How to Remove Polymeric Sand from Pavers

Polymeric sand is a great jointing material for paver crevices but presents a challenge in the form of residual sand that hardens on the paver surface to form ugly, whitish haze. But how do I get rid of polymeric haze?

To effectively remove polymeric sand from pavers, strip off the sealant. Use a brick/block paver cleaner, or an acidic vinegar solution to clean the haze. Wash the surface with a pressure washer (medium pressure of 1600-2000 PSI ) to effectively get rid of haze without removing joint sand.

Homeowners often forget to sweep or blow off residual polymeric sand off the paver surface before wetting up the jointing sand, causing the wet leftover, surface sand to form this residual haze.

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Does polymeric sand residue damage pavers?

Polymeric sand residue also referred to as polymeric haze, doesn’t cause any structural damage to patio or driveway pavers. However, it’s unsightly and will definitely lower your curb appeal. The white polymeric sand haze covers your grey, black, or brown pavers, resulting in an ugly surface.

To prevent unsightly polymeric sand residue on your paved surface, you must understand the cause. After filling in paver crevices with polymeric sand, some of the sand particles are usually leftover on the surface of the pavers. If you don’t remove this residual sand before misting the sand between the paver seams, it reacts with the water and hardens, resulting in the white haze.

How to remove polymeric sand from pavers

If you misted your polymeric jointing sand before removing residual surface sand, resulting in polymer haze, there’s a number of ways you can still get rid of it. You can either clean it off using an acidic vinegar solution, a brick cleaner, and hose pipe, or a pressure washer. However, if you had already sealed the paver surface and paver joints, you’ll have to strip off the sealant before removing the locked-in haze.

1. Strip off the Paver Sealant

If you had applied paver sealant over the polymeric sand haze, you’ll have to strip off the sealant first to access the haze. Some of the tools you’ll need for this job include a paver sealer stripper, a paint roller, a power washer, plastic sheeting, and protective gear. Here’s a step-by-step guideline on how to strip off sealer off a paved driveway surface.

  1. Wear the necessary protective gear including gloves, overalls, and goggles. A charcoal filter respirator is also recommended to avoid inhaling toxic sealer stripper chemical fumes.
  2. Cover up any nearby landscape plants or furniture using the plastic sheeting.
  3. Then, using your paint roller, apply the paver sealer stripper in sections of up to 100 square feet at a time. You don’t want the stripper to dry out before you’ve power washed the residue off.
  4. Let the stripper sit on the surface for about 10-15 minutes before power washing the stripper and sealer residue off.
  5. Repeat steps iii. and iv. above until you’ve gotten all the sealant off the paved surface.

2. Clean off Polymeric Sand Residue with Vinegar

After getting rid of the sealant covering the polymeric haze, you can now acid-clean your paved driveway or patio using a vinegar solution to get rid of polymeric sand haze.

Here’s a procedure on how to clean polymeric sand with vinegar:

  1. Mix equal parts white vinegar/apple cider vinegar with equal parts water in a bucket. However, if the polymeric sand residue is particularly thick, you can use slightly more vinegar acid than water.
  2. Next, pour the acidic vinegar solution all over the paved surface and wait for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Wash off the vinegar solution and polymer sand residue using a garden hose or a power washer.

3. Clean off Polymeric Sand Haze using a Hose Pipe and Brick Cleaner

For thin layers of polymeric haze, a normal wash using your gardening hose pipe will suffice. Even with the hose pipe’s low pressure, you should still be able to effectively dislodge such minor traces of leftover polymeric sand.

Here’s a brief procedure on how to wash polymer haze off your paved driveway using a hosepipe.

  1. Start off by spraying the entire paved hardscape with a garden hose.
  2. Then mix commercial brick/block paver cleaner with lukewarm water to form a cleaning solution. Follow the manufacturer’s dilution guidelines to get the most effective mix.
  3. Next, spray the cleaning solution over the paved surface, before scrubbing off the polymer haze with a stiff-bristled brush.
  4. After scrubbing the surface, remove the soapy cleaner residue and polymeric sand residue off of the paved surface by spraying it with your garden hose.
  5. If there are still some spots with hazy residue, repeat the above steps until all the white polymeric haze is gone.

4. Clean off Polymeric Haze using a Pressure Washer

Washing your paved surface with a pressure washer is arguably the most effective way to remove polymeric sand residue from a paved driveway or patio. This is especially true for thicker layers of polymeric sand residue that harden when wet to form tough, coarse clumps.

Set the power washer to medium pressure of 1600-2000 PSI to avoid removing too much of the polymeric sand that you’d laid between the paver joints. A medium pressure range allows you to get rid of haze on the surface of the surfaces without accidentally targeting your paver joints.

The problem with using a normal pressure washer is that you may have to repeat the process multiple times if the problem is severe. To avoid this issue, use a hot water power washer instead. We recommend setting the temperature at 180 ° F for maximum efficacy.

Polymeric sand comprises quartz and silica polymers, which will be reactivated by the heat from the hot water. Meanwhile, the pressure-released water will carry the polymeric sand residue away from the paved surface. For smaller paved areas, boiled water works just as fine as a hot water pressure washer.

Note: With a hot water pressure washer, you also won’t need too much pressure to remove the haze, thus minimizing the amount of polymeric sand accidentally washed off from paver seams.

Can polymeric sand haze go away on its own?

It’s unlikely that polymeric sand haze will go away by itself because once the sand is wet and hardens, it becomes tough and hard to dislodge. However, if the haze layer is thin and the problem isn’t severe, it’s possible that the haze could dissipate after a few downpours. Rainwater is slightly acidic, and can, therefore, break down polymer residue haze in the same way vinegar does.

Note: Some types of polymeric sand contain cement as an additive. These types of polymer sand form a very tough haze that won’t be dissipated by rainwater. We recommend using a vinegar solution if you used this type of paver jointing sand.

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