Should porcelain tile be sealed? In this article, we discuss both sides of this debate…
Whether your patio is made of concrete, stone, or even brick pavers, you can give them a lasting wet look by using the right sealer.
Table Of Contents
- The Best Wet Look Patio Sealer
- Common Problems With Average Paver Sealers
- How To Tell If Your Pavers Have Already Been Sealed
- Preparing Your Pavers For Sealing
- When Is The Best Time To Seal Pavers?
- Applying Sealer For A Wet Paver Look
- How Long Does Paver Sealer Take To Dry?
- Best Practices For Keeping Sealed Pavers Clean
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The wet look paver sealer that gives the best and longest lasting results will be a topical, water-based polyurethane formula, like CoverTec’s Strongseal Wetlook. The film created by the topical sealer will give the desired sheen, and the polyurethane will give the durability. And a water based polyurethane topical sealer is simply the most eco-friendly option.
The Best Wet Look Patio Sealer
Customers often ask us about which sheen, or look, each type of sealer can give. There are a few significant terms that might come up, – the most frequent being “wet look”.
A paver’s “wet look” is best described as the way it looks naturally when it’s wet. The colors that a brick or concrete pavers shows when it is wet are not as shiny as those with a glossy finish, but do have their own satin look.
This is what you would expect from a sealer such as our StrongSeal Wet Look. The water-based polyurethane sealer adds subtle ‘wet look’ sheen to the surface, mimicking the look of literally wet surfaces.
Shine is enhanced by solvent-based sealers rather well, but only for a shorter period of time – in less than a year. Although the StrongSeal Wetlook might not look as glossy and polished as some might prefer, it can maintain its natural wet appearance for two to three years.
Continue reading to learn more about Stongseal Wetlook Sealer’s superior performance and the proper way to use it.
Common Problems With Average Wet Look Paver Sealers | Why CoverTec Is Better
You can find lower cost patio sealers with wet look finishes at your corner home improvement store. But we’ve found that those low-priced products normally have lower solids contents. That lower retail cost means that there was a lower production cost, which can only be achieved by deliberately lowering the active ingredients in each bottle.
The consequences of this shortcut appear in the results of use. When you use them on your pavers, you don’t see a dramatic change in appearance like enhanced color. Whatever you may see on the paver will get quickly worn away and look dull.
The average sealer available at your local store is only 12 – 15% solids. This leads to a very common complaint we receive from our customers. What little results and shiny or wet look they got from the standardized sealer didn’t last long and now they are searching for a real solution. In contrast, our topical sealer products are typically 40% solids and then they’re diluted down 20% when applied to the paver.
Many paver surfaces begin to lose their shine after only nine months of using standardized solvent-based formulas to seal wet look pavers. This is usually caused by the limited and poor quality of the polymers in the sealers. So the sealers can quickly become weak and wear away, leaving the pavers to get stained and even damaged.
Problems with interlocking joints can be caused by a poorly bonded sealer. The sand can be easily displaced or blown away if the joints between pavers don’t get sealed correctly. This could cause problems like ant hills and weeds.
Standardized sealers also don’t provide enough protection for the pavers from chemical attack by deicing salts, particular to the northern climates.
Local home improvement shops often sell low-end sealers that are not very resistant to hot tire pickup, either. This is especially true for when those paver sealers are used on driveways or parking lots.
Sealers of lesser quality can quickly melt when heated, especially if they are applied to paver surfaces which are in direct sunlight. This can lead to a lot of hot tire pick up. The sealer can become smudged from tire marks, or the tires can actually lift the sealer off the paver entirely. It is very difficult and time consuming to fix this look issue.
In short, standardized sealers do not provide the long-term protection pavers need. Your “very affordable” paver sealer will turn out to be an annual recurring investment as it will need to be reapplied more frequently.
Quality sealer with higher solids contents can protect pavers for much longer, like two to three years, for example. Our sealers also offer a long-lasting, durable finish.
How To Tell If Your Pavers Have Already Been Sealed
You must ensure that your paver clean of any old sealer before new applying sealer. This section will explain how to identify any sealers that may be on the paver.
Old solvent-based sealers can be very difficult to remove. Solvent-based sealers don’t mix well with topical and water-based sealers. You will need to get rid of these sealers before you can apply a new water-based topical sealer, especially one for a high gloss sheen.
If a topical sealer was used, it should be obvious. The surface should be visibly covered by a sheen or reflective film.
If you are still unsure if your pavers contain any sealer, a water test can give you the answers you need. It is an easy method to verify if your pavers have been sealed. Put a little water on top of the paver to test its absorption.
If the water beads up or is balled up on the pavers’ surfaces, it likely means that those pavers do have a sealer on them. If the water is not absorbed within a few minutes, it’s clear that pavers have a water repellent layer.
The classic fizz test is another way to check for sealers. You can use mild acidic or vinegar solution to check the physical exposure of your paver. Without sealing, brick and concrete pavers will naturally fizz. A chemical resistant concrete or brick paver sealer is likely present if the paver doesn’t fizz.
To determine whether the preexisting sealant is a penetrating or topical sealer, you can often just test it with water. However, it will be much more challenging to get rid of a penetrating or impregnating sealer.
You shouldn’t apply another topical sealer on top of your existing penetrating one. Instead, you should recoat it with fresh layer of penetrating sealer. The older penetrating sealer will just reject the topical sealer.
Before applying a topical sealant, you may still need to etch the surface to increase the texture. It will ensure the sealant sticks to the surface as well as possible.
These are some simple tests you can perform to determine if an existing sealer must be removed in order to apply a new one.
Preparing Your Pavers For Sealing
It is essential to properly prepare pavers before applying paver sealer.
In the previous section, we discussed how to recognize old sealers on your pavers. The results can be used to estimate how much prep work needs to done.
So how do you remove a preexisting sealer off pavers? Any previous sealer will deter a new sealer from sticking to the paver surface, especially if it’s lifting and peeling. Also remember that solvent-based sealers are chemically incompatible with water-based sealers. Therefore, stripping it off is a non-negotiable rule to follow.
Specially designed chemical stripping agents are the best products to use for this step. Our FloorStrip HP has a high pH and can effectively remove both solvent-based and water-based acrylic sealers.
FloorStrip HP is easy to apply to pavers with a low pressure pump-up sprayer, or by using a mop. The cleaner should be left on the surface for about three to five minutes. Use a mop or deck brush to gently move the cleaner across the surface and keep it agitated. The cleaner should then be scrubbed and rinsed off.
There are two options depending on the size of your area and the number of layers that you want to remove: use pressure washing or a mop again until the pavers are completely clean.
To remove sealers from extremely strong urethane polymers, a stronger agent is required. In such situations, our PowerStrip is highly recommended, as it is basically a paint stripper. PowerStrip can do heavy-duty stripping, but you may need to do some extra scraping or high-pressure washing to make the whole process faster.
In the shortest of terms, before you can apply new paver sealer, be sure to remove all previous sealers. If you are certain that the pavers have not been sealed previously, it’s you don’t have to bother with the stripping chemicals. However, it is essential to thoroughly clean pavers before applying any product.
Cleaning Your Pavers Before Sealing
It is important for you to thoroughly clean pavers before sealing them. There are a variety of methods and chemicals that can be used to clean pavers, depending on the type of cleaning that needs to be done.
This step is all about cleaning up the pavers as much as possible. You must remove all salt deposits, efflorescence, mold, and mildew in order for the sealer to bond well.
Our PrepWork cleaner can solve all of these problems. PrepWork is an acidic solution that can remove any of these stains with ease. This is a very simple to use product that helps sealer bonds better with pavers.
Microbial-based cleaners can also be used to effectively remove oil stains. Our CoverClean HC is great for removing petroleum-based oil. Just spray it on with a low pressure sprayer or lay on with a mop. Then, you can rinse everything away with a pressure washer.
Although they take a bit longer to work, microbial cleaners are far more environmentally-friendly than their alternatives. You can wash them away with no harm to the environment. The best way to remove petroleum-based oils is with our CoverClean HC, and our CoverClean FG works best on oils derived from fats and grease. (FG stands for food grade.)
Our SurfaceClean, a concentrated paver cleaner, is best for cleaning pavers after they’ve been stripped with chemicals. SurfaceClean can be easily applied with a mop. Allow it to rest for 3 to 4 minutes, and then you can rinse it off with a pressure washer.
The better a paver sealer has bonded to a surface, the better protection that sealer will provide for the paver. That’s why it is so essential to prepare and clean pavers in order to ensure that sealant adheres fully to surface.
You, of course, want to avoid sealing any marks, scratches, or stains into the sealer. This will alter the appearance of your pavers but also prohibit the sealer from bonding well enough to the paver surface.
Deep cleaning is a crucial step that should not be taken lightly. How well you clean now directly affects the lifespan of the sealer.
We often receive customer complaints about recurring mold growth and mildew on pavers despite their regular cleaning. Our EPA approved SantizerPlus is a cost-effective way to eliminate mold and mildew from deep within your pavers. Just spray the product on pavers using a low pressure sprayer.
Although bleach and chlorine can be used to lighten pavers, they won’t deep clean or properly disinfect them. SanitizerPlus can do that precisely, and prevent bacteria growth for longer.
Before sealing your pavers, make sure you sweep them again to remove any remaining dirt or debris.
When Is The Best Time To Seal Pavers?
There are several key points to consider when planning the actual sealing of your pavers.
Water is the biggest threat to bonding a sealer properly. The pavers should be their driest and as porous as possible in order for the sealer to adhere or absorb adequately.
The first layer of sealer should be absorbed by pavers fairly quickly. This first coat acts as a barrier to prevent water from entering the pavers going forward.
Use paver sealer only in dry settings. If the paver is still damp or wet from the ground, the sealer won’t work.
Sealing should be done after the heat and humidity of the Floridian summer has passed. Plan to seal your paver project during the cooler months of fall, winter, or spring. This is usually between November and May.
Summer time is best for those who live in the most northern regions of the US to seal their pavers. This allows you the best chance to achieve the strongest sealer bond with the paver. By late spring, the ground should be thawed and dry enough to seal.
Regardless of exact region, is it likely better to apply wet look sealer during the cooler hours of the day. This means seal in the morning or evening, rather than at high noon. Ambient temperatures of 50-90 degrees F are best.
Paver sealer should never be heated too high. We don’t want them to frying away on the paver surface. Sealer placed on pavers at temperatures above 100 degrees F will melt and leave no protective seal.
Our paver sealers dry in about 2 hours. The active ingredients need this time to best react, but this will not work if the sealer has been applied to surfaces that are simply too hot. A sealer can quickly fail due to heat damage.
Applying Sealer For A Wet Paver Look
We recommend using a lower pressure sprayer for the easiest application of paver sealer. A 3/8″ nap roller can also be used to apply sealer but it absorbs a little more product. So the roller will be less efficient than sprayers and provide less coverage when you seal..
A good paintbrush can be used to finish the edges with ease.
An average paver sealer will cover 200 sq. feet. of your paver surface. The original color of the wet sealer liquid is white but it dries clear.
Follow a methodical pattern when moving about the workspace and applying your paver sealer. Trust the process and go slow and steady.
The first layer of water-based, topical sealer should be pretty well absorbed within only 10 minutes. You may see a very thin layer of product at the top. The first layer bonds pavers to the surrounding sand.
You may find some sealer in the low spots of the pavers, like the joints. To spread the wet sealer, you will either need a deck brush or a mop. You should always spread the sealer again over any areas where it has gotten puddled.
This second layer of sealer is the protective film. Here is where you will see your desired finish.
In smaller spaces, such as residential areas, roller and lambswool application tools are ideal. A low-pressure sprayer is safe for larger areas that are better ventilated.
For applying penetrating or impregnating sealers, a roller and lambswool tool can be just as useful. A sprayer can be used, but you must use a low pressure sprayer. If the pressure is too high, then the sealer can actually atomize and pose a threat the lung health if inhaled.
It is best to apply penetrating sealer in a single, thicker layer. It will allow enough product to penetrate and saturate the surfaces of pavers. One coat will cover approximately 175-200 sq. ft. All puddles must be distributed and, if needed, any excess should be wiped away.
You can apply a second coat in 1 – 2 hours if you think the penetrating sealer soaked in too fast and the pavers are still very porous.
Before sealing your entire paver surface, we strongly recommend you test their surface in a discrete area with a more controlled amount of sealer. You can then determine the amount of sealer required as well as how many coats you are probably going to need.
How To Deal With Slippery Pavers
The CoverTec team is experienced in paver sealing, particularly those projects that focus on increasing slip resistance. Those projects were usually done on pavers and natural stones for patios and pool decks.
Our proprietary CoverGrip ultrafine addative can make paver sealers have an even higher level of slip resistance. Simply mix the appropriate amount into your wet sealer and apply like normal.
Another, less precise method of applying this aggregate would be to cast it like sand over the wet first coat of a sealer. After the surface has been treated with CoverGrip, you can apply a new wet layer of sealer For best results, we recommend that you use our CovergGrip addative in combination with our StrongSeal paver sealer.
Our SurfaceGrip is a chemical treatment option to increase slip resistance on pavers that are not sealed but still slippery when wet. The chemical treatment modifies paver texture on a microscopic-level, and it doesn’t affect the pavers appearance. This treatment is particularly useful in outdoor spaces such as patios and pool decks, which are often wet.
How Long Does Paver Sealer Take To Dry?
The type of sealer being used and the environmental conditions that you are sealing in will affect its drying time. The drying time for sealers in colder environments is generally longer than those that are used in warmer regions.
Before you can walk on top of the newly applied sealer, it must be totally tack-free. Sticky sealers can cause a lot of mess if you don’t pay attention and keep the wet area sealed off from foot traffic.
The time it takes for a topical sealant to dry should be between three and four hours. After that, the second coat of topical sealant can be applied and that layer should also dry within three to four hours.
For at least 48 hours, or for two to three consecutive days, you should ban vehicular traffic. It is very difficult to get rid of marks left in sealer should heavy tires roll across.
Penetrating sealers typically dry faster than topical sealers because they have quicker chemical reaction times. This type of sealer takes approximately 1 to 2 hours to dry. You can add another coat if you feel the first coat of penetrating sealer soaked in too quickly, indicating a very porous surface.
Wait until the sealer has dried thoroughly before walking on it! Margin at least six hours to allow the penetrating sealer to fully dry before driving on your pavers.
The sealer will continue to cure for approximately three days from the time of application. For best results, it is best not to drive over the pavers while the sealer sets.
Best Practices For Keeping Sealed Pavers Clean
It is far easier to maintain and clean pavers by sealing them first. The sealer helps protect pavers from water and oil staining, as well as other damage from chemicals.
To clean sealed pavers, use only gentle cleaners. Any harsh chemical cleaning can actually damage sealer and make it more difficult to maintain. Our Emerald Floor Maintainer is the perfect mild cleaner for everyday use, without risk of damaging the sealer. Our CoverClean FG can also be used to clean up food-based stains.
You should rinse pavers with low pressure water using a wide sprayer, not a narrow pencil tip. Putting too much water pressure on your wet look sealer sealer may start to lift and peel.
Next, clean sweep your paver of any dirt or debris.
If you decide to make your own cleaners, ensure you adhere to all regular safety precautions. Don’t use solutions or chemical ingredients that have a pH too far on either end of the scale. The extreme pH levels can leave residue on the surface or, in worse cases, damage your sealer’s integrity. Remember, the whole purpose of using a sealer in the first place is to make maintenance easier!
Avoid using too much baking powder or ammonia in your DIY cleaners… These can cause your paver sealer to react and lose its luster, or worse yet, lift and peel.
Mixing chemicals safely is of the utmost concern when making homemade cleaners. Mixing low-alkali and high-acid substances can cause outgassing. Accidentally produced ammonia can lead to serious health problems for anyone exposed to the work area..
It is always best to use a specially manufactured cleaner to clean and maintain your pavers. This will help preserve the sealer’s integrity, and keep them looking great.
The Wet Look To Keep Your Patio Cool
Sealing pavers is an simple process. It can be time-consuming and require some effort, but the beautiful results and the lasting protection of your investment in your pavers is worth it!
Minimize the fuss with CoverTec’s reliable products so all you have to focus on is putting the right kind of sealer on completely clean pavers. Simple.
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.