Should you seal your paving? If so, when should you seal and which sealant is best?
When researching whether to seal your slabs, the advice can often be conflicting, so we’ve listed some important information to help you make a decision.
Should I Seal My Slabs?
We always advise sealing your paving, whether it’s Natural Stone or Porcelain.
Sealing your slabs helps to protect your stone against staining. Natural stone is porous and will absorb liquid from anything left on the surface. This may not seem like much of an issue when considering rainwater, but keep in mind that this goes for anything, such as muddy footprints or grease stains from a family BBQ.
Wet leaves, bird droppings and moss can all leave stains too and once anything has set into the surface of your stone, removing it can be very tricky.
Sealing will also prevent excess moisture from building up within natural stone, helping to prevent frost damage and the growth of moss, mould or algae.
Below, you can see the difference between a dry, unsealed stone and that same project once sealed.
Dry and unsealed.
When Should I Seal My Slabs?
The best time to seal your slabs will vary depending on the results that you are looking for and the decision on when to seal is a balancing act between allowing the stone to weather and the level of protection you need.
Sealing your slabs before laying will always help to protect against staining during installation. This can sometimes be a little more work as sealing individual slabs will naturally take longer than sealing the full patio once laid, but can be worth the time and effort.
Although man-made tiles like Porcelain Paving are non-porous, cement can still dry onto the surface of the slabs and will be tough to remove. Sealing the tiles beforehand will help with removing anything which has dried on the surface.
You can also choose to seal the slabs once laid to allow the stone to weather for a few weeks or months before applying a sealer. The specific needs of your project will also need to be taken into consideration here. If your patio is likely to become stained in the meantime, it may be worth sealing right away.
Alternatively, allowing a few weeks to see if any efflorescence appears will allow time to work any natural salts out of the stone first.
What Should I Use To Seal My Slabs?
How you should approach the sealing process will depend on the specific sealer you choose and it’s vital that you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Always remove loose dirt, moss & other debris from the surface of the slabs first and check that any marks are cleaned off before sealing to avoid them being sealed into the surface of the stone.
Test the sealer on an inconspicuous area or off-cut first, to be sure that it will provide the results you need before treating the full area.
Sealers are widely available online or from builders’ merchants and always be sure to do your research on whether the particular sealer you are choosing is suitable for your stone type.
We stock a range of both Joint-IT and LTP products and you’ll find out best-sellers below. See our full range here.
What To Avoid
It is strongly recommended that you avoid using anything with a high acid content to treat your paving.
Anything with a high acid content can cause staining to your slabs. Acid aggravates the natural iron particles in stone, causing them to oxidise and turn a rusty orange-brown colour.
Some builders will recommend brick acid to clean up your paving, and whilst the acid will typically work wonders on brick, you will be doing more damage than good when using acid on natural stone slabs. Acid can also react with jointing compounds for some unsightly results and can be a serious hazard to children, pets and plants, so it’s best to steer clear.
How Should I Seal My Slabs?
This will depend on the specific sealer you choose and it’s vital that you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Instructions for use will differ from product to product and the amount that you will need to apply will usually depend on the type of stone you have, as well as the results you are looking for.
Always remove loose dirt, moss & other debris from the surface of the slabs first and check that any marks are cleaned off before sealing to avoid them being sealed into the surface of the stone. Test the sealer on an inconspicuous area or off-cut first, to be sure that it will provide the results you need before treating the full area.
Due to the many variables from project to project, there isn’t one go-to method for how and when to seal your paving but following our advice will see you well on your way to making the right decision to keep your slabs protected and looking their best all year round!
Most professional landscapers will have their own tried and tested methods when it comes to sealing paving, so if you’re having your patio laid by a professional, ask their advice so that they can provide some insights based on the specifics of your project.
For further advice on sealing your patio, we recommend PavingExpert.com
PavingExpert.com offer a huge amount of comprehensive advice for all aspects of your project and is well worth a look to get some more in-depth information on each step of the process, or for any specific requirements that your project may have.
There are also some great resources listed below if you’re still looking to dive deeper into the ins and outs of sealing your paving. Any reputable sealant manufacturer will be able to point you in the right direction and provide some further specific advice for your needs. Most landscapers will also be able to provide further advice on sealing based on their experience and will have tried and tested methods that they use regularly.