Winter weather can exacerbate issues with patios, walkways, and other hardscapes on your property. Take a look at how your Fairfax County or Loudoun County hardscapes are holding up this winter and see if you might need patio or walkway repairs to prepare for a nice spring outdoors.
Frozen weather is hard on patios and walkways and can cause issues that require repairs. Water, in the wrong place, can freeze and thaw in a cycle that creates movement, leading to problems with materials above and below the surface. This motion can cause settling of improperly installed base materials, leaving sunken pavers or concrete walkways separated from front landings. If water has any opportunity to infiltrate into the wrong place within your hardscape, it will.
Signs of trouble are typically easy to spot, but it’s a good idea to start looking for problem areas before the spring rains arrive. If you do uncover issues, a professional can assess the severity of the damage and implement patio and walkway repairs that can prolong the life of your hardscape. With the right repair solution, you’ll be able to enjoy your investment as soon as spring in Loudoun and Fairfax counties makes its debut.
Signs of Patio, Walkway, and Other Hardscape Issues
Indications of patio, walkway, and hardscape problems are usually easy to see. Take a walk around your property and look for these warning signs that may require repair:
Retaining walls, firepits, and fireplaces:
- Loose bricks or pavers
- Movement (e.g., bowing or leaning (unlevel), signs of separation)
Patios and walkways:
- Areas that appear to be sinking
- Pavers that are moving or shifting
- Cracks in concrete or mortar joints, space developing between pavers
- Spalling (i.e., pieces are chipping off)
- Pooled water
- Loose step treads
Patio, Walkway, and Other Hardscape Repairs
While it may seem like you can repair your patio, walkway, or other hardscaping on your own, it’s best to have an expert fix any problems. Sometimes issues that seem minor are more significant and extensive than you think. A skilled professional will be able to diagnose the cause of the patio or walkway damage and suggest repairs that will prevent further issues down the road.
- Just like with concrete, shifting pavers is often a sign of the ground below moving – either due to settling or erosion. One misplaced paver may just need new joint sand. If there are dips or indications of sinking though, the whole area may need to be re-leveled with a focus on solving whatever is causing the earth to move.
- Chipped, cracked, or pitted bricks should be replaced not only for safety, but to avoid more widespread issues in the future.
Wall cracks and movement:
- Problems in any standing feature, like a retaining wall or fireplace, pose serious safety concerns and should be addressed immediately. Small issues may be able to be repaired or patched, while more extensive ones may require the hardscaping to be completely redone.
- Cracks must be sealed or patched using a special concrete-repair caulk. If left untreated, water will permeate the cracks and freeze, creating more pressure on the area and making the damage worse.
- Pooling water is a sign of drainage issues. Your expert will suggest a drain to effectively channel water away from your home and its foundation.
- Pitting and spalling needs to be addressed by resurfacing or patching.
- Sinking is a sign of a major issue. The slab may need to be lifted so that the ground underneath can be re-leveled with sand or gravel and then tamped down. If the earth is eroding under the concrete due to water, then a drainage solution will also be needed. Because concrete tends to have issues with water damage, often removal and replacement with a more tolerable material is the best course of action.
Tips for Maintaining your Hardscape During the Winter
- Refrain from using rock salt or ice-melting chemicals on any surfaces during the winter. Instead use sand or kitty litter.
- Seal/re-point any cracks immediately.
- Remove snow as quickly as possible. If water is able to seep into hardscaping and then refreeze, it can cause significant issues.
- Make sure water is properly running away from your home and any hardscaping.
If you see any signs of damage to your hardscape this winter, contact Sunrise Landscape and Design. We will identify the root of the problem and take steps to repair your patio, walkway, or other hardscape properly.
Our knowledgeable team can work with any hardscape material, and we have experience solving complicated hardscaping and drainage issues in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and across Northern Virginia. Don’t hesitate; a few repairs now will translate into an entire year of beautiful and functional outdoor living.