It is possible to paint pavers, but doing so will typically interfere with the moisture absorption rate of the bricks. For this reason, it’s generally not recommended that you paint pavers.
Pavers are a special type of brick that can be used for everything from landscaping to creating driveways and patios. While they can be used for construction, most pavers are brittle than the clay bricks used for houses and other buildings, making them a less-than-ideal choice for large construction projects.
Several of them can be stacked and made into a retaining wall or other outdoor feature, however.
Pavers tend to be much more porous than clay construction bricks, making it possible for them to absorb up to ten times as much water as asphalt or concrete.
That makes them an ideal material to create walkways and patios where grass and dirt would naturally absorb rainwater. In some cases, pavers have even been used to create parking lots that absorb much more moisture than an asphalt surface.
Related: How are Pavers Installed?
What Happens When Pavers are Painted?
When pavers are painted, however, the paint can interfere with the pavers’ ability to absorb water. Typically, pavers will absorb water through the tiny holes and cracks throughout the brick.
Essentially, paint forms a barrier between water and brick. Instead of water seeping into the holes and cracks of the paver (and eventually into the ground), water cannot get past the layer of paint.
This means that water will only be able to roll off the pavers or form into a puddle. If the pavers have been used to form a retaining wall, this isn’t such a big deal. After all, the amount of water that would normally be absorbed by a retaining wall is fairly minuscule in comparison with the size of the dirt that it is retaining.
If you’re trying to paint a patio or parking area, however, this could raise some serious problems. Pavers are typically more expensive than just pouring concrete. If a contractor used pavers to create a driveway or patio, chances are it’s because the area will have drainage issues if it becomes impermeable.
In other words, painting pavers can create a problem. Fortunately, there are ways to do it so that these issues are less likely to happen.
How Can I Paint a Paver?
It is absolutely possible to paint pavers, but you need to do it in a way so that the paint doesn’t chip or flake off and the permeability of the bricks isn’t completely ruined. To start, look for a paint that works well on porous surfaces.
This means that you will need to read labels carefully and talk to the people at your local paint shop. Specifically, look for a paint that is recommended for brick, not wood. This will probably mean avoiding many types of latex paint.
While several brands advertise that they can work on porous surfaces, not all of them will be a good choice for outdoor pavers. Of course, make sure the paint you select is also good for outdoor areas and is reasonably safe for the environment.
One option that may work well is full coverage spray paint. These paints can be dangerous to work with, but they tend to hold really well on brick surfaces. Be careful of overspray, however.
Even if you choose a paint that works on porous surfaces, there is no guarantee that it won’t interfere with the paver’s ability to absorb water. Any kind of paint will function as a barrier, the right ones will only create a thinner barrier. That means that any time you paint pavers, they will lose some of their ability to absorb water.
How Do I Get Paint Off a Paver?
If you accidentally spilled paint on your pavers, or if you painted them recently and regret the decision, be aware that getting the paint off once it dries will be very difficult. The porous surface of a paver means that paint will seep in into multiple cracks and fissures, making it very difficult to use a product that will dissolve all the paint.
Nonetheless, the first place that you should start is with a product that dissolves paint, such as turpentine or a commercial paint thinner. Look for products that advertise that they remove graffiti; these are usually formulated to work on bricks and other porous surfaces.
After letting the product sit according to the package directions, use a power washer to remove the paint. Be aware that it may take several applications of the product and a heavy-duty power washer to remove all the paint.
If the paint does not come off, the only option you have is to paint a new color over the pavers or replace the pavers. In some cases, it may be possible to dig out each individual paver, clean it, then flip it so that the unpainted side is showing.
Be aware, however, that if you are experiencing issues with the water absorption of the pavers, this will do relatively little to help the problem. While any paint you remove will help, and burying the remaining painted section will help to break down the remaining paint particles, there will still be a barrier preventing water from being absorbed by the ground.