The bain of all driveways & patios…oil stains.
So you have noticed that your car has developed a leak and your lovely driveway now has an oil stain on it. You have just hosted the most amazing BBQ and everyones boasting about your insane cooking skills, but you have found grease or oil stains on your patio from an over enthusiastic hot dog lover.
Well in honesty oil stains can be a nightmare to remove fully. The best practice is to scrub it as soon as you see it. The longer you leave it the harder it becomes to remove. Depending on the type of stone will determine how hard it will be to get out. Natural stone is quite porous and will absorb the oil much quicker then say concrete or block pavers.
There are literally hundreds of products on the market designed for removing oil stains, however read the print on most of them and it will say the same “for best results use as soon as oil stain is present” this doesn’t give you a massive window. If you notice an oil stain or grease mark on your stonework the first thing to do if you have no oil stain remover to hand is use good old washing up liquid. Squirt it on neat, its cheap so don’t hold back. Then give it a good scrub with a stiff brush, a washing up brush or nail brush is ideal. You may need to apply a little bit of water to get some foam going.
After giving it some abuse with a brush rinse it off with some hot water, this should help lift the remaining oils. If you have caught it quick enough it may be enough to have removed it. You may find you have removed the colour from the oil stain, if its engine oil for example you may find that the black has gone but left the residual mark on the stone, this is when you may need to apply a special product to lift the mark or use a poultice to re absorb the stain.
The problem with natural stone is using harsh chemicals can damage the stone, or alter its appearance. A poultice can be made using whiting powder and left for 24 hours to re absorb the stain, its not totally guaranteed it will all work though, as ideally a poultice can be mixed with other chemicals such as ammonia to boost its power.
Now let look at block paved driveways that have oil stains, again these can be very difficult to remove effectively even with dedicated products, your time frame for oil stains on this type of block is usually around a week or so. Dedicated oil removing products can be expensive, and some are not much more than kerosene. In fact something simple like petrol can dissolve oil, so long as its scrubbed and rinsed thoroughly afterwards.
Here is a before and after shot of a driveway which had extensive oil stains. In fact they were there when they moved in and had been there for at least 2 years. The probability of removing the stains was quite slim. All we used was a proprietary oil remover and a good scrub.
You can see that the oil stains weren’t removed fully, however the customer didn’t want to spend loads of money on treatments that may or may not work. Most treatments involve leaving the product down for 24+ hours which obviously adds to the cost. The best way to have avoided such wide spread oil stains is to fix the car or keep it in one place, but a board underneath etc etc. On block paving if the oil stain is localised to a couple of blocks in a small area it is usually a lot cheaper to just replace the stained blocks. This type of driveway looks expensive and in its entirety it is, however the blocks start from around 40p each, so to replace, 2 or even 8 blocks isn’t expensive. They will just look new and will need to weather for a bit to blend in.