How to Clean and Seal Pavers

Is there any nicer way to line

footpaths, driveways, or just create a paved portion of your backyard, than by using attractive stone pavers? They are a real game-changer when it comes to outdoor construction and can make a big difference both to the aesthetic and the value of a property.

Being outdoors, however, these pavers are exposed not only to the brunt of nature’s elements, but also to the additional dirt and contaminants that come from your own property like oil and grease from your car, for instance. A car parked on a driveway over a long period of time inevitably creates messes that need to be cleaned up. With people everywhere asking how to clean and seal pavers in the most effective way, we’ve prepared the following article to share some professional tips on the matter.

What Challenges Exist with Pavers?

First, let’s get some background on the particular and unique challenges of having pavers in your yard in the first place. They are certainly attractive, but they are also very easily stained by both natural contaminants and those from things like your car such as grease and engine oil. When left unattended, it leaves the pavers looking untidy, patchy, and of a much lower quality than when they were new.

Another problem is that the stone used to build pavers is porous, which means moisture and mildew can find its way in, which creates additional problems to the appearance and integrity of the pavers. They can succumb to oxidation, which can end up exposing the aggregate and making the whole thing look very unsightly indeed.

When it comes to cleaning pavers, a further challenge is presented by the local climate. How you ultimately clean and seal the pavers depends greatly upon climate, more notably how humid the area is and how much rainfall you can expect. Let’s take a closer look now at how pavers can be cleaned using one of two main methods.

How to Clean and Seal Pavers - Wet or Dry?

The main question that arises when it comes to cleaning pavers is which method will you use? The wet cleaning method, or the dry cleaning method? As we touched upon in the previous section, your choice will depend greatly on the climate in your area.

The “wet method” refers to using power washers and/or hoses to blast dirt and contaminants from the surface, possibly using cleaning agents or other solvent-based substances to help us along. After cleaning, the pavers need to thoroughly dry before any sealer can be applied to it.

The “dry method” refers to using a brush to agitate the dirt and contaminants from the ground and then sweeping them away before applying sealant. The main advantage of the dry method is that there is no waiting period while the surface dries. No water being used means the surface is ready for sealant as soon as the sweeping is done.

How to Clean and Seal Pavers - The Wet Method

From this, you can now likely see why the local climate has such an influence on which method you might choose. It at least informs when you will be able to clean and seal your pavers. The wet method is obviously a desirable method for many because it’s so thorough, and also much easier than sweeping, especially if you have a power washer. The timing is everything because you need to have a period of at least 3-4 days after washing the pavers for them to completely dry out.

If you have any additional rain or excessive humidity during that time, then it just resets your progress and will likely add further dirt and contaminants for you to clean. For the wet method, then, if you can’t rely on several dry days as people can in places like Arizona, Nevada, Southern California, etc. can, then you might need to use the dry method instead.

One thing that helps the wet method along greatly is the use of a degreaser on the pavers’ surface. This is doubly useful if you have a car or multiple vehicles parked on the driveway regularly. The oil and grease from the cars get into the pores of the pavers, which makes it harder for moisture to escape and evaporate. If you want to minimize the length of time needed for the pavers to dry out completely before you set to the task of sealing them, then ensure you use a degreaser on the surface while cleaning.

How to Clean and Seal Pavers - The Dry Method

For the dry method, one of the best tools you can invest in is a Malish brush, which is seemingly quite expensive for a brush, but its contoured bristle design is second to none at getting pavers clean. With a single Malish brush you will be able to clean many pavers and driveways, which if you’re doing that for business purposes means that essentially the Malish brush pays for itself. It’s the real deal when it comes to heavy-duty paver cleaning.

Using the brush to agitate the dirt and other contaminants from the surface, the pavers can simply be swept clean before the sealer is applied. One advantage of the dry method is that you generally get a more even and problem-free application of sealer afterward. The wet method can make it harder to achieve that same uniform effect.

The other advantage of using the dry method, of course, is that you can get the entire job done in a single day. You could first sweep off three driveways in the morning before leaving them a period and then finish either with the brush or with a leaf blower in the afternoon. If you’re using the wet method, one drive will take several days to finish and may lead you to have to visit the same site multiple times to get everything finished.

One further note for cleaning is that when it comes to dealing with oil stains left by your vehicles, there’s nothing as effective as either a solvent-based cleaning agent or isopropyl alcohol. Use either of these to lift embedded oil and grease to the surface, after which you can just wash/sweep it away.

Sealing the Pavers Using RexPro

There are various sealers you could use on your pavers, but below we’ll be making a strong case for using RexPro as the best candidate. Other possibilities include urethane, acrylic, xylene, and some others. When it comes to sealing pavers, while they’re technically may be sealers called topical and penetrative, they are all, in reality, penetrative sealers. The main difference between them is viscosity.

Urethane and xylene are particularly vicious, which isn’t as useful when you want to clean with the wet method because they prevent evaporation. Acrylic sealer is water-based and so penetrates more deeply, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to RexPro. The other problem that occurs with all of these alternative sealers is efflorescence. When water tries to escape from these others through evaporation, for instance, the salt within it becomes separated and that creates an unattractive white coating of what is essentially salt. RexPro can prove this.

Advantages of RexPro

First of all, RexPro is solvent-based, so it doesn’t decay naturally and is made up of smaller molecules that penetrate much more deeply into every pore and capillary of the stone. This provides the most comprehensive coverage and protection.

Furthermore, because it penetrates deeply, it doesn’t leave any film on the surface that would otherwise alter the attractive natural appearance of the pavers. People who use alternative sealers often find that besides the risk of white patches of efflorescence, an additional issue was that the sealer coated the paver stone in a way that detracted from its natural beauty.

In fact, not only does it not negatively impact the color and texture of the paver stone, but it can actually enhance it to some degree. Many people report that their pavers look far more attractive after using RexPro. On top of that, the deep penetration also leaves the structure of the pavers far more stable. Color changing isn’t the only issue created by other sealers, but also a reduction in overall stability.

Speaking of stability, RexPro will create a more resilient layer of protection that won’t shatter when things impact it. Just so long as the substrate in the paver is stable, the RexPro will also hold the line whenever things are dropped on it.

Even if moisture gets underneath the pavers to where they are not as protected, RexPro helps manage the situation with its 8-12 percent perm rating. This means that it allows moisture to evaporate faster, which removes any severe moisture that has found its way to any vulnerable area of the pavers.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that RexPro, once applied, won’t need reapplication for many years — perhaps 5-7 years depending on the conditions. Under normal circumstances, you’d have to strip an existing layer of sealer before applying a new one. Acrylic sealers need reapplication at least once or twice a year. RexPro goes on once and then keeps on working. That makes your life easier, and the process of protecting your pavers cheaper.


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