Many homeowners prefer to seal the joints after installing pavers to prevent weed growth, insect infestation, and shifting of the blocks. But how can you seal pavers, is using sand an option? We've researched various paver sealing methods to get the answer for you.
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Polymeric sand is the perfect product to seal paver joints, avoiding all three of the previously mentioned potential issues. Polymeric sand is fine sand mixed with a binding agent, that once activated with water, hardens and binds to the pavers, strengthening the joints and stabilizing the pavers. You will want to measure the square footage of your paved area, purchase the correct amount of sand for the desired area and then follow these steps:
- Clear your surface and joints of any debris.
- Roll your bag of preferred sand.
- Pour sand onto pavers, focusing on the joints.
- Use a broom to spread the sand out and guide it into the joints.
- Remove excess sand from the surface of the pavers.
- Use the garden hose on a fine mist setting to dampen the sand, trying not to let water pool in the joints.
Continue reading for detailed instructions on how to successfully seal your pavers with sand! We'll also discuss surface sealing for pavers, with tips and recommended sealers.
Preparing To Seal Pavers
To seal pavers with polymeric sand, you will need the following:
- Polymeric sand
- Garden hose
- Leaf blower (optional but makes for easier removal of debris from block surface)
You will want to pick a day with no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours. You will also want to wait 24 hours after any significant rainfall has occurred to make sure the paver surface is dry. Making sure you do this on a rain-free day is a must. Working in a wet or damp environment can cause the sand polymers to adhere to the surface and become very difficult to remove.
Furthermore, if it rains and the sand is not fully cured, this can cause moisture to be trapped in the joints, and they will never fully harden. It can also cause the sand to spread all over the pavers and again make it very difficult to remove.
Step-by-Step: How To Seal Pavers With Sand
1. Clear Paver Surface & Joints
You'll want to make sure the pavers are situated exactly how you would like them. Then clear the surface and joints of any debris or weeds.
2. Roll The Bag Of Sand
Roll the bag of preferred sand around. This is to ensure the product is thoroughly mixed and not settled. You'll want to put the goggles on at this point to prevent any sand or dust from getting into your eyes.
3. Pour Sand Onto Pavers
Pour the sand out onto pavers directing the sand into the joints. You'll want to fill the joints 1/8 inch (3mm) below the edge.
4. Use A Broom To Spread Sand
A push broom is the best tool for the job. Grab your broom to spread the sand evenly into the joints so that they are filled, and there are no visible gaps, brushing as much of the sand off the surface as you can as you go.
5. Remove Excess Sand
Take the broom and remove all the excess sand from the surface of the pavers. To make this step go more smoothly and efficiently use the leaf blower on a low setting, taking care to make sure you don't empty the joints.
6. Wet the joints
Put the garden hose nozzle on a fine mist setting. If your pavers are on a sloping surface you will want to start at the lowest point. Spray pavers lightly, avoiding any pooling. If you do happen to have some pooling in an area take a squeegee or the leaf blower and remove the pooled water.
Wait 10 minutes; afterward, go back to the starting point and lightly spray again. Wait for another 10 to 15 minutes and repeat the fine mist a third time. Wait a minimum of 24 hours before allowing foot traffic on the area. If you've sealed a driveway wait 48 hours before allowing vehicles on the surface.
If you'd really like to protect your investment you can also seal the surface of the pavers with a water-based paver sealant. It is recommended to wait at least 90 days after the initial paver install before sealing the surface with a sealant. Some manufacturers recommend waiting a full year to make sure you're not trapping in any efflorescence. Most surface sealers can easily be applied with a pump garden sprayer.
Benefits of sealing the surface of the blocks include:
- enhanced color
- stain resistant from grease and grime
- prevent color fading
- prolonged life of the material You can find sealants on Amazon that are easy to apply yourself with a pump garden sprayer.
Example of color enhancement with a paver sealer:
However, there are a few drawbacks to keep in mind when interested in sealing the paver surfaces. The surface sealant does require regular maintenance, there is an added cost and some finishes do cause the pavers to become wet in moist humid environments, posing as a possible slip and fall risk.
Once sealed, pavers need to be resealed regularly. Some of the thinner sealants can develop a film over time as the product starts to break down. Some paver materials such as limestone don't require as much maintenance as more porous materials. It's generally recommended the pavers be resealed every 3 to 5 years but check with the manufacturer.
How long to stay off pavers after sealing?
After the sealing process, you will want to wait a full 24 hours before allowing foot traffic on the area. If you've sealed a driveway you will want to wait 48 hours until allowing vehicles on the surface.
Can I use regular sand between pavers?
If not using polymeric sand, the best sand option for the joints is all-purpose/leveling/paver sand. It is low cost and easier to repair if there is damage or upheaval to the stones. Polymeric sand can also be very difficult to remove or work with if there is a need for adjustments or replacements of the individual pavers.
The process for sealing the joints with all-purpose/leveling/paver sand versus polymeric is identical, even down to the water. Spraying the fine mist of water on the all-purpose/leveling/paver sand still helps to pack down the sand and remove any remaining sand from the surface.
To prevent erosion of the sand it's best to use a liquid joint stabilizing sealant.
Do you seal pavers before or after sand?
You will want to seal the joints with polymeric sand before you seal the surface of the pavers. You will want to allow the joints to dry for at least 24 hours prior to sealing the surface of the blocks. Alternately if you are using a surface sealer you will still want to sand the joints and allow them to dry for 24 hours before applying the sealer. The topical sealant can act as a joint stabilizer and reduce sand disruption and erosion as well.
If you are thinking of topping off your paver joints with polymeric sand, that is NOT recommended. It is recommended you remove any existing joint sand prior to sealing with polymeric sand. The polymeric sand should fill the joint completely to promote the longevity of the product and effectively reduce the incidence of insect infestation or weed growth.
What is Efflorescence?
Efflorescence is a white haze on the surface of concrete pavers. It typically appears within a few weeks to a few months after the pavers have been installed. It's a natural occurrence and nothing to worry about, it does not affect the integrity of the blocks. It will usually disappear within the first year after installation. If you're worried about the appearance there are commercial agents to reduce the appearance of efflorescence.
How often should you put sand on pavers?
If you chose polymeric sand to seal the joints it can last up to 10 years! All-purpose sand typically has to be replaced every two years, possibly sooner depending on if there are any gaps, erosion, or disruption where the sand has washed or blown away.
Can polymeric sand be reapplied?
You can reapply the polymeric sand. Nothing is maintenance-free; routinely you will want to inspect the paver joints to make sure they haven't developed any chips or been damaged in any way. If you do find some chipping or damage to the joints you can easily reapply polymeric sand to the affected area.
Will water drain through polymetric sand?
Polymeric sand allows very little water to flow through so the base material should be free draining. That means that your bedding layer, the 1″ layer that acts as a leveler, should be able to drain water. Otherwise, your pavers need to be installed on a slope to allow draining away from the foundation.
Sealing protects your investment
Sealing your paver joints with polymeric sand is relatively simple and straightforward. Installing a paver walkway, patio, or driveway is typically a substantial investment for a homeowner. You'll want to protect and preserve that investment, keeping it looking great for years to come. Sealing those paver joints with polymeric sand is the perfect way to make sure your investment doesn't diminish by experiencing damage from erosion, sightly weed growth, or insect infestations.
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