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If you have a newer home, chances are that you have a walkway, patio or even a driveway made with concrete pavers. Pavers are also one of the more popular remodeling and DIY projects for homeowners who want to give their older home a fresh look.
But no matter how old your pavers are, they require maintenance just like a deck. If you leave the pavers natural, the only maintenance that may be necessary is an occasional power washing or sweeping in more sand between the joints every couple of years. But if you sealed your pavers, the maintenance will be more frequent and involved.
"A lot of people seal their pavers because their contractor told them to or they like the wet look, and sealing them does enhance the color a little," says Ryan Phimister of Oaks Concrete Products, (248) 467-4607, www.oakspavers.com. "But once you seal them, you are taking a fairly maintenance-free item and creating a need to maintain the pavers every year or two," he said. "Brick pavers will outlast your home, so you really don't need to seal them."
Phimister said the big reason pavers need regular maintenance when sealed is due to the moisture in the joints that causes the pavers to get that "cloudy" look.
"The moisture in the joints evaporates as it dries, and if the pavers are sealed, that evaporation causes the cloudy look underneath the seal," Phimister says . "The only way to get rid of that is to strip the sealer and re-seal it."
Phimister advises using mineral spirits first to try to strip the sealer. However, if that doesn't work, you will have to use a much stronger solution like xylene to strip the old sealer. Once stripped, he said you can leave the pavers natural instead of re-sealing them.
John Rightenburg of Theut Products, (800) 7660-6903, says you can also use a high-strength solvent like Euco-Solvent from Euclid Chemical, www.euclidchemical.com, to strip the old sealer. Another solvent-free alternative is SOYGel by Franmar Chemical, www.franmar.com. It's made from 100 percent American-grown soybeans with one gallon giving you up to 200 sq. ft. coverage.
If you need to re-seal the pavers, he says that another Euclid Chemical product, Everclear, is a pure acrylic sealer that is harder and more durable than standard sealer products and can actually help to eliminate that cloudy haze and enhance the color of concrete pavers.
Even if you choose to leave the pavers natural, you still may need occasional maintenance to repair and replace sinking or loose pavers. To do that, you can re-set them by removing the loose paver, re-tamping the base with the same mixture used for the installation, re-setting the paver and then refilling the cracks with a polymeric sand.
"We are seeing more people using the polymeric sand because it hardens after it sets and keeps the weeds from growing in between the pavers and stops the ants from building sand piles," Rightenburg said. "It also lasts longer, so you don't have to brush in new sand as often as you would if you used regular sand."
In addition to its advantages for keeping weeds and ant piles from growing in the joints and ruining the look of your pavers, polymeric sand can also fill the wider joints that many of the rustic or antique types of pavers feature.
A brand that Rightenburg recommends is Dynamatrix, www.dyna.ca, which comes in grey and brown to match the home's outdoor décor. It will also soon be available in black. Another good brand of polymeric sand is Quikrete Polymeric Jointing Sand, www.quikrete.com.
Whether you have pavers that need maintenance, or are considering adding them in place of concrete, think about how much time and effort you want to spend each year. While pavers can certainly enhance the look of your home, they can also become a maintenance hassle just like a deck if you decide to seal them. Making the right decision for your lifestyle is the key to enjoying the paver revolution.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.
Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed.
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