How to Seal Pavers for a High Gloss Wet LookCoverTec Tech
Do you want a sealer that holds up to sun and weathering for at least 2 to 3 years? Are you looking for nice wet look, gloss appearance that really brings out the colors in your pavers? For best performance it is important to understand how to seal pavers and why?
I’ve been dealing with the question of how to seal pavers for the last 18 years.
My best recommendations are as follows:
- Spray apply rather than roller apply.
- Use water based sealers rather than solvent based.
- Use urethane sealers rather than acrylic sealers
Spray Application vs Roller to Seal Pavers
Whilst roller applying a sealer is easier than spraying, roller application does not work as well on pavers compared to say concrete. The biggest drawback when rolling sealer on brick pavers is that the roller can pick up the joint sand and roll it over the top of the brick paver surface. This is especially true if the joints are wide. Furthermore the amount of sealer that soaks into the sand joints is difficult to control when rolling .
Apply a flood coat to the paver surface including the joints. This method will apply the sealer very generously while allowing the sealer to soak into the sand joints as well. As long as you apply the paver sealer on a windless day, the coverage can be generous and effortless.
If you really cant get a pump up garden sprayer, opt for a sponge-type roller to apply the sealer. A nap-based roller is more likely to grab and trap your joint sand.
Water Based Sealer vs Solvent based
Solvent based sealers are bad for the environment! Manufactures are gradually moving away from these type products. Regardless solvent based sealer are more difficult to spray apply than water based sealers and they don’t really seal the joint sand as well as the water based products. The solvent based sealer tends to seal only the top surface of the sand compared to the water based, which soak down deeper into the sand.
Whilst solvent based sealers can produce a nice high gloss surface they can also make the surface slippery if applied too thick. Also the gloss finish, typically burns off after 6 months exposure to the sun.
Water based acrylic sealers eliminate the issues with using solvents and are better at stabilizing joint sand to prevent sand loss. However it is important to use a high solids acrylic sealer or a urethane modified acrylic sealer otherwise they fade and loose gloss after 6 month to a 1 year.
Polyurethane vs Acrylic
Water based polyurethanes are a tougher sealer than acrylics and are more UV resistant and chemically resistant. They don’t yellow, perform better outside and they are more resistant to chemicals oil, brake fluid, and chlorine. The best water based polyurethanes are 2- parts (Part A and B requiring mixing). These 2-part polyurethanes when mixed together chemically cross link to form a paver sealer that is highly durable and long lasting when exposed to sunlight and/or freeze thaw. A big plus is that they are much less sensitive to moisture. You can apply a 2-part polyurethane water based sealer as soon as you finish pressure washing. We call it” same day” sealing.
You can pressure wash your pavers sweep of any major puddles and then apply the water based sealer all in the same day!
The down side of using 2 part polyurethane to seal pavers is that they are more expensive and once mixed you have to use them. There is no shelf life or coming back the next day to seal pavers, with left over mixed product. Acrylic based sealers are typically single component and easy to apply.
They produce a gloss non yellowing wet look finish. They are also very economical product to seal pavers. The downside is that acrylic can be very moisture sensitive. This is true for both solvent and water based acrylic sealers. The paver surface must be very dry when you apply the sealer otherwise you will get blushing (turning white) from trapped moisture. Once the sealer turns white it is virtually impossible to fix the problem. You have to strip off the sealer and start again. This is a major headache!
Based on many years of experience, I would now always recommend a water based sealer over a solvent based sealer.
The solvent based is just too moisture sensitive and tends to lose its shine very quickly. It terms of giving the best wet look gloss finish, I would recommend a 2-part water based polyurethane to seal pavers. It leaves the surface with a much darker wet look appearance compared to a water based acrylic. It also stays that way for much longer, so you don’t keep coming back every year to do the job again. A 2-part may cost a little more for product, but the results are dramatic and longer lasting. It can be a lot of work to clean and seal pavers and nobody wants to go through that effort any more times than they need to!
Key Steps on How to Seal Pavers
- Pavers, bricks or concrete must be clean. Use appropriate cleaners for removing oil, efflorescence mold and mildew. Don’t apply sealant over efflorescence. This will only seal the efflorescence to the surface of the paver. If your pavers have already been sealed over and you see efflorescence, the sealant will have to be stripped. Remember, efflorescence can appear after sealing, as it rises up from within the pavers.
- Sweep dry, properly graded sand into joints and fill to required level slightly below the top of the pavers. (typically 1/8”) Completely remove all remaining sand from the top of the pavers A leaf blower is recommended for this and to remove any dust and debris.
- After the sand has been applied into the paver joints and the application area blown clean, apply one coat of paver sealer to saturation; paying particular attention to getting as much sealer into the joints and down into the sand as possible. Concentrate spraying sealer over the joint. One liberal coat will seal, protect and lock down your interlocking concrete paving stones. Excess sealer on the surface must be back brushed or back rolled into the joints. A second coat should be applied to give additional protection and increase gloss.
- Do not apply any sealers during inclement weather or in direct sunlight when temperature exceeds 90°F.
Remember when considering how to seal pavers, that investing in a quality sealant will improve the look and durability of your driveway, patio or pool deck. A cheap sealer will need to be reapplied more frequently and may cause discoloration if you switch sealers later on. It’s fine to comparison-shop, but the least expensive product may not give the best results.