To seal or not to seal your paver patio is a key decision affecting both the look and the maintenance of your outdoor living space.
In terms of “look,” the range of options for sealing pavers has grown dramatically over the last two years. You can choose a “wet look,” a “color enhancing look,” an “invisible look.” Paver sealers can be water or solvent based. The look can be matte or gloss. Some sealers for pavers look great after one coat; some explicitly require a second application. There are pavers sealers that stabilize the sand in the joints of the pavers at the same time as enhancing the finish. Most dealers have displays or samples to show you what look each paver sealer will produce. There are no wrong answers here, pick what you like!
However, once you have committed to sealing your patio, sidewalk, pool deck or other outdoor paver area, you are also making a commitment to ongoing maintenance. A sealed surface can look great and require no re-sealing for several years. But the longevity of a sealed paver look can vary dramatically. How long the sealer will last depends on the use and the environment. Intense sun, salt water, heavy traffic, even damaging foliage can degrade the sealed look and force a shorter timeframe between re-sealing.
Some helpful hints (reminders) to consider when you choose to seal your pavers:
• Never seal pavers that still have visible efflorescence. This film is a natural occurrence which is part of the curing process for concrete pavers. If you seal before efflorescence has either worn off or been cleaned off, you are locking it into your pavers forever.
• Make sure you know how the sealer should be applied. There are a variety of application techniques. Some require very expensive, specialized equipment. If doing this yourself, pick something designed for DIY not something that requires a significant investment in application tools.
• Read the instructions. Check temperature requirements and check the weather forecast. Sealers do not apply correctly if it is too hot or cold or if they get wet too soon.