We’re getting a new patio put in with our extension, and are considering sealing it – so what are the benefits, and does it really need to be done?
You don’t absolutely need to seal concrete patio pavers, but it can make them look better if you do. Sealing them stops mold, lichen, and algae growing on your patio, and limits the effect of oily stains. While sealing won’t stop scratches, it will stop your patio pavers from fading in the sun.
Let’s dive down into the subject of sealing concrete pavers in more detail, and discover more about the benefits of using sealants and how to apply them…
What Happens if You Don’t Seal Pavers?
It’s a really good idea to seal your concrete pavers. It won’t prolong their life or protect them from wear and tear, but it will keep them looking much better for longer.
If you don’t seal your pavers, there’s a good chance you’ll spend a lot of time weeding in between them. Seeds settle in the dirt between the pavers, and sprout into weeds. Sealing the surface prevents this, as well as stopping any erosion and slabs slipping because of dirt movement.
The second thing is staining. Concrete pavers will soak up stains, and they’re really tricky to remove. If you want the pavers to look good, you’ll need to keep washing them. Sealing the pavers prevents stains, and it even repels oil: great news for driveways or patios with grills.
Lastly, and really importantly, the pavers will look really good. Eventually, most pavers will fade in the sun and rain, while sealer will protect the finish from the elements. Some manufacturers state that their pavers don’t need sealing: we’d say ignore them, and seal your pavers anyway. You’ll keep that lovely, new appearance for far longer.
Solvent-based sealers give a “wetter”, glossier finish. Water-based sealers don’t, but are far more pleasant to work with. Both offer excellent protection, if applied correctly to properly prepared concrete.
Is Sealing Pavers Really Necessary? (Does it Prevent Mold & Scratches?)
It is not absolutely necessary to seal your concrete pavers, and it’s mainly done for cosmetic reasons. However, there are a lot of benefits to applying a sealer to your driveways or patio.
Sealer can stop mold, lichen, and algae growing on your concrete pavers. It can also prevent scratches, but be aware that some sealers can be scratched themselves (always read the reviews). Sealers should repel stains, including oil and grease, making them ideal for under the BBQ or outside the garage.
What is The Best Sealer For Concrete Pavers?
Sealers come in film-forming and non-film-forming varieties, and can be solvent or water-based. The film-forming type creates a barrier layer on top of the pavers, and tends to be glossy. The other sort of sealer works by penetrating the concrete and usually has a matte finish.
Solvent sealers give the pavers a glossy appearance, while water-based varieties are more natural-looking. Both have similar properties when it comes to protecting the pavers and both are easy to apply; so it mainly comes down to how you feel about using a volatile organic compound (VOC) to coat your patio, or if you prefer to work with a more natural substance.
How Do You Seal Concrete Pavers?
Concrete paver sealer can be applied using a spray, a roller, or a combination of both.
One of the key things to remember is that this is a job that has to be completed in one go to get a smooth, even appearance and to ensure that it’s 100% coated. So, if you’re sealing a large area such as a driveway, make sure you have the time and energy before you start…
You’ll also need to check the weather forecast, as you’ll need a run of at least three dry days to complete the job. The outside temperature should be between about 40 and 75 degrees fahrenheit: either side of this is too cold or too hot for decent curing. Make sure any kids and pets are well out of the way before you begin, and you’ll also need to keep them off the pavers for a while afterwards, until the sealer has cured.
- Sweep and wash the concrete pavers the day before you want to seal them, to make sure they’re dry
- Read the instructions on the sealer. Thicker sealers will ask you to use a roller, while lighter ones should be fine with the sprayer
- If you’re spraying the sealer onto the surface, use a sprayer with an adjustable nozzle so you have more control. A fan-shaped spray works best, and never blast it
- If you’re using a roller, choose a thick one to make sure it penetrates the gaps between the pavers
- Apply the sealer as per the instructions. Work in a clear pattern so you know which areas have been coated. If you’re using the spray method, move the sprayer in circles
- Using a roller? Check out Marc’s smooth backrolling action in this short film about sealing pavers
- Some applications require backrolling after spraying. Check to see what your manufacturer recommends
- Clean your equipment immediately before the sealer can set in it
- Leave the driveway or patio to cure as per manufacturer’s instructions
How Long Should Pavers Dry Before Sealing?
As a rule, leave 24 hours between washing your pavers and applying the sealer. However, if it’s cold weather or you cleaned your pavers using a pressure washer, allow 48 hours to make sure they’re completely dry. And if it rains? Back to square one. Sweep and wash the pavers again, just in case the rain has introduced any contaminants to the surface.
If these are brand new pavers, you’ll need to allow 60-90 days (yes, we know!) for any efflorescence to settle. This has to work its way to the surface level, where you can clean it off. You really don’t want to seal in those white marks. In the meantime, try not to spill any grease or oil or other staining material on your unprotected pavers.
How Do You Clean & Prepare Pavers Before Sealing?
Before you seal your pavers, you first need to clean and prepare your pavers. This is all common-sense stuff, but to make sure you don’t miss anything, here’s a checklist:
- Start by pulling up any weeds that have grown up between the concrete pavers. Weeds happen when seeds get blown into the sand and dirt in the cracks. Sealing will stop this from happening, but you don’t want to seal in dead plants. Hand weed if you can, or use vinegar or an organic herbicide to get rid of them
- Any moss? Vinegar and baking soda, washed off after about 20 minutes, should do the trick
- If there is any mold on the pavers, you’ll need to scrub it with soapy water before applying the sealer
- Sweep the whole area once it’s dry, prior to washing
- Then, give the whole area a good wash. You can speed this up with a pressure washer if you like, but a word of warning first… You may wash away the sand in between the pavers, and you’ll need to leave the pavers to dry for 48 hours rather than 24
- Leave at least 24 hours before you apply the sealer. The driveway or patio really has to be completely dry before you get sealing.
Conclusion: How Much Does it Cost To Seal a Paver Patio?
Paver sealer usually comes in gallon and 5-gallon containers, and is easily available either from hardware stores or online. A gallon costs anywhere between $35 and $90, depending on brand and type of sealer.
What coverage do you get from a gallon? Well, the only way to find out is to read up on the individual product. It varies from 80 to 400 square feet, which is an astonishing difference, and depends on how thickly it goes on and how many coats you need.