We’re so happy for you. You finished designing your patio, excavating your yard, and installing your pavers. It’s finally done and it’s time to enjoy your patio!
Only, there’s one more thing that’s floating in your mind: Do I need to seal my pavers?
Here’s our answer: do you need to? No. Should you? Yes, absolutely!
Why Seal Pavers?
First things first, sealing pavers is about keeping your pavers clean and looking as good as new. Many people think that sealing their pavers will protect them from structurally deteriorating. That’s just not true. Your pavers are as strong as the material and process used to make them.
Then why should I seal them? Why can’t I just clean them every now and then to keep them looking like new? Great question!
Because your pavers will be subjected to years of rainfall, snow, ice, and UV exposure from the sun, sealing them can keep the colors from fading. Certain sealers will also allow you to enhance the colors, making them “pop” and look even better.
Will Sealing Pavers Prevent Weeds?
Yes! Another reason to seal your pavers is to prevent weed growth. What do you mean? I already put down landscape fabric and filled the joints with polymeric sand to inhibit weed growth?
What you did is perfect. It’s not the weeds growing from underneath that you need to worry about. It’s the weeds that plant themselves from above.
What happens when you don’t seal your pavers is that weed seeds get picked up by the wind and fall into the joints of your pavers. If you (or your neighbors) have weeds in your yard, we guarantee that they’ll eventually grow from the joints of your unsealed pavers.
Sealing your pavers will harden the joint sand, which makes it more difficult for weeds to grow, and offer you the added benefit of keeping the sand in place so that your pavers don’t shift from sand loss.
What About Stains?
Sealing pavers prevents staining from motor oil, spills, leaves, and anything that might land on them and leave a mark. You could not seal them and clean these things off anyway, but…
Look at it this way. You invite your neighbors over and their kid Jimmy – good kid, but messy eater – accidentally drops his greasy burger on your pavers. You’ll just have to clean it later. But because you didn’t seal your pavers, you find yourself scrubbing away instead of lightly brushing off the stain.
This doesn’t have to be you. Another reason to seal pavers is to make them easier to clean.
If none of what we said so far matters to you, or you don’t plan on inviting Jimmy’s family over for dinner, then hey, you can stop reading, forget about sealing your pavers, and go enjoy your patio already! But if you’re thinking it might be a good idea to seal your pavers, then read on!
When Should Pavers Be Sealed?
After you finish installing your pavers, you’re probably wondering, can I seal them now? Not so fast! You’ll want to wait one year after installation for the efflorescence to dissipate before sealing your pavers.
Efflo-what? Efflorescence! The powdery white stuff that you sometimes see on pavers. Pavers have natural salts in them that get drawn out by water, say after a rainfall. And when that water evaporates, the white salt gets left behind on the surface of your pavers.
Efflorescence will eventually go away, but brand-new pavers need time to rid themselves of it. If you seal too early, you’ll trap an unappealing layer of white stuff on your pavers. Some people try to get rid of it faster by cleaning their pavers, but really, the best thing to do is nothing and let the white stuff dissipate on its own.
Whenever you see efflorescence float to the surface of your pavers, simply use a dry brush to sweep it off.
Does Sealing Pavers Make Them Darker?
Not necessarily. It all depends on which sealer you get.
There are natural-looking sealers that penetrate into the pavers and do not leave a “film” on the surface. These penetrating sealers will not make your pavers darker or change how the pavers look. You can choose either solvent-based or water-based penetrating sealers.
Then there are topical, acrylic sealers that leave a layer of film on the surface of your pavers. They also come in solvent-based and water-based formulas. Solvent-based acrylic sealers will give your pavers a darker look, while water-based acrylic sealers will not make them darker.
When choosing an acrylic sealer you can pick the level of shine you want. You can choose from matte to semi-gloss to high-gloss.
Should you choose penetrating or acrylic sealers? It mostly depends on what kind of result you want to achieve. Something completely invisible or somewhat noticeable? Penetrating sealers work by creating an invisible barrier deep in the pores of your pavers, while acrylic sealers work by putting on a protective layer – kind of like a raincoat for your pavers.
Solvent-Based or Water-Based Sealer?
Should you get a solvent-based sealer or a water-based sealer? To help with your decision, here are a couple of things to know about them:
- The first is that solvent-based sealers will make your pavers appear shinier than the water-based version. The water-based version will usually appear a bit more “matte”.
- The second is that water-based sealers do not have a strong odor and are nonflammable. This makes handling and cleanup a lot easier than solvent-based sealers.
Does Sealing Pavers Make Them Slippery?
Once again, it will depend on the sealer you choose.
Generally speaking, penetrating sealers will not make your pavers slippery when wet since they won’t leave behind any sort of film. Acrylic sealers, however, have a chance of being slippery.
There are two things you can do to prevent slippery pavers. You can either look for and purchase a sealer that’s labeled “non-slip”, or you can purchase a non-slip additive to mix into the sealer before applying the second coat.
How Much Paver Sealer Do I Need?
One gallon of sealer will cover a patio of about 200 to 250 square feet. You can use this to calculate the amount of paver sealer you’ll need. Since we recommend two coats (to ensure proper coverage), you’ll want to purchase double that amount.
Of course, how much paver sealer you purchase will depend on the product you choose. You can check the product label for a more accurate estimate. Also keep in mind that actual coverage will depend on the material of your pavers.
How Do I Apply Paver Sealer?
You can apply paver sealer using a 3/8” nap roller. But a low pressure pump sprayer is the right tool for the job and our number one choice. It’s much easier to use and you can apply thin, even coats.
The key to applying paver sealer well is to put down thin, even coats. You don’t have to go crazy on the first coat because you’ll do a second coat. Roll out any puddles that you see immediately and wait 24 hours before applying the second coat.
Paver sealers need to be re-applied every 3 to 5 years, depending on the condition of your patio. You need to make sure you use the same sealer to prevent unwanted chemical reactions. For instance, if you used a water-based sealer, you should re-apply with a water-based sealer.
Change of Heart
For whatever reason, there might come a day when you decide you don’t want your pavers sealed anymore. Maybe you used a solvent-based sealer and now you want to switch to a water-based sealer.
Good news! You can easily remove paver sealer using paint stripper. You can apply paint stripper the same way you applied the sealer – using a nap roller or pump sprayer. This will turn your pavers back to their unsealed state.
Do the Right Thing: Seal
We hear you. Sealing pavers means extra work every 3 to 5 years when you have to re-seal. But sealing pavers makes them easier to clean, keeps them from fading, and keeps the weeds out. There are plenty more benefits!
So while it’s true that you don’t need to seal your pavers (don’t worry, they’re not going to fall apart), it makes a lot of sense to do so.