Choosing the suitable paver sealer is key to keeping your paver patio, driveway, or hardscaping looking good and lasting long. As a homeowner, you’re busy with many tasks, so you might wonder if paver sealing is worth it.
This article will show why sealing pavers is beneficial, suggest the best paver sealer, and help you decide if it’s a good choice for your home.
Pavers are popular for patios, pool decks, driveways, and general hardscaping. They come in many colors, styles, and patterns, so you can easily match them to your home’s style. No wonder their sales and installation are increasing all over the world.
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Why Paver Sealing Matters
Sealing pavers is crucial for keeping your outdoor areas beautiful and in good shape. Whether you have a patio, walkway, driveway, or pool deck made of pavers, sealing them has many benefits.
- Protect from stains: Sealer keeps pavers safe from stains from grease, BBQs, wine, and other spills. This makes your pavers look better and easier to clean.
- Stop fading: Sun and weather can make pavers fade. Sealing them helps prevent this, keeping your outdoor space looking great.
- Reduce drying time: Sealed pavers don’t soak up water, so they dry faster. It means less chance of mold, algae, or efflorescence (white marks).
- Increase Durability: Sealing protects pavers from damage due to freezing and thawing, salt, and other environmental factors. They’ll last longer and save you money on repairs or replacements.
- Increase home value: Well-kept pavers can raise your home’s value and appeal to buyers. Sealing your pavers helps keep them in good shape, boosting your home’s resale value.
Key Factors to Choose the Right Paver Sealer
When you’re picking a paver sealer, several important features must be considered. The right product will provide:
Safety first! It’s essential that sealing your pavers doesn’t make them more slippery. Avoid topical sealers, especially for patios, pool decks, and driveways. Wet-look and high-gloss sealers can create a slick surface when wet. Instead, choose a penetrating sealer. These sealers soak into the pavers, offering protection without making the surface slippery.
It would be best if you didn’t have to seal your pavers often. A high-quality sealer will protect your pavers for many years. Penetrating sealers are the best choice for long-lasting protection. Topical, wet-look, and high-gloss sealers wear off quickly, especially under heavy use, exposing your pavers.
Your paver patios and hardscaping are constantly exposed to the sun. It’s crucial that your sealer can withstand UV rays. Beware of acrylic sealers, as they’re not very UV resistant. They may claim to be “non-yellowing,” but that’s a basic expectation for any outdoor sealer. Over time, UV rays can dull acrylic, so choosing a sealer known for its UV resistance is better.
Advances in sealer technology mean that water-based sealers now match the performance of solvent-based ones without their drawbacks. Water-based sealers are not flammable, odor-free, and safe for people, plants, and pets. They don’t require special equipment or safety measures, making them a hassle-free choice for sealing needs.
Notes on Paver Sealing & Cleaning
Ending the paver restoration process with a protective sealer is crucial. It protects your paver system, enhances the color, and makes cleaning easier.
Many companies offer paver cleaning services but often need more expertise for proper restoration. It’s not just about pressure washing the surface. Using the wrong water pressure, unsuitable pressure tools, harsh chemicals, or generic sealers can cause permanent damage to your pavers.
Companies specializing in general pressure washing might need help understanding the specifics of interlocking paver systems, leading to potential harm. These services only clean the surface, ignoring crucial aspects like replacing joint sand or applying protective sealer. For thorough and safe restoration, choosing a service experienced in handling all aspects of paver care is essential.
Different Types of Pavers
Pavers are a durable option, often outperforming poured concrete slabs, especially in extreme weather. They are easy to maintain. However, it’s important to note that pavers vary in quality and type.
Pavers come from different manufacturers and have diverse compositions. Generally, they fall into three categories: brick, concrete, and natural stone. Each type has a unique shape, texture, and color. Often, more than one type is used in a design to achieve a specific look. The paver choice depends on the project, personal taste, and budget.
- Clay Brick Pavers: Very popular. They resist stains and color fading and can be laid in various patterns. Installation is straightforward, but the cost can be higher due to their smaller size. Compared to others, brick pavers are more likely to crack, chip, and crumble.
- Concrete Pavers: Often chosen for commercial projects with heavy vehicle traffic. They are available in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Concrete pavers are strong (8,000 psi) and less likely to chip or crack. They perform better against deicing chemicals and absorb less water (5%) than standard concrete (7–9%). However, strength and porosity vary among manufacturers. Their color can fade due to UV rays and surface traffic.
- Stone Pavers: This is a broad category including limestone, granite, bluestone, slate, and flagstone. They are popular for their natural appearance and are suitable for outdoor landscapes. Stone pavers can withstand extreme weather conditions. Issues like cracking, pitting, spalling, and surface deterioration are generally not a concern with stone pavers.
Use Marble Borders for a Special Touch
Pavers are often categorized as permeable, pervious, or porous. These terms refer to materials that let water pass through their surface, which is crucial for managing stormwater and reducing freeze-thaw damage. The critical point is that the surface porosity of pavers can vary significantly, which greatly influences the choice of sealer.
Manufacturing techniques affect porosity. Chemical additives in the mix, like polymers, protect color, add strength, and increase density. This can reduce the porosity of the paver, impacting how well a penetrating sealer is absorbed. If the sealer can’t penetrate, it might accumulate on the surface, altering the friction and appearance.
When penetrating sealers aren’t suitable, other options include high-gloss finish sealers or topical-type membrane coatings, such as acrylic, polyurethanes, clear epoxy, and waxes. But it’s important to note that only some of these sealers are appropriate for some situations. Topical sealants often require more maintenance and frequent reapplication.
Knowing your paver type is essential for selecting the right sealer. Our Sealer Guide offers a quick reference, but understanding your paver’s type is vital. Some pavers are more receptive to penetrating sealers, including:
- Mexican (unglazed)
However, pavers like marble, flagstone, fieldstone, and granite often have varying surface porosity, affecting sealer choice.
Streaks and Damage from High-Pressure Jets
Many pressure washing services use high jets that apply too much pressure in small spots. This uneven approach results in white streaks or trails on pavers. Such marks show where the water hit too hard, causing the breakdown of paver material, color loss, and surface damage.
Issues with Joint Sand Removal
High jet pressure often washes away the joint sand, which is vital for paver stability. Without this sand, pavers become unstable and may shift. Spaces left by missing sand also allow weed growth and water infiltration, compromising the paver system’s integrity. After washing, refilling joint sand is essential for stability, a step many pressure washing services overlook.
Dangers of Harsh Cleaners on Pavers
Cleaning chemicals not desighed for pavers can lead to lasting discoloration and other visual issues. Often, generic cleaning products are too strong for pavers. They can damage the aggregates and color pigments. This can result in more stains or an uneven surface than before. Choosing cleaners designed explicitly for paver care is crucial to avoid such damage.
Choosing the Right Joint Sand for Your Pavers
What is Polymeric Sand?
Polymeric sand is a blend of high-quality sand and a polymeric powder. When mixed with water, it solidifies, binding to the pavers to strengthen and stabilize your entire paver system. It’s an excellent choice for maintaining paver alignment and durability.
What is Joint Sand?
Joint sand is essential for the interlocking paver system, filling the gaps between each paver stone. It stabilizes the pavers, preventing them from shifting under pressure. Joint sand also blocks water from getting under the pavers, deters weed growth, and keeps pests out. Regularly refilling joint sand is crucial for maintaining the integrity and appearance of your pavers.
What is Stabilizing Sealer?
Stabilizing sealer is a unique protective coating with similar stabilizing properties to polymeric sand but in liquid form. When applied, it interacts with the sand, hardening and fortifying the joints between pavers. This is similar to the effect of polymeric sand, providing additional strength and stability to your paver system.
Installing Brand New Pavers - Polymeric Sand
For new paver installations, polymeric sand is highly recommended. Its ability to harden and form strong joints makes it an excellent choice.
After placing the pavers in the desired layout, a layer of about 1 1/2 inches of polymeric sand is spread between each stone. It’s important to ensure the sand is filled up to 1/8 inch below the chamfer of the paver (never level with the top of the stone itself).
Once the sand is in place, any excess on the surface should be cleared using equipment like a leaf blower. The next step involves activating the polymeric sand with water, known as “wet setting.” This water triggers the cement particles and polymers in the sand, causing them to bind the paver stones together and harden the joints, ensuring the stability of your paver system.
Restoring and Maintaining Existing Pavers - Premium Joint Sand
Premium joint sand is the top recommendation when refilling and restoring the joint sand in existing pavers. This choice has several advantages over polymeric sand:
- Efficiency in Absorption and Drying: Premium joint sand requires less absorption and drying time, which speeds up the restoration process and makes it more efficient.
- Finely Milled Texture and Ease of Use: This sand is more finely milled and typically sold by the bag, offering greater control during the filling process.
If you want to replenish missing joint sand between pavers, combining premium joint sand with a spray stabilizer sealer is a great approach. When applying the sealer, focus on wetting the joint areas. The sealer containing stabilizer polymers will penetrate the newly added joint sand.
As the sealer dries, it hardens the sand, binding it to the pavers and any existing joint sand. This technique is particularly effective with premium joint sand, as polymeric sand generally requires a minimum thickness of 1 ½ inches – a requirement often unattainable in most paver restorations.
Using premium joint sand for refilling joints in your pavers is time-efficient and cost-effective but also strengthens the bond between the old and new sand, ensuring a durable and long-lasting result.