From Roman cobblestones to today’s concrete slabs, pavers have always been the go-to option to improve the aesthetics and functionality of outside areas. Whether you are looking to redesign your patio, driveway, or home entrance, pavers can help you achieve the design you want. However, these outside areas are also the ones most exposed to natural elements, high levels of traffic, and daily wear and tear. Applying a sealant can be an accessible and affordable way to increase their lifespan, protect them from moisture damage, and preserve their look. While installing pavers requires the help of a professional, applying a sealant does not. Here is a simple guide to sealing pavers yourself!
Choosing a Paver Sealant
One of the reasons why pavers are so appreciated is their versatility. Indeed, you can find hundreds of types of pavers in concrete, natural stone, porcelain, and more. Each material is then available in a range of colors, textures, and designs.
While there are general sealers that you can apply on any paver type, it is recommendable to pick the right one for your flooring. Before diving into the steps to take to seal your pavers, let’s start by selecting the right sealant.
Types of Paver Sealant
Firstly, there are three main types of common types of sealant:
- Water-based – they are resins mixed with water, safe and easy to apply, and non-toxic. They can be used as joint sand stabilizers, and they are usually water and oil repellent.
- Solvent-based acrylics – acrylic sealants are made of a soft resin mixed with water. They are common because of their low prices and application simplicity. They will last around four years, but, compared to water-based ones, they penetrate deeper into the surface.
- Solvent-based polyurethane – they are a mix of a harder resin and solvent. They are stronger than water-based solutions and can last longer than six years. They are highly resistant to water, oil, moisture, and chemicals.
Paver sealants can also be surface sealants (coatings) or impregnators. The first ones tend to dwell on the surface and act as a layer of protection against the elements. They can usually be removed with substances such as a paver sealer remover.
Oppositely, impregnators penetrate deeply into the substrate and act at a molecular level. They fill the capillaries and empty spaces between the grains, which offer total pavement protection and last for longer.
Understanding the Paving Materials
Aside from the type of sealant available, it is important to look at your pavers. Some manufacturers might deem their paver sealer products are suitable for general use. However, it is always recommendable to pick a sealant that suits the needs of your pavers.
Some of the most common types of pavers include:
- Pattern Imprinted Concrete (PIC) paving
- Wet-cast patio paving
- Natural stone
- Concrete slabs
- Semi-dry pressed BS pavers
With the right kind of sealant, you can protect your pavers from weed growth, moisture damage, oil stains, and chemical corrosion.
Factors To Consider
Sealing pavers is an excellent option to protect your pavers, improve the look, and extend their lifestyle. However, it is essential to select the right type of sealant to achieve these results. Some of the factors to consider include:
- Ability to repel oil (oleophobic)
- Water and moisture resistance (hydrophobic)
- Inhibiting weed growth
- Ability to withstand high traffic volumes
- Look – you can pick a natural, glossy, or clear look or opt for a color-boosting sealant.
It is important to notice that most oil-repellent sealants are also likely to be water-repellent. However, water-repellent sealants are not automatically oil repellent. So, you should ensure that the sealant you have picked meets your criteria.
Sealing Paver: A Step-by-Step Guide
Once you have picked the right sealant for your pavers, it is time for you to apply it. You can either do so by yourself or, if you don’t feel confident enough, with the help of a professional. Sealants can also be applied to new pavers as well as older ones.
Ideally, you should consider applying the sealer just after the initial installation is complete. Thus, your pavers can be protected from the beginning, and you won’t have to prepare them for future applications.
However, if you need to coat older pavers, here is an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide.
Prepare Your Pavers for Sealing
Preparing your pavers for the sealant application is potentially one of the most important steps in the process.
When preparing your pavers, here is what you need to consider:
- Ensure that the pavement is dry – ensuring that your pavers are dry is the most important aspect to consider. After heavy rains or washes, wait for at least a week to ensure that no moisture is trapped underneath the sealant.
- Wait 1-3 months before application – if you are applying a coating sealant, you will have to wait at least 30 days to avoid trapping moisture underneath it.
- Wait for the efflorescence to disappear – efflorescence is a naturally occurring white, powdery substance that can affect the look of your pavers. You should wait until this entirely disappears to avoid sealing it in. Generally, efflorescence happens 6-9 weeks from your pavers installation, and, with time, it will disappear by itself.
- Power wash your pavers in advance – power washing the floor is essential to remove any dust and debris that might be affecting the floor. However, you need to do so at least two weeks before applying the sealant. Generally, 15 days are enough for the moisture to evaporate and for the reactive efflorescence to disappear.
- Inspect the pavement – during your examination; you should look for missing jointing sand, incomplete jointing, or minor faults. Ensure to address all these issues before applying the sealant.
Pick a Date and Gather Your Tools
As we have seen, it is essential for your pavers to be entirely dry before the sealant application. Because of this, it is crucial to pick a date to complete your project strategically.
The best time of the year for sealing pavers is between late spring and early fall. These are the driest and warmest months, which means that you won’t have to worry about raining just after the application. And, of course, the heat can speed up the drying process. Ideally, after the application, there should be at least three consecutive sunny days.
In terms of the tools needed for the project, these will depend on the kind of sealant you are using. Commercial sealants are applied with one of the following according to their level of viscosity:
- Long-handles rollers
- Low-pressure sprays
You will also need adequate PPE, including gloves, overalls, goggles, and face coverings. Don’t forget to keep children and pets away from the area.
Perform a Spot Test
Once you have your PPE and a sealant, it is recommendable to perform a spot test. To do so, select an area of the pavement that is hidden and not so visible. Clean the area, ensure it is entirely dry, and then apply the sealant according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you are following the same technique that you will use on the rest of your pavement.
Once it has dried, complete the spot test by checking the final results. A spot test is essential to check that the sealant agrees with your pavers’ material and allows you to obtain the desired result.
Apply the First Coat of Sealant
Depending on the viscosity of your sealant, you will either spray it with a low-pressure spray or pour it on a paint tray and apply it with a roller. It is important to remember that some squeegees and rollers might not leave enough sealant on the surface, so you should consider using a specially designated one.
For the application method, you should always stick to the manufacturer’s instructors, as these can vary from a product to another. However, some tips to keep in mind include:
- Ensure that the sealant reaches into the joints so that it can penetrate through the jointing sand.
- Apply the second coat only once the first coat has been allowed to dry for at least one hour.
- During the first coat, you should be able to cover between 2-4m² of pavement per liter of sealant. During the second coat, you should cover between 5 and 9m² per liter.
- Start from the further point from the exit so that you don’t get boxed in.
- Keep the whole area traffic-free for at least one day after the application.
Allow for Drying Time
While sealant is the most effective way to protect your pavers from water damage, moisture can affect its application. So, once you have applied the second coat of sealant, the area needs to dry for 1-3 days. During this time, it is essential to keep the area free of traffic and ensure that it won’t rain.
How Long Do Paving Sealants Last?
Depending on the quality of the paver sealant you have used, it can last for several years. Generally, you won’t have to repeat the process for 2-6 years.
Some elements affect their lifespan, including your level of care, regular maintenance, and the volume of traffic the pavers need to withstand on a daily basis.
For example, the heavy traffic of cars on your driveway will have a much more visible effect than the one of light foot traffic on your patio!
Consult a Professional
Applying sealant to your pavers is a project that you can complete by yourself. However, if you don’t have the necessary tools or DIY experience, an expert can offer you the guidance you need to achieve the results you want. After all, your home’s exterior look counts! Whether you are looking for a paver brick sealer or you need a heavy-duty sealant for your concrete slabs, we are ready to put over two decades of experience into your service. Get in touch with Specialty Sealants, Inc today to find a tailored solution for your pavers!