Learn How To Remove Dry Cement From Paving Slabs Sweat-free

Have you ever tried to make cement mixture at home? If you like DIY projects, then you probably have. Cement is used to build a brick BBQ, lay a patio, build garden steps, driveways and walls, and the list goes on and on. The worst part, though, is when cement spillages and splashes stick on walls, doors or your paving slabs.

close up of paving slabs

Working with cement can get quite messy, especially if you’re a beginner DIYer. If you notice any dry cement splatter on your freshly installed slabs, you don’t need to panic, though. In this article, we will show you how to clean up the dry cement once it’s mostly set so that you can get your slabs in good shape. So, let’s get right into it!

Preparing to remove dried cement 

Paving slabs have firm, smooth surfaces with no gaps or holes. This means that cement residue is more likely to adhere to the outside of the bricks rather than infiltrating the surface. If you try to clean up the residue while it’s still wet, you’ll just smear it onto the stones and make a bigger mess. Instead, let it dry to make removal easier.

If you think that just soapy water can do the trick, you better rethink it. It becomes so hard when the cement dries that you need drastic measures to remove it. Brick and patio cleaners work really well on getting rid of cement. However, you can opt for homemade solutions, which can work wonders. Keep in mind that you will be working with an acid solution below, which requires extra caution. Acids can stain dry slabs, so dampening the areas where you’ll be applying the cleaning solution is vitally important. 

Plus, a pair of acid-resistant and long rubber gloves, safety goggles, a plastic bucket, a bristled brush, and a garden hose should all be on hand. You’ll also need household ammonia and muriatic acid at a normal concentration. A rubber mallet and chisel are required if the cement is particularly thick. 

Put on the safety goggles and hold the chisel up to remove the concrete residue. It is important that you saturate the area with clean water using a garden hose once the thickest chunks of cement have been removed.

Tools you will need

  • Chisel
  • Muriatic acid
  • Water
  • Eye protection
  • Acid-resistant gloves
  • Cheap paintbrush
  • Scrub brush

How to remove dry cement from paving slabs

If you are going to clean cement from newly built slabs, wait at least two weeks before proceeding with the methods below:

a garden with a patio with paving slabs and garden furniture

1. Chisel and rubber hammer

First and foremost, make sure you’re wearing eye protection. Place the gouge against the clean concrete and use the rubber mallet to tap it. Make sure not to hit the slabs, as this can cause them to crack.

This may take some time, depending on how much cement you need to remove, but it’s important to take your time and do it carefully so you don’t permanently damage your slabs.

2. Muriatic acid 

Wet the area after breaking the concrete chunk with the gouge. Then mix around 4 litres of clean water and 1 cup of muriatic acid. Allow 15 minutes for the solution to solidify before applying it to the concrete using a paintbrush.

Soon after, the mixture will start to bubble. The acid will dissolve the concrete and make it possible to remove it. Make sure that all of the slabs where the acid may split are thoroughly moist, as muriatic acid can discolour slabs that aren’t adequately wet.

3. Scrub the broken concrete

Scrub the concrete once some time has passed. It’s possible that you’ll have to apply the muriatic acid solution multiple times before all of the dry cement is gone.

4. Now, use water to clean the slabs

After you’ve finished, give the slabs a good rinse with clean water. Keep in mind that the acid will kill any vegetation it comes into contact with, so be extra cautious.

How to clean paving slabs with white vinegar solution

Tools you’ll need

  • Strong broom
  • Water bucket
  • Weeding tool
  • Scrubbing brush
  • White vinegar

Step 1: Remove all plants or furniture 

Because the vinegar solution has acidic properties, make sure all of your plant pots and furnishings are removed from the slabs. If you can’t remove them, simply cover them with a plastic sheet.

Step 2: Weeding

Before starting the cleaning procedure, use a weeding tool to dig out the roots of any weeds that appear on the joining point. Alternatively, you can also pour some hot water to get rid of any weeds.

weeds coming of the joints between the paving slabs

Step 3: Start sweeping

Broom-sweep the slabs with the help of a garden hose and ensure that the area is cleared and suitable for cleaning.

Step  4: Apply the white vinegar solution

Fill half a bucket with water and the other half with white vinegar and mix well. Then, pour the liquid onto the slabs and spread it out evenly. 

Ensure that the solution has covered the entire paved area, and then allow 30 minutes to soak. When applying the solution, start with a small area and work your way up to the full surface.

Step 5: Wash

Scrub the damaged area gently with a scrubbing brush to remove cement stains. Following that, clean the surface with cold water and give it some time to dry fully.

How to remove dry cement from paving slabs without using a pressure washer

Cleaning walkways and patio slabs using a power washer is usually a good idea. But, not all homes have the capability of pressure cleaning. The following is a step-by-step guide for cleaning the slabs without using a pressure washer:

Step 1: Get rid of any weeds before you start

Weeds make your concrete slabs look unclean, and if you don’t treat them right away, they will quickly fill in the crevices. That is why it is important to remove weeds and their roots as soon as possible.

Step 2: Clean the paved area with the cleaning solution

Combine a soapy liquid or detergent with warm water and swirl for a few minutes to make mild foam. Then, pour it over the affected area and let it sit for a while.

Step 3: Scrub

Start scrubbing with a stiff brush. You can also use a wire brush with a long handle. Scrub the pavement surface until it is completely free of cement stains. Repeat this process until all of the stains have been removed and the area is clean.

Step 4: Rinse the slabs with water

Wash the area with plain water after cleaning and rinse it to remove any remaining stains.

Step 5: Finish up

Sweep the area once again after it has dried, and then return all of the items back in place.

Maintenance tips

Woman cleans stone slabs with a pressure washer

1. Avoid using brick acid on natural stone surfaces

It’s very harsh and exceedingly corrosive. Plus, its high hydrochloric acid content will trigger chemical reactions on certain stones and grouts, resulting in serious rust discolouration and ruining the look of your pavers. It will not only eat through the surface, but it will also extract iron deposits from within the stone if they are there.

2. Brushing

Brushing your slabs over regularly helps remove buildups of debris and grime that have accumulated on the surface. By doing so, you will also prevent any seeds from germinating too because they will have no place to take root. Regular brushing will also cut off any small sprouts and prevent them from developing. 

3. Weeding

It is almost unavoidable that weeds will take root and grow at some point. Make sure to dig up any weeds that have taken root and remove as much of the root as possible. Also, any weeds that have taken root in any joints should be removed, even if the joints are filled with sand. But, you must later restore the sand in the joint once all weeds have been removed and the area has been cleaned and swept. Do not leave it partially filled. You can check our article on how to kill weeds in easy steps.

4. Sealing your paving slabs

You can use a patio sealer to protect your slabs. There are a variety of paving and patio sealers available today, including those for more specialised paved surfaces like Indian sandstone, limestone, and travertine.

Because there are so many various sealers to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one to use for your specific surface. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging, as applying the wrong sealer could ruin the surface of your slabs.

A sealer’s primary function is to seal the surface and prevent it from absorbing water, moisture, and other elements such as oil since this will significantly slow the growth of weeds, algae, and lichens.

Once the surface has been sealed, it can repel or resist the outside elements. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a one-stop solution that will protect your slabs indefinitely. You’ll still need to clean and brush on a regular basis.

clean concrete paving slabs in a garden

We hope you are now clear on removing dry cement on your own and how to clean paving slabs. For best results, you will have to clean them at least twice a year to maintain a clean appearance! After removing dry cement, you may also try to paint your patio slabs to upgrade them and give them a new look.

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