Embarrassed by the state of your slate patio?

Slate patio after being fully refurbed

A new slate patio can look absolutely amazing in the beginning giving your garden that wow factor and makes a great platform to build an outdoor room around. The downside occurs when dirt and debris start to become ingrained into the slate and begins making that lovely deep slate colour look very dirty and discoloured. A good session with the trusty jet wash does make a bit of a difference but still doesn’t regain that gorgeous initial lustre that the slate had when it was first laid.

Have no fear though as re-invigorating the slate back to it’s original condition is not as an impossible task as you may think. There are products available on the market today that make the job of cleaning the patio a successful one albeit requiring a lot of time and effort being invested in order to reclaim the desired finish.

Slate patio before refurbishment
Slate patio before refurbishment

There are different cleaning agent manufacturers some provide multiple product systems which facilitate cleaning, stripping and then finally conditioning and sealing the tiles.

Below is a picture of the patio slabs before they have been refurbed and after they had a good jet wash. You can see that the patina of the tile is very dull and shows a mixture of ingrained dirt and the residue of previous conditioning products.

Slate Ppatio tile after initial jetwash
Slate patio tile after initial jetwash

The first products we applied using an every day sponge floor mop cleaned up the surface of the tile removing any loose dirt. The cleaning agent was jet washed off – the slates need to be completely dry before the next stage.  We then applied a stripping agent in the same way using the floor mop which had to be left on for an hour and kept wet by reapplying the agent while it penetrated the old coating. The stripping agent was agitated with a stiff bristle broom and then washed off with the jet wash and again let to fully dry.

The next and very important stage was to apply a neutralising agent in the same way as the other cleaners, this is important because if any chemicals remain on the slates, you will not get the desired effect from the sealant which would be very disappointing considering the effort put in up to this point.

Once the patio was completely dry, we then applied three coats of the conditioning and sealing agent using a paint pad, each coat was left for 10 minutes and then the excess sealant removed with micro clothes and then left for another 20-30 minutes before applying the next coat.  Once all three coats have been applied and left the required times, an electric machine polisher/buffer with a wool bonnet attachment was used all over to bring out the slate’s natural colour as shown in the image below. This brings out the really deep lustre of the slate and shows the full colour and patination.  The coating also provides a waterproof coating so water sits on top of the slates, if this effect is not achieved, another coat of sealant should be applied as this waterproofing will prolong the protection of your slates patio.

Enhance your property by laying a new patio – part #2

subbase collapse under patio

This is part 2 of the patio replacement project which we are starting for the summer. We have pulled up the old patio slabs revealing the thin sand base layer that the original house builders put down.

A pickaxe is useful for levering up the old slabs and breaking up the ground while an electric breaker is useful for any concreted areas.

Be careful when pulling up the slabs and using hand tools like a pickaxe or shovel or power tools such as a breaker to remove earth that you do not damage any underground services like water supply or waste pipes. It’s always a good idea to know where the services run and how close to the surface they are when digging out spoil.

Here you can see a drainpipe which is quite close to the surface where it exits the down pipe.

Be aware of existing service pipes
Be aware of existing service pipes

Round by the rear of the garage the slabs had sunken quite badly where they butted up to the garage wall. This was most prominent near the rain gutter down pipe which could highlight that there is a leak in the pipe below ground level which is washing out the substrate causing the slabs to sink.

To investigate this a large trench was dug in order to find out the state of the pipework.  A visual inspection revealed the pipework looked undamaged and pouring some water into the gutter showed that there were no leaks.

What digging down did reveal was that the garage had been built using a block and beam construction and the void under the floor had been left open underneath the outer most precast beam. Because the garage is single skin the wall had been built on top of the beam which meant there was no outer facing brickwork laid down to the concrete foundation footing level and therefore the void was open allowing the collapse of the patio substrate into the void.

Patio sub-base collapsed into block and beam void
Patio sub-base collapsed into block and beam void

In order to remedy this some pressure battens were glued to the brick and block piers and pressure treated gravel boards were screwed onto the battens underneath the outer most beam. This will stop the hardcore and type 1 that we put back into the trench from collapsing into the void underneath the block and beam garage floor.

Shuttering to block and beam void
Shuttering to block and beam void

Then the trench was back filled with pea shingle, hardcore and sharp sand.

Back fill of pea shingle, hardcore and sand put back in service trench
Back fill of pea shingle, hardcore and sand put back in service trench

Once the slabs had been pulled up and removed the next step was to workout how much spoil to remove in order to get the correct fall on the patio. This was done using a long spirit level and some stakes banged into the ground to mark the level of the top of the slab that would allow a fall of between 25mm per metre and 25mm per 2 metres. Then dig out enough of the ground to allow the required 100mm of type 1, 50mm of mortar and then the thickness of the slab.

Enhance your property by laying a new patio – part #1

Old uneven patio

Now that the summer is fast approaching it is time to start thinking about your outside spaces. This patio is twenty years old and is beginning to show its age. The patio slabs have sunken in places and have become uneven in high traffic areas. It’s time to pull up the old pavers and lay down a new patio.

When the original house builders laid the patio they put down a very thin sub base of hardcore and then laid a thin layer of sand on top without compacting the earth underneath. This has led to the slabs sinking and becoming uneven in places. See the picture below.

The first part of the project is to pull the slabs up and prepare the groundwork. This will involve taking off the old sand base layer and digging out the hardcore sub base and some of the earth below that to give enough depth for the sub base, base and slab layers. This will allow for a new sub base of 100mm of sub base Type 1 MoT. MoT stands for Ministry of Transport which is the specification for the type of hardcore used for sub base layers also known as DoT or Department of Transport. On top of the Type 1 will go a base layer of cement to a depth of 40mm. The base layer will be made up of 3 parts sharp sand and one part cement with the slabs being laid on top of the base layer. The depth of the slab should be taken into account as well to allow for a gap of 50mm if possible below the level of the damp proof course (DPC) so that the risk of water penetration into the brickwork from the splash back of droplets against the wall when it rains is minimised.