Sunday, August 2, 2015

August is Cleaning and Sealing month

As the hot days of July spread into August, Salem oregon residents have turned to cleaning their driveways with basic pressure washers to save money. And if you are one of those people who like to get out and do it yourself then there are a few things to keep in mind and we offer some professional tips for the do it yourself types.
First there are there different types of concrete finishes. Most driveways are broomed concrete, exposed aggregate or stamped stained concrete. There area few that also have pavers. Each of these can be power washed but they are not all powerwashed equally the same. So after you identify which one you have here are some considerations. Aggregate is a very common choice in the Salem Oregon and surrounding areas. They can be beautiful but they are also one of the more delicate of all the surfaces so we will start with this type as it is so common and most often damaged. Aggregate is basically a finish where a layer of concrete is ashed off the surface to expose the rock. The finish is beautiful when sealed but very prone to damage due to the missing cement binder that usually covers the rock. This is why you will often see missing rocks after a basic pressure washing service from most pressure washer companies and home owner units. If the company has aggregate spinners it is less likely that damage will occur so if you hire a company ask if they have one or at least the nozzle that agitates while it cleans. even with the spinners rocks can and will come loose over time and multiple cleanings. This is why it is vital to protect your aggregate with the proper hydrophobic sealers that keep the pores of the concrete from absorbing moisture and creating the expanding and contracting effect over time, which eventually cause the rocks to break free. Hardened sealers can also color enhance aggregate and create a nice sheen to the finish. If the cheaper 25% acrylic sealers are used that can be purchased over the counter, you often will end up with aggregate that is not uniform in appearance on follow up cleanings. And last but not least, hire a company that has done hundreds with great reviews from real customers in the area like Fast Finish. They take the time to explain and point out potential issues with all jobs, as they want to retain their clients for future jobs.
So now you have tackled the hardest or should we say the most delicate and fragile of all the finishes(aggregate). lets move on to the stamped concrete. Stamped and stained concrete is a great addition to any home visually. It is not bullet proof however. The most common thing that happens to stamped concrete that is colored(and most are) is that they fade in areas that get the most sun. And I am here to tell you that there is no magic bullet that blends an old faded area into the non faded area. The basic colors that are usually used with stamped concrete offer little in UV protection. And the cheapest of all acrylic sealers are usually put on afterwards. The combination of the two is a bright lite that burns out quicker. There are nice UV stable acrylic colors that can be put over the entire area and re-sealed. This is how it is done. The partial color approach or just a re-seal is can often disappoint the home owner in the long run. Spend the money now or more later. there are cases however, that a good high performance elete crete sealer can darken up and enrich the existing area for a few more years before having to re stain it.
Last is the basic concrete and pavers. Pavers are the most durable of all the available materials with a much harder PSI than any of the others. it can be pressure washed with great success. It is just as important though to seal them as the sand packing material usually invites long term growth of weeds and mold which leads to moss growth in between them. There are sealers that keep the growth from occurring and also help with the efflorescence (white chalky) that happens from moisture.
The bottom line is that each of these can be cleaned effectively but never forget to have it sealed for the long life... All concrete will crack eventually. Left untreated, you can cut the life of it by 50% and causing costly repairs later. Fast Finish is the premier company for sealing all types of materials. If you want it sealed call them for an estimate. You can get the best sealers available to date for as little as 50 cents up to $2 a square ft applied. Ask abot their clean and seal packages and save even more. What you do now will save you money later...