Chemical Strippers for Removing Concrete Sealers and CoatingsLearn how the various types of chemical strippers work, how to choose the best one for your needs, and what safety precautions to take when using them
Ask anyone who has ever stripped a sealer or coating from a concrete surface what they thought of the process, and I can pretty much guarantee you will get the same general reaction – misery. The process of removing old, worn or failing sealers or coatings from concrete ranks among one of the most miserable jobs a concrete professional may have to undertake. Unfortunately, it's often the only way to prepare, restore or repair a concrete surface.
Sealer Removal MethodsThere are two methods for removing sealers from concrete: Mechanical, which consists of grinding, blasting or sanding the coating off the surface, or Chemical, using a chemical stripper to remove the the coating. While both work, the mechanical method often profiles or damages the surface to the point that translucent decorative finishes can no longer be applied. Mechanical removal also creates noise and dust, which can be difficult to deal with. This is why the most common method for removing sealers, paints or coatings from concrete is to use a chemical stripper.
Chemical StrippersThere are three categories of chemical strippers: caustic, solvent-based and biochemical. All three are readily available through concrete distribution houses, big-box outlets, hardware stores and specialty paint stores. No matter which category of stripper you end up using, be aware that they all contain harsh chemicals, and you need to read and abide by all the safety guidelines. Even the newer "green" or "environmentally friendly" strippers contain chemicals that can make you sick, so treat all chemical strippers with respect, and dispose of the waste material in accordance with local and state regulations.