Should porcelain tile be sealed? In this article, we discuss both sides of this debate…
With the right sealer, you can achieve that beautiful wet look whether your pavers are made of concrete, stone, or even brick.
Table Of Contents
- The Best Wet Look Paver Sealer
- How To Deal With Slippery Pavers
- Common Problems With Average Paver Sealers
- How To Tell If Your Pavers Already Have A Sealer
- Preparing Your Pavers For Sealer
- When Is The Best Time To Seal Pavers?
- Applying Paver Sealer
- How Long Does Paver Sealer Take To Dry?
- Best Practices For Keeping Sealed Pavers Clean
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A topical polyurethane water-based sealer will leave a film over pavers to create an absolute barrier for the easiest cleaning and create the longest-lasting desired sheen. The best wet look paver sealer, CoverTec’s Strongseal Wetlook, is made from the best quality polyurethane for the strongest crosslinked bond and the most beautiful finish. We use the water base as well because it is simply the most eco-friendly option. Use this sealer in combination with our specialized CoverGrip slip-resistance technology to properly solve slipping hazards.
The Best Wet Look Paver Sealer
We often discuss the different sheens available for pavers with our customers, and there’s a few key terms that get always tossed around – “wet look” being one of the most popular.
A paver’s appearance when wet is the simplest way to describe the term “wet look”. The colors you see when the paver gets wet are not as shiny, as a glossy finish, but more of a satin, wet sheen.
This is what you’d expect from a sealer such as our StrongSeal Wet Look. It’s a water-based polyurethane sealer designed to enhance color and give a slight, satin sheen.
Solvent-based sealers can also be used to enhance the shine. While this is sometimes desirable, we have found that the gloss in standardized solvent-based sealers quickly disappears. It dissipates after only nine months to one year. So although the initial effect is strong, it does not last for very long at all.
Although the StrongSeal Wetlook may not provide such a polished finish, it will keep its wet sheen and durability for two to three years.
Continue reading to find out why Stongseal Wetlook sealer is the best wet look paver sealer, and how to use paver sealer properly.
How To Deal With Slippery Pavers
Our team of experts at CoverTec have had their fair share of dealing with slippery pavers. We even developed our own proprietary product to increase slip resistance on floors. Concerns for slippery pavers are usually for the pavers of patios and pool decks.
Our CoverGrip is an ultrafine additive that can give paver sealers that increased quality of slip resistance. Just mix the appropriate amount into your liquid sealer, and then apply over the surface it as normal.
Casting the aggregate like sand on top of the first layer of wet sealer is another way to apply it. Then, apply another layer of sealer to create a more durable bond between the layers. For optimal results, combine our CoverGrip additive with our StrongSeal Wet Look Paver Sealer.
Sometime customers need to manage the slip risks of their unsealed pavers. Our SurfaceGrip can be used to improve slip resistance for pavers with no seal but are still slippery when wet. This chemical treatment microscopically alters the texture of the pavers’ surface and won’t actually affect the color or sheen of the paver. The treatment works especially well in wet, outdoor areas like patios or pool decks.
Common Problems With Average Paver Sealers | Why CoverTec Is Better
In our research, we have found that the common wet look sealers found at your local big box stores are competitively priced for a very unfortunate reason. The lower retail cost means that the manufacturer deliberately lowered the active solids content in each final product.
So, when you use them on your pavers, you don’t a decent finish. Any sheen or color enhancement you might see at first is very short lived.
The local home improvement store carries standardized sealers that are only 12 – 15% solids. Our customers come to us after application with recollections of seeing no clear results. Some with glossy topical sealers claim a short lived shininess. In contrast, our topical sealer products are typically 40% solids and then they’re diluted down 20% when applied.
Only about nine months after applying standardized solvent-based sealers, many paver surfaces lose their shine. Poor quality sealers always seem to cause this. These sealers are very weak and quickly wear away, which can lead to the paver surface getting stained or damaged rather quickly.
Badly sealed pavers can also lead to problems with the interlocking joints, as well. If the joints between pavers aren’t sealed properly, the sand could get displaced. And that loss of sand could lead to issues like ant hills or weeds.
Pavers are not protected enough by standardized sealers from the chemical attacks of deicing salts in colder regions.
Low-end sealers bought at the local home improvement stores often criticized for not being resistant to hot-tire pickup. For paver sealers used in driveways and parking lots, this is particularly true.
Cheaper sealers, which are often of lower quality, can melt quickly when heated. This is most likely to occur the sealer was applied on paver surfaces that are exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. Hot tire pickup is when the sealer becomes smudged by tire marks or when the tires pick up the sealer entirely. This can be very challenging to fix.
The long-term protection that pavers require is simply not provided by standardized sealers. You will notice a gradual loss in the integrity of your paver sealer, and will need to use those products more frequently for protection, like on a yearly basis.
Higher solids sealers will protect pavers for much longer – like two to three years. They also provide a durable finish that actually lasts.
How To Tell If Your Pavers Already Have A Sealer
Before applying any sealer, you must make sure that the paver is clean of all old sealers. The following section will help you identify if there are any sealers on your paver.
It should be evident if a topical sealant has been used. A reflective film or sheen should cover the surface of the paver.
The water test is a great way to find out if pavers have any sealer. This is a quick way to check if the pavers are sealed by testing their absorption. Simply sprinkle some water of the surface of your pavers.
It is likely that pavers have a sealer if water pools or beads up on their surfaces. It is likely that the pavers are protected by a water repellent coating if water does not absorb within a few minutes.
Another way to test for sealers is the classic fizz test. To check your paver’s physical exposure, you can either use a little vinegar or a mild acidic solution. Brick and concrete pavers will naturally fizz when in contact with the acid if they are not sealed. If the paver does not fizz, a chemical-resistant sealer is likely be present.
It can be difficult to get rid of old solvent-based sealers. Solvent-based and topical sealers are just not compatible, so the solvent based sealer must be removed before you can use a water-based, topical sealer.
It is not a good idea to attempt to apply a topical sealer over your existing penetrating sealer because it will get repelled. You should instead recoat the area with a new layer of that penetrating sealer.
To improve the surface texture to get the best bond with a topical sealer, you can also use use the stripping chemicals to etch the surface a bit.
You can use these simple tests to see if you need to remove an old sealer before applying a new one.
Preparing Your Pavers For Sealer
Before applying paver sealer, it is important to prepare the pavers properly in order to get the best results.
We discussed in the last section how to identify old sealers that have been applied to pavers but now need to be stripped off. Your results from that simple testing can help you estimate the amount prep work you will need to complete.
So: how do you get rid of old paver sealer? Previous sealers left on the pavers will keep new sealers from sticking, particularly if the sealer is lifting or peeling. Remember that solvent-based sealers can be chemically incompatible and repel water-based sealers entirely. That’s why this step is so important.
For this task, it is best to use specially designed chemical stripping agent. Our FloorStrip HP is pH high and can remove solvent-based as well as water-based acrylic sealers.
FloorStrip HP can be applied to pavers using either a low pressure pump-up sprayer or a mop. You should leave the cleaner on the surface for three to five minutes and agitate it again with a deck brush or broom. Then you should scrub the pavers well and rinse them off.
Now, depending on how large your area is and how many layers you need to take off: pressure wash or mop it again until all the pavers are clean.
A stronger stripping agent will be required to remove the sealers of extremely strong urethane polymers. Our PowerStrip, which is basically a paint remover, is recommended in such cases. PowerStrip is capable of stripping heavy duty sealers, however you might need to perform additional scraping or washing to finish this process quicker.
To make it short, you must remove any previous paver sealers before applying any new paver sealers. You don’t need to use stripping chemicals if you’re certain the pavers were not sealed before, but it is important to clean the pavers thoroughly before you apply any products.
Cleaning Your Pavers Before Using Sealer
Before sealing pavers, it is essential to clean them thoroughly. You can use a range of chemicals and methods to clean pavers depending on what type of cleaning is required.
This step is all about getting those pavers as clean as possible. For the surface of the paver to have the strongest bond the sealer, you must first get rid of all salt deposits, efflorescence, mold and mildew.
All of these issues can be solved with our PrepWork cleaner. PrepWork, an acidic cleaner that removes these stains effectively. It is very easy to use and helps pavers bond sealer better.
Oil stains can be effectively removed with microbial-based cleaners as well. Our CoverClean HC can be used to remove petroleum-based oils. Spray it on with a low pressure sprayer, or use a mop to apply. You can then rinse it off with a pressure washer.
Although they take a bit longer to work, microbial cleaners are far more environmentally-friendly than their alternatives. They can be washed away without causing any harm to the environment at all.
Our CoverClean HC is the best method to get rid of petroleum-based oil. And our CoverClean FG can be used for oils derived from the grease and fats of foods. (FG stands for food grade.)
SurfaceClean is a powerful cleaner for pavers that have been stripped with chemicals. SurfaceClean is easy to apply with a mop. Just let it rest for three to four minutes before you rinse it with water.
The level of protection you get from a sealer depends on how well it can actually bond to the paver. That’s why it is so crucial to prepare your pavers correctly. The sealer’s lifespan is directly affected by how well you clean it now.
Be sure to remove any scratches or scuffs. Sealing those into the pavers will not only take away from the final look, but it will limit the ability of the sealer to grip the paver right.
Customers often complain about persistent mold growth on pavers, despite regular cleaning. The EPA-approved SantizerPlus can be used to kill mold and mildew deep in pavers. Simply spray the product onto pavers with a low-pressure sprayer.
While bleach and chlorine are able to lighten pavers they will not deep clean them or disinfect them properly. SanitizerPlus is able to do this precisely and can prevent bacteria growth for longer periods.
Make sure to sweep your pavers again before sealing them of any dirt or debris accidentally spread while you were moving about the surface.
When Is The Best Time To Seal Pavers?
Before you start sealing your pavers, take into consideration a few timing factors.
The most common deterrent to your sealer bonding properly is moisture. To ensure that the sealer adheres or absorbs properly, pavers must be as dry and porous as they can possibly be.
Pavers should absorb the first layer of a topical sealer quickly. The first layer acts as a barrier that prevents water from getting into the pavers. going forward.
Only use paver sealer in dry settings. The sealer will not work if the paver remains damp from the ground.
After the Floridian summer heat has passed, the local climate is usually suitable for applying paver sealer. So in FL, your paver project should be planned during cooler months like in fall, winter and spring. That puts you between November and May.
Sealing pavers in summer is the best time to do so if you live in northern areas of the US. You have the greatest chance of achieving the strongest sealer bond then. The ground must be dry and thawed out before sealing, which is usually by spring.
You’re also likely to get a more effective seal on your pavers in the cooler times of the day, regardless of where you are located. Seal pavers in the cooler morning and evening hours than at noon under direct sun. The best ambient temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees F.
Make sure the temperature of the pavers is not too hot – 100°F and over – or else the sealer can start to cook on the surface.
Our paver sealers are typically dry within 2 hours. This is because the active ingredients take time to react. However, sealers that have been applied to hot surfaces will likely fail soon.
Applying Paver Sealer
For the most efficient application of paver sealer, we recommend a low pressure sprayer. You can use a 3/8 inch nap roller to apply the sealer as well, but it will technically absorb a bit of the product itself. The roller is less effective than sprayers, and provides less coverage.
You can finish your edges easily with any decent paintbrush.
The average paver sealer will cover about 200 sq. feet. of a surface. The liquid is white at the start, but as it dries and hardens, it turns clear.
When moving around the space and applying paver sealer, follow a systematic pattern. Be patient and trust the process.
In 10 minutes, the first layer of topical water-based sealer should have been pretty well absorbed. Any topical film from the first coat will likely be very thin. It’s the layer that soaks in and binds the pavers and the interlocking sand joints.
Sealer may be found puddled in the low places on the pavers like in the joints. You will need either a mop or a deck brush to spread the sealer. It is important to redistribute any puddled sealer.
The protective layer comes in the second coat. This is also the coat that provides the desired sheen for your entire paver surface.
Rollers and lambswool applications tools work well in smaller areas like residential spaces. For larger spaces that have better ventilation, a low-pressure sprayer can be used safely and easily.
A roller and lambswool tools are equally useful for applying impregnating or penetrating sealers. You can use a sprayer too, however you need to make sure it is low-pressure. The sealer could actually atomize under high pressure and potentially cause lung damage.
Penetrating sealer should usually be applied in one, thicker layer. This will ensure that enough product can penetrate the pavers’ surfaces and fully saturate them. A single coat covers approximately 175-200 square feet.
If you feel the sealer has absorbed too quickly and your pavers remain porous, you can apply another coat within 1 to 2 hours after the first one.
We recommend that you first test the surface of your pavers with a smaller amount of sealer in a discrete spot before sealing them all. This will allow you to determine how much sealer is required and the number of coats that are likely needed.
How Long Does Paver Sealer Take To Dry?
Your expected drying time will actually depend on the type of sealer you use and the particular environmental conditions surrounding your project. Sealers that are applied in colder regions dry faster than sealers used in warmer areas.
It must be completely tack-free before you can put your feet on the sealer, let alone any cart or vehicular tires. If you aren’t careful, sticky sealers could turn into a rather serious mess.
A topical sealer should dry after about 3-4 hours. The second layer of topcoat can then be applied and should also be dry within 3-4 hours.
You should deny any vehicular traffic for at least 48 hours, or two to three consecutive days. If heavy tires are rolled across before the sealer is really cured, those marks will be difficult to remove.
Because of their faster chemical reactions, penetrating sealers dry much quicker than topical sealers. It only takes about 1 to 2 hours for this type of sealer to dry. If you find that the initial coat dries too fast, try adding a second coat to your pavers.
The same rule applies: wait until the paver surface is dry to the touch before you walk on the sealer. Allow the sealer to dry for at least 6 hours before you drive on your pavers sealed with penetrating sealer.
After application, the sealer will actually continue to cure for three days. It is highly recommended to not drive on the pavers during this time.
Best Practices For Keeping Sealed Pavers Clean
Sealing pavers first makes it so much easier to clean and maintain them. Paver sealer protects pavers against water, oil staining and other chemical damage.
Use only mild cleaners to clean your sealed pavers. The use of harsh chemicals to clean sealed pavers can actually damage the sealer, reducing its functioning life span. Our Emerald Floor Maintainer is a mild cleaning agent that can be used for every day purposes without causing damage to the sealer. Also, our CoverClean FG can be used for the removal of stubborn food-based stains.
Pavers should be rinsed only with low-pressure water. Use a broad sprayer and not a pencil tip. Your topical sealer could begin to peel and lift if you apply too much pressure.
The method for consistently clean pavers is to clean up any messes right as they happen and to routinely brush away typical dirt and debris.
Make sure you follow all safety precautions if you make your own cleaners at home. Be cautious of the pH levels of the ingredients your are using. Extreme pH levels may leave residue or worse, cause damage to your sealer. Keep in mind that the purpose of using sealers is to simplify maintenance!
Use less ammonia or baking powder in DIY cleaners. They can react with your paver sealer and cause it to lose its luster or lift and peel.
When making your own cleaners, it is important to mix chemicals in a safe manner. Outgassing can be caused by mixing low-alkali with high-acid compounds. Accidentally producing and inhaling ammonia can lead to lung health issues.
To maintain and clean your pavers, it is truly best to use a specialized cleaner, one that was developed precisely for preserving sealer’s integrity and helping keep pavers looking fantastic.
The Non-Wet Wet Look - With No Slip
Sealing pavers doesn’t have to be a daunting, complex process – so long as you use the right reliable products. Although it can take some time and effort, the end result is beautiful and will protect your paver surface for a long time.
As always, if you have any questions about which product is the best for your unique situation, call us at: 754-253-3401.
About Our Expert | Charles Idowu
Charles Idowu started his career as a civil engineer in 1983 in the UK. After achieving his MBA and his Chartered Engineer qualifications, Charles quickly became the waterproofing and coatings expert for a renowned British construction company. His international work landed him in South Florida, where he combined his engineering experience and passion for business to start CoverTec Products.