Interlocking concrete pavers are also known as segmental pavers. For many decades, in the United States, the manufacturing and use of interlocking concrete pavers have been a decorative alternative to brick, clay, and concrete.
The first interlocking concrete pavers were shaped as 4″x 8″ bricks, called Holland Stones; and they are still called that today. From those days, we have come to a wide variety of choices, too many to mention in this article.
The individual concrete pavers were not set in concrete but placed in sand, which performs better than concrete. The term interlocking comes from the fact that each concrete paver is locked to another paver and they cannot move independently from each other.
The interlock is the result of the sand placed in between each individual concrete paver. Not just any sand can be used for interlocking pavers. Sharp, angular joint sand must be used to maintain the interlocking properties.
Concrete pavers are manufactured with a ridge which runs vertically on the side of each concrete paver to allow for proper spacing and to create a sand joint.
How to clean interlocking concrete pavers
If any petroleum products come in contact with concrete pavers, the pavers will need to be cleaned as soon as possible. The longer the petroleum product remains on the surface of the concrete paver, the deeper it penetrates into the surface, and the harder it will be to remove.
The best thing to use for cleaning petroleum products off the surface of concrete pavers is a high quality, citrus-based liquid detergent.
Apply to the surface and let it soak for about 15 – 20 minutes; then wash the concrete paver with hot water. If the stained area isn’t completely clean; you may need to repeat this procedure more than once.
Another alternative is to replace the stained concrete pavers with new ones. This is not as easy as it sounds and honestly, if you act fast enough you can clean it away.
Sealing concrete pavers protects your investment
This is no different than a concrete driveway or walkway as the concrete should be sealed to prolong its age. The base material is the same, the only difference is on the strength of the pavers vs. concrete and there is no rebar in the pavers.
After your interlocking pavers are installed, they are now exposed to all the outdoor elements (sun, rain, dirt, foot traffic, vehicle traffic, stains, etc.). Over time, the cement and color pigment of the pavers will gradually erode, causing the concrete pavers to change colors.
A great way to protect your investment and help prevent the concrete pavers from eroding and changing colors is to seal them with a deep penetrating sealer.
Not only protection, it can help the sand in the joints to stay in place. That is not the main concern here thought and sand is cheap to add anyway.
Concrete paver sealer product types
There are two types of sealers for pavers. There are film-forming ones and non-film-forming ones. Don’t let it fool you thought, there is more under the surface.
Film-forming sealers offer that glossy surface while non-film-forming ones look like the matte finish. The glossy surface is good in the sense that it’s easier to see when the time to seal it again is coming. Matte surface lasts a little bit longer.
There is also solvent-based, water-based, acrylic, etc. kind of sealers so you might have to ask a professional opinion on what to use. If you know your ground is wet, it’s good that the sealer can let some moisture through. Acrylics are really UV resistant on the other hand so as you see, there are a lot of options when it comes to sealers.
Sealing and protecting interlocking concrete pavers
Quality commercial-grade sealers are designed to protect concrete pavers from the elements and guard them against erosion, oils, organic matter, and anything else that gets spilled and causes staining. The sealing of concrete pavers preserves the natural color and beauty for many years.
Now that you’ve made the investment in concrete pavers; it’s a good idea to protect your investment by sealing your pavers. After the concrete pavers have been sealed, you should re-seal every 3 to 5 years in order to keep your pavers looking new.
Sealing your concrete pavers will also play an important role in how long they last. Done regularly, it can double its lifetime which is a long time already. If you don’t like replacing your pavers every 10-20 years, seal them to last for a far longer time.
That’s possible because pavers have no rebar. That means it won’t rust and crack because of that.
Ordinary store brand sealers won’t last as long as sealers manufactured by a company that specializes only in paver sealers. Lower quality concrete paver sealers can turn white and cloudy.
This can lead to problems for future re-sealing; resulting in having to strip off the old sealer, which can be expensive and may cause damage to the concrete pavers.
The process of sealing concrete pavers is not difficult; however, a company certified by the concrete paver sealer manufacturer is your best bet. They have been educated and certified in the products and the process, and have generally installed a variety of paver sealing jobs.
If you want to do it yourself, a pump sprayer, short hair paint roller, and sealer should do the trick. You can look at this acid staining guide and how the sealer is applied for reference.
Adding sealer to the concrete is like painting a wall. The heavy lift is having that wall build and prepared for the paint and it’s like that with the pavers as well.
First, you excavate, add gravel for drainage and sand for pavers install. Then you install the pavers and add sand to the joints. It only makes sense to take steps to protect that work and investment.
In conclusion, sealing concrete pavers is the best way to protect your investment and provide beauty, longevity and curb appeal to your home.