Everything You Need to Know to Care for Your Bluestone Patio
Whether you've got yourself a nice new bluestone patio or are looking into having it installed, the question comes up on what is needed to make it last. The good news is that aside from a few special considerations and best practices, it's very low-maintenance stuff! Its overall durability is what lends itself to be such a great material for use on decks, patios and around pool installations. Bluestone is a broad term for a bunch of different classifications of stone that share a similar blue hue from all over the world. As far as anyone can tell, the term seems to have started with Stonehenge in England, but became broader in scope over time. The bluestone you'll typically see around the U.S. is Pennsylvania bluestone, found mostly in New Jersey, New York and, you guessed it, Pennsylvania. This bluestone is a sedimentary flagstone and is remarkably tough stuff, even harder than granite in some cases, adding to its usefulness outdoors with heavy-outdoor furniture. Despite the name, it's not only found in blue shades. It can be had in a range of blues, but also greens, lilac, tan and rusty tones, giving you some interesting variety in terms of mosaic or varied patterns.
How to Care for Your Bluestone
Thanks to its high density in comparison to some other stone options, bluestone tends to be more resistant to staining than something like travertine or even granite. However, it is still not impervious, and staining liquids can still make their way into the pores on the surface. Here's how you can prevent that as well as some other tips to avoid common stone-care pitfalls:
Bluestone Needs to Be Sealed
As stated above, bluestone is still a relatively porous material, allowing liquids and substances such as fallen wet leaves to stain. Even something as innocuous as cooking oil can leave a lasting dark mark that takes some work to remove. Going further, just like granite, travertine or other flagstone, bluestone is susceptible to etching from acidic spills such as vinegar, wine, fruit juice, soda and common household cleaners. This etching can look like hard watermarks or light stains at first but are actual permanent damage to the surface of the stone. To seal your stone, first clean and clear any dirt and grime from the surface and allow it to dry. Spray your Granite Gold Sealer® in 3-foot sections at a time and use a fresh and dry cloth to buff the solution into the surface immediately. If you have grout between tiles, don't forget to seal that as well! Grout is also very porous and susceptible to staining. In general, it is recommended to seal your bluestone every 6-12 months, but that is highly dependent on use, and if areas receive heavier than normal traffic or soil. If you’re in doubt, you can always try the water test to see if your stone is in need of sealing: Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface in several locations and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you see a dark mark or ring, the water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal.
Use Stone-Specific Cleaners
The problem with most indoor-outdoor floor cleaning products is that they tend to either rely on harsh acidic or alkaline chemical mixtures that can be damaging to the stone's seal and in the case of acidic cleaners, can etch and dull the stone. These marks add up and show even on rougher finishes such as clefted and sawn thermal, but are especially noticeable on more finely honed or polished surfaces, such as on a countertop. We recommend using the Granite Gold Outdoor Stone Cleaner®, which is formulated specifically for use on outdoor stone and is completely pH neutral for effective cleaning while also reinforcing your seal rather than damaging it. For tough spots, pair with a stone-safe scrub pad or nylon brush to get up dirt and grime while still not marring the surface. After any instance of hard scrubbing or in-depth cleaning, remember to reseal the stone in that spot.
Mop Up Spills as They Happen
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. An important step in protecting your stone and its protective seal is to make sure you wipe and mop up spills as they happen. Like mentioned above, even water can leave a temporary mark in the stone, meaning other liquids can leave hard-to-remove stains. Catching spills like wine or citrus juice spills early can save not only your seal, but also your stone's professional finish as well.
Keep the Stone Clear of Debris
Food spills aren't the only worry in terms of staining. If moisture is allowed to accumulate under debris on the stone such as leaves, a hose left out or even potted plants, you could be left with some difficult-to-remove grime. At worst, these growths can leave a stubborn stain under the surface of the stone, and organic material from wet leaves and grass clippings can do the same. That's why it's important to sweep the stone regularly as needed and to not let moisture build-up, if possible.
Have any more specific questions or concerns on how to care for your bluestone, travertine, granite or other natural stone? Feel free to reach out to our team of Stone Care Experts with three generations of stone-care expertise at 1-800-475-STONE. Also, be sure to check out our full line stone care products to keep that bluestone looking as nice as the day it was installed!