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5/15/2019 Pavingexpert - AJ McCormack and Son - Sealants for Block Paving

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Introduction Paving Sealants


The why & the Sealants for stone
what
Types Recommend a
sealant
Uses
Sealants gone
Application wrong
Conclusions Slippery Sealants

Sealant Trials

Joint Stabilisers

Cleaning Paving
Maintenance
Power Washers
Removing Stains
Repair and
Patching

Introduction
Most Pattern Imprinted Concrete (PIC) paving, and more and more block or brick pavements
are treated with a transparent sealant that is intended to protect the paving from stains, inhibit
weed growth, and, in the case of block paving , stabilise the jointing sand. There are also
sealants specifically for use on wet-cast patio paving flags , on semi-dry pressed BS Flags , on
natural stone , and almost any other form of paving.

There is a selection of sealants available, and their efficacy often seems proportional to their
price. However, it is essential that the correct type of sealant is used for each type of paving: a
sealant recommended for PIC is not necessarily the correct sealant to use on clay pavers or
yorkstone flags. Some sealants purport to be suitable for all surfaces, but, in our experience, it is
better to choose a sealant that has been specifically developed for one paving type, rather than a
"jack-of-all-trades".

Choosing the correct sealant is critical and this is dealt with in more detail on a separate page ,
while sealants suitable for use with stone paving also have their own page. The remainder of
this page considers the use of sealants specifically for sand-jointed modular paving such as
concrete blocks or clay pavers.

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The why and the what


Sealants are increasingly specified for larger paving contracts, notably at
petrol stations, where they prevent fuel from penetrating the pavement,
at airports, where they prevent erosion of jointing sand by jet blast, and
at ports, where they prevent the ingress of water that can cause
pavement failure. They are also specified for high-use areas where
cleanliness and appearance is important, such as town centres, drive- Sealed runways prevents
jet blast loss of jointing
through restaurants, and railway stations, where the regular use of sand
sweeping machines can remove the jointing sand from unsealed
pavements.

This growth in demand for sealants has had a twofold effect on the marketplace. While some
manufacturers have undertaken intensive and original research to develop the best sealant
compounds for specific applications, other, mass-market products have increased their market-
share by claiming to be aone of the all-purpose products mentioned above. Sadly, some users
have found out too late that the sealant they picked up as a bargain at the DIY shed has
irreversibly altered the appearance of their precious paving and there's nothing they can do to
rectify the situation.

As with all surface treatments (including so-called Patio Cleaners, Acid Washes, De-greasers, etc),
a small out-of-the-way test patch should be undertaken before applying to the main body of the
paving.

Types of Sealants
There are 4 main types of sealants........

Water-based Emulsions
Solvent-based Acrylics
Moisture Cured Urethanes (aka SPPU's - Specialist Pre-Polymer Urethanes)
Hydrated Polymer Glues

The most commonly specified sealants in Britain and Ireland are the acrylics and urethanes.

The acrylic sealants are typically used on PIC and residential paving. They are relatively cheap,
but require repeat treatments at yearly intervals to maintain their properties. They are not as
flexible as urethane sealants and can be adversely affected by oils, petrol and other
hydrocarbons. They are best considered as 'colour enhancers'.

The polyurethane sealants are much more reliable and offer


longer protection, albeit at a slightly higher cost. While some of
the cheaper acrylic sealants are simply glorified varnishes, these
top quality products can repel oils and paints, including light fuel
oils such as petrol and paraffin, prevent staining and
efflorescence, and virtually eliminate weeds. More importantly
from a structural point of view, they bond the jointing sand to
reduce loss through erosion. Some sealants have no visible
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5/15/2019 Pavingexpert - AJ McCormack and Son - Sealants for Block Paving

effect on the appearance of the paving whilst most impart a


permanent 'wet-look', with either a gloss or a matt finish.

It is the higher-spec urethane-based sealants that are specified for civil or


commercial applications. There is a growing body of research showing
that the use of a high-specification urethane sealant can prolong the
working life of a pavement as well as reducing 'whole-life' costs by
minimising maintenance and cleaning. In high water-flow areas they
ensure the structural integrity of the jointing sands and therefore the
pavement as a whole, and they have been shown to reduce the amount of
settlement/deformation in a trafficked pavement compared to untreated
block paving. Sealed block paving in a
shopping area.

Uses for sealants


Sealants for paving really established themselves in the Decorative Concrete market where they
are an essential component of the finished work. From there, they moved into the Block Paving
market, initially as stain preventers and, for concrete pavers, as a colour enhancer. Their role
soon expanded as the benefits of joint stabilisation became apparent and research carried out at
Luton Airport in the 1980s began to show the effect quality sealants, particularly SPPUs, could
have on pavement lifespan.

As sealant technology advances, novel applications are being found, and their use is now
spreading to new and rapidly growing markets

- concrete and clay pavings used as internal floors [eg conservatories or kitchens]
- sealing of natural stone pavements - read more
- sealing and joint stabilisation of wide jointed paving

Sealants are proving their worth in more and more areas of the paving industry, but it is
important to use the right sealant for any given paving type. A sealant that has been developed
for use with PIC may not be suitable for patio flagstones, and some surfaces, such as granite or
quarry tiles, may not benefit at all from the application of sealants.

One of the world's leading sealant manufacturers, Resiblock Ltd,


have developed sealants specifically designed to be used in
different situations and on various paving materials. The
legendary Resiblock 22 is a proven product on small element and
block pavements, with over 2 million square metres of paving
treated to date.

In response to repeated enquiries via this site to suggest a quality sealant that is suitable for use
on natural stone or concrete pavings used in and around the home, Craig Amor of Resiblock
writes...

"We have two products that are particularly suitable for this purpose, the first is Resiblock Ultra Matt (low
sheen finish) and the second is Resiblock Ultra (wet-look finish). Both of these products are based on

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aliphatic TDI technology and provide outstanding resistance to a wide range of household chemicals whilst
remaining totally light stable (critical where part of the flooring is exposed to daylight and part is in
shadow). Unlike the standard products, the Ultra products have a high degree of adhesion and do not rely
solely on the porosity of the substrate for mechanical bonding, as a consequence they are both particularly
suitable for both wet-cast and hydraulically pressed paving.

The only caveat being is that if the floors have been pre-treated with another sealer, particularly one which
is silicone based, then our material may not properly adhere to this surface.

Both provide very attractive aesthetics and can withstand regular cleaning with household and janitorial
chemicals. As with all our products, 0.25 litre samples are available FOC to potential users to ensure
compatibility."

For more information on the above, visit the Resiblock website.

Application
Rule Number 1: The paving and jointing MUST be BONE DRY before applying a sealant. If I had
a quid for every time someone emailed or called with a tale of woe following application of a
sealant to a pavement with residual moisture, I would be able to afford a luxury weekend in Rhyl!

Sealants should not be applied to any pavement that is less than 3 months old and not before all
traces of efflorescence have disappeared - there's no point paying good money to seal in the
efflorescence! Recent research suggests that sealing could take place as soon as 8 weeks after
laying, if the paving is treated to remove all calcium carbonate from the surface, is allowed to
thoroughly dry and then sealed with a low viscosity moisture-cured, cross-linking pre-polymer - a
polyurethane sealant to me and thee!

Power washing is recommended before applying the sealant, although this should be done at
least 14 days before sealing to enable the bedding layer and sub-base to dry and allow for any
reactive efflorescence to appear, and the lance must be kept at a shallow angle to minimise loss
of jointing sand.

Prior to any sealing, the pavement should be thoroughly inspected for minor faults, and to ensure
the jointing is complete, ie, there is no jointing sand missing from the joints. Make sure there is
no chance of rain over the next 24 hours and that the pavement is completely dry by raking out a
couple of joints and checking the jointing sand 10mm or 15mm deep; if that's dry, the whole
pavement can be considered dry.

The sealants can be applied by low-pressure


spray, a squeegee or a long-handled roller.
Different sealants recommend different
application methods, so check the labelling
before starting. Low-viscosity sealants can be
sprayed, as long as all relevant safety
precautions are followed. Application by
squeegees may not leave sufficient sealant on
the surface of the blocks, and therefore roller
application is preferred. The type of roller used
can adversely affect sealant performance if the
pile of the roller reacts with the solvents in the
sealant, and so, care should be taken in choice of
rollers. Some manufacturers supply specialist
rollers precisely for the purpose of applying
paving sealants.
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Sealant applied with wide-head brush or roller.

Make sure that the sealant is worked into the joints to penetrate the jointing sand. Coverage is
usually poor on the first coat, typically 2- 4 m² per litre. This coat should be allowed to dry, and
then a second coat applied at right angles to the previous application - coverage should now be in
the range 5-9 m² per litre. Keep free of traffic for at least 24 hours to allow the sealant to cure.

New research is constantly being undertaken on the long term performance of various pavings
both sealed and unsealed. There is some evidence that sealing a pavement can prevent damage
by water ingress via the joints of elemental surfaces, such as block or brick paving, although how
relevant this is to residential, low-traffic paving is debatable. PIC has no option; they must be
sealed, if only to make the colours look acceptable.

Conclusions
We are not big fans of these sealants for normal, domestic applications, although we fully
appreciate their benefits and endorse their use on public works, high traffic areas, fuel stations
etc. The good quality polyurethane sealants are relatively expensive, costing £2 and more per m²
treated, but latest research is indicating they have a lifespan of 10 years or more, whereas the
cheaper acrylics might be only half the cost but the paving usually has to be re-sealed every 12-
36 months.

Whether these sealants represent a good investment for residential paving can only be
determined by the client, but some will consider it a small price to pay to protect and preserve
their paving.

However, they can be a worthwhile investment if you are


protecting valuable or 'hard-to-replace' types of paving, such as
custom-manufactured blocks or PIC. For high-load or heavy-traffic
applications, they are becoming essential, and in town centres,
they not only keep the paving clean, they all but eliminate the risk
of damage to the jointing caused by mechanical sweepers and
high-power water jet cleaning techniques.

For the homeowners, the main attraction of a sealant, other than


stain protection, is that the better products do reduce or eliminate
any colonisation by weeds, thereby reducing the chore of regular
maintenance, and they can also prevent 'mining' of the jointing
sand by ants or other invertebrates.

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One area of growth for sealants is in driveway refurbishment. As the number of block paved areas
older than around 10 years has grown, owners have realised that seaalants offer an effective
method of reducing regular maintenance, by keeping the surface clean and free from weeds.
Accordingly, a number of companies offering just such a driveway refurbishment service have
magically appeared, often with grandiose names suggesting some level of professional expertise
that is difficult to credit when a spotty 17 year old is blasting out all of the jointing from the
driveway with a jet washer.

However, when undertaken properly, there can be no doubt that a wash-and-brush-up followed
by the application of a quality sealant can completely rejuvenate a tired-looking block driveway
and usually at a quite reasonable price. The key to success is to find a professional contractor who
understands paving as well as cleaning, and is willing to give the project the necessary time
between cleaning and sealing to ensure the very best of results. Be wary of 'cleaning-only'
companies: there's a knack to cleaning paving and keeping it in tip-top condition.

Driveway before cleaning and sealing Driveway after cleaning and sealing

In summary, if a sealant is to be used on any paving, it's well worth spending a few bob extra and
getting a quality product, rather than trying to do it on the cheap and then being clobbered with
re-application costs in the none-too-distant future.

For small areas of staining on unsealed projects, it is often a simple task to replace individual
stained blocks as and when required.

Follow every step of the application of a good quality sealant to a block


paved driveway on the Driveway Refurbishment Project page.

See the Links page for details of sealant suppliers.

Other Repair and Maintenance Pages


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Sealants for Paving


Sealant Trials

Sealants for stone paving


FAQ: Recommend a sealant
FAQ: Sealants gone wrong
FAQ: Fixing Slippery Sealants

Cleaning Paving
Black Spots & Lichens

Maintenance
Power Washers
Removing Stains
Repair and Patching

Joint Stabilising Products

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