Maintenance is a big part of any hardscape project. Proper maintenance ensures the longevity, aesthetic appeal and structural integrity of said project, so it is an aspect that cannot be overlooked. In this article, we are going to focus on the battle between concrete and efflorescence. So what exactly is efflorescence and how long before it fades on concrete?
So let’s talk about what efflorescence actually is, how to get rid of it and how to prevent it. We will approach this subject with a special focus on the maintenance aspects of concrete pavers, but everything we are going to talk about is applicable to any concrete products.
What is Efflorescence?
Let’s start with some good news: efflorescence is perfectly normal and it does not indicate a problem with your installation.
Efflorescence is also called “new building bloom”, and for good reason. It is very common after a few weeks of the installation of a concrete product to see this white substance covering it. Again, this is perfectly normal.
This effect happens naturally in any concrete material. The salts and other water dispersible elements inside the concrete naturally come to the surface after a few weeks. Actually, this process can slowly occur until all these salts and elements are expelled, and that can happen from 60 days to an entire year.
How Long Does Efflorescence Takes to Fade? How to Get Rid of It?
Rest assured that, eventually, efflorescence disappears on its own. Again, it might take a whole year, but it will stop coming.
The best thing you can do is let the concrete breathe and let the process happen naturally. In fact, on the first 60 days of an installation, you should not even try to clean it.
After those 60 days, after choosing a proper cleaner, always test in a small area first. And remember that efflorescence might come back anyway, that does not indicate a problem with the concrete or the cleaning product.
These 60 days of waiting time are also important when it comes to the sealing of your installation. It is not a good idea to seal your installation right away, before knowing how much it will be impacted by efflorescence. This waiting period is essential to assess the severity of the efflorescence.
In case there is a lot of efflorescence after the first 60 days, your best course of action would be to apply a more breathable sealer. Sealers are wonderful in not allowing water and other fluids to penetrate the pavers, but they can also prevent the efflorescence from coming out, which is not what you want.
To help you make a better decision, you should get in contact with the manufacturer of your concrete or a qualified hardscape professional. Professionals can point you in the right direction when it comes to dealing with efflorescence.
Maintenance is a pivotal aspect to keep your concrete installation looking good and functional, especially if we’re talking about concrete pavers. Concrete is extremely resistant, but it is porous and can get damaged if not properly cared for.
A concrete paver installation, for example, is one of the best ways you can incorporate this material in your hardscape project. It has all the advantages of using concrete, plus the strength and reliability of on interlocked system.
This system works by creating a malleable structure that can withstand even the heaviest weights by distributing weight evenly. The easy maintenance and esthetical appeal also contribute to it being one of the best options of hardscape structure today.
Either way, efflorescence is only one of the few maintenance problems concrete can present, and is not even a problem per se, since we already established that is a natural process of concrete and cannot really be prevented.
To prevent most maintenance problems, sealing your concrete is imperative. Since concrete is a porous material, sealing it is important to prevent the absorption of water, resist weather and have protection against stains.
There is an optimal time window to seal your concrete, according to how much efflorescence you’re dealing with after the first 60 days. This might be difficult to assess without experience, so working with a professional is really important in that aspect.
Cleaning should also be a part of your routine. Don’t let debris sit on it for too long. Sweep it every day if possible, and perform a deep cleaning with a power washer once every month or so.
Stains should be removed right away, as quickly as possible. The optimal way to remove stains is by using the “soaking” method, where you rinse the area immediately and soak it with a clean cloth.
Be very careful with the cleaning products you use around concrete. Always use pH-neutral substances and avoid alkaline products.
Professional Help Against Efflorescence
So hopefully by now you understand that efflorescence is a natural occurrence in concrete, and it is something that will fade in time and cannot really be prevented. And, as we previously mentioned, working closely to a professional is important when dealing with efflorescence.
A qualified hardscape professional can help you determine if you have a particularly stubborn form of efflorescence, or if things are developing according to normal. And more importantly, they can help determine when it is the right time to seal your installation.
In fact, if you work with a professional from the very first moment of your installation, they can guide you all the way through it. It is highly recommended that you contact a professional in your area.
We here at S&S Pavers have helped countless homeowners across the Sarasota and Manatee counties over our 12 years of experience with their hardscape projects, including the maintenance and installation of concrete pavers.
So if you happen to be around our area of activity, why not give us a call to help you?