Paver installations – driveways, patios, walkways, etc. – are very low maintenance to start. They will last for years with only marginal upkeep. If you wanted them to totally be left alone, you could do this and not worry about the structure falling apart (like concrete) or looking absolutely awful (like asphalt).
Still, you may be wondering how to keep your investment looking as beautiful and strong as the day you got it. One way to further improve and maintain the look and durability of your pavers is by using a sealer. Over time, depending on the brand of paver, wind, water, and the sun might make the colors fade. Joint sand can begin to disappear, and weeds and ants can start invading your installation. Sealing pavers is a great way to prevent or reduce these unwanted effects of time. This article will explain how to seal pavers and give some hints and tips to get the biggest bang for your buck and time.
Why You Want to Seal Pavers in the First Place
There are many reasons to use sealers on your paving stones. Sealers protect your pavers from stains and water damage. The “finish” of the particular sealer may increase the beauty of the paving stone, bringing out the colors vividly. It will also make it easier to maintain, as you can easily wash away any dirt, and weeds and ants become significantly reduced. The sealer can also harden the sand in the joints, making the whole patio, driveway, or walkway even more solid. This also prevents water and ants and wind from scooping out the sand between the joints, requiring you to constantly replace and refill the sand. Sealers can be applied every year or every two years, when possible. In general, a good seal will last you around 2-4 years, though you can do it whenever you think the appearance or durability of the project requires it. However, do not seal your paving stones until the efflorescence (white chalky material) has disappeared from the pavers. This can take about three months occur. The reason for this is that the sealer not only keeps things out – it also keeps them in. Thus, the pavers won’t be able to breath to help get rid of the white chalky material if they’ve been sealed up tight.
How to Seal Pavers Effectively – the Materials
If you decide to go about paver sealing, there are some steps you should follow. First, make sure the installation is clean. You can use acids to do this, but some acids (like muriatic acid) are harsh. Look for masonry cleaners instead. Power washing will also help drastically – look for a washer that can deliver 2400 psi or more.
Clean Before Sealing Pavers
First, give the area a good clean. Make sure no heavy dirt, weeds, stones, and other objects are on the project. Use the power washer to remove surface dirt. When power washing, spread the water from the highest point down in order to push the water down the grade. Some sand will be removed from the joints, but make sure it’s not too much.You will also want to make sure any stains or dirt is removed from the surface before you start sealing concrete pavers. This may require you to do some spot cleaning of particularly troublesome stains – otherwise the stains will be ‘trapped’ underneath the sealer, and it will be difficult or impossible to remove them after the fact.
Also make sure that there are no broken or cracked pavers, and that no settling or other damage has occurred to the project. If there is, fix it before proceeding. Finally, sweep in more joint sand in order to replace any that has been lost, either over time or because of your cleaning. You should spend a lot of time on this part of the process – the more you invest here, the better the final product will look. Don’t rush! If you feel like doing a substandard job, you could outsource this to a contractor who will (hopefully!) do the job right.
Prep is Done – Let’s Complete the Job
After letting the patio, driveway, walkway etc. stand for a few days to dry and settle, you may begin to seal pavers. With the water-based paver sealer you obtained from a store or the internet, follow the directions written for that particular sealer. Each sealer will have varying instructions, but pay attention to how it should be applied, how many coats, how long it should stand, etc. Use a sprayer, roller, or brush to evenly apply the sealer on the surface of the installation. Do not use too much, as this could damage the project. Make sure the area is dry before walking on it.
WARNING: When selecting any cleaner or sealer to use on your pavers, check with the manufacturer to make sure that the product won’t do any harm to the paving stones. Always consult with your local contractor or manufacturer when you are considering sealing pavers. Some may not recommend it for you, given the climate, paver brand, or installation features. If too much sealant is used, water can get trapped – pavers need to breathe!