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Concrete sealers will make your concrete more resistant to weather exposure, water, grease and oil stains, abrasion and deicing salts. What's more, they will help to bring out the natural beauty of your concrete and make it easier to clean. But in order for a sealer to work its magic, it must be applied properly. Each step, from surface preparation to choosing the right application tool, will have a big impact on the final outcome.

Following are some tips for applying concrete sealer properly. Whichever brand of sealer you use, be sure to follow the specific instructions recommended by the product manufacturer, since they may differ from the general guidelines given here.

Surface preparationSurface preparation before applying a sealer to existing concrete is extremely important. All oil, grease, stains, dirt, and dust must be removed or they may prevent the sealer from adhering properly. Also, if a sealer is being applied over a different brand of sealer, most manufacturers advise removing all traces of previously used sealers, since the products may not be compatible. Some manufacturers recommend etching the surface first with an etching solution to ensure the best adhesion. (See Cleaning Concrete.)

How to apply sealerUsing the right tools is critical to achieving the best coverage rate and sealer thickness for optimal performance. The two most common methods of applying sealers to concrete surfaces are by roller or sprayer, often depending on whether the sealer is solvent- or water-based. Always refer to the manufacturer's specific application guidelines. (See Choosing the Best Sealer Applicator.)

Whether you are rolling or spray applying a sealer, always strive for maximum coverage. The typical coverage rate is 250 to 300 square feet per gallon, depending on the porosity of the concrete. The most important rule to remember is that less is more. It's best to apply two thin coats, making sure the sealer doesn't puddle or form uneven, thick areas. When applying a second coat of sealer, apply it in the opposite direction (or perpendicular) to the first coat to ensure even coverage. Wait to apply the second coat of sealer for the time recommended by the manufacturer (typically two to four hours).

When to applyWhen you apply sealer can be important as well. Allow new concrete to cure completely (at least 28 days or as recommended). Most sealers must be applied under dry conditions, since applying sealer to damp concrete could cause haziness or loss of adhesion. Air temperatures are also important and should typically be above 50°F during and for at least 24 hours after sealer application. Always allow the sealer to dry completely before exposing it to foot or vehicle traffic. Drying times before exposure to heavy traffic can be as long as three days.

Related Resources:

Driveway Sealer for Concrete: How to Apply and Buying Tips

Concrete Sealer Videos

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