Today, I wanted to talk about the types of sealers that are out there, and maybe what's the best type of sealer for you. If you're looking to do a home improvement project, or you want to seal your pavers, whether it be brick pavers, travertine tile...maybe you got a cement driveway or whatever the case. There are different sealers out there available to you. I wanted to discuss two of the most popular types of sealers that are readily available to you. There's pros and cons to each one. And without further ado, we'll go into those. So as I discussed, there's two types of sealers: water-based and solvent-based.
Benefits of using solvent-based sealers
Another pro to solvent-base sealers is the longevity. Solvent-based sealers can last you four to five years, sometimes longer, depending on how it's applied, and if it's applied by a professional or just your typical homeowner.
And then they're typically inexpensive. They're not very expensive. You go to Home Depot, Lowe's, they got them all over the shelf, "Come buy a nice solvent-based sealer. It won't break the bank."
Disadvantages of using solvent based sealers
Well, if you do not use a breathable sealer, that condensation is going to create a white, milky haze to it, which means it needs to be stripped off. You need to strip that sealer off in order to fix that problem. Solvent-based sealers are not bad sealers. I used them up North, but here in Florida, we have a very tropical environment, high water table, high humidity, high moisture. So these sealers typically do not work in the Florida environment.
They've got a very high VOC level. VOC for those of you that don't know stands for volatile organic compounds, which basically means "Is it safe to breathe? Do you need to wear a respirator?" It's definitely recommended with solvent-based sealers. In fact, a lot of solvent based sealers aren't allowed to be used in States like California. California is very strict on EPA regulations. So some of these high VOC sealers can not be used in states like California.
Another downside to solvent based sealers: they can be extremely slippery. They are film forming. That's another downside. But when you start applying layer after layer after layer, when they get wet, they're extremely slick. Whether it be a driveway or more importantly pool deck. If you've got kids or grandkids walking around your pool deck, you don't want it to be a slippery surface.
And it will need stripping eventually. The more layers you put on the more trapped moisture you get. It starts to look like a glazed donut. It starts to peel and flake. Looks hideous and it does need to be stripped off.
Another downside is the pavers need to be completely dry. They recommend waiting a day or two before applying the sealer after you've cleaned it. In states like Florida, most of the year we get rain pretty much every day. And if it's not rain, you got the high humidity. So it's really hard to dry these pavers out in order to seal it. And then once they're sealed...they can't get wet for about 10 to 20 hours. Another thing that's virtually impossible in a Southern climate.
And another thing is it won't stabilize the sand. Solvent based sealers are pretty much put over the top of the paver. Doesn't really penetrate into the joints. So it won't stabilize the sand.
The pros of using water-based sealers
Most of the water-based sealers are breathable. But don't make the mistake of going to the store and just saying, "Oh, it's water-based, it's breathable." Some of them are not. You want to consult with a professional, find out the ones that will not trap moisture and that are breathable.
So water based sealers, they do offer a superior color enhancement. It'll darken and enrich the color of the brick.
- It'll also sand joint stabilization. It'll also stabilize the sand that's in the joints, help keep it nice and firm.
- Very low VOCs. Water-based sealers...you typically don't need to wear a breathing mask or breathing apparatus.
- They penetrate. Most of them are penetrating. So it's not just film, forming and sitting on the top, especially when it's applied correctly.
- It's easy to use and they come in a one and a two-part option.
So basically what that means...some of them it comes right out of the bucket, ready to go. Some of them are a two-part option where you got to mix part a and part B. And then once you mix them, then you're ready to go.
And they can be applied over damp surfaces. So when you clean the pavers, you can seal them the very same day because they are water-based and they do not need to be stripped if applied correctly. So when I say that, if you try to get more shine and you just apply layer after layer, after layer, which is not recommended, eventually you can make it to where they're not breathable and you will need to strip it. But if it's done correctly, you won't need this strip the sealer.
They also dry relatively quick, within a few hours, and they can withstand rain. Easy cleanup, and they're not slippery.
The cons of using water based sealers
- They are more expensive. They're not cheap. The technology that goes into the sealers to make them breathable is quite expensive. So you're going to pay a little more for a good quality water-based sealer.
- And they're not as shiny. They do leave a sheen. They do offer color enhancement. But if you want that high-gloss shine, water-based sealer is typically not going to do that for you.
- And last but not least, it does not have as long as shelf life, especially the two-part sealer.
So if you buy a water-based sealer plan on using it, don't let it sit in your garage for four years. And with the two parts, once you mix it, you got to use it within two hours, or it starts to coagulate and harden. And so when you mix that A and B together, be ready to roll.
So for the typical homeowner, a lot of them will use the one part where you can kind of just pack it up and finish on another day. If that's what you're looking to do, you definitely want to go with the one part.
I hope this helps explain some of the sealers and the pros and cons of them. If you have any questions, you can always call us or email us, or even check our website, but I'm available by phone. My office number is (239) 288-0705. My office assistant Ana answers the phone quickly. If not leave a message, let her know you want to speak to Jeff and I will definitely call you back. I'm here to help. Thank you so much for tuning in, and hopefully this helps you and your paver sealing project.
Thank you for listening to the Adventures in Paver Sealing podcast. To learn more about Paver Protectors, please visit paverprotectors.com or call (239) 288-0705.