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July 13, 2017 • Mike Huber

Sealer Series #1: Why You MUST Use An Efflorescence Cleaner Before Sealing Pavers

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Welcome to our 2017 #SummerSealerSeries! We're so happy you're following us along! Today we're kicking things off with the importance of efflo cleaning. 

Efflorescence cleaning is a critical step when sealing pavers. And it goes way beyond just the removal of efflorescence. In this blog post, we’ll share several other benefits of efflorescence cleaning that you may not be aware of. Ready to drastically improve the outcomes of your future sealing jobs? Then keep reading because we’re about to unpack some really good info!

Photo Courtesy of Unilock


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Removal Of Efflorescence (Yes, we’ll start by stating the obvious.)
Derived from the Latin word efflorescere, which means to blossom out, efflorescence is the migration of salt to the surface of a concrete paver. It’s a natural occurrence that can happen in any cement-based product and, in many cases, will disappear on its own over time (usually after the first year of installation).

Here’s the deal with efflorescence and sealing … you do NOT want to seal before your pavers have had the chance to “breathe” and go through their normal efflorescence cycle. By sealing too soon, you’ll run the risk of trapping migrating salts beneath the coating of sealer. And the only way to remove the haziness at that point is to strip the sealer and then clean the efflorescence. (Do not risk having to endure this nightmare … you’ll surely regret it!)

“But my patio was installed five years ago and doesn’t appear to have an efflorescence issue. Why should I still use an efflorescence cleaner?”

Great question … which brings us to our next three points!

Removal Of Dirt/Debris
Would you paint the walls in your house without wiping down the dust, dirt, and cobwebs first? Probably not. The dust and debris would get trapped and cause obvious imperfections after the paint dries. The same holds true for sealing an outdoor surface. It’s critical to thoroughly remove dirt, pollen, leaf residue, etc. before sealing. Anything that’s sitting on the surface when you seal it will become trapped … and just like in the ‘painting a dirty wall’ analogy, there will be obvious imperfections after the fact.

It’s a very common misconception that using a sealer will help to cover up imperfections on the pavers. The reality, in fact, is that a sealer will typically accentuate stains, efflorescence, etc. Performing a thorough efflorescence cleaning prior to sealing will help you avoid the risk of trapping, and essentially highlighting, pre-existing dirt and stains.

(Note: Heavy duty stains caused by oil, tar, rust, etc. will require a specially formulated cleaner. Check out our full suite of cleaning products here!

Deeper Penetration Of Sealer
A product like Gator Efflorescence Cleaner will make pavers look more clean and vibrant without discoloring or damaging the paver surface. This is a huge plus. Even more importantly, however, is that efflorescence cleaner will thoroughly clean the pores of the pavers and allow for a much deeper penetration of the sealer when it’s applied. This will not only elongate the life of the project, but the product will now be able to perform at the most optimal levels. Winning!

Better Bonding
Ok, let’s use another ‘paint’ analogy. Have you ever tried to paint a piece of wood that hasn’t been sanded or roughed up a bit? The paint will have difficulty adhering to the surface. The same holds true for trying to seal pavers that haven’t been cleaned with an efflorescence cleaner. Using an efflorescence cleaner will slightly etch the surface of the pavers, which will allow the sealer to bond correctly. Again, it ties back into optimal product performance!

And there you have it … all of the critical reasons NOT to skip efflo cleaning before your next sealing project.

For tips on properly applying Gator Efflorescence Cleaner, read: How To Remove Efflorescence From Concrete Pavers In 6 Easy Steps.

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