Can you place your stone pavers somewhere outside to have them look beautiful without sealing them? Absolutely!
Will your work withstand the elements better if you decide to seal your pavers instead of letting them sit naturally? Yes.
When you place pavers in your yard to create pathways, then they are going to be exposed to the same elements as your driveway, deck, porch, or patio. If they are in a place where the materials might be subjected to grease or oil staining, then this optional maintenance chore can make it easier to clean them. Sealing agents can be safely applied to clay, granite, concrete (including stamped), block, stone, and slate pavers.
If you’re thinking about an upgrade to your landscaping or have chosen this material to be part of your driveway, then these are the pros and cons of sealing pavers to consider as you complete your project.
List of the Pros of Sealing Pavers
1. Sealing your pavers will give the project a clean, polished look.
When you make the decision to seal your pavers, then the project will offer you a professional, completed look that has high levels of visual appeal. The materials will have a cleaner look when you apply the sealant, which makes it have an appearance that is almost “wet” looking when you first install the product. Then you’ll benefit from a lack of fading thanks to this layer of resistant material which helps your landscaping look great during every season for a longer time.
2. Sealing your pavers will help them to become weather-resistant.
Many of the pavers you can find available for purchase today are made from porous materials. Although this structure helps moisture to seep through the item, it can also create problems with erosion or damage during freezing events. When you apply the sealant to the product, you’re creating a weather-resistant layer that will work hard to reduce water damage. Apply the sealant after you’ve laid the pavers to reduce the loss of sand dust in your joints as well. It will result in a surface which offers higher levels of stability without requiring you to pay a steep price to receive this benefit.
3. Sealing your pavers will reduce cracks, weed growth, and similar issues.
You can choose to seal your pavers individually or perform the work after the walkway is finished. When you choose the latter option for your new landscaping feature, then there will be fewer issues with the pavers loosening over time. You will notice fewer cracks will form in a sealed pathway compared to one that doesn’t receive this addition. There will even be less grass or weed growth that takes place between the stones or pavers that you set. With the added benefit of reducing the expansion and contraction issues which occur when there is rain or snow, it is a wise investment to consider making, even if the cost may be a factor for some households.
4. Sealing your pavers can happen in one of several ways.
Did you know that you can purchase some pavers that are already sealed for your convenience? If you opt for this product option, then you can lay your stones without worrying about taking the extra step. You can also dip your pavers into a sealant prior to laying them if you don’t want to worry about doing the work afterward. This method allows you to protect the entire stone instead of only the top portion of it.
You can apply a sealer with a paint brush or roller once your installation work is complete. Some sealants can be sprayed onto the surface being treated. Then you have the option of doing this work on your own or hiring a contractor to complete the project for you.
5. Sealing your pavers can come in different formulations too.
There are two different styles of sealant that are available to you when you want to protect your pavers or stones from the weather. The first option is a film former, which works to protect the pave by blocking the impact that contaminants and moisture have on the product. It creates a barrier along the surface of the product to accentuate the color while keeping the walkway looking new.
You also have the option to use a penetrant as a sealant if you prefer when taking advantage of what this project can do for your investment. These are useful for porous types of stone because the materials will sink beneath the surface to seal the product. You’ll lose some of the drainage benefits with this option, but it will also help the materials last for much longer than they would otherwise.
6. Sealing your pavers will prevent stain development.
If you are using a porous material for your pavers, such as concrete, then they will absorb liquids that could stain the product over time. When you apply a sealer to the stones, then you can prevent this issue from occurring. Using a sealant will also help to preserve the colors of the items you install on your property to maintain a consistent appearance.
7. Sealing your pavers will help to improve drainage around your installation.
When you install a pathway, patio, or porch using a porous paver material, then you can trap a significant amount of moisture underneath your installation. This issue makes it a challenge to create a firm foundation on the ground to build your product because there must be a way to remove moisture from beneath your work. If you apply a film barrier on the top of your installation, then your run-off from precipitation will be more efficient. Any minor damage will begin to heal itself in time as well, which can reduce your ongoing maintenance needs.
8. Sealing your pavers will reduce issues with property care.
If you seal your pavers correctly, then the surface of your walkways and patios will become smoother and easier to maintain. Should you receive a heavy snowfall, then the protected surface can withstand your shoveling activities to help access your property in a safe manner. Pavers create multiple joints that require care. When there is a top coat present that can reduce the edges of these transition points, then it becomes possible to even use a snow blower without involving a higher risk of damage during the process.
9. Sealing your pavers is a job that you can do on your own.
If you are familiar with the process of setting stones or pavers for a path or patio, then you can take care of the sealing portion of the work without much effort. Although some sites, books, or retailers might suggest that your best option is to hire a professional contractor, that only applies if there are property access issues that may impact zoning regulations in your community. It can sometimes be easier to obtain a permit when working with a business than it is on your own.
If you love the DIY approach, then make sure you are comfortable with this work before beginning. The other option here is to choose pavers which are already sealed, so the only worry you will have is to place each piece in its correct location.
List of the Cons of Sealing Pavers
1. Sealing your pavers will require multiple applications to be successful.
If you decide to apply a film-forming sealant on your stones or pavers, then you must be prepared to continue taking this action as your installation ages. The surface that you create on the initial application will break down over time, even if you place multiple coats on top or around the product. This effect is even worse when you try to create a barrier on top of a material that is highly porous. Most stones need to receive a new coat of sealant every 1-2 years, even under the best of conditions.
2. Sealing your pavers will require you to take safety precautions.
You must remember to wear all of the suitable personal protection equipment that is recommended by the manufacturer of the sealant when taking on this project. Most people will need to wear shoe covers, gloves, and a mask even though the work takes place outside. The sealer can act as an irritant to the skin, so long sleeves and pants might be necessary as well. Then make sure that you spray or apply the product as instructed to create the best possible results.
3. Sealing your pavers requires specific weather conditions to be successful.
You must work on sealing your pavers when the weather is calm and sunny outside. If you decide to spray the product instead of brushing it on or dipping the pavers into it, then you must work carefully to avoid any overspray. If you contaminate your shrubs, bushes, gardens, or lawn with this product, then there is a severe risk that you may kill the plants involved. Wind can cause your spray to travel to a neighbor’s lawn as well.
It is possible to avoid this disadvantage by using a product that is formulated to work outside in cool weather. Make sure to read through the manufacturer’s instructions to see what the coldest or wettest application window is for your sealer. Many products claim to offer cold weather support, but may require a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit to guarantee the quality of the application.
4. Sealing your pavers is an optional task.
If you prefer to have a natural look on your property after you’ve finished installing pavers or stones, then there is no need to go through the expense of this work. The cost of applying a sealer, even if you do all the work on your own, is typically between $100 to $200. If you are applying a product to an extensive porch or patio, then you might pay up to twice as much for this service. Keep your building codes in mind as well, since some communities may require you to apply for a property improvement permit before you begin to lay out your new path or patio in the first place.
5. Sealing your pavers does not always come with a guarantee.
You will find that there are some poor sealants that are on the market today. Just because you purchased a product at a large chain store or opt for a high-profile brand does not mean that you’re receiving an item that will give you the protection you expect. Look for the warranty given by the manufacturer as you shop for a sealer, and then review the overall durability and effectiveness of the product through consumer reviews to receive the best possible results.
6. Sealing your pavers could change their appearance in negative ways.
You can have too much of a good thing when you start to seal your landscaping stones or pavers. It is advantageous to apply the correct amount of sealer when working because it can enhance the colors of the product while encouraging less fading over time. If you apply too much paver sealer during the application process, then you can create a haze-like effect that reduces the color benefits you may want. Be wary of applying multiple layers unless the manufacturer explicitly instructs this need.
7. Sealing your pavers is not an immediate process.
If you purchase pre-sealed pavers or stones for your landscaping project, then you can ignore this disadvantage. Some homeowners can avoid it by dipping their stones in sealant before starting their project. If you decide to use a non-film-forming product, however, then you should wait at least one week before applying the product to ensure there is enough time to settle and cure. When choosing a product which forms a protective layer over your pavers, then you must wait 30 days to prevent trapping moisture from underneath the protective barrier.
8. Sealing your pavers requires that you clean the product frequently.
If your pavers receive high levels of exposure to yard debris, environmental dust, or other factors that impact its cleanliness, then you will need to clean your landscaping installation frequently. Dirt and debris can negatively impact the quality of the sealer that was used on the stones. This disadvantage applies to pre-sealed stones as well. If you used a product that filled in the pores of the product used, then neglect could cause the product to eventually split, crack, or break.
The pros and cons of sealing your pavers involve what you want the final product to look like when you are finished with it. If you prefer a glossy look that can withstand your local weather, then the investment into this process makes sense, and it will provide you with satisfactory results. For those who want to save money or prefer a look that is natural, then you can consider this work optional and avoid the extra price.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.