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Moving to your new lawn? Or simply want a new outdoor landscape? Pavers are definitely something to consider. Pavers are beautiful concrete, bricks, bluestones, flagstone, marble, travertine, porcelain, or cobblestone, set to create a pathway or usable surface. But once installed, should pavers be sealed? If unfamiliar with the hardscape, how would you know if they are already sealed. We've researched whether sealing pavers is ideal for your hardscape, and here's what we learned.
Sealing your pavers is a very important step in keeping them away from harmful elements and keeping their design for a long period of time. Ideally, pavers must be sealed several days after you finished installing them. However, there are also professionals that can seal pavers even 8-12 years after; this method is essential to restore old weathering pavers to look new and beautiful again.
Sealing them also comes with many benefits such as:
- safeguarding from damages
- repel particles that may stain its surface
- prevent hiding cracks for insects, pests and other bacterias from ruining your paver
- prevents weed, grass and other unwanted elements from growing
- prevents from discoloration and stains
- keeps them clean and neat
- contribute to your outdoor aesthetics
Keep in mind that sealing this gigantic surface also comes with many restrictions and technicalities. And, with intensive research, we give you the methods to seal your pavers, including how-to, and some products that will do the job. Scroll and have fun reading for more!
How to Seal Stone or Concrete Pavers
Whatever pavers and sealants you decide to install, there are important yet general rules you should consider.
Plan to Seal During a Dry Weather Forecast
Check the weather forecast, sealing pavers is best done during summer. You have to make sure that the concrete is dry before applying your sealer. There must be no potential rain or extreme moisture for the next 24 hours or more. This is to make sure that the sealant has enough time to dry.
If applicable, unearth weeds that grow between the pavers. This is a very important step if your pavers lasted for years before sealing. Growing weeds and any other elements aside from your pavers and sand may disrupt the process of completely sealing it from harmful effects on the environment.
Clean & Dry The Surface
Make sure to have thoroughly cleaned and dry pavers. Any surface dirt and foreign object must be removed. A leaf blower is ideal to do this job.
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You can also use liquid cleaning agents to clean and power wash the surface, this is ideal for optimal pre-sealing surface preparation.
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Use a squeegee to collect materials in between joints and clean the surface area.
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Apply the sealer with a low-pressure sprayer. It is advisable to have a sprayer with an adjustable nozzle head. It is also important to check the nozzle head before beginning. You need to set it up with a wide fan spray and never use a sprayer that shoots a narrow stream. Remember, you will be dealing with chemicals, so always proceed with caution.
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Depending on the project, you can also apply the sealer using a roller.
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Steer Clear of the Newly Sealed Area
Let it dry for at least 24 hours or more. You must keep an eye on the foreign objects, or animals that might come in contact during its drying period.
Make sure to put a "keep off" sign during its drying period.
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Types of Paver Sealers
There are a lot of products on the market to seal your pavers. However, these products can be categorized into two(2) types; water-based or solvent-based sealers.
Water-Based or Breathable Paver Sealer
Water-based sealer is the most environmentally friendly of all types of sealers. It does not release harmful vapors and has a limited amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Which makes it safer for your health and the environment.
Keeping the original color of your pavers? Water-based is the option you'll need.
Water-based sealers dry through a process called Coalescence:
- Once the sealer is applied to the concrete surface, its polymer beads are slightly separated by its water phase.
- During drying period, water evaporates. Coalescing solvent then come into contact with the polymer beads. This fusion causes them to swell and combine.
- Then the coalescing solvent evaporates, leaving a continuous film as the result of the fusion.
A dried water-based sealer is irreversible; that is it cannot be re-dissolved in water and is also resistant to other solvents. Environmental conditions, proper application and drying process, or water and coalescing evaporation must be highly observed in this process. Otherwise, the sealer will be flawed, leading to visible sealer problems that are difficult or oftentimes impossible to fix.
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Solvent Based or Acrylic Paver Sealer
Solvent-based or acrylic paver sealers offer durability and water resistance which makes them preferable sealers for concrete. Concrete has large pores, so the sealer's high humidity-resistant feature is important to consider.
It is also widely applied on brick, tiles, etc., which has proven to have a high advantage on UV light protection, wear-and-tear resistance, and chemical resistantance. Solvent-based, however, has several things to consider, such as high volatile organic compound (VOC), strong odor, and more complex way to clean-up. It also alters the natural look of your paver giving it a wet, glossy, and darker color.
Drying a solvent-based sealer is much simpler than a water-based, it only requires the polymer to be dissolved in a petroleum solvent such as xylene.
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How to Ensure Pavers Are Sealed
You must make sure that your pavers and shoes are clean upon applying sealer. This is to prevent any excess dirt or foreign objects from intermingling with your sealing process.
After applying sealers evenly to your pavers, wait for at least 24 hours or as recommended 72 hours to test your sealed pavers. To make sure pavers were sealed you can experiment on random small portions of your project. Pour water on the sealed stone and check if it did or did not penetrate the stone. If it does then you have to redo the whole process or call for a professional to remedy the situation.
But, if the water beads up then it's a job well done!
This process comes after the pavers are installed and completely sealed. Regularly clean the pavers from grease, dirt, soil, or stains to keep them for a long time.
How Often Should Pavers be Sealed?
Pavers are often exposed to harmful elements and sealants are no exemption to it. Generally, sealers should be reapplied for 3-5 years to reinforce the quality of their protection to last long. This may also vary depending on your sealer, the paver itself, or the contractor's recommendation if any.
Sealing your pavers is an absolute necessity to maintain and enhance their quality. Sealing can potentially cost a lot, so, you can do it yourself to save a few dollars or hire professionals to make sure that it is expertly done.
You must also consider whether you want a water-based or solvent-based sealer. This is dependent on what you want to achieve for its final look and always proceed with absolute caution. Finally, test your sealer to make sure that the goal was done successfully.