Interlocking concrete pavers are quite a common solution for patio, walkway, and driveway surface. For many decades 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.
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. It means they cannot move independently from each other.
The interlock is the result of the sand placed in between each individual concrete paver. Not 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 on the side of each concrete paver. It makes proper spacing possible and helps to create a sand joint.
Sealing pavers pros and cons
There are obviously some pros in sealing pavers as there are products manufactured for it. For the cons I could say that you need to see some effort to maintain them like with concrete sealers. Green things around the pavers might suffer during the sealing. Lastly, as ongoing thing it will cost you.
For the pros, read along.
Why seal your concrete pavers
After your concrete pavers are installed, they are exposed to all the outdoor elements like sun, rain, dirt, foot traffic, vehicle traffic, stains, etc.
Without the sealing of the pavers, cement and color pigment of the pavers will gradually erode. This will cause the concrete pavers to change colors. So you want to protect your work/investment properly. To help prevent the concrete pavers from eroding and changing colors is to seal them with a deep penetrating sealer.
Using sealer on the new pavers/just cleaned ones will also help to bind and stabilize the sand in the joints. It will help against wind and rain and also against weeds growing in the joints.
If your pavers have seen better days there are color boost sealers available so you might be able to save them. I recommend buying a small test sample and trying it on one stone to see how it looks.
Quality commercial-grade sealers are designed to protect concrete pavers from the elements. The sealer will 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.
What kind of concrete pavers sealant should you buy
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.
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. This can be expensive and may cause damage to the concrete pavers.
The removal might be chemical or mechanical, either way, it might leave a mark on the surface. It will also cost so it’s better to save yourself the trouble and just buy the correct product straight away.
The process of sealing concrete pavers is not difficult. A company certified by the concrete paver sealer manufacturer might be your best bet if doing it feels troublesome. 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 give sealants a try yourself, I’ll also cover that shortly as it’s something that everyone can do.
Cleaning the interlocking concrete pavers
The first step always before applying to seal is to make sure the surface is good looking and clean so you won’t seal dirt. The most usual thing in our driveway is petrol so I’m going to cover that here. Other cleaning tips are here and here.
If any petroleum products have come into 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. This also means that 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. (Although, this is not as easy as it sounds).
Other than petrol, all the dust and weeds must be removed if you want to do a good job. After the concrete has dried it might be good to brush some sand to the joints if they’re not full. Give it a quick wash and it should be ready for sealing the next day.
How to use sealants on concrete pavers
First, we need to be sure the concrete is dry from the cleaning. If it’s dry weather and no rain has fallen, 24 hours is a good time for concrete to dry. After you’re sure the pavers are dry, sweep all the dirt away that the wind has brought during the night.
Now, read the instruction label and put proper protective equipment on. Do a test sample on some easy spot to be sure that the sealant gives the look you want. Now, if you have a green light after testing, proceed to seal.
A pump sprayer/garden sprayer is good for this job. You can fill it and pump some pressure on and set it to give a good mist. You don’t want to spray puddles of sealant, that’s why I recommend using mist. It’s also easy to see that you get an even amount of sealant everywhere.
Note: If you’re using a sealant that needs a solvent, use metal pump as some solvents can melt the cheaper plastics.
Now, spray an even mist on all of your pavers and see that they are equally wet. It might be good to watch some tutorial videos if you’re unsure how they should look like. If you’re using water-based sealants, the process should be repeated every few years when it starts to see some life.
The sealants that need heavier solvents can last longer. Depending on the thickness of layer even 5 to 6 years.
Concrete pavers take some effort to install properly and they can cost quite a bit as well. It only makes sense to take some steps to protect your investment.
And of course, there are some who enjoy the paver sealer wet look. I find it quite good looking myself as well.