Sealants have become a popular necessity for prolonging patios and driveways by offering extra protection against the elements, contaminants and weeds. Find out how to clean, prepare and seal block paving driveways and the essential advice about using sealants.
Block paving sealer for driveways and patios
Although a popular decorative option for driveways and patios, the very design of block paving means there are many more joints exposed to the elements and to potential weed growth than with traditional concrete paving slabs.
Sealants offer maximum protection against weathering, general dirt, moss, algae and accidental spills. They have become an important application for driveways and patios, helping to prevent water ingress alongside making the area much easier to clean and maintain.
Aside from protecting paving joints from the elements, spills and dirt, block paving sealers are a go-to product in the homeowner’s fight against weed growth. Sealants play an essential role as weed inhibitors, providing a protective layer to stop weeds from surfacing in the first place.
Types of block paving
There are many different types of block paving, including:
- Clay block paving, also known as brick paving
- Cobble pavers
- Concrete pavers
In commercial paving, block pavers are regularly used in town centres, out-of-town retail areas and bus or train stations. Especially in high-traffic commercial areas, regular use of sweeping machines to keep the areas clean and hygienic can start to remove the sand jointing compound from brick and concrete block paving.
A block paving sealant has become a popular necessity to keep these types of paving long-lasting and pristine.
Sealing block paving can take some time as you need to ensure block paving is completely clean, dry and fully prepped first.
Rather than applying sealant as part of your paver installation process, we recommend waiting at least three months after laying pavers before getting the sealing rolling kit ready. This will ensure that any efflorescence or salt deposits have disappeared off the paving blocks.
Likewise, the cleaning process must be completed at least 14 days before applying sealant so you can monitor whether any efflorescence develops. The last thing you want to do is ‘seal in’ any reflective stains into the pavers.
Follow these steps to prep pavers for oil stain resistance, protection against weeds and to support routine or ongoing maintenance:
- Use a pressure washer and a wire brush to clean the the block paving thoroughly
- Remove any weeds
- Allow the area to dry completely, then use a broom to remove any loose bits of dirt
- Refill jointing gaps with a kiln-dried sand and brush away any excess
- Use a sealing rolling kit to apply the first coat of sealant
- Apply a second coat once the first coat is ‘tack-dry’
You must keep a close eye on the weather conditions. Sealants must be applied when the weather is dry. Ensure you have a 24-hour window of dry weather following the first application and the drying and re-coat times.
Understanding the basics
Clean pavers are essential before sealing block paving. Use a wire brush to clean paving thoroughly to ensure clean surfaces.
After cleaning, it is also a good opportunity to top-up any gaps in the joints with kiln-dried sand. This will help to ensure the extra care of block paving for years to come.
Some sealants require the area to be bone dry before application. If this is the case, rake out some of the jointing sand by 10–15mm to check it is completely dry underneath.
A sealant usually requires two coats to provide maximum protection. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure.
Refurbing weedy & mossy block paving
An excess of weeds in block paving can be difficult to contend with. A quality sealant will significantly help to reduce the growth of weeds.
Removing weeds before the sealing process can be back-breaking. Rest assured though, it is a valuable task to prepare for adding a sealant and stop future weeds in their tracks.
If the block paving is displaying a particular problem with moss and algae, a moss & algae remover is likely to save you time. Still use the pressure washer and a wire brush, but add a dilution of paving cleaner to help remove the algal stains.
Sealing new block paving
As touched on earlier, you must hold your horses on sealing block paving if you’ve just laid a new driveway. Otherwise you may just ‘seal in’ any developing problems with efflorescence or reflective staining.
For effective sealing, most sealants should not be applied to driveways that are less than three months old.
If efflorescence does develop, use an effective stain remover to get rid of it before starting the method of sealing.
Refurbing patios, printed concrete, and regular concrete
Another use of sealants is to apply them to concrete surfaces to enhance their colour. With concrete paver patios, sealants can lift the colour and prolong the life of the pavers.
As with block paved driveways, always refurb and clean the patio before applying a sealant. Replace any broken slabs, remove any weed growth and clean the slabs with a wire brush and pressure washer.
Refurbing Tarmac surfaces
Sealants can be used on tarmac surfaces too. The only change to the sealing process is that there is no jointing to do.
Before sealing tarmac surfaces, be sure to repair or fill any holes. Pre-mixed tarmac for smaller holes is available.
Always clear-out any debris, dirt or water from the hole and use a circular saw to cut a neat picture frame around the hole. Remove the loose tarmac, seal the edges with a cold jointing spray before pouring in the tarmac and thoroughly tamping it down.
Our recommended products for repairing tarmac surfaces, particularly on driveways, include Instant Road Repair or Permanent Pothole Repair. Both of these cold-lay tarmacs come in different formulas depending on the size of the hole.
See our pothole repair FAQs for specific advice on how to repair potholes.
Cleaning your patio or driveway
As touched on earlier, you must thoroughly clean your patio or driveway at least 14 days before applying sealant.
Why is this? Efflorescence can start to develop after cleaning an area. The last thing you want is to seal calcium deposits or reflective staining into your pavers.
After 14 days, if efflorescence has occurred, use a stain remover to get rid of it.
Immediately before sealing, use a sweeping brush to remove any loose dirt.
Using a pressure washer
When using pressure washers or jet washers, never point the dirt blaster nozzle directly into the paving joints as this will compromise the jointing compound.
When cleaning driveways or patios on a larger scale, a commercial power washer, such as a Berta sponge machine, protects paving slab joints and saves you cleaning on your hands and knees.
Always use a high-quality sealant
With a huge range of sealants available to choose from, picking the right sealer for block paving can seem difficult at first.
Shopping around to find a quality product will save you time in the long run, avoiding the need to repair and reseal the pavers long before it should be due.
Recommended block paving sealers
An ideal sealer for block paving is EASY Seal BCS. Also a high-quality sealant for concrete, EASY Seal BCS penetrates the surface of block pavers to provide a wear-resistant coating and stabilise the jointing sand. With a durable surface, the product will even help to enhance the colour of your driveway and provide a small amount of sheen. It can even be applied to damp surfaces.
If you prefer an invisible matte-finish effect on your driveway to a slightly glossy effect, Nexus PaveCare Pro-810 is another superior grade sealant that enhances, seals and protects block paving. This product is suitable for use with pressure washers and can also be used to seal natural stone and concrete.
When applying any new product to your driveway, always do a small patch test first.
If in doubt, hire a professional
If cleaning and sealing block paving all seems like too much hard work, it’s worth considering hiring a professional to do the job for you. Ask them about their process for sealing pavers and avoiding efflorescence and their timings for doing a deep clean and applying sealants.
Our experts are here to help if you need any specific advice. Give our team a call on 0845 862 1099 (Mon–Fri, 8.30am–5.30pm).
A universal block paving sealant can save you money in the long-run if you have other types of block paving to seal. A sealer such as EASY Seal BCS is also suitable for sealing concrete, and Nexus PaveCare Pro-810 can be used for concrete and natural stone, in addition to brick paving. Always do a patch test before applying to the rest of your driveway.
A popular product for large, commercial projects is Ultrascape’s Paving Guard, which is only available in 25-litre containers.
It is completely your call, though it is always recommended if you have more sensitive paving such as polished sandstone.
A sealed block driveway can be more easily cleaned and maintained as a sealant will help to protect the blocks and joints from contaminants and weeds. Sealants also enhance the colour and overall look of paving, offering a professional finish.
Kiln-dried sand is often used to fill the joints between block paving. As a very dry sand, it contains no moisture. This type of sand helps to stop water ingress and also stop the blocks moving or becoming loose.
A sealant helps to protect your paving against the elements, dirt and grease, oil, chewing gum, plus weed growth and algae. It will make the pavers less porous, making it easier to clean up any spills or general dirt.
A sealed driveway is much easier to maintain and care for, reducing the need for using stain remover products and the back-breaking work of removing weeds.
Sealed driveways can look aesthetically better too.
Concrete is a porous material, which can easily soak-up dirt, algae, oil, grease and other contaminants. By sealing concrete pavers you will protect your driveway from accidental spills and improve the longevity of your paving.
UV rays and general weathering can both cause concrete pavers to fade over time. A sealant will protect the surfaces and help to enhance the colours.
A sealant will generally darken the original colour of your pavers. Dark-coloured pavers tend to have a much more noticeable shine after applying a sealant rather than lighter coloured pavers.
If a satin finish is what you’re looking for, high-gloss sealants are available.