There are some investments we should make in our outdoor concrete that are better than others. If you have laid pavers as flooring for your outside patio or walkway, knowing about sealing and whether or not you should seal them can make the difference between beautiful and degrading concrete.
Concrete pavers should be sealed if you want to meet the following criteria:
- To add more protection to your concrete from weathering.
- To limit the staining that happens by making the concrete less porous.
- To enhance the concrete’s inherent color.
- To secure the joint stabilizers between pavers.
If maintaining concrete is one of your priorities, treating pavers as an investment might be well worth your time and effort. If pavers are not sealed, then you could find weeds and grass growing between the pavers in the joint sand.
Is Sealing Pavers Necessary?
Sealing pavers isn’t a necessary step for pavers to be useful. However, whatever type of paver pattern you have, there is an option for sealing them and prolonging their lifespan, and protecting them from overall wear and tear.
After the concrete pavers are laid, manufacturers recommend waiting at least a year before applying sealer. This allows for the build-up known as “efflorescence” to escape from the pavers first before sealing them. There are some sealers, however, that don’t require a waiting period and will let the efflorescence to escape while it’s being sealed.
If you have pavers, you chose them for their aesthetic appeal. They are the right color, shape, and pattern you chose for the outside space. Over time, the beauty of the pavers will begin to fade away due to weather conditions or harsh UV rays from the sun. Sealers can help preserve the pavers’ color and aesthetics and prolong their lifespan.
Don’t get me wrong, pavers are very durable by themselves. However, the colored pigments that are added into pavers are not quite as durable. Over time, they will fade away. Using a sealer and reapplying it every 3 – 5 years can keep the colors vivid despite the outdoor weathering.
Outdoor spaces that are constantly hosting outdoor activities, like parties or dinners, will likely have cases where spills happen. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dirt, oil, or juice, concrete is inherently porous and will absorb all of these things. These will taint the colors and leave unwanted and unsightly stains.
Heavy-duty sealers will close up the pours in the concrete, preventing absorption and thus making it easier for you to clean up potential spills without damaging the color.
Enhancing Paver Colors
If you chose pavers with vibrant colors, such as red, there are some sealers out there that can enhance the colors or contrasts that are already existing. They can create a clear, shiny surface on the concrete that many consumers enjoy for its attractive look. This is otherwise known as a “wet look.”
Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately, and sealers have their limits. If the sealer is too thin, it might not hold up for very long or have the desired effect on the concrete and colors. Some lower quality sealers will need to be replaced every year or two in order to function properly.
Securing Joint Sand
Some pavers are joined together using sand or gravel. These joints are meant to stabilize the pavers and keep them from getting moved during a storm or when there is high wind. In addition, the sand is there to prevent weeds and grass from growing between the pavers. Unfortunately, the sand doesn’t always do its job on its own.
Sealer added to the interlocking joints will harden the sand and prevent them from getting dislodged and prevent weeds, grass, and other plants from growing between the pavers. No matter how close the pavers are interlocked together, there will be plants growing between them. The sealer can help prevent that.
Downsides To Sealers
Consistently maintaining the pavers with a sealer every 3-5 years, depending on the type of sealer, might be a downside to some consumers. The pavers must be cleaned and pressure-washed before applying the sealer as well. Also, some sealers aren’t eco-friendly and are prone to contaminate trees, plants, or gardens.
Always use a mask, gloves, and a covering on your clothes before applying sealer. It will stain fabric and can cause health problems if inhaled in an area that isn’t well-ventilated.
In terms of cost, there really isn’t much difference between doing the project yourself and hiring a contractor. If you’re unsure about anything, consult a contractor before applying a sealer to your pavers.
If you would like to purchase a sealer and do the job yourself, check out our article “11 Best Concrete Sealers (and a few mistakes to avoid)“.