Brick flooring pavers, whether they're made of concrete or natural clay, are quite porous in their natural state and should be sealed to protect the floor from stains and dirt. New brick should be sealed immediately after installation and before the floor is used. Some pavers are sold prefinished with a durable commercial sealer applied to the entire unit. In this case, the pavers do not require sealing after installation, but the grout or mortar between the pavers should be sealed, as it is just as porous as unsealed brick.
Preparing for Sealer
Brick masonry sealer is commonly sold in gallon-size containers at home centers and some hardware stores. Before applying it, clean the floor thoroughly to remove all dirt and debris, and let it dry completely. You don’t want to seal a stain into the surface. It's a good idea to test the sealer on a small out-of-the-way area of the floor to see how the finished product will look and to make sure the sealer doesn’t cause streaks.
Note: If the brick floor is newly installed, the installers may have used muriatic acid to clean the surface. The acid must be thoroughly rinsed away or it will continue to eat away at the limestone in the grout, causing whitish dust to rise from between the bricks over time.
Pour the sealer into a bucket or paint tray and apply it with a foam brush. Apply a thin, even coat over the entire surface of the floor, covering the paver faces and the grout lines between them. Allow the floor to dry completely. If desired, you can test the sealer by dripping a small amount of water onto the surface of the brick. If the water beads up, you have successfully sealed the brick. If the water soaks into the bricks, clean and dry the floor, then apply a second coat of sealer.
Polishing and Waxing
There are two main types of wax used on brick floors: solvent-based and water-based.
- Solvent-based wax is a versatile product that creates a shiny protective coat over sealed brick surfaces. It can be applied to floors that have previously been treated with water-based wax, but the old wax must be stripped from the surface.
- Water-based wax is a heavy-duty polish that can be applied directly to unsealed brick and will protect the floor from moisture and stains. Before applying water-based wax, the entire floor must be stripped of any previous applications of wax to prevent wax buildup. Also, all earlier waxes must be water-based; if a solvent-based wax has ever been applied to the floor, a water-based wax cannot be used.
Applying Flooring Wax
The specific steps for applying wax vary by product, so it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Typically, the process starts with stripping the floor of any previous wax applications, using a mop and a solution of 1/4 cup of ammonia to 8 cups of water. Once the floor is clean and dry, some waxes can be applied by hand and buffed with a cloth until the surface is smooth and even. Other waxes require the use of professional buffing machines, which can be rented from local home stores or rental centers.