Paver Sealant: To Seal or Not to Seal

Sealant is an important maintenance tool to keep paver patios, walkways, driveways and pool decks looking as beautiful as they day they were installed.  However, “too much of a good thing” can come into play, and you should be wary of over-applying paver sealant by reapplying too often, which could create a haze. This week’s blog offers tips for knowing when it’s time to seal and how to best achieve the desired look.

Should all concrete pavers be sealed?

Yes. Concrete is porous and will absorb stains if not sealed. Sealants can also protect paver color from fading.

Do all sealant brands offer the same basic protection?

There are definitely some poor products on the market. Don’t trust the fact that you bought it at a big box store or that it’s a high-profile brand. Just because a brand is good at one product category (like paint) doesn’t mean they are the best in another. Belgard recommends Techniseal® sealants. Techniseal® is a pioneer in the industry has a robust R&D department, resulting in effective and durable products specifically created for paver installation and maintenance.

Is any one sealant finish more protective than another?

There are basically two types of paver sealants: film-forming (gloss or semi-gloss finish) and non-film-forming (matte finish). Film-forming sealants, Wet Look and Clear Look, offer the ultimate protection because they create a physical barrier on the paver surface. However non-film-forming sealants, Natural Look and Color Boost, still offer excellent protection and last a bit longer.

Techniseal Concrete Paver Sealer

How long should new pavers cure before they are sealed for the first time?

If using a non-film-forming paver sealant, wait one week before sealing. If using a film-forming sealant, wait 30 days to avoid trapping moisture under the protective barrier.

Is there a prep process before applying sealant?

Even new pavers should be cleaned with Techniseal® Paver Prep prior to sealing. Not only will it clean the pavers, but it will open the pores on the surface to allow better penetration of the sealant. Older pavers will also benefit, as Paver Prep will remove any efflorescence (or whitish salt buildup) that has accumulated. Any stains should be removed prior to applying Paver Prep, using the specific stain remover for the type of stain. For more information, read last week’s blog on paver stain removal.

How long should pavers dry after being cleaned and prepped?

The answer depends on your climate. In warm, sunny climates, the pavers will be dry and ready to seal in a few hours. In cooler climates or shady areas, it’s best to wait about 24 hours.

What are the ideal weather conditions for sealing?

Ideal conditions would be 75 degrees and sunny; however, anywhere between 50-90 degrees is generally fine. Take note that solvent-based sealants evaporate faster, so lower temperatures are better for application.

How often should sealant be reapplied?

The basic rule of thumb is every 3-5 years. For film-forming sealants, you will be able to notice when the physical barrier is showing signs of wear. For non-film-forming sealants, you will begin to see a significant color change of pavers during a rain when the sealant is wearing thin. Keep in mind that in cases of a really heavy rain, even well-sealed pavers may darken for a couple of days until the water fully evaporates, which is not an indication of sealant failure.

PAVER SEALANT APPLICATION TIPS:

  • Like with painting, it’s best to keep a wet edge on a continuous area. In other words, don’t let a section dry before you finish. Once you start working, keep working.
  • An application sprayer (available at any hardware store) makes it easier to work faster.
  • Apply paver sealant to saturation. Get the pavers good and wet to make sure all crevices are covered. Then use a dry roller to soak up the excess to avoid lines and drip marks.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Visit Techniseal’s website for more DIY paver sealant application tips. When in doubt, hire a professional. To find qualified contractors in your area, visit the Belgard contractor locator.

Not All Paver Stains Are Equal

When properly maintained, Belgard pavers are guaranteed to last the life of your home. However, even if your concrete pavers were sealed when they were originally installed, sealants will wear over time, leaving your pavers vulnerable to stains from spills, dirt, grease and other elements. Pavers that have never been sealed are particularly vulnerable. However, before sealing or resealing pavers, it’s important to remove existing stains, and even more important to note that not all stains are equal. Thankfully, the experts at Techniseal® developed a full line of paver cleaning products, each specifically formulated to combat a particular type of concrete stain. Their products can be found through various dealers, including Ace Hardware stores.

Techniseal Pre-Seal Paver CleanerPre-Seal Cleaner

If you’re simply dealing with ground-in dirt or efflorescence, this general cleaner will do the trick, as well as prep your pavers to be sealed. Efflorescence refers to the whitish salt deposits that can develop on paver surfaces and make pavers look dull and lifeless. Techniseal® Pre-Seal Cleaner will gently remove efflorescence, scuff marks and dirt, and brighten paver color.

 Techniseal Rust Remover for PaversRust Remover

If you’ve ever moved a planter and discovered a rusty ring beneath it, you’ll be happy to know that Techniseal® Rust Remover for Pavers effectively dissolves stains caused by dripping rusted water, rusted metal furniture or objects, steel streaks, and fertilizer granules. Since it contains no muratic acid, Rust Remover for Pavers won’t damage the paver material. To remove fertilizer stains from a large surface, however, it’s recommended to use Techniseal® Pre-Seal Cleaner.

 Techniseal Dirt & Grease Cleaner for PaversDirt & Grease Cleaner

When you’re looking to remove motor oil stains from your paver driveway or barbecue stains from your outdoor kitchen or patio, Techniseal® Dirt & Grease Cleaner for Pavers is the ideal choice. Recommended for sealed surfaces and fresh stains, it dissolves, dislodges and encapsulates grease, thoroughly cleaning without leaving any oily film after rinsing.

Techniseal Oil & Grease RemoverProfessional Grade Oil & Grease Remover

So, how about grease stains that have been there a while? Ideal for older, penetrated petroleum-based stains, Techniseal® Professional Grade Oil & Grease Remover is an industrial strength cleaner that lifts and absorbs embedded oil stains as it dries from a liquid to a powder. Formulated to work with pavers, concrete slabs, walls and natural stone, this product works without damaging or discoloring the material and requires no scrubbing or rinsing (yes, you read that correctly).

 Techniseal Organic Stain RemoverOrganic Stain Remover

For those of us who are a bit clumsy in the outdoor kitchen, have no fear, there’s a cleaner for that. Red wine, blood, non-greasy food stains…they’ve got you covered. Techniseal® Organic Stain Remover will also effectively remove stains from moss, mildew and dead leaves from either bare or sealed surfaces with minimum scrubbing.

 Techniseal Paint, Tar and Rubber Remover for PaversPaint, Tar And Rubber Remover

If the neighbor’s kid spits his gum out on your paver pool deck, there’s a cleaner for that, too. Techniseal® Paint, Tar and Rubber Remover for Pavers effectively dissolves paint, tar or bitumen, rubber, or chewing gum on pavers, concrete slabs and masonry.

.   .   .

NEXT WEEK: To seal or not to seal, that is the question. Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard next week for tips on knowing when it’s time to reseal your pavers and how to get the best results.

Spring Paver Maintenance Tips

Pavers: Dublin Cobble
Pavers: Dublin Cobble®

Mother Nature can be cruel. If you have chosen Belgard for your hardscape projects, you’ve already taken measures to increase resistance against weathering and corrosion. Still, seasonal hardscape maintenance is encouraged to preserve the beauty and integrity of your installation. Here are a few Spring paver care tips.

General maintenance

  • Clean your pavers each Spring with a coarse-bristle “stable” broom and a routine maintenance paver cleaner to keep them looking like new.
  • Some weeds, if left unaddressed, can shift pavers apart over time. Be sure to periodically apply a granular weed preventative between joints as a part of your paver maintenance routine.
  • Be careful when cleaning your Belgard pavers with power washers as they can remove the paver finish and expose the aggregate on the paver’s surface.

Cleaning

  • Before applying any paver cleaning solution to your hardscape, test a small inconspicuous area first to be sure you get the desired results.
  • Be sure to read and follow the directions printed on container labels for cleaning solution use, application, precautions and first aid. Always rinse the solution off thoroughly after use.
  • For tough stains, use a specialized cleaner to treat the specific stain. Techniseal offers specialty cleaners for organic stains (moss, mildew, dead leaves, blood, wine); greasy stains (motor oil, barbecue, oily foods); rust (caused by steel, rusty objects or fertilizer); and paint, tar or rubber (including gum). Each of these products are specifically formulated to clean pavers and masonry and should not affect the color or tone of your hardscapes. However, it is always a good idea to test a small area area first.

Protecting

  • The joints between paving stones are the most vulnerable areas of any installation. Keep these joints topped off with jointing sand to prevent the sand-bedding layer below from deteriorating, causing the pavers to shift.
  • Every three years, apply a sealer to keep your pavers looking their best. Depending upon your preference, sealer options can offer a natural matte finish, a color-boosted matte finish, a clear semi-gloss look, or a wet-look gloss finish. Sealers should not be applied more than once in three years. Too many applications will create a film on the surface which may discolor in sunlight. You can easily test whether your pavers are ready to resealed by dripping some water on your pavers. If the water initially beads, your pavers are still protected. If the water immediately soaks in, it’s probably time.
  • For older pavers that have suffered from weathering and neglect, bring back the original shade of pavers or give them new color with NuLook Tinted Sealant, which is a semi-transparent semi-gloss sealer designed to rejuvenate faded pavers. NuLook comes in four different shades to bring new life to pavers or create interesting designs. Watch the amazing transformation in the video below.

Winterizing Your Outdoor Living Spaces

belair-wallExtreme weather can sometimes take a toll on your outdoor living spaces. Keep your Belgard outdoor living area looking as beautiful as the day it was installed with these tips and tricks for protecting your investment in harsh climates.

Beware Rapid Temperature Fluctuations

Belgard hardscapes are constructed to withstand natural freeze/thaw cycles, and the refractory cement materials used to manufacture Belgard fireplaces, fire pits and brick ovens are designed to withstand very high temperatures. However, rapid shifts from one extreme to the other can still have an adverse effect, and there are simple ways to prevent damage.

  • Keep brick oven and fireplace doors closed to prevent snow and ice from building up inside the unit.
  • When not in use, cover grills and fire pit openings with covers to help prevent build-up and ensure proper working order.
  • If snow or ice does build up on a fireplace, fire pit or brick oven, be careful to remove any loose snow or ice and warm the unit up and thaw it slowly.

Protect Your Outdoor Kitchen

It’s important to protect all of your pipes, appliances and equipment so that your outdoor kitchen is ready to use in the spring.

  • Shut off water to your outdoor kitchen and drain all water lines to outdoor sinks, ice makers, refrigerators and kegerators. Leave the drain valves open.
  • Turn off all of the power to appliances.
  • Clean the inside of appliances and cabinets and wipe everything down to remove residual moisture.
  • Do not cover outdoor refrigerators or ice makers, which could cause moisture to get trapped and cause electrical damage.
  • Cover any sinks to prevent debris from settling in the basin. You may want to consider removing the faucet and storing it indoors.
  • If counter tops are made of stone, consider applying a sealant to prevent leaf stains or cracks caused by freezing moisture.

Prevent Deicing Downfalls

Deicing agents can sometimes have a corrosive effect on paved surfaces. Although Belgard pavers are manufactured to be more resistant to salt absorption than asphalt or solid concrete surfaces, there are additional tips that can help ensure lasting beauty of your paver walkways, driveways and patios.

  • Mix salts with sand prior to application.
  • Don’t over-salt.
  • Use salt for melting ice only, not snow removal.
  • Once loose, remove ice to avoid salt buildup.
  • Wash residue from pavers in the spring.
  • Reseal pavers with protective sealants, such as those offered by Techniseal, every three to five years.

Protecting Pavers from Debris

bergerac_beauty1

Belgard pavers are designed to last the life of your home. However, like any decorative exterior surface, they are subject to the effects of use, weather and time if not properly maintained. It’s that time of year when patios, walkways and driveways are constantly filled with falling leaves and pine needles — all of which can stain pavers that are not properly sealed.

Even if your pavers were sealed when originally installed, sealant will wear over time. To keep them looking beautiful, it is important to reseal pavers every three to five years. If pavers no longer repel water, or begin to look dull or stained, it’s probably time to clean and reseal them. There are likely a number of contractors in your area who offer this service. To search for a local contractor click here.

For those interested in cleaning and sealing their own pavers, it’s a three-step process.

Step 1: Stain Removal. Remove any stains from the surface using a specialized cleaning product for the particular stain. For example rust, paint, red wine, and grease will each have different chemical properties. Best results will be achieved when using a specialized cleaner for the particular stain. Techniseal offers a high-quality line of concrete paver stain removal products and can be found at various dealers, including Ace Hardware stores.

Step 2: General Surface Cleaning. Once stains have been removed, prep the entire surface to be sealed by removing all efflorescence and ground-in dirt with a paver cleaner. Spray cleaner onto pavers, scrub with a push broom, then rinse with a hose. Allow at least 24 hours for pavers to fully dry.

Step 3: Sealing. Choose between a matte finish, semi-gloss or wet-look sealant, depending on your preference. Before you begin, make sure that sprinklers are turned off, pavers are completely dry, and rain is not forecast for the next 24 hours. Be sure to read the entire product directions and test a small area first. Also note that it is not advised to seal pavers when sustained temperatures are below 50°F (10°C). If all conditions are favorable, apply the product in small sections at a time. For best results, spray on sealant with a sprayer, then use a roller to evenly coat and remove excess. Most sealants will need a second coat. Drying time will vary.

For more information, watch this video:

Preparing for Football Season – Proper Lawn & Paver Maintenance

Preparing for Football Season_ Proper Lawn & Paver Maintenance

With football season ramping up and fall’s cooler temperatures and falling leaves, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about preparing for autumn with proper lawn and paver maintenance. You can do more now to impact how your lawn will look next year than at any other time of the year.

Fertilize your lawn with a winterizer fertilizer before the first heavy freeze to encourage strong, vigorous root development. This step allows grass to get off to a better start in the spring and increases resistance to disease and insects.

While nobody likes to rake leaves, it’s an important step in autumn lawn maintenance. If you have a lot of leaves, mulch them and apply them to your lawn where they act like a second fertilizer application for the grass.

Luckily, with Belgard pavers on your patio, walkway and driveway your job is easy. Our pavers require very little maintenance. Thanks to a manufacturing process that ensures quality, colorfastness and weather resistance, our unique Colorgard technology evenly disperses colors throughout each and every paver, wall, and curb unit we make. Belgard products resist UV rays, maintain their original color year after year, and hold up to stressful weather extremes.

Additionally, stained or broken pavers can be easily replaced without patches. Ants and weeds in joints can be prevented with sealers or herbicides.

You can still enjoy your outdoor space even during upkeep – involve the whole family and make it a fun activity. The chores will get done faster, and you can get back to watching the game on your beautiful, leaf-free Belgard patio.