Seal the deal with paver sealer to keep your patio floor looking new
Paver patios, driveways, and walkways can last decades. But they also tend to look dingy after years of bare feet, spilled drinks, and arts and crafts projects. Applying a sealer can freshen up your outdoor space, making it feel new again. It’ll also hold paver stones in place and prevent the edges from chipping.
Difficulty: 2/5 Flex your DIY muscles
Time: Plan to devote a couple of hours at a time over the weekend
Tools and Materials Needed:
Flat-head screwdrivers, putty knives, or paver pullers
Paver sealer remover
Nylon paintbrush or roller
Garden hose or pressure washer
Dish soap (optional)
1. Choosing the Right Product
Here’s a look at what you’ll see when you stare at the options in the home improvement aisle.
Film or no film: The first choice to make is film-forming or non-film forming sealer. The film-forming kind leaves a protective layer on top of the paver, while non-film forming penetrates the stone, leaving little or no film. Penetrating sealers generally last longer than filming varieties.
Finish: Choose your paver sealer from a variety of finishes, including:
Consider the slip factor, too. Glossy finishes will have more slip, so avoid them near pools and where the kids run back and forth all summer. For pool surroundings or high-traffic areas, look for a paver sealer marked non-slip to prevent injuries. You can also add grit with a layer of non-slip additive.
If your pavers have settled, shifted, or broken, it’s time to even them out. To pry the problematic pavers out, you can use two flat-head screwdrivers or putty knives if you have them. Special paver pullers are also available for about $30.
Level the surface with some fine-grain sand and reposition the pavers. Add more sand as needed to fill in the space.
Leveling existing pavers is the most difficult part of the job, but well worth it. Broken pavers can lead to trips and falls. Plus, the surface will look like new with crack-free stones.
3. Removing Old Sealer (If Necessary)
Many products can be applied directly to the top of an old sealer, making the reapplication process quick and inexpensive. Check the product packaging to ensure you can apply sealer directly to the old layer.
Otherwise, you’ll need to strip off the old layer before you can apply a new one. A gallon of liquid paver sealer stripper costs $20 to $50 per gallon and cleans 100 square feet of patio space.
Work in small sections to remove the old sealer:
Use a paintbrush or roller to apply the sealer stripper.
Use a nylon paintbrush to work the liquid remover into any uneven or stubborn spots.
Wait 3–24 hours, or as recommended on the packaging.
Before applying the new sealer, clean your pavers to remove any stains. Take your time here. Any iron stains from patio furniture or burn marks from a fire pit will become permanent if covered in sealant. Use a store-bought masonry cleaner ($25) to spot-clean, or dilute it with water and clean the entire surface.
Depending on how dirty the patio is, you can spray away debris with a hose, scrub with some dish soap, or pressure wash. Clear any mold or weeds growing through the cracks, too.
Let It Dry
Once the surface is clean, walk away. Let it dry for at least 24 hours on a non-humid day when it’s above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Refreshing the Sand
With time, the sand between pavers settles or rinses away with the rain. Now is the time to fill it in with a polymeric joint sand. This is a special sand designed to be swept between pavers’ joints. After it’s swept in, it’s watered in, using the shower setting on a garden hose. After it’s watered in, it will harden like concrete and won't wash away.
The sealant container may suggest application with either a sprayer or roller. Either way, use your tool to apply a smooth, thin layer. Wait about 2 hours after the first coat to apply a second thin layer.
Then, walk away and let it dry for at least 24 hours. It could take up to three days to cure enough to walk on the surface. For driveway sealing, it’s best to wait three days to drive a car over.
The ideal day for paver sealing (and for human happiness) is 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. “It’s also important to look at the forecast for the next few days after sealing, to make sure no rain is expected,” says Tara Dudley, owner of Plant Life Designs.
While a paver sealer is designed to protect your pavers from harsh elements—like heavy rainfall, heat from the sun, or freezing temperatures—sealing isn’t intended to protect your pavers from aging fully.
Reapply paver sealer to your driveway or patio every 3 to 5 years to give your pavers a long life. If you live in an area prone to heavy rain or intense sun exposure or the surface sees heavy traffic, you’ll need to apply a new sealer more often.
Hiring a Pro
If you’d rather not spend summer weekends maintaining your patio, hire a patio paver near you to handle the job for $50 to $80 per hour on average. They have the experience and tools necessary to get your patio party-ready. A paver installation company near you can also help steer you toward the best products for your particular hardscape.