10 Important Facts About Concrete Sealer You Need To Know

Concrete sealing preserves surfaces by guarding against moisture, chemicals, and stains to enhance durability, maintain aesthetic appeal, and promote longevity. 

However, sealers do not correct structural issues and should only be applied as directed.

Selecting the correct type of sealer and appropriate additives is essential. Using the wrong products or techniques can result in unwanted consequences, such as a slippery surface, filmy appearance, or lack of protection.

1. Using the Right Type of Sealer Is Critical

Choosing the right type of sealer is an important decision that directly influences the effectiveness of the sealing process. 

There are various types of concrete sealers available, each tailored to specific applications and conditions.

  • Penetrating Sealers: These sealers penetrate into the concrete, forming a protective barrier beneath the surface. Ideal for exterior applications, penetrating sealers are excellent at repelling water, oil, and other contaminants without resulting in a slippery surface.
  • Acrylic Sealers: By providing a protective film on the surface, acrylic sealers enhance the concrete’s appearance, offering a glossy or matte finish. They are popular for decorative concrete applications, providing a layer that protects against UV rays and mild chemicals.
  • Polyurethane Sealers: Known for their durability, polyurethane sealers create a robust, abrasion-resistant surface. They are suitable for high-traffic areas and offer excellent protection against chemicals and abrasion.
  • Epoxy Sealers: These sealers provide a hard, glossy finish and are often used for indoor applications. Epoxy sealers resist stains, chemicals, and wear, making them a preferred choice for garage floors and interior concrete surfaces.

2. Slick Surface May Result 

Sealers that create a film or coating on the concrete surface, such as acrylic sealers, can result in a finish that becomes very slippery when wet

Also, applying an excessive amount of sealer can lead to a buildup on the surface. This over-application may create a layer that is smoother than the original concrete, increasing the risk of slipperiness.

Sealers that are designed to provide a smooth or glossy finish, even if not excessively applied, can inherently create a slick surface. 

This is particularly true for decorative sealers that prioritize enhancing the appearance of the concrete.

3. Additives Should Be Selected According to Need

Additives serve specific purposes, addressing issues such as slip resistance, UV protection, and resistance to chemicals.

Anti-slip additives enhance traction on the surface, reducing the risk of slips and falls. They are particularly valuable for outdoor areas exposed to rain, snow, or frequent washing.

UV inhibitors help protect the concrete from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays, preserving its color and structural integrity.

Additives with mold and mildew inhibitors help prevent the growth of these unwanted organisms, maintaining the cleanliness and aesthetics of the sealed surface.

Depending on the anticipated exposure to chemicals, chemical resistance enhancers can be added to sealers to enhance the concrete’s resistance to spills. 

This is especially important for surfaces in garages, workshops, or industrial settings.

4. Thick Layers Are Not Recommended

Thick layers of sealer may not adhere properly to the surface of the concrete, resulting in uneven curing and potential peeling

Excessive coverage can fill in crevices in the concrete’s texture, resulting in a smooth, slick, and slippery finish

This can be dangerous in areas with frequent traffic, such as driveways, pool decks, patios, and walkways.

Moreover, a thick sealer application can create an unnatural appearance, diminishing the aesthetic appeal of the concrete. 

Follow manufacturer guidelines regarding the recommended application thickness to ensure a uniform and effective seal.

5. Structural Problems Should Be Corrected Prior to Applying

Concrete sealers are not a cure-all for underlying structural issues. 

Before applying a sealer, you should address any existing problems with the concrete structure. This includes addressing cracks, spalling, or any other forms of damage. 

Sealing over structural issues can exacerbate the problem by trapping moisture and accelerating deterioration

Conduct a thorough inspection of the concrete surface, and if structural problems are identified, prioritize repairs before proceeding with the sealing process.

A flagstone stamped concrete patio with freshly applied concrete sealer in Joliet, IL.

6. Application Timing Matters

Weather conditions and the concrete curing stage can significantly impact the effectiveness of the sealer. 

Ideally, apply the sealer when the concrete is fully cured, which typically takes about 28 days. Avoid sealing freshly poured concrete as it needs time to release excess moisture and gases. 

Remember to consider the weather—a dry day with moderate temperatures is ideal. 

Applying a sealer during high humidity or extreme temperatures may lead to uneven drying and compromised performance.

7. Application Methods Depend on the Product and Situation

The choice of application method depends on the specific product being used and your specific situation. 

The product you choose will likely explain the recommended application methods. Follow all directions carefully.

  • Brushing is suitable for smaller areas and intricate surfaces because it provides better control. 
  • Rolling is efficient for larger areas as it ensures an even coat. Water-based sealers are usually applied with a roller.
  • Spraying is ideal for quick application as you can cover large surfaces rapidly. Spray application is often recommended for solvent-based sealers.

8. Removal of Prior Sealer May Be Needed Before Reapplication

Before reapplying a concrete sealer, it’s essential to assess the condition of the existing sealer. 

If the previous sealer is deteriorating, peeling, or no longer providing effective protection, removal may be necessary. 

Failure to remove the old sealer can result in poor adhesion of the new sealer and compromised performance. 

Methods for removal include mechanical abrasion, chemical stripping, and using specialized sealer removers

9. Reapplication Timelines Vary

Concrete sealer longevity varies based on factors such as traffic, exposure to the elements, and the type of sealer used

Monitoring the condition of the sealed surface is crucial to determine when reapplication is necessary. 

As a general guideline, solvent-based sealers may need reapplication every 2-3 years, but water-based sealers may require more frequent touch-ups, typically every 1-2 years.

10. Concrete Sealers Have Limitations 

Sealers can’t repair structural damage or prevent all forms of deterioration. 

They provide a protective barrier against moisture, chemicals, and stains, but they do not correct visible or unseen issues or make concrete invincible. 

Harsh conditions, heavy traffic, and inadequate maintenance can still impact the appearance and integrity of the concrete over time.

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