Driveways, patios, walkways: you can have pavers for various surfaces at your home, and keeping them sealed is essential. Without sealer, your pavers are vulnerable to weather and wear.
Because of this, we've put together the perfect guide to help you choose the best paver sealer for your surfaces. A suitable paver sealer will prolong the life of your driveway or walkway, keep it looking new, and protect you from more costly repairs.
Read on to learn more.
When to Apply Paver Sealer
Ideally, the best time to apply paver sealer is when your pavers are installed. However, waiting any length of time leaves your pavers exposed to humidity which can cause damage as moisture penetrates the pavers.
Waiting until after installation also exposes your surfaces to the danger of UV damage and sun discoloration. In addition, you may find that the color you chose for pavers isn't what you end up with, as discoloration occurs quickly.
Even dirt, grease, car oil, or other things can stain pavers that are left unsealed.
The point is, when in doubt, seal your pavers right when they're installed. This is another reason that getting educated on the best paver sealer before installing them is wise.
If you have pavers that have not been sealed yet, you can still do so! Pavers can be sealed years after their initial installation. Just be sure to keep in mind that sealers need time to penetrate the pavers.
This means you won't be able to park or walk on the surface for some time after applying the sealer. So make sure to plan accordingly before having pavers installed or getting them sealed if they're already installed.
You will also need to ensure that the pavers are clean before getting them sealed. Dirty pavers will not allow the sealer to penetrate as well as brand-new ones. This is another reason applying sealer is best done during installation time.
Why Paver Sealer is Essential
Since the dawn of time, well around 6000 BC, to be more precise, humans have been paving surfaces. Everything from roads to garden paths, many surfaces are beautified and made more operative by adding paving.
If you have invested in paving, whether concrete, stone, brick, or another material, why not protect that investment? When protected adequately, your pavers could have a longer life than... you!
A proper sealer fills any small gaps between your pavers. This means no water damage. It means no unwanted movement of pavers over time. Finally, it prevents things like weeds or anthills, mold, or lichen from forming on your surfaces.
Of course, sealer does more than prevent movement and unwanted pests from invading your pavers. Motor oil and other stains are nearly impossible to remove from unsealed pavers.
While applying paver sealer yourself isn't impossible, it may be inadvisable depending on your experience level. However, regardless of whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a professional, there's no question that paver sealer is a must-have for any homeowner.
Solvent vs. Water-Based Sealers: The Difference Explained
There are two main categories of sealers: solvent-based and water-based. Within these categories are film-forming paver sealers and penetrating paver sealers.
Penetrating Paver Sealers
Do you like a more earthy, natural look for your pavers? Then penetrating paver sealers may be the better choice for your surfaces.
Another bonus of this type of sealer is its quick application process.
Although it is often chosen for its more natural look, penetrating paver sealer is also available in color-enhancing forms. If you like the red or grey of your pavers and want to keep them looking earthy, but give the color a bit of a kick, choose a penetrating, color-enhancing sealer.
Shake the tin of penetrating silane-based paver sealers; you can tell they are mostly thin. Unfortunately, this means they aren't quite as effective at preventing the build-up of dirt accumulation.
As far as preventing the premature wearing of your pavers, penetrating silane-based may not be the best option.
Penetrating silane-based sealers are a popular choice when sealing areas constantly get wet. Think of areas around decks or pools. It's an excellent sealer for allowing the pavers to breathe while preventing water damage.
Keep in mind that if you apply silane-based sealers, you will have regular upkeep costs as new layers will need to be added throughout the year. These additional coats can become pricey, so consider this when planning your budget.
Applying this type of sealer shortly after installation can do much in the way of preventing lichen growth and efflorescence. This is also a good choice for preventing moss growth in moist areas.
Film-Forming Paver Sealers
Film-forming paver sealers are precisely what they sound like. They create a thin layer of film on the surface of your pavers.
This can be done with either a satin or high gloss finish.
Film-forming paver sealers are generally more common if you want a particular color-enhancing element. They give a glossy, shiny look while providing outstanding protection against moisture and rain.
Film-forming water-based sealers stabilize the joint sand and bind them.
Don't be alarmed when you or your contractor applies a water-based sealant. There is a white look as it's used, but this does not last once the water evaporates and the bond has time to dry and cure.
Water-based paver sealers allow you to choose a high gloss or natural look. Water-based sealers are effective at penetrating concrete pavers and paver surfaces.
They are a great choice if you are looking for a sealer that is easy to apply.
Water-based paver sealer protects from freeze damage. It prevents water from seeping between pavers and expanding during freezing temperatures. As a result, it can help you avoid the frustration of extensive repairs due to cracking from freezing water that's penetrated the pavers.
If one of your concerns in choosing the best paver sealer is whether it is environmentally friendly, water-based is the right choice. It is non-toxic and more eco-friendly than solvent-based paver sealers.
Another perk of a water-based sealer is that it offers UV protection and protection against chemical etching. This is especially true if you are using a water-based, penetrating sealer. Chemical etching can sometimes occur if harsh cleaning products are used on pavers.
Water-based penetrating sealers are often recommended for individuals with brick pavers. This is because they tend to soak in further and penetrate the pavers more effectively.
This, in turn, leads to a longer life for your pavers.
Water-Based Sealers That Include Silane
If you want a sealed concrete paver, this is a great choice. It's pretty good at preventing wear and tear. Water-based with silane is also an excellent choice for preventing dirt and grime build-up and lichen growth.
This type of sealer is better at resisting water than acrylic-based sealers. Unfortunately, this also means moss has a tough time growing on or between pavers sealed this way.
If applying this kind of sealer, water it down a bit and scrub hard when applying. This will make it penetrate deeper. You can also try adding a final top coat that's a bit heavier (not watered down), so you get an extra boost of dirt resistance.
Solvent-based sealers are meant to be impervious to scratches and abrasions. This is great for every lifetime protection but can present a challenge when cleaning it as it doesn't degrade with water.
Homeowners who stick strictly to environmentally-friendly products may want to steer clear of solvent-based paver sealers. Unfortunately, while they have pros, being environmentally friendly is not one of them.
Solvent-based sealers are becoming less common as manufacturers slowly offer them less often. However, solvent-based acrylic is often used for stone pavers instead of concrete.
Unlike water-based paver sealers, solvent-based is a bit more time-consuming to apply. In addition, solvent-based acrylic paver sealers penetrate deeper than water-based sealers. This usually means they need more coats to keep dirt from building up.
Solvent-based acrylic is well known for being effective at preventing mold or lichen growth. However, they result in a slight color alteration to your pavers, so be prepared for that.
They also tend to have a distinct smell when applied and even for some time after.
If you are most concerned with preventing efflorescence, lichen growth, and wear and tear, solvent-based acrylic is a choice. However, be aware that once applied, they create a high sheen and can sometimes be slightly slippery, especially when wet.
Polyurethane sealers are usually oil-based. They offer a wet look when dry and can be used for sealing and paver restorations. Just be sure you check with your paver manufacturer before applying a polyurethane sealer, as they should usually not be applied before the paver has cured.
Not surprisingly, acrylic products usually have a strong smell associated with these sealers. They are also known for their highly volatile organic compounds or VOCs.
One of the bonuses of polyurethane sealers is that it's versatile. While you can use it on your pavers, any extra sealer can also be sued to protect other household surfaces.
This includes windowsills, outdoor decks, wooden surfaces, wooden doors, and other similar surfaces.
How to Prepare Pavers for Sealing
If you're repairing old pavers, remove any furniture, vehicles, or other items from the entire surface area of the pavers. For sealers to adhere to the pavers, you should make sure the pavers are washed or newly installed.
Squeaky clean pavers are a must-have prerequisite for applying sealant, as any dirt or rubbish on the pavers will inhibit the sealer from taking hold.
Pressure washing is going to help your situation—a lot. Some professionals recommend using a surface cleaner before pressure washing a paved surface. However, pressure washing can (and likely should) be completed before applying any chemicals or cleaners.
After all, pressure washing helps you rinse debris or items attached to the pavers off them. Then, once the surface area is clear, you can get in deeper with a chemical or surface cleaner.
Be aware that not all paver washer products are created equal. Talk to the manufacturer of any product you want to use before applying it to your pavers. This is especially important when you're working with a new product or unsure of its results.
Again, pressure washing is the route to rinsing and cleaning the washing agent of your choice. Removing as much old sand as possible will help the sealer get to the new jointing. This will make for better stabilization of the paver joints.
Learn How to Choose the Best Paver Sealer for Your Situation
When it comes down to choosing the best paver sealer for your surfaces, there's not one perfect option. Instead, each has its pros and cons, and you must consider your priorities when choosing the paver sealer that's best for you.
Of course, having a budget and long-term goals in mind for your paved surface can also help guide your choice.
So, whether you're in the market for a suitable paver sealer or a Coatly Cleaning product to help prepare your pavers for the sealer, we're here to help. Browse our variety of paver sealers and cleaning products, and get ready to enjoy the pavers you've always wanted!
Our team of experts is happy to answer any questions you may have about product use, features, or applications. Let our team at Coatly help you with sealing or retouching your pavers today!