Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Marble pavers make for the most beautiful patios, but they’re also expensive. The cost of sealing further drives the price up. So if you’re on a budget, you might ask if it’s even necessary to seal pavers.
Marble pavers should ideally be sealed. Although sealing doesn’t necessarily improve the paver’s structural integrity or performance, it helps preserve the appearance and increase the lifespan, as sealing protects pavers from permanent stains, the elements, and wear from foot and vehicular traffic.
One important thing to note, however, is that sealing marble pavers could make them slippery. One way to avoid this is to use a slip-resistance coating or a penetrating sealant (impregnator) which will fill the pores of the pavers rather than sitting on the surface and causing slippage.
This article will give a more in-depth explanation of why you should seal pavers and its benefits. I’ll also discuss how to choose the proper sealant for marble pavers, how to seal, and how to maintain sealed marble pavers.
Do You Need To Seal Marble Pavers?
You don’t need to seal marble pavers, as sealing doesn’t improve any properties of the stone. Marble is rather dense and durable, so it can withstand wear and tear. However, as pavers are usually outdoors, exposed to the snow, sun, rain, foot and vehicular traffic, the pavers will eventually degrade, becoming less appealing and less durable over time.
Why Should You Seal Pavers? Sealing provides a protective barrier between the marble and stains, traffic, and the elements, which will cause the paver to deteriorate as time goes by. This barrier keeps the marble from being affected, as such, preserving its appearance and protecting your investment.
Benefits of Sealing Marble Pavers
There are several benefits of sealing your marble pavers, and here are the most important ones.
- Sealing prevents weed growth, as it closes off all pores in the stone where weeds would have sprouted from.
- Sealing protects the marble from degradation by the elements.
- It preserves the appearance of the marble. A well-maintained sealed paver will look just as good even after two years.
- It makes cleaning easier. Most sealing agents are impervious to dirt and liquids to protect the marble underneath. As such, any stains and dirt remain on the surface where they’re easily wiped or swept off.
- It saves cost. Sealing marble pavers is equally an advisable move from an economic perspective. A sealed marble paver will remain in good condition for a long time, so you won’t need to replace it often, and you avoid the cost associated with replacements.
- Sealing can improve the appearance of your pavers. Some sealants have a glossy quality which can make the marble look polished and lustrous.
How To Seal Marble Pavers
Having seen why sealing is essential, you can pay to have your pavers sealed or do it yourself.
But first, check if your pavers have been pre-sealed by the manufacturers, as it’s needless and expensive to seal an already sealed marble. To do this:
- Put a tablespoon of water on the marble.
- Leave it for some time without exposure to heat or blowing air.
- After 15 minutes, wipe off the water.
If the marble appears unchanged after wiping, it means the stone is sealed and doesn’t need to be sealed again at that time.
However, if the marble has a darker shade where the water was, it means the marble isn’t sealed, in which case you’ll need to seal it. To do this, you’ll need the following materials:
- Vacuum cleaner or broom
- Optional PH-neutral soap
- Pump sprayer or nap roller. (The choice will depend on the brand of sealant you use and will be written in the instructions on the container.)
After you’ve gathered the materials, these step-by-step instructions will guide you in sealing your pavers.
Clean the Pavers Thoroughly
Ensure that your marble pavers are properly cleaned before sealing, or else the sealant won’t work as intended, as you’d have trapped dirt and grime.
Use a broom or a vacuum cleaner to take off any stone dust and dirt on the paver. Be careful with the sides, as you don’t want to suck out or sweep off the stabilizing sand between the pavers.
If the pavers have been in use for a while, you should also brush the surface lightly after vacuuming to remove any oil or tire marks. Use a pH-neutral soap made specifically for marble, and avoid acid cleaners that are vinegar inclusive, as such agents can dull the face of the marble.
Also, remove any weeds between the pavers.
Test Out the Sealer on a Small Section of the Paver
Before applying a sealant to the entire marble paver, it’s best to test it out on a small portion first so that you can see what the finished product would look like.
Apply sealant to a small section of the paver (preferably one of the corners) and when it’s dry, compare its appearance to that of the surrounding unsealed marble.
You may notice that the tested area looks a little glossier than the untouched areas, but nothing too drastic. Should there be a striking difference, or if the sealed section isn’t to your liking, you’ll have to discard the sealer and get another one.
Apply Sealant to the Pavers
Read the label on the container to know if there are any ambient temperature and humidity requirements. Also, note whether you’re to use a pump sprayer or a nap roller (or both) to apply the sealer; brands usually specify the exact one to use.
In either case, seal the pavers one after the other, working in one direction. This approach is better, as you can cover the whole area without missing any spots or making multiple passes over a single paver.
The aim is to apply a thin layer of sealant over the pavers. It shouldn’t puddle and ensure that you smoothen out any bubbles that form. Allow the sealer to air dry for three to four hours.
Apply a Second Coat
Ideally, one coat of sealer should be enough. However, it’s best to apply another coat, just in case. Then, apply the sealant the same way you did before, working in a specific direction to avoid mistakes.
Allow another three to four hours for the second coat to dry, and if possible, don’t walk on the pavers until the next day. But again, it depends on the sealer and the manufacturer’s instructions.
To help you better understand the process, here’s a seven-minute video showing how to seal marble pavers:
Tips for Sealing Pavers
- Don’t seal pavers if it’ll rain within 24 hours, as rain can affect the sealant, making it peel off before long.
- Rinse the sprayer/pad roller immediately after use, or else the sealer will harden inside the sprayer or over the roller. Sometimes, you may need more than just water to get the sealant out; a lacquer thinner should do the job.
Choosing the Right Sealer for Your Paver
There are lots of marble sealants available today. However, all sealants fall into two main categories:
As the name implies, coatings coat the top layer of the marble in a protective covering that prevents water, dirt, and oil from entering the pores in the marble. Additionally, coatings can change the look of the marble, giving it a glossy or wet appearance.
Advantages of Coatings
- The initial cost of application is low.
- It’s easy to apply and doesn’t require skilled labor.
- The glossy nature of coatings can make the marble appear more vibrant.
Disadvantages of Coatings
- Some inferior coatings will turn yellow with time, especially when exposed to UV lights.
- They’re usually not breathable, trapping moisture in the stone and leading to stone spalling.
- Most coated sealers are often softer than marble, so they’ll scratch easily and show tire marks and footprints.
- Coatings need to be removed and reapplied frequently. And the abrasives and chemicals used for stripping can affect the stone.
Otherwise called penetrating sealants, these don’t merely coat the stone’s surface but go inside the marble to deposit particles in the pores. Thus creating a barrier against moisture, oil, and dirt.
Penetrating sealers can be hydrophobic, repelling water and water-based liquids, or oleophobic, repelling water and oil-based liquids. Moreover, penetrating sealers don’t affect the appearance of the marble.
Advantages of Impregnators
- Impregnators aren’t affected by UV light since they’re not on the surface of the stone.
- Impregnators are breathable, allowing water vapors to escape, thereby preventing spalling.
- Penetrating sealers require less frequent reapplications since they work from inside the stone and not above it.
Disadvantages of Impregnators
- High initial cost.
- Requires skilled labor, which often costs money to learn or employ.
- Certain impregnators contain substances that are harmful to human health and the environment.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Sealers
- Budget: Coatings are generally cheaper than impregnators and don’t require skilled (and paid) labor to apply. So if you’re on a tight budget, you can go with coatings.
- Slip resistance: Impregnators don’t affect the slip resistance of the stone since they’re not on the surface. On the other hand, coatings can affect slip resistance, so if you use coatings, ensure you use slip-resistant brands, especially around pools.
- Appearance: Do you prefer a glossy paver or the natural look of the stone? Coatings change the appearance of the marble, while impregnators don’t.
- Location: Choose sealers that are approved for your area, as some states like Delaware restrict the use of certain solvent-based sealers.
Maintaining Sealed Marble Pavers
Sealants will only last for so long if you maintain them. Lack of maintenance causes the pavers to lose their aesthetic appeal.
- Use the right cleaners. Use pH-neutral cleaners on sealed marble pavers. These agents help the surface to maintain shine and appearance.
- Sweep instead of washing. Overwashing your sealed marble pavers can affect the sealer you used. Therefore, only wash when absolutely necessary.
- Take precautions. Keeping marble pavers clean at all times may be impossible. Still, take care with your sealed pavers.
Sealing protects marble pavers from UV lights, weather, stains, and traffic, all of which will degrade the marble eventually. As such, sealing can increase the lifespan of marble pavers and maintain their original appearance.
There are two basic types of sealants; coatings and impregnators—each one with advantages and disadvantages. Your choice will depend on your needs, preferences, and usage.
- Armstone: 8 Simple Tips for Sealing and Cleaning Natural Stone Pavers by Armstone
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- Adbri Masonry: Learn the Benefits of Sealing Your Pavers
- Wikihow: How to Seal Pavers: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
- Restoration Stoneworks: Pros and Cons of Sealing Your Natural Stone
- Paint.org: Factors Affecting Sealer Performance on Concrete
- Delaware Government: Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
- Ecoprotec: Water Based vs Solvent based
- Tenax4you: Impregnating Sealers for Stone | Impregnating Stone Sealers | Wax Stone Sealers
- Stone Shine: About Sealers and Impregnators
- Wisconsin Historical Society: Identifying Problems with Your Historic Stone Building
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