paver efflorescence

Paver Efflorescence: What It Is and How to Remove

When you’ve installed a pristine new hardscape, the last thing you expect is a white haze on the surface. Even if you’ve sealed them, concrete pavers can develop what’s called paver efflorescence on top.

It’s naturally occurring and relatively easy to treat. But, as frustrating as it is, you might have to do it regularly for the best results.

Today, we’re digging down into what causes paver efflorescence and the best cleaning methods. Some tactics are more effective than others, and you deserve the right answers.

What is paver efflorescence?

Paver efflorescence is a white, powdery coating that can develop on the surface of your concrete pavers. Even if you’ve done your due diligence during installation, it can create ugly stains on your hardscape

What causes paver efflorescence?

This phenomenon is caused by salt deposits left behind when moisture evaporates. Cement pavers contain calcium hydroxide, which dissolves into water, creating calcium carbonate. If the surface you’ve placed your pavers on doesn’t drain well, water can seep through them.

As the water passes through, it picks up the calcium carbonate and migrates it to the surface. When it dries, the water leaves the mineral salts behind. 

Does efflorescence damage your pavers?

Efflorescence won’t damage your pavers, thankfully. It’s unattractive and a sign of poor drainage, but the integrity of your surface isn’t compromised. These deposits are superficial, cosmetic, and temporary. It can reduce the visual impact of a colorful paver design and make your space look shabby and unmaintained. 

Will rain wash away paver efflorescence?

During the rainy season, you might notice the stains wash away. Repeated and consistent exposure to rain can help remove the signs of efflorescence in your pavers. However, it won’t entirely remove efflorescence. You’ll need to explore other options for removing the stains.

Do you need to remove efflorescence before paver sealing?

Before applying paver sealer, you’ll need to ensure you’ve addressed the issue. You can wait for the efflorescence to fade over time, but that can take months. A more aggressive approach to removing the white coating can shorten the timeline from stain to seal. 

However you decide to approach this problem, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right tools. Time and some elbow grease can usually resolve the issue.

How do you get rid of paver efflorescence?

If you’re on a timeline and don’t want to wait for your pavers to clear up, there are a few steps to removing efflorescence quickly.

Sweep or blow off debris from your patio

At the beginning of your project, sweep or blow off your patio or hardscape. Clearing the joints and brushing off your bricks can reveal hidden issues. 

If you’d like, you can scrub your pavers with a mix of dish soap and water first. This solution can address minor efflorescence and save you some time. However, most situations require a more robust cleaning solution.

Mix muriatic acid and water together or use an efflorescence acid

Muriatic acid is commonly used in pools and outdoor cleaning projects, but is dangerous in its pure form. Applying it directly to your pavers is a disaster. Instead, you should dilute it in water before using it. For most cases, 12:1 water to acid will do the job without damaging the bricks. You can apply the mixture using a plastic watering can or sprayer. Avoid using metal, as the acid can discolor or damage it.

A personal friend was hospitalized for over 6 months from inhaling muriatic acid into his lungs. They now make acids specifically for efflorescence, to save yourself the trouble and danger of diluting muriatic acid.

Make sure to check with any manufacturer recommendations before taking this approach.

Pour the mixture over a small area of your pavers

Apply the mixture to a small, inconspicuous area of your pavers. If it doesn’t cause any discoloration, you’re good to go. Use a plastic watering can or sprayer to apply a thin layer of the solution to a small area of your hardscape. You’ll work in sections for the cleaning process to keep the project under control.

Wait a few minutes

Give your mixture some time to work. Remember, the acid dissolves the salts, and it can take up to three minutes to thoroughly remove the deposits.

Rinse the applied area off; repeat the steps as needed

Using your hose, spray off the area and see if the deposits are all gone. You can move on to another small area and repeat the process if they are. It’s important to be consistent with how long you leave the solution on since you don’t want a patchwork effect. 

Rinsing dilutes the acid and stops the process from damaging your pavers. It’s important to neutralize the acid afterwards to make sure the acid does not continue to etch the pavers or color.  A degreaser is effective for neutralizing acid.

Does this process get rid of efflorescence permanently?

This process will remove any efflorescence currently on your hardscape’s surface. That said, if you don’t address the underlying causes of the issue, it’s likely to return. Look for areas where water could infiltrate into your pavers. Leaky pipes, poor waterproofing, elevated groundwater levels, and ineffective drainage can all cause it to flare up again.

Seal and maintain your pavers with Premier Pro Wash & Seal!

Premier Pro Wash & Seal specializes in cleaning and sealing your pavers. We’re the experts in removing efflorescence for good! Our team will leave you with a clean and sealed patio you’ll love. Don’t spend time and money on a project just to potentially damage your investment. Instead, call in the experts!

Check out our website and book your free consultation today!

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