Sealing Concrete is one of the most important aspects to a successful concrete project. The absence of a sealer can lead to serious differences whether your project is stained, stamped, interlocked or exposed aggregate. The concrete sealer is basically the protection of whatever look you are going for and should not be overlooked. Even if you feel that when the project is complete you have the perfect color without the sealer, that color will fade more quickly and may even show wear within a few months depending on the weather and traffic the concrete is exposed to. In some cases, we have seen degradation occur and the post-completion sealer was able to bring back some of the original life of the concrete color. however, we strongly recommend using sealers as soon as the stain or other coating has dried – even if there is not an additional coating.
Types of Concrete Sealers
Sealing concrete with these types of sealers actually penetrates the concrete and creates a chemical reaction that primarily blocks moisture. It is used on exterior surfaces where corrosion and weather are a concern. The look of the surface is not changed by the sealer and does not leave a glossy shine. The strength of the sealer is considered to be very strong in even the toughest of outdoor conditions.
Acrylic concrete sealers basically create a thin film on the surface of the concrete to protect against degradation. The two types available are solvent- or water-based products. They can be used for sealing concrete on interior and exterior projects to enhance the color or texture of the concrete work. They are known for being very easy to use and competitively priced. The gloss can be controlled depending on the mixture of either type, but the acrylics bring the color out more. They dry in a few hours and wear faster than polyurethanes and epoxies, but provide good protection against water. Historically, acrylics performed better than water-based stains, but that has now changed with modern chemistry focused on high quality, safer products.
Polyurethanes come in water- and solvent-based solutions and form a high build layer above the concrete surface. It is used on interior and external projects that are expected to have very high levels of traffic. The primary use is to guard against scuffs and enhance the color and texture of sophisticated concrete projects. The finish is completely transparent and can have a large range of gloss options. It is about double the thickness of a standard acrylic sealer and is resistant to chemical spills and can take a lot of abuse. The concrete surface must be very dry prior to applying.
Epoxies are unique concrete sealers in that they must be kept out of the sun because of yellowing that can occur. It is another high build film that protects the concrete, but is usually a combination of two separate products that must be mixed during the application process. It is used for very high traffic areas because it produces a hard, strong finish that is difficult to degrade. Generally, it comes in opaque colors that have a high-gloss finish. It is excellent at repelling water, but in some cases moisture can get underneath and cause bubbling or flaking.