Paving sealers. Which one should you use?

Which type of paving sealers should be applied to block paving?
Block paving sealer applied to paving blocks

Paving sealers can be applied to any kind of paving laid on your driveway, path or patio. But what kind of sealer is the best to seal paving and why should you use them?

There are many different kinds of paving sealers you can buy. When applied to paving they can help protect against oil, moss and weeds. They also give protection against other contaminates like BBQ grease, ice de-frosting salts and rubber tyre marks made by cars and bikes. Besides protecting your paving, applying a sealer can enhance the colours of your pavers or slabs.

So if you are thinking of applying a paving sealer to help you choose which is the best sealing product should you buy to seal  drives & patios?

What type of paving can I apply a sealer to?

You can apply a sealer 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 whether 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 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 adhere (stick) to an already sealed surface.  This could lead to the new sealer peeling off the surface of the old sealed surface.

We look at the three different kinds of paving sealers you could apply to patio & driveways.

  • Water based sealer
  • Solvent based polyurethane sealer
  • Solvent based Acrylic sealer

Water Based Paving Sealer

Water based paving sealers contain resins that are mixed with water. They contain no solvents. They are simple to apply, relatively safe to use because there are no harmful fumes and they are very reasonable in price to buy. They give good protection against harmful contaminates such as oil and dirt and are good paving joint sand stabilisers. You can buy water based paving sealer that use both polyurethane and acrylic resins.

Everbuild Water Based Paving Sealer

Buy Everbuild water based acrylic paving sealer

Everbuild 405 water based paving sealer is one of our top recommendations of water based paving sealers for protecting paving. They say the customer is always right. And judging by nearly 100 positive reviews and high feedback score of 4.5 on Amazon I’d say you were in pretty safe hands. buying Everbuild 405 solvent free paving sealer to protect your driveway or patio paving is a great choice of water based sealer.

Buy an electric powered wire brush weed remover

This is a very good product that is also Eco-friendly compared to  solvent based paving sealer. You can purchase Everbuild acrylic water based seal for around £25.00 for 5 litres. That makes it a good cheap paving sealer at great value for money. The coverage is 8 square meters per litre so you can seal an amazing 40 sq. meters of paving with each 5 litre container. This is a great water based block paving sealer.

You can read our reviews of the best-selling water based sealers here

Summary of water based paving sealers

  • Take longer to dry than solvent based sealers
  • Great sealer for indoor use. No harmful fumes
  • Spillages can be easily cleaned with water
  • Not as penetrative into the surface as solvents
  • Cheaper to buy than solvent based paving sealer
  • Safer to use. No flammable liquids
  • Better for the environment
  • Can be applied with sprayer or roller & tray

Water based paving sealers have the same sealing properties as solvent based sealers. The big difference being that the resins in the sealers are mixed with water and not with organic solvents like xylene. This makes water based paving sealers far more kinder to the environment than solvent based sealers. They don’t have the same health and safety issues that solvent based sealers have, though care should always be taken.

One great advantage water based sealers have over solvent based sealers is that they are perfect for sealing any surface indoors. Like kitchen floor tiles or concrete paving slabs. There are no harmful fumes that evaporate like solvent based sealers. So water based sealers are totally safe for indoor use. The downside to water based sealers is that they take lot longer to dry and are not as penetrative into the paving joints and pores as solvent based sealers because they are not dissolved into the water, only blended.

 Solvent Based Polyurethane Paving Sealer

Polyurethane is a harder resin than acrylic and as such, polyurethanes sealers will last longer when applied to paving. Polyurethane resins will not soften very easily so the best polyurethane sealers tend to be solvent based although water based ones are available. They are a very good sealer to stop oil penetrating the surface. Re-application is usually need after 4-6 years. Solvent based polyurethane paving sealers are the best kind of sealants if you want a gloss look because they will hold the gloss look very well and will not dull & fade with time.

Resiblock solvent based polyurethane paving sealer

Resiblock paving sealer in gloss

Resiblock Superior is one of the worlds best-selling solvent based polyurethane sealers. It is made from best polyurethanes you can buy to seal your block paving. Resiblock is manufactured by Sika. Their range of paving sealing products regularly get 5 star feedback and very positive reviews on Amazon.

Resiblock superior block paving sealer for protecting and enhancing the colour of pavers

You even get a Resiblock ‘no oil stain guarantee’ once you’re paving has been sealed. Resiblock block paving sealer is available to buy in matt & gloss finish once dry. Resiblock produce a range of polyurethane sealers to seal Indian stone paving, concrete and clay paving slabs along with their popular block paving sealer.

You can read our reviews and look at the full range of Resiblock paving sealers here

Summary of polyurethane paving sealer

  • Available to buy – Water Based and solvent based
  • Longer lasting than acrylics
  • Usually with a resin content of 20% or more
  • Holds a gloss look well with two coats
  • Expensive to buy
  • Can be difficult to remove from paving
  • Simple one coat for a Matt finish 2 coats for gloss
  • Can be Aliphatic. Stop the suns UV rays from fading your paving
  • Apply with sprayer or roller & tray

Polyurethane paving sealers are easily the best type of sealer for use with block paving. Not only do they seal the block paving surface, they also stick the kiln dried sand particles together and also sticks the sand to the sides of the blocks. Therefore increasing the strength of the paving. Polyurethane sealer is more expensive to buy that other sealers because the resin is more expensive. It is longer lasting than acrylic sealers and needs.

More care is need when applying polyurethane paving sealers because it is very difficult to remove from application tools such as sprayers and rollers if left to dry without cleaning first. That also goes for any splashes or spills of polyurethane sealer if it comes into contact with anything else and is allowed to dry. Always wipe down and clean equipment straight away.

Two coats of polyurethane sealer is preferred to fully protect the surface against the contamination such as oil, diesel and petrol. Polyurethane resins are not easily dissolved again once they have dried so they give your paving great protection and are long-lasting.

Solvent Based Acrylic Paving Sealer

Solvent based acrylic paving sealers are one of the most popular choices of sealant to seal and protect block paving and printed concrete. They are relatively cheap to buy compared to polyurethane sealants. Acrylic resins are a softer type of resin than polyurethanes.  They are mixed with solvents so they will penetrate deeper into the surface than a water based version of acrylic sealer. Because they are softer they usually need to be re-applied after 2-4 years.

Adseal solvent based acrylic sealer

Here we have Rycal acrylic paving sealer manufactured by Adseal. This is our top recommended solvent based acrylic block paving& concrete sealer. It is available to buy at a very reasonable price & offers you great value for money

Buy Rycal block paving sealer made by Adseal

This acrylic sealer gives good protection to block paving against sand loss, dirt, weeds and colour fading. It is the best kind of concrete sealer to reseal pattern imprinted concrete or PIC as it is known. But is also very popular concrete block paving sealer. Applying Adseal acrylic sealer will also give your pavers good anti-slip properties.

Why choose an acrylic paving sealer?

But because they are made from softer resins, acrylic based paving sealers do not hold a gloss well like polyurethane sealers. Acrylic resin is easier to clean off application tools and other areas that might have been splashed. They are also cheaper in price than polyurethane based sealers.

Paving sealers mixed with acrylic resins are good at protecting block paving, pattern imprinted concrete and stone or concrete paving slabs. But they not as good as polyurethanes when it comes to keeping very harmful contaminates such as oil and petrol off block paving or stone slabs. The jointing sand will not be set as hard as with a polyurethane sealer.

Acrylic based sealers are good for keeping everyday dirt and grime off your paving and help keep the colour of your paving fresh and new looking. They are a good sealer if you are willing to re-apply every few years.

Summary of Acrylic paving sealers

  • Available – Water Based and solvent based
  • Best type of sealer for pattern imprinted concrete
  • Most popular sealer for block paving & PIC
  • Usually with a resin content of 20%
  • Needs re-applying every 2-3 years
  • Cost effective. Cheap to buy
  • Simple to apply and remove
  • Good matt properties
  • Aliphatic. Stops the suns UV rays from fading your paving
  • Apply with sprayer or roller and tray

What to consider before deciding which paving sealer to use

  • Would you like a shiny or matt finish once you’re paving is sealed?
  • Decide whether to use water based (environmentally friendly) or solvent based sealer?
  • Do you want a cheap sealer (re-apply every 2-3 years, usually acrylic based) or a good long-term sealer? (5-6 years of protection, usually polyurethane based)
  • Decide if you want to set the jointing sand between the pavers rock hard? (do not seal permeable paving joints as they need open and clear joints for drainage)
  • Do you want the sealer to be visible once applied to the paving once dried? If you want a non-visible paving sealer it may be wise to use an impregnating sealer. They are called the invisible sealers.

Difference Between Paving Sealers

You will have to decide which kind of sealed surface you require for your paving. If you want to be able to see the sealer on the surface of the paving then you need to use acrylic or polyurethane paving sealers. This could be either a gloss, low sheen or matt finish once the sealer has dried. These types of paving sealers will lie on the surface of the paving so they will enrich the colours in the material. Rather like when the paving is wet. These kinds of sealers need to be applied when perfectly dry so they adhere correctly to the paving surface. They also have the benefit of setting the jointing sand hard once dry.

If you don’t want the look of permanently wet, low sheen or matt paving and prefer the original, dry look of the paving then use an impregnating sealer to seal the paving. An impregnating sealer works by sealing the pores of the paving rather than the surface. Resin based sealers will seal the surface of the paving completely whereas an impregnating sealer will allow the surface to breathe. External house walls should always be sealed with an impregnating sealer and not a resin based sealer.

Why apply a sealer to paving?

Why should you apply a sealer to the surface of your paving and are there any benefits in doing so?

By sealing the surface of the paving slabs or block paving you provide a barrier between the paving surface and the contaminate. And because most types of paving are absorbent, by sealing the surface you seal the pores of the paving surface. This then protects against fading of the colours, stops the paving absorbing dirt, oil and grime. A sealed paving surface also and allows easier removal of any dirt, oil and weeds which can build up on the surface over time.

There are many different kinds of sealers you can choose to seal your paving. Some of the popular manufacturers include HG, Thompson’s. Smartseal, Picseal, Creteprint & Floorseal amongst the many. We have a full range of different paving sealers you can buy with big discounts on prices at Amazon here

Here at the Paving directory we understand how using water based paving sealers can be difficult to use, especially with the British weather. But if possible, try using a water based paving sealer rather than solvent based sealers. As water based products are much kinder to the environment than harmful VOC (volatile organic compounds) solvent based sealers


    1. Hello Graham,
      Most sealer manufacturers will tell you that their paving sealers work by providing a protective barrier to stop contaminates or algae and weeds being absorbed or allowed to grow into the surface of your pavers. Thus stopping the contaminate or greenery from making the pavers to become slippy. (It’s usually the dirt, greenery or oil lying on the surface that you slip on)
      If the surface is kept clean you should in theory have a slip free surface but as always, I would check with each manufacturer as to the anti-slip properties of the paving sealer.

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