Outside areas have become so important, providing an extension to the home and, in recent months, a safe place to meet. Often, the same tile finish is used from home to garden, through bi-fold doors, creating a stunning, seamless look… but often this aesthetic doesn’t last. Issues arise because maintenance regimes adopted indoors are rarely continued outside. While indoor tiles are sealed and regularly cleaned, patio tiles are generally ignored – apart from an occasional jet wash and sweep – and, very quickly, they become darker and dirtier. That seamless aesthetic is lost in a matter of months, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s simply a case of not stopping at the door.
The idea of adopting a regular cleaning regime for outdoor tiles may seem a little strange here in the UK. But, elsewhere in Europe, regular mopping and cleaning of outside spaces is commonplace. As our weather can be rather unpredictable, there’s perhaps an even greater need to keep on top of outdoor surfaces; it will make a big difference to the general appearance and it will reduce the need for future intensive cleaning and sealing.
How to maintain a seamless aesthetic
Step One: Protection
STONE PATIOS: External stone tiles will benefit from a protective seal, just like internal stone tiles – and water-based treatments, like ECOPROTEC® Patio Sealer now offer even greater performance than traditional spirit-based products. They’re also much safer to apply, more eco-friendly and you can apply them over residual moisture, rather than having to wait for days on end until a surface is completely bone dry.
Before applying the sealer, we recommend a first wash with ECOPROTEC® Black Spot and Algae Remover. The cleaner should be applied undiluted. For more information, see the technical datasheet.
PORCELAIN PATIOS: Matt porcelain tiles which are normally used outside don’t need to be sealed in the traditional way. However, because they are generally textured, to create a non-slip surface, they can be prone to grout staining. Fixing residues and dirt become trapped in the ‘high-low’ surface, creating unsightly white marks which are hard to remove. This residue makes ongoing maintenance more difficult and potentially creates a slip hazard.
To reduce the risk of staining, a barrier treatment can be applied before grouting. We recommend ECOPROTEC® Pre Grout Protection, which gives a number of benefits:
- It prevents grout and resins from taking hold.
- It makes the removal of any residues much easier, should they occur.
- Porcelain needs to be kept as wet as possible during installation, to improve and increase grout working times. The protector does this, which also aids points 1 and 2.
- A further coat applied after installation will make ongoing maintenance easier too.
Tiles should be clean and dry before applying the protector. As with stone, it might be necessary to give the surface a first wash; we recommend ECOPROTEC® Intensive Cleaner. The tiles should then be rinsed and left overnight to dry before applying the Protector.
Before grouting, ECOPROTEC Pre Grout Protection should be applied evenly to the surface using a broad paint brush, foam roller or light pressure sprayer. Allow 30 minutes drying time and then apply a second coat. The surface should then be left to cure for a minimum of one hour before grouting or pointing. Once the grout is dry, and all residues have been removed, a further coat of Protector can be applied to the tiles and the grout joint.
How to maintain a seamless aesthetic
Step Two: A regular maintenance regime
Whilst it may not be practical to mop the patio as often as indoor tiles, it’s worth giving it a thorough clean every couple of months or so – ideally, three times during late spring/summer and a couple of times during the winter. Surfaces that are regularly cleaned will be easier to keep clean – and it will help to maintain that aesthetic.
NB. A blast with a jet wash may seem like the best method but it will only wash dirt off the tile surface, whereas as a specialist treatment will react with stubborn, ingrained residue and organic matter and help break it down. This is especially important with porous surfaces, like limestone and sandstone.
For a thorough clean, we recommend ECOPROTEC® Intensive Cleaner or for highly contaminated surfaces we recommend ECOPROTEC® Black Spot and Algae Remover for stone and porcelain tiles.
ECOPROTEC® Black Spot and Algae Remover has a viscous formula, so it clings to surfaces without attacking the substrate, removing dirt and residue, including stubborn green and dark deposits caused by plants and leaves. A bleaching action helps restore paving to its original condition, so always test it on an inconspicuous area first. For more information, see the technical datasheet.
For periodic cleaning, inside and outside, you can use ECOPROTEC® General Cleaner. This treatment is safe to use on stone and porcelain tiles. As with routine cleaning, it’s best to remove stains on a regular basis; this will make ongoing maintenance easier and it will prevent slippery residue from building up on all types of tile.
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