Cleaning and Sealing Hardscapes

July 26, 2023

In 2011 my company installed the Techo-Bloc Showcase project at my home. By the time we finished, we had 3,800 sq ft of pavers, 1200 sq ft of wall block, 415 LF of cap, 68 Rocka steps, 1 firepit, 6 pillars with Rocka cap, 60 LF of Tundra edging, one 7-ft 200-year-old granite bench, 48 night lighting fixtures, 2 Aquascape fountains, and heated areas under the driveway and front walk pavers (we are 100% solar powered).

We started the three-week project in early October. Paver Pete did his filming: yes, eighty 2-to-5-minute segments for the 2012 Showcases that were starting in December. We would have to stop all work on the site so the film crew could set up and catch all that was needed. They were very professional (they filmed the NFL games in NJ at MetLife Stadium every weekend for the Jets and Giants games). Then they were back to our home for Monday mornings. It was stressful for me, but as I look back, it was well worth it and a lot of fun.

Granite bench

Granite bench left side not hot water pressure washed. Right side hot water pressure washed

We were about 90% done by mid-October when I had to leave for Hardscape North America in Louisville. The Techo-Bloc guys had to head there as well, so that worked out well. When my son Tom and I flew home on Friday night we had to plow 12 inches of snow on Saturday from a surprise snowstorm. Luckily it warmed up towards the end of the month and we were able to finish the work. It was very cool to see my house on the cover of the 2012 Techo-Bloc catalogue.

At the time of this project, I was not thinking about any upkeep or maintenance of the hardscape materials. Fast forward 11 years to today and I have not done a bit of maintenance to my hardscapes. In an effort to get our property into saleable shape (we are downsizing) I have been looking at cleaning my hardscape areas, freshening up any mulch beds, and pruning plant material that has gotten very mature. In trying to decide what I should concentrate on I concluded that I would just power wash all my hardscape areas. Hot water works very well, so I borrowed Tom’s hot water pressure washer and spent three days cleaning.

It has been a “wow” moment as I can see such a difference in the hardscape materials. I think if I had hot water pressure washed every five years or so I would be very happy with the way things look and it would not take nearly the time it did waiting 11 years.

The hard question remains – should I seal everything? I must admit I always have been kind of a weenie when it comes to sealing pavers and wall block. I have felt it is a job for the strong willed, and I was always afraid to screw things up and then have to replace a whole patio, walk, or retaining wall. In all my years of hardscaping I never did sealing, only cleaning. What is your experience?

— by Bill Gardocki, a past president of NHLA (1994) and a Hardscape Educator.

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