Stone structures such as retaining walls and outdoor living spaces are extremely durable, long lasting investments. However, like most things around your house, stonework needs a little bit of maintenance if you want to keep it in the best condition. What you specifically need to watch out for is any degradation to your stonework that could be caused by the changes that Winter and Fall bring. With that in mind, you’ll need to know how to properly protect and clean your stonework as we enter into that season.
Protect Your Stonework by Removing Leaves and Debris
Trees around stonework can create a beautiful effect. However, if leaves, twigs, and branches are left on stone for too long you could find more than just an aesthetic problem come Springtime. If you leave organic matter on stonework, a couple of potential problems can arise. As the leaves begin to decay, mold and mildew form, which can lead to moisture and dirt getting trapped in the mortar or staining the stonework itself. Moisture will work its way into the mortar and won’t be able to escape if heavy amounts of leaves remain on the stonework. The next time a freeze hits, that moisture will expand in the mortar and could lead to structural problems with your stonework patio or retaining wall.
Clean Your Stonework to Ensure That They Last
After you have removed any organic material that might have fallen onto your stonework, it’s time to clean. Cleaning stonework requires time, patience, and proper knowledge of how to do it safely. Improper cleaning can lead to aesthetic and structural problems with your stonework. Following industry guidelines is recommended.
Stonework Cleaning Process:
- First you are going to inspect your stonework for damage. If there is substantial damage to either stonework or mortar, consider calling an expert before attempting a repair or cleaning the area. Improper cleaning of deterioration or cracks can lead to further issues with your stonework. Avoid cleaning structural damage if you aren’t an expert.
- Begin cleaning with water in a small inconspicuous spot. If this cleaning is to your satisfaction continue onto larger areas.
- Only use gentle water pressure when cleaning stone or mortar. Pressure washing can remove mortar easily. Only use a pressure washer on a low setting while constantly moving the nozzle.
- If cleaning with water alone is not enough, you can add a mild detergent to a water mixture. Additionally, use a soft nylon brush to spot clean trouble areas, such as discoloration or encrustation formations.
- If you are still not satisfied with your cleaning progress, there are specific chemicals and abrasive cleaners for stonework available. Please use caution and consider calling an expert if this step becomes necessary.
If you have followed these steps and feel that your stonework could use expert care, look to Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls. Hiring a professional can save you time and money in the long run. Stonework maintenance is often something homeowners can take care of themselves, but if you ever feel you could be doing more harm than good, it’s time to call Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls. Call 636-861-1530 for service in the greater St. Louis area or learn more about Fritz Stonework here.
Stonework outdoor spaces have long been held in high esteem for their durability, added value to a home, and, most importantly, the beautiful gathering place it makes for family and friends. During COVID-19, there has been a dramatic rise in home improvements. As people spend more and more time at home, they have seen the need to adapt their homes into more than just a living space. A home can be a destination in itself. A place to entertain family and friends without the need for going to a restaurant or a bar. Stonework such as patios, walkways, and fire pits can give your home that extra touch that makes your family and friends feel as though they are visiting a destination rather than someone’s home.
Why Should I Choose Stonework for My Outdoor Space?
Stonework is long lasting and has a timeless appeal to it. Where wood degrades and styles change, stonework will endure and have lasting appeal long past current trends. Here are four reasons why stonework is the best choice for updating your outdoor living space.
- Low Maintenance: There’s very little maintenance to be done with stonework patios, walkways, and fire pits. If installed correctly, stonework not only last for decades, it will look good for decades. Stonework keeps its appearance throughout the years with basic maintenance that most homeowners can accomplish. Simply keep leaves, twigs, branches, and other organic material from accumulating on your stonework. Keeping organic material from decaying on your stonework prevents any discoloring on the stones and prevents moisture from entering into the mortar.
- Weatherproof: Stonework performs well in any season and looks the same all year. Where wooden deck will expand and contract with the seasons, stonework does not move seasonally. Where ground contact will eventually rot even pressure-treated lumber, stonework will not rot. A stonework patio will also never get blown away in a tornado or in strong winds like a wooden deck can. The weight of stonework, and it being flush into the ground, prevents wind from ever uprooting your investment.
- Design: Stonework comes in a variety of styles and colors. Expert stonework installers can help you decide on a design that fits your home and needs. Merging stonework pathways, patios, and fireplaces can seem like an impossible task to a homeowner, but experienced professionals can help bring your dream backyard alive.
- Adds Value to Your Home: Stonework is one of those few investments that you can make to your home that will age gracefully. The material itself is permanent and the aesthetic of stonework never goes out of style. If you ever decide to sell your home, buyers will pay more for a home that has a stonework outdoor space. Stonework won’t be a liability if you go to sell your home like a decaying and dilapidated wooden deck would be. But the “value” of an outdoor space doesn’t have to be solely in its resale value. If you decide not to sell your home, you still have the value of an outdoor space that you, your friends, and your family can benefit from. You might find yourself spending more time outside enjoying the fresh air and the people important to you.
COVID-19 isn’t stopping others from getting the most out of life at home. In a season where home improvement is on the rise, make your home improvement one that lasts. Choosing stonework for your patio, walkway, or fire pit is an improvement that you won’t come to regret. Choosing trusted professionals in the industry is just as important as making the right choice in your home improvement options. Serving the greater St. Louis region for over 30 years, Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls is the best choice if you’re considering updating your outdoor space. Call Fritz Stonework at 636-861-1530 or learn more about Fritz Stonework here.
For some people, the fall and winter seasons are a nice welcoming change to the hot summer temperatures. However, what comes along with fall and winter is weather that includes moisture, such as rain and snow. For as long as structures have been in existence, moisture has been the main cause for its deterioration. Moisture in all forms affect how well the building materials function.
The way masonry systems are designed should prevent the intrusion of moisture into the building’s interior. It should also keep the building’s structural components safe. If there is any structural break, then your building could be compromised. Masonry units that are made poorly are among the most common failure points. These include mortar joints, hairline cracks, parapet, and door and window details. Water can also come through by vapor condensation and can enter the structure as a result of poor work. The lack of proper drainage can exacerbate the impact of any type of moisture that makes its way through; therefore, creating major damage to the building.
When unwelcome moisture seeps through, masonry units and mortar can crack. Thermal expansion can be a result when water gets into brick, concrete, and natural stone. Thermal expansion can cause the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off. This is also known as spalling, which is caused by too much moisture in the masonry that puts pressure outward. Spalling can ultimately result in large sections of the masonry to crumble and fall off, which will lead to structural damage.
Too much moisture cam also result in the wall rotting, which is very unaesthetic and an unhealthy condition. The insulation can also disintegrate along with staining of the interior finishes. Other effects may include the deterioration and/or corrosion of the wood/steel backup studs, cladding, ties and reinforcements. If this is left unattended to, the excess water can cause an increase and spread of additional structural degradation and complete structural failure.
When there is excess moisture seeping through the masonry, efflorescence is a main problem. Efflorescence is a white, powdery, crystalline deposit that forms on the surfaces of masonry, stucco, and concrete. Efflorescence is caused when salt within the masonry unit itself has been dissolved due to too much moisture and has made its way to the surface of a porous material. It then forms the white, powdery, crystalline deposit as the water evaporates.
In order for efflorescence to happen, three problems must be present.
- There has to be water-soluble salts somewhere in the wall
- There must be enough moisture in the wall to render the salts into a soluble solution
- There must be a way for the soluble salts to move their way through to the surface so the moisture can evaporate, getting rid of the salts so they can crystallize causing efflorescence
Just because sulfates may be present in a masonry wall, it does not mean efflorescence will occur. The sulfates must be dissolved by water in order for it to happy. If there is no moisture then the sulfates will not find their way to the surface. However, there are certain conditions that will aggravate the possible creation of efflorescence. For example, if a block is exposed to cold, rainy weather during storage or if the structure has been poorly designed in regards to drainage and moisture control, then efflorescence is more likely to occur.
Health and Safety
Too much moisture can cause bacteria to grow which can create new odors or worsen current ones. The effects of growing bacteria can cause existing conditions to become worse, such as asthma and allergies. These bacteria have also been known to cause cancer and birth defects.
Managing moisture is a top priority when designing and building, especially here at Fritz Stonework & Retaining Walls. It is important to us that you and your family are safe from any potential harm. We work hard to make sure your masonry is up-to-par and lasts for many years to come. Contact us to today at (631) 861-1530 so we can help you create your masterpiece.
Once you have a beautiful patio built to your specifications, you want to be able to enjoy it all year round. Or if you are thinking of having a patio or outdoor living space built, then you might want to think about some items to include for the winter time to help you stay warm. Here are a few ideas that could help you enjoy your time outside all year round.
Invest in a Fire Pit
Fire pits are a very common way of staying warm and toasty as the temperatures drop. They create a practical, warm atmosphere that you can enjoy with friends and family. Fire pits now offer a smoke-free gas flame and different structures, shapes and designs to match any patio. Masonry and stonework projects can also provide a nice decorative addition to your fire pit.
Put Out Blankets
Adding blankets to an outdoor space is not only simple, but also inexpensive. They can create a warm, comfortable outdoor retreat that will make you want to sit on your patio with a warm drink in your hand. Invest in warm blankets that will have you enjoying some quiet time or time with friends and family.
Create a Cover
Creating a cover for your patio can offer some much-needed refuge from the cold weather. Covers for your patio make cold temperatures more tolerable and help keep out the rain, snow, and wind. Covers can enhance your outdoor living experience and increase the amount of time you spend outside.
Soak It All Up
What’s more relaxing than a nice warm soak outside while you star gaze? Adding a hot tub to your patio can make spending time in the cooler temperature more enjoyable. If you’re not a fan of the water, try adding a sauna. Saunas also provide shelter and make an attractive addition to your outdoor space.
Patio Heaters and Fireplaces
If you are unsure about a fire pit, an alternative option would be a patio heater or built-in fireplace. Even though a fireplace is a bigger investment than a fire pit, they do produce a large amount of heat. A fireplace is the most expensive option; however, they are very attractive and available in gas or wood-burning. Patio heaters can be mounted or stand-alone and are offered in electrical or propane. Electrical patio heaters are expensive to run but easy to use.
It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, snowing, or the sun is out, you want to be able to use your patio and outdoor living space as much as possible. The winter months make it difficult to do so; however, by adding things to make it a more warm, comfortable, and welcoming environment, you will want to spend time all of your spare time outside. Here at Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls we take pride in what we do and have provided quality service for over 31 years. Contact us today at (636) 861-1530 so our expert staff can help you design a beautiful outdoor living space that meets your needs.