Flooring and Carpeting/refinish brick pavers
QUESTION: We have a 50+ year old house with brick pavers in two living areas and kitchen. The finish was worn & flaking so we hired a local company to strip and seal it. They used professional stripping equipment and worked for two days and still did not get it completely stripped and the finish they tried looked very splotchy. They had to strip it off. We have since been working for weeks using various stripping chemicals, wire brushes, and razor scrapers to try to get up the old finish but I don't know if we will get it completely out of the grout. Any suggestions?
Also, can you recommend a finish for us? We want to enhance the color of the brick and also have a high gloss finish. We have tested several finishes on a few bricks. We have tried water based sealers from H&C, Behr, and Dupont. The finish looks okay but does not penetrate the brick and enhance the color. We also have tried solvent based sealers: Butterfield ClearGuard Clear Acrylic, and Sparks Stone Glamor with Sparks Mex Seal. Butterfield gave us the rich color we are looking for but really soaked into the brick. We tried 4 coats and still is not giving a uniform finish. The Sparks did not enhance the color or give a uniform finish. We are considering using clear epoxy. Will that work on pavers? I have read others suggest putting a polyurethane on as the final coat to prevent the epoxy from yellowing. Is this necessary?
This project has been a large amount of work and we really want to do it right. Any help is greatly appreciated!
ANSWER: Enhancement is a function of a sealer penetrating into the substrate, adding density. Stone Glamor is what normally accomplishes this. But, if you applied it to a spot where you applied a DuPont sealer, it would not soak in. The nature of the DuPont products are such that you cannot use another sealer after those have been used, and they are nearly impossible to strip out.
It also looks like you are confusing finishes and sealers. They serve very different functions.
All the old coating needs to be removed. Have you tried our SR-5 stripper? That will get just about everything short of an epoxy. Stepan makes a low odor, low vapor pressure stripper that can be applied that takes an hour or two to strip that you can try. I can send you the name of it tomorrow when I get to work.
It is not a good idea to use wire brushes, as metal from the brush can transfer to the brick, and be unsightly.
Putting stripper in your grout lines, and letting it dwell for 15 minutes or so will normally dissolve most sealers. Then, you sprinkle some baking soda on the grout line, and scrub with a very stiff chemical resistant brush down the grout line. You then sweep up the baking soda and dispose. Sometimes, this needs to be repeated if the coating was allowed to pool on the grout.
It would not be a good idea to use an epoxy. There are a number of things that can (and will!) go wrong. The Butterfield product sounds like a solution acrylic that is on the thin side. Additional coats should even it out. Regarding our Stone Glamor and Mex Seal, it does not sound like you used them properly. The Stone Glamor is used first, however many coats it takes to block off the porosity, followed by the Mex Seal topically. If the Stone Glamor soaks in, it will enhance, but the degree is determined by the starting density of the brick. If it is a hard brick with little porosity, the enhancement will be minimal. Some people stain their substrate first with a watered down ink the color of the substrate, followed by sealing after it has dried.
A finish over the sealer is what is used to maintain the aesthetics and gloss, if it is a gloss finish. There are low gloss finishes, but we do not make one.
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QUESTION: Thanks for your quick response. The Stone Glamor and Mex Seal had been recommended to us and we had high hopes but it did not give us what we were expecting. We did not apply over the water based sealers. I purposely applied all of the sealers/finish over bricks that had some of the old finish just to see how it would react just in case we missed some spots. We have 1200 sqft of bricks! I have attached some pics ... we used 2 coats of glamor and 1 coat of mex seal. The bricks seem very porous. How many coats are typically used? If we wanted to use ink to enhance the color, where would we get it?
What are the potential problems with epoxy? We tried it last night and one coat seemed to give us the color enhancement and fairly consistant gloss but will need another coat to even out the sheen. Will the epoxy last longer than the other finishes?
If you applied the Stone Glamor and Mex Seal over an area that already had a coating on it, as you relate here, there would be no subsequent enhancement of the brick.
On a raw brick, it is impossible for me to say how many coats of Stone Glamor would be needed to block the porosity, but after that is accomplished, one normally applies two coats of Mex Seal topically.
The ink is found at hobby shops. It is ink used for italic writing. You get the color you want, and water it way down, then apply with a spray bottle. The more you apply to any one spot, the darker it gets. Once dry, and you want it darker, you just spray down more.
Epoxies are too hard, and inflexible. They often delaminate or break off, as a result. They are also sensitive to UV degradation. You might slow this down by applying a urethane over it as someone mentioned to you, but this will not stop the process. It turning yellow is indicative of breaking down. Harder is not better. And if you find you need to strip it, it is very difficult.
Bill / Sparks