Pointing and Sealing

Pointing is one of the last and most important stages of getting your patio looking right, and finished properly.

There are a few options with pointing and all have their advantages in certain applications, here we will look at the traditional method of sand and cement, as well as air-cured pointing products, and kiln dried sand.

As the hardest wearing method, a sand and cement joint is generally considered the best way of pointing in on patios, particularly on Sandstone Paving, and quite often Slate. Pointing is undertaken when the Slabs have been laid and given time to dry (normally 24-48 hours) and must be done in dry, frost free conditions, to allow the pointing mortar adequate time to dry and harden.

The first stage is to make sure all gaps to be pointed are dry and clean, and then the mortar can be mixed. An average ratio of sand to cement would be 5 parts sand to 1 part cement, you can go stronger than this however weaker is not advisable. Only mix around one wheelbarrow/bucket full at a time though as it will harden if left for too long. Mix the sand and cement together adding water as you go to get to a nearly liquid consistency, now you can start pointing your patio.

You will need two trowels ideally, one for getting an amount of mortar out of the bucket/barrow, the other for pushing into the joint and firming down. Work your way along each joint feeding mortar in off of one trowel with the other and pushing it down to fill the joint thoroughly, you will be aiming to evenly fill each joint without overloading it, as getting any wet mortar on to the surface of the slab will prove difficult to get off later on. Gradually fill all of the joints with the pointing mortar, mixing more as necessary, until all are filled, you are now ready to smooth down the joints for a nice tidy finish. The best way of smoothing down the joints is with a pointing iron (or the end of a trowel handle) or, for an alternative look, a pointing trowel can be used to groove the pointing to creating a rain channel in each joint.

Once you have tidied your pointing there will some debris remaining which should be swept off with a soft brush, and at all times go across your joints, as you can disturb the wet mortar if you sweep along the joints. Once clean you now only need to wait for the pointing to dry which can take up to 24 hours depending on conditions, but generally will take around 12 hours or so.

Another method is to use an air curing pointing compound. Which is very easy to install and can last just as long as traditional pointing. Again before starting the joints need to be clean and dry, and it is then a simple case of opening the bags and sweeping the compound in using a soft brush, and once swept in press into the joint with a trowel or pointing iron, and then leave to cure sweeping off any residue that has hardened after a few hours with a stiff brush. This is a very simple and effective way of pointing, but manufacturers’ guidelines should always be followed, and it is worth checking the suitability of the area to be pointed in this way, before starting work.

The final method is only suitable for Paving which is to be butt jointed (as you would with block paving for example) like most of our Travertine Paving Products. This is simply brushing in a fine Kiln-Dried Sand over the area to fill small gaps in between the paving slabs. This is only suitable for patios laid on a full mortar or concrete base as there is then little chance of weed growth in between slabs. The sand simply acts as a filler, preventing the gaps filling with dirt over time.