Pro Tip

Applying Polymeric Sand to an Existing Patio or Walkway

Over time, all patios will settle, wear and erode. Instead of simply using regular sand to fill in the missing spots between the pavers, build long-lasting beauty into the surface with polymeric sand. If you don’t, much of the sand you put in will wash out after a few heavy rains, and you may see weeds pop through before you finish packing up at the end of the job. Properly sealing paver joints will help ensure better quality for your customers, less maintenance and greater satisfaction at the end of the day.

Polymeric Sand vs. Regular Sand for Pavers

Polymeric Sand is a blend of sand and special additives designed to fill the joints between concrete pavers and brick pavers. When proper preparation is taken (such as weed killer, insect repellant/removal), this polymeric jointing sand has the potential to reduce weed growth, resist rain washout and help prevent insect penetration, compared to more traditional sand.

Polymeric Sand – The Best Sand For Paver Joints

It is a little more expensive, requires more time and more attention to detail but using Polymeric Sand will leave better results for much longer at the end of the day. Polymeric sand products such as TechniSeal NOCOSTORM or TechniSeal Polymeric Joint are designed to resist weed growth and to harden and stay in place for a long time.

In addition to the polymeric sand (hereafter referred to as “sand”) you are going to need a few other items. This is dependent on the condition of the patio. You will definitely need a garden hose, an adjustable nozzle, and a broom. Additional items may include: a pressure washer, leaf blower, a non-selective herbicide (that’s a fancy term for a weed killer that will kill anything-Roundup® works well), additional pavers, paver sealer, a small sturdy brush.

Before you get too far into this job, we need to discuss reality. Some patios are beyond help. If the pavers are so crooked and busted that you can’t walk across them without tripping you really have a major project on your hands. If this is the case you need to pick up every paver, level the ground under it, reposition the pavers replacing any that are broken. This is certainly cheaper than a brand new patio, but it is a tedious job.

Joint Size

Polymeric Sand works best when it is used to fill the entire depth of the paver. In addition, it works best on joints that are between ¼ inch and 1.5 inches wide. Wider joints take longer to harden and may require that traffic be restricted for a longer period of time. Casual pedestrian traffic would not be an issue but high heels would wreak havoc. Some pavers are made with notches on the side. If your pavers are installed in a such a way that the notches touch the next paver, polymeric sand will not work well. There simply isn’t enough space between them to allow the sand to fill the entire void. Some pavers are made with a false joint. This joint is usually about 3/8 inch deep and 3/8 inch wide and zigzags its way across the surface of the paver. These false joints can successfully be filled with sand and hold up well when done properly (see section below on false joints).

Getting Started

Let’s assume that your patio is in fairly good shape and a candidate for polymeric sand. The first thing you need to do is remove ALL of the existing sand down to the bottom of the paver. Polymeric sand works best when used at full depth. A pressure washer works well or you can get down on your hands and knees and use some sort of tool that will dislodge the sand. I strongly suggest goggles or a face shield (not just safety glasses) when using a pressure washer, and maybe even a rain coat! This will get you wet and dirty.

Materials Needed


If large quantities of weeds have taken up residence in the joints, you may want to begin this entire project by declaring war on them. Before you remove any of the old sand, apply a non-selective herbicide. You will need to let this sit a few days before you can continue. The difficulty with weeds is that simply pulling them out may not eliminate them. Weeds often have strong roots that travel below the pavers. Things like Bermuda grass form a whole colony making it tough to eliminate. The weed killer will not only kill what you see on the surface but put a hurting on what is still underground. If you have a serious weed problem, you may want to pick up some of your pavers and see if there is an extensive mat of weed roots underneath. If this is the case, it is very likely that in time the weeds will reappear. Since weeds will grow through concrete in time, there is very little chance that a polymeric sand will stop them in an area with a high infestation. Under normal weed conditions, one here and there, the process of removing the old sand will eliminate most of the weeds and deter them from returning.


A few things are key to making the results look great. The biggest challenge you will face is how to avoid staining. Every polymeric sand that I know of will stain under the right conditions. There are two keys to success here. The first is to make sure the pavers are dry. Not just the surface but most of the way through. That means that if it has rained for three days, then stops, and the sun pops out you can’t just run out and put down sand. The water will wick up through the pavers and cause stains. The same applies if you need to use a pressure washer to remove the sand that is left from the original installation. You can’t pressure wash and apply polymeric sand on the same day. I should warn you that getting the stain off is a huge problem so it’s best to take the time to avoid it in the first place. One suggestion: don’t use these products on red clay bricks. They will stain no matter what you do. The second thing that is important is to remove all of the dust created when you put the sand down. After you have swept everything that you can into the joints, a leaf blower set on low and held at about a 30-degree angle will gently remove excess dust. This dust is what causes the stains once it is wet.

Applying Sand

The process of placing the sand also requires attention to detail. Pour the sand onto the pavers and sweep it into the joints. Using a broom handle or some other blunt object, tap on the pavers. This will cause the sand to consolidate. Sweep more sand into the joints until the sand is within 1/8” of the top of the paver. You don’t want the sand to be even with the top of the paver, especially if the top of the paver has a bevel. If the paver is beveled the sand should be even with the bottom of the bevel. Using a small broom or brush carefully sweep all sand off the pavers. If you have access to a leaf blower, adjust to the lowest setting, hold the blower about waist high and blow excess dust from the pavers. Be careful that no one is standing immediately downwind. Once all dust has been removed, you are ready to spray water.

False Joints

Polymeric Sand can be used in pavers with false joints that are at least ¼” deep and ¼” wide. Specialized products such as TechniSeal SmartSand are designed for these applications. However, special care must be taken while cleaning off excess dust from pavers, especially if a leaf blower is used. It is very easy to blow the sand out of the joints if the blower is not angled properly. Additionally, closer observation is necessary when watering, as the false joints will become saturated faster than the full depth joints. Thus, it may be necessary for you to apply more water to the full depth joints versus the false joints (see section below on watering).


The watering process is critical. You need to add enough water to saturate the sand but not so much that you float the polymers out of the sand. If this happens, you will see a white milky substance. Floating polymers will also cause staining. The most effective way to water the sand is to adjust the nozzle to “shower” and water the pavers until no more water will soak in. Spray for a few seconds, then stop and observe. If the joints continue to take water, keep spraying. When they won’t take any more water, and before you float the polymer out of the sand and onto the pavers, stop spraying. It will not be possible to come back at a later time and get the sand to accept more water. The polymer will begin to set and no more water will penetrate. The danger in not watering thoroughly is that the top will harden and the bottom will not. If this happens, it is only a matter of time before the sand at the bottom of the paver gives way and the top falls in. If you have a large area, it is best to do this in sections no larger than 10’ x 10’ at a time.

Traffic and Protection

Since most polymeric sand jobs are done in the summer and thunderstorms occur without warning around the same time, you will need to be prepared to protect the patio in the event of a downpour. A casual rain is not a problem. However, a real gully washer within the first 24-48 hours can dislodge the sand. Simply covering with plastic or a tarp will help prevent this. Downspouts that empty directly on a patio can also be a problem in the first few days. Try to divert this water somewhere else until the sand hardens.
You will need to restrict pedestrian traffic for 24 hours and vehicular traffic for 72 hours. The exact amount of time will vary with weather conditions. The hotter and dryer the faster it will cure.

Applying a Sealer

While applying a water-based sealer like Sakrete Wet Look sealers does a great job in making old pavers look like new or keeping new pavers looking great. Since you have already invested a large amount of time in this job, I suggest you do it right and apply the sealer. The sealer is easy to apply and not very expensive. It will be necessary to wait until the paver set hardens, usually in a few days, before applying the sealer.

If you still have questions give us a call at 866-Sakrete for project tips from the concrete experts.

Comments (56)

Dan Sheets says:

Can you recommend any contractors in the 44202 zip code to apply polymer sand and sealant?

Sakrete says:

Dan, check out the Contractor Locator from our sister brand Belgard at

Shaun says:

Wow, thank you for the brief education. Based on what I’ve read I should be able to set aside a week and knock this job out myself.

Sakrete says:

Let us know how it goes! And don’t hesitate to give us a call at 866-SAKRETE with any questions during the job.

Peter says:

When should I apply paver sealer, before or after polymeric sand?

Sakrete says:

Sealing after applying polymeric sand will be the best option.

D.Hobbs says:

Did you stop selling Polymeric sand? I cant find the Paver Set or the Permasand anywhere locally as well as on this very site. They both were my go to for my paver walkways and other hardscape projects. Not mention the price was reasonable.

Sakrete says:

We’ve actually moved this product over to our sister brand, Techniseal – now called “EZ Sand”. Available anywhere you were able to find Paver Sand previously!

Mike says:

Is your Sakrete Leveling Sand a “polymeric sand”? I have a bag of that from a previous job, but I have been advised to use a “polymeric sand”. Thank you!

Sakrete says:

Mike, Leveling Sand is not the same as Polymeric Sand, which has cement in it.

Lee says:

Very good article. I was getting ideas on putting this type of sand in between my block pavers which is a walkway from my backyard to the front . Thing is I got to the part where it says do not use these sand products on red blocks or bricks. I have old red & white patio
Blocks that I just painted grey & it looks pretty good but needs this hardened sand look in between the joints. So my question is now I can’t use these products? If not,,, What can I do to finish this look.
So it will stain ? maybe the stain will make the blocks have character like they were bought that way?. Let me know what you think. Thank you.

Sakrete says:

Lee, you’re spot on – the staining is the concern here. Your alternative is something like a Type N mortar, applied by hand, joint-by-joint.


Thank you

Bob Souza says:

I installed a patio area using flagstone six months ago. I now see I missed a few places as there are spaces between the flagstones. Can I just apply more polymeric sand over the top to fill in the gaps?

Sakrete says:

Bob, doing a “top coat” like you’re describing isn’t really a best practice as a long-term solution. Ideally you’d remove the entire depth of the joint and re-pour.

The “top coat” method might get you through a season or two, but definitely not permanent.

chris biele says:

When applying the polysand on existing pavers , should the sand be compacted in with a machine? Or can it just be pushed in with broom!

Sakrete says:

Chris, compaction is definitely a best practice to make sure you’re working the sand down to the full depth of the joint.

Peter M Bauer says:

Can you use polymeric sand to fill concrete cracks in northern climates?

Sakrete says:

Peter, the product really isn’t designed for that application unfortunately. Recommend using a polyurethane-based sealer instead!

Steve Valenti says:

I’m using secondhand concrete pavers
Should I seal pavers after they are laid and before using poly metric sand ?

Sakrete says:

Steve, we typically recommend sealing AFTER polymeric sanding. Just give it a few days to make sure you don’t encounter any staining – obviously much harder to remove a stain after you’ve sealed it in!

Walter jones says:

I have payers and the gap between them is 1/4 to maybe 1/2 inch at most They were made shallow because I wasn’t paying attention to my power washer spray and took out about 1/4 to some 1/2 inch. The sand below that depth is still there and seems ok. So my question is that not deep enough or is distance between pavers not enough where this product would benefit I don’t mind the price as long as it will work and hold up over time. I will seal the pavers around the pool with a good sealer when filling in the gap issue is finished. But obviously don’t want to do until I can see what my options are All my pavers are stable and none are moving when u walk on them. Any info would be appreciated

Sakrete says:

Walter, it’s typically not recommended to “top” over existing polymeric sand, unfortunately. You could give it a go, but the bond strength at that thin of an application isn’t going to be great. Might get you through a season or two, but not a “permanent” solution!

R. Weber says:

We used polymeric sand in our paver patio. It has held up well. The pavers now are dirty. How do i clean them? Previously i used a pressure washer but i am concerned about blowing out the sand?? Tx

Sakrete says:

Power wash is definitely your best bet – but you’re right to be a bit careful around the joints!

Applying a chemical cleaner beforehand will reduce the amount of work you need to put into cleaning – might allow you to use lower pressure!

Patricia Evelyn says:

Thanks for all the info. We are going to reseal our pavers. Tomorrow we will polymeric sand. My question is regarding sealing. The pavers are 15 years old and have faded. The sealer that was previously used was a solvent (many years ago). Can I place a water based sealer on top of a solvent sealer? I would like to tint the sealer to help restore the color. What are your recommendations?

Sakrete says:

Patricia, this is a bit of a complex question, but typically it’s not advisable to put a water-based sealer on top of a solvent-based sealer. That said it might be old enough at this point to not matter.

Would recommend calling a paint expert in on this one!

Richard says:

Is this safe for dogs?

Sakrete says:

Richard, once Poly Sand (or any other cementitious product) is set, it’s essentially chemically inert and therefore safe. Just keep him out of the dry powder!

Mark muller says:

If I am staining concrete pavers, should I stain, then sand, then seal, or sand then stain, then seal?

Sakrete says:

Mark, that question might be best answered by the stain manufacturer…but our standard advice is:

WAIT to make sure you don’t have any staining

R&R Shepard says:

Can polymeric sand be used exclusively to lay a patio (instead of concrete)?

Sakrete says:

Interesting question…but no, polymeric sand really isn’t designed to be structural. In fact, if you poke a well-done poly sand joint, you’ll notice that it’s actually rather flexible! Not ideal for a patio surface.

No says:

Thank you.

lee says:

my patio is red clay bricks, what product can I use?

Sakrete says:

You might want to use the tan colored polymeric sand – that’s a popular “complimentary” color to red brick!

Bill Johnson says:

Have a patio that is 20 years old. Good shape I was going to pressure wash it and then sweep sand in joint that seam to be needed. After that I was going to use a driveway sealer to spray lightly on top of patio of course after I
Had swept it very clean. Advice or comments.
Patio size is 16 x25.

Sakrete says:

Bill, you’d really be best off to COMPLETELY remove the old poly sand before re-pouring new material. The minimum depth is 1.5″ on this stuff, so doing a thin “top coat” isn’t a long-term solution. It might get you through a season or two, but when you’re ready to do it right, you’re going to have to do some digging!

Johnny Crockett says:

I need the full treatment on my patio.

Dana says:

Wouldn’t applying the sealer after power washing and before sanding help minimize potential staining issues?

Sakrete says:

Dana, the staining is really a surface issue – you’d get the same results, just perhaps a bit easier to remove. The tradeoff is that your joints won’t be protected by the sealer.

Give us a call at 866-SAKRETE to discuss this one in more detail!

Sandra says:


What store in VA sells your sakrete polymeric sand. I understand this is a better products but I am having a hard time locating this product.

Sakrete says:

Sandra, pop over to the website for our sister brand Techniseal – they’ll be able to point you in the right direction!

randy ulrich says:

my patio with pavers and polymeric sand is 13 years old in Appleton wisconsin never sealed the brick or joints,they look good but sand could use replacing i will try to get most of the sand out then add more. My question is what sand do you recommend and I think I would like to apply a sealer when done if you think its a good idea. Job was professionally done did very good job joints are one eighth inch and joint between house and cement foundation is half inch so please recommend your sand and sealer you would like me to use. PS will the sand be ok for the half inch joints between brick and wall thanks.

Sakrete says:

Randy, you’re going to want to look at products from our sister brand, Techniseal! They’ve got everything you need to get this job tackled, including sealaers.

Believe the product you’re looking for is called EZ Sand, and should be available at most big box retailers!

Patti Shannon says:

I recently purchased a house that has a paver patio. There are false joints and it looks like they attempted to use polymer sand previously, but it was covered with moss, and roots coming through. The patio is on the north side of a house in the midwest. (Freeze, thaw, rain and snow, and mostly shaded.)
It seems as though some of the sand never became solid. Will this product perform in this area? I’ve done the steps of digging out and applying herbicide. Power washing seemed to bring up more and more dirt and was a horrendous task. Am I wasting my time trying to use polymeric sand in these wet shady conditions? Suggestions?? THanks

Sakrete says:

Patti, it sounds like you may just be looking at an installation failure – no reason that polymeric sand shouldn’t work in the conditions you’re describing! Further, it’s actually the right product for the freeze-thaw conditions precisely because it stays a bit flexible.

It’s going to be a messy job, but you’re on the right track with removing the old material and reapplying new poly sand (correctly this time!).

Rick says:

Very helpful.

Tony says:

How do you clean the block faces iff milky residue stains blocks

Sakrete says:

Tony, the residue you’re referring to is called “efflorescence” – essentially just dissolved salts that have migrated through the paver. There are a number of chemical cleaning agents specifically designed to remove efflorescence, and just about any concrete cleaner should do the trick for you!

Zach says:

Instead of “Using a broom handle or some other blunt object, tap on the pavers.” do you recommend using a lightweight plate compactor for larger projects to get the sand to settle into the joints? The compactor would have a guard to protect the stones.

Sakrete says:

Zach, you’re spot on – a tamper or plate vibrator is the right tool for larger jobs, especially if you’re a pro.

ken says:

Does the sealer work well on a finished granite paver patio?
The patio is next to pond. Is there anything in the sealer that will harm the pond?

Sakrete says:

Ken, this product will work great for granite and is completely safe for use around a pond.

Richard Marchant says:

Does the product cause cancer?
My grandchildren play on the flagstone and draw pictures with chalk.

Sakrete says:

Richard, nothing to be concerned about here. All cementitious products are essentially chemically inert after they have cured, meaning they’re 100% safe for kids, pets and everyone else.

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