A DIY Disaster

671-ss-filling-joints-patio-paversIt’s late on a Sunday afternoon and I am sitting here wearing filthy clothing that is no doubt forever ruined. My big toe is bleeding from being ripped from its bed by a stray tree limb. My face is covered in sandy grit and my hair looks like Daryl’s coiffure in The Walking Dead. It wasn’t supposed to end this way, but I’m way ahead of my story so let’s go back to the beginning.

I have a lovely paver patio that husband Mike and I have enjoyed for several years now. We often dine there enjoying Mother Nature’s splendor. Of late I have had to continuously pull weeds that have grown between the crevices of the bricks because most of the sand that once filled the joints has evaporated due to wind and rain. I decided that it would be a fun and worthy project to get our favorite spot back up to speed. After all, who doesn’t like a DIY project? Why should Chip and Joanna get so much credit for what they do when we are all capable of a little fixer upping, right?

So I did a bit of research on YouTube where it’s possible to learn how to do virtually anything, and it seemed as though it was a very easy task. After all, Mike and I have done electrical work and I have painted a twelve foot wall using a ladder perched on a countertop. We are not exactly ignorant of the ways of home maintenance and repair.

Our first step was to take everything off of the patio and set it in the yard. That was quick and easy. Then it was on to ridding ourselves of those pesky weeds. That was a bigger project than we anticipated but it ultimately went well. We congratulated ourselves on a job well done. Next we power washed the entire area until it was gleaming like new. We were definitely on a roll and feeling a bit cocky about our abilities. I was actually day dreaming about the possibility of a new business venture in patio renovation.

While the area was drying in the warmth of a beautiful sunny day we went to Home Depot to get the compound to put between the joints. The place was packed and filled with employees pretending not to notice anyone who needed help which seemed fairly normal. Since Mike wasn’t about to ask anyone where to find what we needed (What men ever do?), it was up to me to inquire. A young man acted as though we had interrupted important work which included moving a two by four from one spot to another, and at first insisted that he had no idea what we were talking about. An older gentleman did his best to be a bit more polite, but it was obvious that he wasn’t quite sure what we were talking about. I suppose that there was a bit of a language barrier in his case. That should have been our cue that we were in trouble, but we persisted and finally the two of them began arguing about which of the many products were best suited for our purposes. They finally agreed that a sand and concrete mixture was exactly what we needed. We took their advice and headed for home thinking that in only a couple of hours we would have a beautifully renovated outdoor setting. I was particularly flying high with anticipation of how wonderful our finished project was going to be.

We had been instructed to pour some of the mixture directly on to the surface and then use a broom to sweep it into the cracks. Things seemed to be going swimmingly until some of the sandy substance began bleeding onto the pavers looking wet rather than dry. I have since found out that this is called staining and it happens when the area is not completely dry. Since it was only occurring in a couple of places we soldiered on thinking that all would still be well. Before long we had covered the entire surface and filled every joint, but the bleeding began to take place in multiple sections. Before long it appeared that we had literally killed our once gorgeous pavers. We swept and swept and swept, removing excess powder thinking that we might be able to save the day, but the problem only grew worse and worse, and after over an hour of sweeping there was a gray layer of sand all over every single paver. Not only had we lost all of the lovely color of the bricks, but the bleeding had reached an emergency level with gray concrete oozing over almost every single surface. We decided that maybe wetting things down might help, but that only lead to a crazy looking mess that gave the appearance that a group of kindergartners had decided to design an outdoor walkway. Our only option was to get the power washer out once again and literally soak the surface with so much water that the cracks were empty once again and the offending gray concrete was removed from the pavers. It literally took hours of hard work to spray the ugly film from each paver, one at a time. We wanted to cry at the evidence of our big fail, but there was little to do but laugh at our ineptness.

We were able to save the patio, but it now sits in a pool of dampness that will probably take days to dry. Every crack is wide open, so I expect the weeds to come back with a vengeance. We did a bit more research and now know what kind of substance to get. It is sand with a polymer, not concrete. Hopefully we can install it with more success by Tuesday or Wednesday and then put a sealant on the surface to keep it from washing away or getting dirty. I truly hope that we have a more favorable outcome than we did today. I am feeling a bit like a dunce and Mike is aching from standing on the hard concrete for almost six hours washing every square inch to keep it from being ruined. We both have a new respect for the little old man who did the original work for us, and maybe Chip and Joanna are way more impressive than we thought.

I’m going to go wash away my shame now. I now have a new set of work duds for dirty jobs, because the ones I am now wearing are only suitable for hard labor in the future. I can tell by the throbbing pain that my big toe is so damaged that I will not be wearing flip flops or sandals this summer. (I know. I know. I should have been wearing shoes, but I am a bit of a sixties hippie and I do my best work without confining my feet.) I guess that we may put “patio repair” on the list of things that we no longer wish to do, like plumbing and putting a roof on a house, fiascos with stories of their own from the past. Sometimes it’s best to stick with what we know rather than venturing into new territory. I suppose that we needed to do a bit more homework before trying our hand at something that is way harder than we anticipated.

I think that sometimes we are pence wise and pound foolish. We probably could have paid someone to do this for us and avoided a great deal of grief, but hey, we are retired and have more time than money. We should be able to do this. We know people who have had great success at such things. Surely we are as capable as they are.

If the weather holds up and the surface dries out, we will try again in a couple of days. I shouldn’t be worried, but I am. I shouldn’t feel ridiculous, but I do. The video showing us the process looked so easy. In fact, the people got the whole thing done in only four minutes. Surely we will get this right. I can only hope.

For now Mike is downing a beer. I think he has the right idea.

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