Whether you’re installing new pavers for a lovely backyard walkway, or your existing ones look sad and worn, consider staind pavers. Staining your pavers is an easy DIY project that can be done over a weekend…assuming the weather cooperates.
Using products you can purchase at your local hardware or home improvement store, you can easily personalize your pavers with a single stain. Or a pattern of different stains to create a beautiful effect that will make you smile every time you walk on it.
If you’re buying new pavers, look for ones that don’t have a sealant on them. No need in paying more for something that you’re going to need to remove anyway to get the concrete stain to stick.
To see if your existing pavers have a sealant on them, wash them down with a hose and notice what happens.
If the water beads your pavers have a sealant on them that will need to be removed before you can stain them. (Note: The sealant will be removed when you use the industrial cleaner referenced below)
Here’s how to make stained pavers for your backyard walkway:
Clean and remove stains
Wash previously installed pavers using a high-pressure washer to remove every trace of dirt possible. Using a brush with plastic bristles, detergent and warm water, scrub each paver, removing salt stains, mildew, grease and oil.
For stubborn stains let the cleaning solution sit on the pavers for twenty to thirty minutes before scrubbing and then rinse with hot water. (Note: Laundry detergent or liquid dish soap will take off most oil stains)
The whitish appearance of your existing pavers is caused by a natural process called efflorescence (a/k/a hard water stains). Hard water stains are the result of the salts in the pavers reacting to changes in the humidity, temperature and rainfall.
Use an efflorescence remover to remove these stains, after testing first in an inconspicuous area because of its abrasive qualities.
Paver manufacturers offer rust removal materials that can remove rust stains from your pavers. But it’s important to note that these products will remove any sealant and may cause etching as well. It’s recommended to apply the cleaner uniformly across the entire paver.
Inspect and prepare the pavers
After time, pavers can become chipped, cracked and gouged. If you add stain to damaged pavers you’ll only magnify their defects.
Repair surface scratches by sanding the pavers. If the damage is deeper, use a concrete patch kit for repairs and then sand down flush with the stone’s surface.
Wash with industrial cleaner
Using an industrial cleaner with etching agents, wash the pavers, whether they’re to be newly installed or already in place. This will open the pores of the concrete to allow the stain to be absorbed.
Wear latex gloves to prevent your skin from absorbing any of the chemicals and make sure you’re in a well ventilated area. After applying the cleaner, wait about 30 minutes before neutralizing the acid with a mix of water and vinegar and then wash the solution off.
Apply the concrete stain
Before applying everywhere, test the concrete stain first in an inconspicuous area, then let it dry for a few minutes to make sure you like the results.
Apply the concrete stain evenly in a single coat. Allow it to dry for at least four hours (or until dry to the touch). To ensure even coverage, add two to four coats, letting the stain dry between applications.
When you’ve achieved the look you want, apply sealer to the pavers using a brush, roller or sprayer to lock it in.
Wait two to three days before attempting to walk on the pavers. This will prevent the pattern on the bottom of your shoes from being transferred to the pavers. If you absolutely must walk on the stones, wear cotton booties or thick socks.
If you’re installing new pavers, wait two to three days to ensure they’re completely dry.
Finally, if you’ve stained existing pavers add more sand to the grout lines as needed to ensure that they remain stable and in place, and to help with your walkway’s appearance.