Can you recommend a sealant for my paving?
Despite what you may have read somewhere else, or what your mate down the pub told you, or what the team installing your paving have said, sealants are NOT always essential for any paving project, whether it’s a patio, driveway, courtyard, civic square, retail development, or the front of Buck House.
Yes! There are some instances when a sealant would be beneficial, but that is NOT every job. Some types of paving, particularly some of the softer imported sandstones, do warrant the use of a good quality sealant as these stones are particularly vulnerable in our cool and damp climate. And there are certainly some projects where a sealant would be a wise investment because, for example, there are overhanging trees with insect life dripping goo all summer long, or it’s a shady, north-facing site, or there’s a lot of fast food outlets in the vicinity.
In short, the use of a sealant has to be justified. Simply thinking it’s a good idea or it’s what everybody else does is not sufficient justification. So: if the paving under consideration is vulnerable in some way, or the site itself is risky, then a sealant could well be the right option….and then it becomes a question of finding the correct product for any particular project.
Is it actually a sealant that is required, or does the client really want a colour enhancer? Identifying the purpose for sealing can go quite some way to answering this question and so narrow the field of suitable and appropriate products.
On many paved surfaces, a sealant does almost nothing to enhance performance or extend the service life of a pavement. However, if there is a valid reason for using a sealant, then the chosen sealant has to be capable of dealing with that reason. So, for example, if a concrete block pavement is being regularly spoiled by dirty oil leaking from a car parked upon it, then it should be obvious that a sealant with oil-repellent qualities should be used. I say “ should be obvious ” but apparently it isn't, because barely a week goes by without someone emailing to complain that the sealant they bought is not performing the task the buyer imagined/was-led-to-believe it would.
Let's assume a sealant is warranted for some reason. The next question is what visual impact should a suitable sealant have? Should it be a glossy wet look? A low-sheen? Completely invisible? Only the client can select the finish that is required. I might prefer a low-sheen finish, but a client may well want a shiny, glossy finish. So, asking me to recommend a particular sealant immediately runs into problems over differences in taste.
Then there's the budget. In very general; terms, you do tend to get what you pay for with paving sealants, so the 'bargain' featured on a web auction site is probably not going to be as good as the specialist, high-solids, tried-and-tested sealant from a respectable manufacturer.
Again, I might opt for the sealant that cost 400 quid for 25 litres which will cover around 40 square metres, but would the client be comfortable paying 10 quid per m² plus application costs?
Again, the amount the client is prepared to spend has to be considered.
Next to be considered is the planned usage.
Obviously, a town centre plaza will need a tough, resilient sealant, but is that same product warranted on a residential driveway or patio? Maybe it is: if there is a driveway used by, say 4 or 5 family vehicles, trekking in and out 3 or 4 times a day, and following the same 'tracks' time after time, then a high-performance sealant probably is the better option, but on a back garden patio, something simpler is probably appropriate. Consequently, the client has to identify what sort of usage the pavement will have to endure, and then choose accordingly.
Finally, from a personal point of view, recommending any particular sealant or colour enhancer for any project which I have not seen for myself and had a chance to evaluate is just asking for trouble.
Some years ago, in an effort to be helpful, I *did* recommend a particular sealant for someone's flagstone patio. The client went ahead and bought the recommended product, slathered it all over the new patio and then decided they hated the effect. Most unfortunate.
But then they decided that, because I had recommended the sealant, it was my fault their new patio was, in their eyes, "ruined", and so they set the lawyers onto me.
They weren't interested in having the sealant stripped off and replaced with something different, oh no! They wanted the whole patio replacing, and at my expense. Bastards!
I spent just shy of 2,000 quid on yet more lawyers to defend my position, which was eventually accepted just before a court hearing, but I was still two grand out of pocket, and all because I tried to be helpful.
So, now you know. Whenever anyone calls or emails and asks me to recommend a sealant for their project, the answer is a very firm NO!
There's a shortlist of what many in this industry consider to be the better-than-average sealants and colour enhancers on this page .
Feel free to research further and find the one that is right for you, but don't ask me to tell you which one!