Winterizing Your Outdoor Living Spaces

belair-wallExtreme weather can sometimes take a toll on your outdoor living spaces. Keep your Belgard outdoor living area looking as beautiful as the day it was installed with these tips and tricks for protecting your investment in harsh climates.

Beware Rapid Temperature Fluctuations

Belgard hardscapes are constructed to withstand natural freeze/thaw cycles, and the refractory cement materials used to manufacture Belgard fireplaces, fire pits and brick ovens are designed to withstand very high temperatures. However, rapid shifts from one extreme to the other can still have an adverse effect, and there are simple ways to prevent damage.

  • Keep brick oven and fireplace doors closed to prevent snow and ice from building up inside the unit.
  • When not in use, cover grills and fire pit openings with covers to help prevent build-up and ensure proper working order.
  • If snow or ice does build up on a fireplace, fire pit or brick oven, be careful to remove any loose snow or ice and warm the unit up and thaw it slowly.

Protect Your Outdoor Kitchen

It’s important to protect all of your pipes, appliances and equipment so that your outdoor kitchen is ready to use in the spring.

  • Shut off water to your outdoor kitchen and drain all water lines to outdoor sinks, ice makers, refrigerators and kegerators. Leave the drain valves open.
  • Turn off all of the power to appliances.
  • Clean the inside of appliances and cabinets and wipe everything down to remove residual moisture.
  • Do not cover outdoor refrigerators or ice makers, which could cause moisture to get trapped and cause electrical damage.
  • Cover any sinks to prevent debris from settling in the basin. You may want to consider removing the faucet and storing it indoors.
  • If counter tops are made of stone, consider applying a sealant to prevent leaf stains or cracks caused by freezing moisture.

Prevent Deicing Downfalls

Deicing agents can sometimes have a corrosive effect on paved surfaces. Although Belgard pavers are manufactured to be more resistant to salt absorption than asphalt or solid concrete surfaces, there are additional tips that can help ensure lasting beauty of your paver walkways, driveways and patios.

  • Mix salts with sand prior to application.
  • Don’t over-salt.
  • Use salt for melting ice only, not snow removal.
  • Once loose, remove ice to avoid salt buildup.
  • Wash residue from pavers in the spring.
  • Reseal pavers with protective sealants, such as those offered by Techniseal, every three to five years.

Protecting Pavers from Debris

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Belgard pavers are designed to last the life of your home. However, like any decorative exterior surface, they are subject to the effects of use, weather and time if not properly maintained. It’s that time of year when patios, walkways and driveways are constantly filled with falling leaves and pine needles — all of which can stain pavers that are not properly sealed.

Even if your pavers were sealed when originally installed, sealant will wear over time. To keep them looking beautiful, it is important to reseal pavers every three to five years. If pavers no longer repel water, or begin to look dull or stained, it’s probably time to clean and reseal them. There are likely a number of contractors in your area who offer this service. To search for a local contractor click here.

For those interested in cleaning and sealing their own pavers, it’s a three-step process.

Step 1: Stain Removal. Remove any stains from the surface using a specialized cleaning product for the particular stain. For example rust, paint, red wine, and grease will each have different chemical properties. Best results will be achieved when using a specialized cleaner for the particular stain. Techniseal offers a high-quality line of concrete paver stain removal products and can be found at various dealers, including Ace Hardware stores.

Step 2: General Surface Cleaning. Once stains have been removed, prep the entire surface to be sealed by removing all efflorescence and ground-in dirt with a paver cleaner. Spray cleaner onto pavers, scrub with a push broom, then rinse with a hose. Allow at least 24 hours for pavers to fully dry.

Step 3: Sealing. Choose between a matte finish, semi-gloss or wet-look sealant, depending on your preference. Before you begin, make sure that sprinklers are turned off, pavers are completely dry, and rain is not forecast for the next 24 hours. Be sure to read the entire product directions and test a small area first. Also note that it is not advised to seal pavers when sustained temperatures are below 50°F (10°C). If all conditions are favorable, apply the product in small sections at a time. For best results, spray on sealant with a sprayer, then use a roller to evenly coat and remove excess. Most sealants will need a second coat. Drying time will vary.

For more information, watch this video:

Preparing for Football Season – Proper Lawn & Paver Maintenance

Preparing for Football Season_ Proper Lawn & Paver Maintenance

With football season ramping up and fall’s cooler temperatures and falling leaves, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about preparing for autumn with proper lawn and paver maintenance. You can do more now to impact how your lawn will look next year than at any other time of the year.

Fertilize your lawn with a winterizer fertilizer before the first heavy freeze to encourage strong, vigorous root development. This step allows grass to get off to a better start in the spring and increases resistance to disease and insects.

While nobody likes to rake leaves, it’s an important step in autumn lawn maintenance. If you have a lot of leaves, mulch them and apply them to your lawn where they act like a second fertilizer application for the grass.

Luckily, with Belgard pavers on your patio, walkway and driveway your job is easy. Our pavers require very little maintenance. Thanks to a manufacturing process that ensures quality, colorfastness and weather resistance, our unique Colorgard technology evenly disperses colors throughout each and every paver, wall, and curb unit we make. Belgard products resist UV rays, maintain their original color year after year, and hold up to stressful weather extremes.

Additionally, stained or broken pavers can be easily replaced without patches. Ants and weeds in joints can be prevented with sealers or herbicides.

You can still enjoy your outdoor space even during upkeep – involve the whole family and make it a fun activity. The chores will get done faster, and you can get back to watching the game on your beautiful, leaf-free Belgard patio.

Preventing Deicing Downfalls

OutdoorFireplaceThe recent blast of arctic air sent temperatures plummeting across the country, setting the stage for what has been predicted to be a colder than average winter with higher than average snowfalls. Many of you in high snowfall areas have probably already started stocking up on deicing agents for your walkways and driveways, which can sometimes have a corrosive effect and diminish the beauty of paved surfaces.

By choosing Belgard Hardscapes for your paver driveway, walkway or patio, you’ve already taken the first step to increasing resistance to the long-term corrosive effects of deicing materials. Belgard pavers are manufactured to be more resistant to salt absorption than asphalt and solid concrete, as well as more resistant to cracking caused by shifting temperatures.

746To ensure long-term resistance to the downfalls of deicing, regularly maintain pavers with sealers for additional protection and follow these tips:

  • Mix salts with sand prior to application
  • Don’t over-salt
  • Use salt for melting ice only, not snow removal
  • Once loose, remove ice to avoid salt buildup
  • Wash residue from pavers in the spring

For more information on caring for pavers in cold climates, click here.

Contractor’s Corner: Caring for Hardscapes in Cold Climates

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

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One aspect of being a trustworthy source of information for your customers is keeping up-to-date with industry education. This month, we’re diving into a subject that can help homeowners in even some of the milder climates – how winter’s weather and deicing salts can affect pavers.

With the goal of helping our contractors speak to homeowners about maintaining pavers during freeze season, Belgard published a whitepaper on the effects of deicing salt, Caring for Hardscapes in Cold Climates.

While deicing salts can effectively eliminate slippery conditions, they also may adversely affect interlocking concrete pavers, often used in the landscape, walkways and driveways, by causing visual and structural damage. However, properly manufactured and maintained pavers can resist the degradation caused by the salts. The whitepaper educates readers on why damage occurs and how it can be managed.

“I’ve seen salt damage pavers in as little as three years,” said Lou Mangiaracina, vice president of sales in the Northeast for Belgard Hardscapes, which makes pavers for patios, walkways and driveways. “After a while, salt buildup can disintegrate pavers if they are not properly manufactured and maintained. Care is critical during the wintery seasons to ensure your driveways, walkways and patios maintain their beauty for years to come.”

According to the whitepaper, resistance to salts is related directly to a low absorption rate and a high compressive strength, and pavers generally outperform solid concrete and asphalt in both areas. While no paver is truly deicing salt proof, most are deicing salt resistant.

Properly manufactured pavers, such as Belgard’s innovative range of paver and wall products, can resist the effects of deicing salt because Belgard uses aggregate materials that are high strength with low absorption rates with no deleterious material that may contaminate the finished product. Belgard pavers exceed the American Society for Testing Materials’ (ASTM) industry standard for solid concrete interlocking pavers.

Routine maintenance, as with any exterior surface, can also help minimize the effects of deicing salts. The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) Technical Committee recommends these guidelines to limit the exposure to deicing:

•    Mix the salt with sand, which is visible and the traction can be felt underfoot
•    Follow the recommended application and don’t over-apply the salt
•    Use deicing salt for melting ice, not for snow removal
•    Remove the ice once it’s loose to avoid salt buildup
•    Wash off the pavers in the spring, since the salt can continue to cause degradation even after the ice or snow has melted

The full, complimentary whitepaper is available at: http://www.belgard.biz/docs/hardscapes_in_cold_climates.pdf.

To provide your customers with even more tips of safeguarding their outdoor space, click here.

Questions? Use the comments section to get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.

Safeguarding Your Outdoor Space

With winter comes harsh conditions like ice, sleet and snow and it’s important to safe guard your outdoor space to withstand Mother Nature’s wrath.

First, be sure to store or secure any items that are liable to blow away in strong wind storms. A flying patio umbrella through your back window is the last thing you will want to deal with in below-freezing temperatures.

A properly lighted path is crucial during the winter when the nights are longer and most homeowners leave for work and arrive back home in the dark. Walkway lighting also makes ice easier to spot so you don’t accidentally slip and hurt yourself.

Deicing salts can effectively eliminate slippery conditions, but they also may adversely affect interlocking concrete pavers by causing visual and structural damage. However, properly manufactured and maintained pavers can resist the degradation caused by the salts.

While no paver is truly deicing salt proof, most are deicing salt resistant. Properly manufactured pavers, such as Belgard’s innovative range of paver and wall products, can resist the effects of deicing salt because Belgard uses aggregate materials that are high strength with low absorption rates with no deleterious material that may contaminate the finished product. Routine maintenance, as with any exterior surface, can also help minimize the effects of deicing salts. The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) Technical Committee recommends these guidelines to limit the exposure to deicing:

•    Mix the salt with sand, which is visible and the traction can be felt underfoot.
•    Follow the recommended application and don’t over-apply the salt.
•    Use deicing salt for melting ice, not for snow removal.
•    Remove the ice once it’s loose to avoid salt buildup.
•    Wash off the pavers in the spring, since the salt can continue to cause degradation even after the ice or snow has melted.

Taking steps to ensure your outdoor space is safeguarded for winter can save you a lot of headaches and pain in the long run.