Bluestone is a versatile and low-maintenance natural stone popular in New England for landscaping purposes, including patios, pool decks, driveways, and pavers. Once you’ve chosen to install your bluestone patio, it needs to be properly cared for and maintained to improve its integrity. While many homeowners take care of this throughout the spring and summer, your patio should not be neglected during the winter. In this article, our experts explain all you need to know to manage your bluestone patio during New England’s winter.
Common Issues with Bluestone Patio During Winter
Bluestone is a type of sandstone made of several compressed sedimentary layers. Winter in New England is unpredictable, and some months may come with heavy frost. After the melt, water/moisture can penetrate through the stone, especially if it’s unsealed; it could flake as part of the natural weathering and erosion process. The movement caused by the moisture may also cause the layers in the bluestone to separate and shale.
Snow and Ice Formation
Though bluestone has a slight sandpaper-like texture, it may get slippery when wet and may prove dangerous for sloppy patios and walkways. It also becomes slick when covered with sleet, ice, or granular snow. In winter, melting snow can lead to ice formation, which may be slightly dangerous for your bluestone patio.
How To Preserve Your Bluestone Patio During Winter
Reseal your patio
Conduct proper sealing of bluestone patio regularly. A sealer will help intensify the patio’s color and protect it from harsh weather, water-based stains, dirt, chippings, and erosion. To prepare for the winter, pressure wash your patio, let it dry for a few days and seal with a natural stone sealant.
Resealing also prevents a situation where rainwater builds up in an area and later turns to ice in the form of little cracks between the stone. During winter, your patio could experience further cracks and damage as water freezes, so resealing is always a safe haven.
Choose the right shovel.
After heavy periods of snowfall, you may have to shovel excess snow from your patio. Avoid metal snow shovels as these can scratch or cause damage or chippings to the bluestone. Instead, go for a rubber or plastic blade edge shovel or a mechanical broom with soft bristles. A little deicing product can also help.
Choose the best deicer.
It’s best to avoid using salt, especially rock salt (sodium chloride), as it may cause bleaching of bluestone. Also, rock salt has a lower freezing point than water, which accelerates the stone’s freeze/thaw cycle. This acceleration of the cycle may cause flaking and surface spalling.
When water freezes into ice, it expands in size, and continuous freezing and thawing of whatever water has made its way into the cracks and pores of your patio will cause damage.
Therefore, it’s best to settle for a deicing agent with a low freezing point when combined with the snowmelt water. Sodium chloride, for example, will cause further deterioration to your blue stone patio because of its extremely low freezing point.
However, here are a couple of other alternative deicing salts:
Magnesium chloride: This is a cheaper and safer alternative to rock salt. It comes in flake form at a melting point of -13 degrees Fahrenheit. It leaves no residue and tracking and is safe for the environment and pets. However, homeowners need to exercise caution and only use it sparingly.
Calcium chloride: It gives the same result as magnesium chloride. It’s available in pellet form and at an effective melting point of -25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bluestone patios never run out of style; with their resilience and proper maintenance, they can withstand even harsh winter conditions. If you’re looking for assistance with your bluestone patio maintenance and advice, get in touch with us today.