Installing brick or concrete pavers in your patio, driveway or other areas in your yard can add a new, more elegant dimension to your home and greatly increase its curb appeal. However, as with all other exterior materials, both show the effects of dirt, grime and wear over time – detracting from the initial upscale effect they created. Whether you had brick or concrete pavers installed as a home improvement, or they were already in place when you bought your house, knowing how to properly maintain them is important.
The key to keeping pavers a beautiful, value-adding asset for years to come is to seal them to protect against stains and the elements. To help you learn more about the nature of both brick and concrete pavers – as well as the advantages of proper upkeep – our team at The Paint Manager provides this easy guide.
Why It’s Important to Seal Pavers
First, brick and concrete are porous materials – which means that water and other liquids, such as oil, can easily penetrate the surface. Absorbing liquids leads to stains. Brick is more porous than concrete, which makes it even more susceptible to staining. According to Unique Pavers Design, “Brick is very porous and absorbs things easier than other types of pavers. You will notice that over time, brick in general, can discolor and shift. When you seal brick, you are not only bringing the true colors out, but you are actually enhancing them. It also helps to keep moisture out and prolong the life of the bricks.
“When sealing stone, you are taking a preventative measure to help their life span. As the sealant sinks into the stone, it helps to prevent it from wearing. The ideal time to get the sealing done is before the rainy and hurricane season. Having your stone pavers sealed is ideal to keep other contaminants out and let their light color remain that way all year long!”
So even though pavers are usually intended to stand up to foot traffic when used for patios and pathways or the weight of vehicles when used for driveways, they can’t be taken for granted and neglected. Even when installed as landscaping design elements that are never trod upon, pavers still should be sealed to preserve their beauty and extend their useful life. Generally speaking, you should seal your pavers every three to five years. You will notice if and when your pavers begin to fade or show signs that they need resealing.
Other reasons why it’s important to seal pavers include the following:
Sealing helps prevent fading – As S&S Pavers points out, concrete pavers are pigmented during fabrication, and constant exposure to UV light can discolor those pigments. This is especially true in Florida, where the intense summer sun can be brutal. A film-forming sealer will prevent UV fading, ensuring that pavers keep their original color. In some cases, sealing can actually enhance the color, giving the pavers a glossy appearance.
Protection against staining – As previously mentioned, sealing can prevent oil stains on driveways, as well as staining from spilled food and beverages on patio and pool deck surfaces.
Protection against dirt, grime, rust, mold and mildew – Dirt and grime accumulate on pavers, eventually becoming encrusted and impossible to remove. Untreated metal objects on your patio can rust and spread to the pavers underneath. In addition to being unsightly, mold and mildew are health hazards, and when covering a large enough area can create a slick surface that’s a slipping hazard. Sealing prevents all of the above from taking hold, allowing the area to be easily cleaned with a garden hose or occasional pressure washing.
Improves weather resistance – In addition to Florida’s relentless summer sun, pavers can take a beating from our afternoon summer thunderstorms. Sealing provides a clear, protective barrier.
Provides protection against weeds – Left unsealed, weeds and unwanted grass will sprout up between the pavers. Moss may even try to get a foothold.
Other Advantages of Sealing Pavers
While we’ve covered issues that are readily observable, other advantages of sealing pavers are more subtle, but equally important:
Helps improve the drainage around the installation – The good people at Batchelder & Collins, Inc., states this advantage as follows:
“Installing pavers constructed of a porous material allows them to trap a significant amount of moisture underneath the installation. This can make it a challenge to create a firm foundation to build your pathway, patio, porch, or whatever have you because there’s no way to remove moisture from underneath. If you apply a sealer over top, you’re basically creating a barrier that will keep the water from reaching the foundation and making run-off from precipitation more efficient.”
Helps keep your pavered area intact – According to Unique Pavers Design, “If you have sand between your pavers, the sealer can help to keep everything interlocked. Wind, rain, and bugs tend to disrupt this area in pavers. The goal of the sealer is to keep everything still and tight so there are no issues with movement or sinking.”
Should You DIY or Hire a Pro?
Once you decide to get the pavers sealed, the obvious next question is who should do it. While this may seem an easy DIY task, there’s more to sealing pavers than meets the eye. The pavers need to be pressure-washed beforehand, unless they’re newly or recently installed. Again, you may be able to tackle this yourself if you have experience pressure washing, can physically handle the equipment and have the appropriate protective clothing. Our blog post – “Pressure Washing: Should You Hire a Pro or DIY?” – covers this topic in depth, and can help you make an informed decision.
As for sealing pavers yourself, here are some points to consider:
Choosing the right product – Not all sealers are the same. Quality sealers are thicker and more durable, whereas inexpensive sealers are thinner and break down faster. A professional will know the right product for the paver type and other variables.
Sealant can contaminate nearby plants – A professional knows how to cover plants before starting, and has the right equipment to prevent or minimize overspray.
You may not have the proper protective clothing and equipment to do the job safely – If taking the DIY route, Batchelder & Collins, Inc., recommends wearing a mask, protective gloves, shoe covers, long sleeves and long pants throughout the sealing process. “A sealant will not come out of your clothing so make sure to wear clothing you aren’t too concerned about having to throw away. And finally, make sure to apply sealant in a well-ventilated area and take proper precautions to avoid inhaling the fumes.”
Improper application can spoil the appearance of the pavers – Hazing and a white film can result from a poor application technique. If the pavers weren’t properly cleaned before the process, dirt can become trapped beneath.
False economy – spending more money in an attempt to save money – Since pressure washing will likely be necessary as part of the project, think about what you will need to spend on equipment rental, protective clothing, etc., just on this preliminary step alone. Then figure in the amount you’ll spend on sealer, applicators, etc., with the possibility that you purchased the wrong equipment or not enough sealer to do the job. Your time is worth money, as well, and DIY projects typically involve more time than you had first assumed!
Once you consider all that’s involved with sealing pavers, you’ll probably agree that this is a job best left to a pro. Our team at The Paint Manager has been proudly serving Central Florida homeowners for 20 years with experienced, dedicated and professional services that include exterior and interior house painting, roof repair and cleaning, drywall repair, popcorn ceiling texture removal, cabinet refinishing and so much more! We use professional-grade equipment and follow OSHA guidelines.
Plus, become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer. We look forward to meeting you!