Spring cleaning is not limited to cleaning out the garage and scrubbing down the kitchen. For a lot of homeowners, spring is also the best time of year to get outside and clean everything from the backyard patio to the walkway leading up to the front door. This might mean cleaning concrete slabs and steps.
Concrete is undoubtedly one of the most prolific building materials humanity has ever used. As strong and durable as it is, concrete can also get dirty. Keeping it clean can mean the difference between a fresh, welcoming look and concrete that looks like it has been through a war and back.
Do you have plans to clean concrete steps and slabs this spring? If so, there are some things to consider. Educate yourself about the best way to clean before you make any plans to do so.
Assess Repairs First
Before cleaning anything, assess whether or not your concrete structures need repair. Maybe the back steps are sinking on one side. Perhaps you have noticed a couple of cracks in your patio slab or the driveway. How you affect repairs may influence how you clean.
Salt Lake City’s Concrete Raising Company, a company that specializes in slab jacking concrete and foundation repair, suggests that homeowners deal with sinking concrete before cleaning. If a repair project calls for fixing cracks and chips that are not the result of settling, repairs should be addressed after cleaning.
For the record, slab jacking is a process of raising and re-leveling concrete slabs, steps, etc. by injecting a concrete and soil mixture into the soil underneath the affected area. This fills in any voids and returns the ground to a level state, thus leveling the concrete.
Choose the Right Cleaning Solution
Concrete is a fairly tough material that can stand up to a lot of different cleaners. However, remember that any cleaner you use on exterior concrete surfaces has the potential of leaching into the soil and causing environmental harm. Thus, it is best to use an environmentally friendly, biodegradable cleaning solution. You can find such solutions online and at DIY home improvement stores.
Stubborn stains can be dealt with by adding just a little bit of bleach to your cleaning solution. Before you do this, however, be absolutely sure to read all warnings on your bottle of cleaner. Never mix bleach with any cleaning substance containing ammonia.
Avoid Pressure Washing
Another thing to consider is how you will actually scrub the dirt away. The general rule among concrete contractors is to avoid pressure washing. Pressure washing can absolutely loosen and remove all sorts of dirt and debris. But it can also chip concrete. Why take that chance, especially if you already have other cracks or chips that need to be filled?
A better alternative is to use a stiff brush and a garden hose. You apply the cleaning solution and let it sit for a few minutes. Once it has had enough time to do its thing, you use the brush to scrub persistent areas. Then rinse the whole thing off with a garden hose. You might have to hit especially stubborn stains with the cleaning solution and brush again.
The concrete around your home doesn’t have to look terrible as a result of weathering and winter detritus. You can clean it. Just take your time and do it right. If slabs or concrete steps need to be repaired, educate yourself about the best way to affect said repairs. Between quality repairs and good cleaning procedures, you can have your concrete looking like new in no time.