This depends on the type of paving and the method with which it has been laid. Block paving is laid on a sand screed with joints between the paving being filled with fine silica sand (kiln dried sand). This jointing sand does not ever set completely solid (to allow for expansion/contraction of the driveway), however it is possible to powerwash a blocked paved surface without compromising its structural integrity. Providing you wait a minimum of two months from the initial joing filling, keep the nozzle a minimum of 8" away from the paving and at a slight angle, there should be no problem. A small amount of jointing sand will be washed out but it s a simple job to top it up by brushing over kiln dried sand once the surface has dried. The same applies to any garden paving with sand filled joints.
Slabs or blocks laid on a mortar bed with mortar pointed joints (such as sandstone flags) can also be powerwashed (maintaining the same 8" distance and angle of the nozzle) but the joints will not require to be re-filled. However, overly agressive powerwashing could cause damage to these joints and this is not covered by guarantee.
More stubborn stains (such as algae) may require a diluted acid based cleaner or specialist product to remove them. Acid based products are only suitable for concrete products (not natural stone) but must be diluted to at least five parts water to one part acid. Use in higher concentration could damage the paving. For natural stone products, specialist cleaners are required depending on the type of stone.
I have a heavy car, do I need thicker blocks for my driveway?
The most critical aspect in any driveway is the strength of the sub-base (like the foundations of a wall) and the block thickness is a secondary concern. Most of our driveways are constructed for domestic use and, therefore, standard domestic use block paving of 50 mm thickness is usually more than sufficient. This includes use with heavy cars such as large 4x4s or estate cars. In fact, only if the driveway is likely to be used by a vehicle of over foud tons should thicker block (60mm or 80mm) be considered. Using thicker block paving (which is more usually for use in commercial projects) for a domestic driveway will add to the cost unnecessarily.
Which type of paving slabs are easiest to keep clean looking?
While some maintenance will be required to keep any paving product looking good, some types are certainly easier to clean and requires less cleaning than others. The key points to consider are how easily the dirt will stick to the slab in the first instance and how porous is the slab. Paving with a rough surface (such as Marshalls Saxon) will allow dirt to gather more readily where it will tend not to stick as much to a smooth slab. Also, porous material (such as Sandstone) will allow dirt to penetrate more deeply into the paving than that of a less porous slab (such as slate or granite). Some products are also manufactured with a dirt resistant coating (Marshalls Active Shield for example, which in effect makes the slab less porous. No product can be said to be maintenance free however.
What are the advantages of monoblock over other driveway surfaces?
Block paving is an extremely strong and durable surface to use for any driveway or pedestrian area. Its strength lies in its flexibility. An area of block paving is made up of many individual blocks (commonly fifty blocks per square metre), which are laid in a pattern, which locks them together. A joint is left between each block, which allows the whole surface to expand and contract during temperature changes. This reduces the structural stress, which the surface undergoes. Similarly, should any repair work be required or the paving need to be re-instated (after excavating to replace water pipes for example) this can be done without an obvious "patch" effect being noticeable as it would be on tarmac or concrete surfaces.
Another advantage is the speed at which a block paving installation can be carried out. It is a relatively quick process, which means it is less expensive overall than, say, a patterned concrete surface. It is also possible to pave a steeply sloping are or in a curving shape using blocks where concrete, tarmac or slabs simply wouldn't work.
When you consider the huge variety of block paving styles on the market, the versatility and strength of the product and the value for money, then block paving is the ideal surface for driveways, patios or pathways. It can even be used to construct steps.
Can my existing monoblock driveway be repaired?
It is an unfortunate fact that many block paved driveways are installed incorrectly by dubious contractors. The inferior quality of workmanship can lead to problems and in many cases no guarantee was issued at the time of installation. Poor quality driveways will sink, spread out or cause water pooling and these are all issues which will get steadily worse over time unless remedial work is carried out and done to the proper standards.
Luckily block paving is one of the easiest forms of driveway surface to lift and re-lay. The individual blocks can be simply lifted out, repair work to the sub-base layers carried out and the blocks re-instated with an obvious "patch" being apparent when the job is complete. Any damaged blocks can be replaced and a feature can be made of the new blocks (for example a differently coloured diamond pattern) so that the repaired driveway looks as if it was originally designed with this feature, rather than having an area of slightly brighter, newer blocks which are obvious replacements.
We could have your existing driveway looking like new and more importantly, installed to the proper standards in perhaps less time than you imagine.
How do I reduce the chance of weeds appearing on my new paving?
All of our paving work is carried out with weed control in mind. Thick Geo-textile membrane is used beneath all paving laid on a sand screed and under all gravel or bark areas. For slabs or setts laid on a mortar bed, we always use a full bed rather than using the "dot and dab" method which leaves void areas beneath the paving.
Care is always taken to ensure that water will run off of the paving into drains or garden areas so that no pooling or damp spot appear. Moss, in particular, will grow in damp areas so the paving is laid to allow water to drain away quickly.
Despite all of these precautions, however, it is almost impossible to stop weeds completely and weed killing product may need to be used. When using these products the manufacturer's instructions should be followed and it is always advisable to try them in an inconspicuous area first. Certain chemicals, such as ferrous sulphate, can stain paving.
Some proprietary sealing products also claim to reduce the occurrence of weeds but block paving manufacturers advise that a minimum of 12 months should be left between paving installation and any sealing work.