filled, as can the roller through a magnetic ‘quick clutch’ system.
Although the Berta is by far the easiest and most efficient way of cleaning off slurry grout, you may not be ready to invest in a mechanical piece of kit right now.
If that’s the case, and you’d prefer not to hire a Berta, the Pedalo Washboy is certainly your next best option.
Also from the team at Raimondi, the large Pedalo Washboy Kit consists of a huge 40-litre water tank and the long pole allows you to work in an upright position, avoiding painful knees and backs.
The high-quality plastic bucket features two adjacent rollers connected to a pedal. When pressure is applied to the pedal, the sponge is squeezed to remove excess grout and water. A grid separates the waste water.
One of the major benefits of using a pedalo washboy is the ergonomic design. The sponge float and long handle allow you to reach even the tightest of areas.
Traditional grout cleaning involved using a simple bucket and large sponge. Luckily for landscapers’ backs and knees, more ergonomic designs have been developed to shorten the time and effort spent during clean-off.
Using the Raimondi Pedalo Washboy, you can clean-off cement-based slurry grout, such as Flowpoint and Fuga Pave, in just two passes. You can buy one for around £215.
The first rough wash will emulsify the grout and get rid of the bulk of the excess slurry.
On the second wash you can let the sponge do the work (it contains intricate cuts to assist the removal of grout). Apply zero pressure to the handle to reveal clean paving flags.
We recommend changing the water in the Pedalo once every 20m2.
Washboys without the pedalo and long-handled pole offer a cheaper alternative. However they do come in smaller bucket sizes of 20 litres and you do need to use them on your hands and knees.
The Pulirpaid Washboy Bucket and Sponge Float is priced at £105 and comes with three durable rollers, a separation grid, steel handle and a highly absorbent Sweepex sponge.
A more budget washboy for around £60 is the Raimondi Smart Bucket Washboy and Sponge Float. The Smart Bucket features two adjacent rollers for squeezing out water, a separation grid, plastic float with a sponge, rubber trowel and plastic carry handle.
No paving toolkit would be complete without a heavy-duty squeegee for grouting.
The Neoprene Squeegee is certainly one of the best squeegees around and ideal for applying Flowpoint and other slurry grouts such as Fuga Pave and Larsen FJM.
Many paving contractors use a simple rubber squeegee for applying grout. However, these often hard rubber squeegees do not manage to distribute grout into all the required nooks and crannies and often leave excess grout on flag surfaces.
In a nutshell, you’ll find you waste more grout using a rubber squeegee and have more mess to clean-up afterwards.
The Neoprene Squeegee is made of a combination of polychloroprene, foam and rubber, allowing it to glide across paving surfaces and distribute the grout evenly and consistently.
You may have found that a rubber squeegee bounces off the flag surfaces during application, particularly on ribbon slabs.
With a Neoprene there is none of that bounce. Ergonomically designed, this quality squeegee priced from £24, fits into the smallest of spaces to remove more grout from slab faces. Overall, it is a much more efficient grout-application tool.
Adam Gould from Terrafirma calls the Neoprene squeegee a ‘mint product’, reporting that they “make wash off and clean-up easy” for him and his team.
Complete with a 1,400mm aluminium pole for upright application (25mm diameter), the handle itself separates into three sections for easy storage and transport.
Although a heavy-duty pole, this squeegee kit can be used with either light or heavy-duty squeegee heads.
Choose from three sizes: 450mm, 550mm and 750mm.
Replacement squeegee heads, poles and money-saving Neoprene bundle deals are available.
Watch the ease of applying Flowpoint Fine using the Neoprene in this quick video:
Our team of paving experts is here if you want to chat through which piece of equipment would be best for your paving jobs. Give us a call on 0330 122 1025 or drop us a message and we’ll get back to you.
The Paving Experts is a family-run business based in central England. Next day delivery options are available together with huge discounts on bulk deals.
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