Clay Paving Bricks F.A.Q’s

Q. What is the expected service life of genuine clay pavers?

A. The brick industry uses forty years as their basis of determining life cycle costs of clay pavers. This is believed to be an ultra-conservative figure as there are many clay paver systems still in service well after one hundred years. As with anything, proper design and installation play the biggest role in extending or reducing life span.

Q. Do clay pavers disintegrate with time?

A. No. In fact, there are applications of clay paver pavements that have been in service for more than one hundred years. This is however a common fear. It is not uncommon for a homeowner or builder to have extra bricks lying around that do not have holes through them like a regular wall brick. Since they are solid, it appears to be a good use by putting them in the ground and making a decorative pavement. However, most wall brick do not have the same characteristics as a paving brick. When a wall brick is used in place of a genuine clay paving brick, it doesn’t take very many years before it becomes evident something is wrong.

Q. Do genuine clay paving brick require a lot of maintenance?

A. No. With proper design and installation, the only maintenance issues you need to consider are sweeping sand replenishment, possible moss growth, and vehicle fluid stains. Sweeping Sand – The elements of rain, wind, and sunlight keep your pavers clean. They also tend to displace the sand between your pavers which could ultimately lead to a failure of your pavement. Be sure to check your sand annually and re-sweep new sand into the voids if necessary. TIP: This maintenance can be eliminated by the use of polymeric sweeping sand. The particles of this special sand bind together virtually eliminating sand loss as well as weed growth! Moss Growth – If your pavers get very little sunlight and a lot of moisture, moss growth is inevitable. For some folks, this is a desirable characteristic that adds to the old world charm of a genuine clay paver. However, if your design is more contemporary, you should try to reduce the moss inducing factors or plan for annual cleaning with a mild bleaching solution. Vehicle Fluids – If you are using your clay pavers for a driveway area, it is safe to presume that eventually you will have oil spots. These can be cleaned with a mild detergent, or if they are extremely stubborn, replaced.

Q. What is this white substance on my clay pavers?

A. It is most likely efflorescence. Efflorescence is nothing more than salt that has wicked its way up through the pavement and solidified on the surface of your brick. While it is unsightly, it is not physically harmful to your clay paver in any way.

Q. How can efflorescence be prevented?

A. While there are multiple causes of efflorescence, the most common and toughest cause to deal with is salts in your base materials. Read our design guide to make sure you or your contractor select the proper materials. The next culprit in line is de-icing salts, particularly calcium chloride. Safety is always paramount, so their use may not be an option. However, there are de-icing salts that will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, springtime efflorescence. One particular brand name is Chinese imported rock salt On the rare occasion, some salts may be present in the native soil. While possible, it is indeed very rare that this form of salt introduction will cause any visible efflorescence.

Q. How can efflorescence be removed?

A. Once the salts are introduced into the pavement system, the only way to remove the efflorescence is to get rid of the salts. For this reason, to develop a plan, you must first determine the source of the salts and eliminate them if possible. Once the salts are gone, the efflorescence will stop with time as nature cleanses your pavement. The amount of time it takes is directly proportionate to the amount of salt in the pavement. To further understand this, please review our chart of how efflorescence works. While the efflorescence you see can easily be washed away with clear water and a brush, any remaining salt in the pavement will resurface after the next rain. Salts introduced after the pavement is installed such as winter time de-icing products, will typically be washed away naturally rather quickly, perhaps after a few good spring time rainfalls. However, if large quantities of salt were introduced by the base material, it could be a few seasons before it is all cleansed away naturally. Understandably, this may not be acceptable. If this is your situation, the Prosoco Company has developed a product called Salt Guard. This product acts as a total barrier to salts. If your salts are in the base material, this product traps the salt below the surface, preventing their appearance on the surface of the clay pavers. Because the salts do not affect the pavers physically, this is a highly effective remedy. Another advantage is that application of this product will prevent salts from de-icer products from soaking down into the pavement, thus making the natural cleaning process in the spring time go much faster.

Q. Do I have to seal my clay pavers?

A. No. In fact, it is strongly recommended not to seal a clay paving brick. Because your clay paver is baked in a kiln at extreme temperatures, the clay particles are fused together in a process called vitrification. This is why the surface of your clay paving brick will not wear down and the colours do not fade. If for some reason, you still must seal your pavers, be sure the sealer you select a breathable sealer. DO NOT USE AN ACRYLIC BASED SEALER! Acrylic sealers do not allow moisture to “breath” through them. Make sure the selected sealer is siloxane based. One particular brand to look for is Weather-Guard masonry sealer.

Q. Do clay pavers have to be professionally installed?

A. This depends on many factors. Installing brick pavers is a task usually within the realm of capability, but it does involve a lot of heavy work, specialty tools, patience, and attention to detail. A handy homeowner certainly has the ability; you simply need to determine if you want to undertake the task.

While every effort has been made to include the most often asked questions, we may have omitted something. If you have a question not listed, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you!

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