Types of Paving Sealer


What are Paving Sealers?

Paving sealers work by sealing the surface of the paving slabs or block paving and form a protective barrier between the paving surface and the contaminates. Because many types of paving are absorbent, by sealing the surface you effectively seal the pores of the paving surface. The majority of sealants, when applied correctly to block paving can help protect against oil, moss and weeds. They also give additional protection against numerous other contaminates like BBQ grease, ice de-frosting salts and rubber tyre marks that have been caused by cars and bikes. In addition to adding an extra level of protection to your paving, applying a sealer can also enhance the colours of your pavers or slabs.

The two key properties for all sealants are their ability to repel oil and water. An ability of the various types of paving sealer to repel oil (oleophobic) means they will protect the paving from oils, fats and greases from outdoor cooking, from fuel or engine leaks, and additionally, from accidental staining with some paints and glues.

The ability of the various types of paving sealer to repel water (hydrophobic) means that the paving has the ability to resist staining from water-based contaminants such as spilt drinks and vegetable matter, such as grass clippings, leaves, etc.

Always remember when looking at the types of paving sealer available that a product which is oil repellent is nearly always water repellent as well. However, a treatment that is water-repellent is not always oil-repellent.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there is a significant difference between resistance and repellence. While a product that is repellent to oil and/or water-based contaminants will actively protect the paving from such contaminants, an oil or water-resistant product will only slow down or hinder the contaminant to a greater or lesser degree and may not offer complete protection.

Most types of paving sealers can be applied to any kind of block paving laid on your driveway, path or patio. But how do you know what type of paving sealer is the best to seal your brick paving and what are the benefits of utilizing them?

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Where can I use Paving Sealers?

Paving sealers can be applied to almost any paving type. Some of the different types of paving that can be sealed include natural sandstone. Indian stone paving and concrete paving slabs, pattern imprinted concrete, slate and tile paving as well as concrete and clay block paving. If you are unsure if a paving sealer can be applied to your paving type you can either do a small test area before you apply to the whole area or alternatively, ask a paving supplier or manufacturer as to the suitability of your paving.

Care should be taken if you’re paving has already had a paving sealer applied to the surface. This is because a new sealant might not properly bond or adhere to a previously sealed surface.  This could potentially lead to the new sealer peeling off the surface of the old sealed surface.

Types of Paving Sealer

If you are thinking of applying a paving sealer which sealing product should you buy to seal your block paving installation?

There are many types of paving sealer on the market however we will focus on the three main types that are currently available and most commonly used. These are as follows:


  • Water based sealants
  • Solvent based polyurethane sealants
  • Solvent based acrylics

Water Based Sealants

Water based paving sealers contain resins that are mixed with water. These are simple to apply and are relatively safe to use because there are no harmful fumes (due to the lack of solvents in the mix) and they are usually competitively priced. These provide a good level of protection against harmful contaminates such as oil and dirt and are also excellent paving joint sand stabilizers. You can buy water based paving sealers that use both acrylic and polyurethane resins.

Key points of water based paving sealers

  • They take longer to dry than solvent based sealers
  • Spillages can be easily cleaned with water
  • They do not penetrate into the paving as much as solvents
  • Significantly cheaper to buy than solvent based paving sealer
  • Safer to use. No flammable solvents or liquids
  • Much more environmentally friendly
  • Can be easily applied with a garden sprayer or roller & tray


Solvent Based Polyurethane Sealants

Polyurethane is a much harder resin than acrylic and consequentially, a polyurethane sealer will last longer when applied to your paving. These resins do not soften easily therefore the best polyurethane sealers are usually solvent based, however there are a few waters based polyurethane sealers available.

These sealants are excellent at preventing oil penetrating the paving and are quite long lasting, a re-application is usually required every 5 years. Additionally, polyurethane sealers are perfect if you are after a glossy look because they retain this finish extremely well and will not fade as time goes on.

Additionally, these sealants are highly regarded for using with block paving. This is because, as well as sealing the surfaces of the individual blocks they also bond the jointing sand together as well as re-adhering the jointing material to the side of the paving blocks with a resultant increase in strength. The downside of this is that this may affect the drainage of water from your paving.

Special care is required however when applying polyurethane paving sealers because it is very difficult to remove from sprayers and rollers if these are left to dry without cleaning first. This also applies to any splashes, spills, or overspray of polyurethane sealer if it comes into contact with anything else and is allowed to dry. Always wipe down and clean equipment straight away.

Applying two coats of polyurethane sealer is the ideal methods if you wish to fully protect the surface against materials such as oil, diesel and petrol. This will also enhance the glossy look of your paving whereas one coat will give a more matt finish.

Key points of solvent based polyurethane paving sealers

  • They last longer than acrylic sealers
  • Will hold a glossy coat longer than any other sealer
  • Initial outlay can be more expensive
  • Can be difficult to remove existing applications
  • Can be easily applied with a garden sprayer or roller & tray
  • Prevents UV rays from fading your paving (Aliphatic)
  • Will also bond jointing material


Solvent Based Acrylic Sealants

Solvent-based acrylic paving sealers are a very popular sealant choice for protecting and sealing both printed concrete (PIC) and block paving installations. Costs are considerably cheaper than polyurethane sealants. However, they are made using softer resins than polyurethanes, so they will need reapplication more often to achieve the same levels of protection, usually every 3 years.

Due to the fact that these are constructed from softer resins, solvent-based acrylic sealants are not as glossy as polyurethane sealant. However, acrylic sealants are easier to clean off application tools. It should be noted that acrylic sealants are less effective than polyurethanes when it comes to keeping very harmful contaminants such as oil and petrol from your block paving. Additionally, the jointing sand will not be set as hard as with a polyurethane sealer although some bonding will occur.

Acrylic-based sealers are very good for keeping everyday dirt and grime off your paving and to maintain the fresh look of your paving. They are a good sealer if you are willing to re-apply every few years.

Key points of solvent-based acrylic paving sealers

  • Recommended for PIC (Pattern Imprinted Concrete)
  • A most popular product for block paving
  • Spillages can be easily cleaned with water
  • Lower resin content, usually around 20%
  • Cost-effective
  • Regular re-application required (every 2-3 years)
  • Prevents UV rays from fading your paving (Aliphatic)
  • Can be easily applied with a garden sprayer or roller & tray


Conclusion on Types of Paving Sealer

The details of the types of paving sealers above are not exhaustive but do cover the three main types that are currently readily available and are the most frequently used. There are a few additional factors that need to be taken into account when you are looking at various types of paving sealers.

Additional general factors that cover all types of paving sealer

  • Would you prefer a matt or gloss finish?
  • Would you prefer environmentally-friendly (water-based) or solvent-based sealer?
  • Would you rather reapply sealant more frequently with a smaller initial outlay or spend more initially for a long-term solution?
  • Do you want to solidify the jointing sand between paving joints, consider the effect this may have on drainage?
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