The hazards of using natural stone for driveways
From standard concrete pavers to intricate tiles, natural stone is a popular choice for driveways. Not only does stone provide natural hardiness, depending on the style chosen, it can transform a drab driveway into an aesthetically pleasing extension to a home or business.
With that said, the wear and tear driveways face means it’s vital to invest in proper surface cleaning and protection. Home and business owners must also keep in mind that driveways are open to the elements, leaving natural stone exposed to the dangers of nature.
When it comes to stains on stone driveways, the biggest offender is likely to be oil. When not in use, vehicles are typically left to rest in garages, carports and driveways. This provides ample opportunity for motor oil, grease and other fluids to leak onto natural stone.
According to the Marble Institute of America (MIA), oil-based stains will darken natural stone. These will need to be chemically dissolved in order to rinse away the source of the stain.
Gently cleaning with a soft liquid cleanser, household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits or acetone is recommended. However, it should be noted that depending on the stone, different cleansers can do more harm than good.
For instance, calcareous stones such as marble and limestone are particularly vulnerable to acidic solutions. For stones such as these, mild, non-acidic cleaners are best. Otherwise, driveways run the risk of developing etch marks. This type of damage is caused by acids left on the surface of the stone.
Since most driveways are located in open spaces, they are also vulnerable to organic and biological stains. These include those caused by leaves, bird droppings and fungi.
On the bright side, organic stains are relatively easy to clean. In fact, the stains might even disappear once the material that caused them has been removed. Also, since driveways are located outside, if they are able to receive both sunshine and rain, stains may be bleached out naturally.
However, it is still recommended that any material that may leave a stain be cleaned up as quickly as possible.
And for any tough soiling, you may want to use a product like Oxy-Klenza™, which breaks down organic stains and soiling.
Biological stains call for a cleaning solution made up of a half cup of either ammonia, bleach or hydrogen peroxide mixed with a gallon of water. Keep in mind that bleach and ammonia should never be mixed together, as this combination creates a toxic gas that can be lethal.
Finally, it’s important to remember that moisture that seeps into natural stone and becomes trapped inside can lead to both efflorescence and freeze-thaw damage.
Surface protection for driveways
There are several ways to help protect driveways from surface damage.
When it comes to oil stains and the like, the first step for home and business owners should be ensuring their vehicles are properly maintained to reduce the likelihood of leaks.
It is also possible to purchase mats for driveways that can help prevent stains from forming.
One of the most comprehensive forms of protection is investing in a high-quality impregnating sealer.
Sealers can help create a barrier between natural stone and stain-causing materials. However, unlike topical varieties, impregnating sealers penetrate deep into natural stone and bond with pores. Not only does this assist in repelling water and oil, it helps prevent efflorescence and freeze-thaw damage by allowing moisture to escape the surface of stone.
Keep in mind that spills and stains should still be cleaned up as soon as possible, as things like leaves and bird droppings can still stain a sealed surface. However, the sealer will make surface cleaning easier.
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