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Question DetailsAsked on 6/24/2017

How much should i expect to pay a contractor for re- glazing pavers? The were recently glazed and are now damaged.

Our contractor recently glazed our 6yr old pavers and damaged them. He states that underground moisture is causing all of the damage, pushing up the sand, and causing the bricks to turn ashy white. We asked around and did our own research and found that this discoloration of the pavers usually means the applied product was old or done incorrectly. He has power washed them and tried to remove the glaze and now states that the pavers may have been too old to work on. He does not want to glaze them again and wants to leave them the way they are. He states that our only remedy is to continue power washing ,re-sanding, and the right color will " eventually" come back to the pavers. The contractor now says that he does not want to be responsible for any future damage if we choose to glaze again. He states that he is willing to give us a $600 deposit or cans of the glaze if we wish him to come back and attempt to do this in the future because as per him the "material doesn't expire".

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Note the term "glazing" is grossly misused - any field application material is a sealer, not a glaze in the term of the glaze you find on ceramic tile and such - that has to be "fired" on to provide any significant resistance. Anything else is basically a paint or a sealer.

Either of you might be right - but in my experience sealing outdoor pavers is a big mistake anyway except in extreme freeze-thaw environments (where you may have to put up with the lime buildup), because it violates the principle of moisture movement in pavers and brick paving. The underside is pretty much constantly damp or at least much higher humidity than the surface most of the time, so except when actually being washed down or raining, moisture migrates by wicking and diffusion through the pavers or bricks from the bottom toward the top - which includes movement of minerals from the sand and water and especially the pavers to migrate up through the pavers to the surface. In most cases, this causes minimal whitening which wears or washes off pretty easily, but in some climatic or water conditions and with some concrete mixes, you can get a pretty heavy white film on the surface. However, put a sealer over the paver or brick and this buildup accumulates under the sealer, causing a gradual white layering which can be highly visible and not wash or wear off easily.

Watering (especially sprinkling on evaporative days where much of the water evaporates as it falls) with mineral-rich water (especially common with well water) can also cause this whitening and buildup of lime and related minerals.

This white coating (assuming it is not actually the sealer debonding or breaking down and turning white with solar exposure, which does happen with cheaper products) can commonly be easily removed with a pressure washing at moderate pressure (around 1000 psi). Tougher cases may require a mild acid wash (like vinegar strength) - heavy or long-term buildups may take sandblasting or a strong acid (muriatic acid) wash. Of course, the more you clean the surface the rougher and less smooth it looks, so you commonly have a tradeoff between cleaning to have a pristine surface and the degradation of the surface from the cleaning as well as normal weathering.

As for the sand coming to the surface - while groundwater (or surface runoff flowing to the pavers and filtering up through them) can certainly wash out the sand, generally loss of the joint sand is due to excessive pressure when washing the patio, washing along the line of the joints rather than at a 45 degree angle to them, using too rounded or fine a sand, or failure to properly compact it into the joint with a vibratory plate compactor during installation.

BTW - check manufacturer website - I have never seen a construction product other than riprap or steel or such which does not have a recommendation on storage time and conditions or a recommended use by period on it - I would suspect 3-12 months would be the limit on most silicone sealers - plus having to keep between probably about 45-90 degrees F or something near that range.

Personally, I would say (assuming this was a very recent application) since he went ahead and did it, then any excuse about the pavers being too old or such is out the window as he accepted their condition before the work started. I would get whatever refund you can from him or he is not amenable to a significant refund, you could file a claim with his bonding company for another contractor to redo the work (at least to remove the current product, which may require chemical stripping or sandblasting to get it off), then abandon the sealing. Or learn how to clean the surface yourself and just plan on resealing annually, which is commonly needed with most sealers like that anyway so they do not really reduce the maintenance needed.

However, properly cleaning the surface for application of any sealer is automatically going to mean washing out of some of the joint sand, so that also means resanding the joints - a never-ending cycle of maintenance. My recommendation - skip the sealing, do the minimum garden hose washing to keep organics and dust and such off the pavers and out of the joints, and plan on joint stripping and resanding every 10 years or so. Plus in some areas, using herbicide to kill weeds in the joints - though a lot of people just seed the sand and let grass grow, using normal lawn weed killer (check first for block staining) to make the pavers into something like grass pavers (works better with wider joints).

Some contractors push a sealant which also permeates the sand and "glues" it to reduce washout - not something I am a fan of but some say it helps reduce the sand removal issue and limits the growth of weeds in the joints.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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