A concrete sealer is essential for protecting surfaces from water damage caused by freeze/thaw cycles, stains from dirt, deicing salts, oil and other contaminants, and much more. So, if you’ve just installed the decorative concrete masterpiece of your dreams, make sure it gets sealed. Read More [+]

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  • Compare Sealer Types Use this chart to quickly decide which sealer type you should buy for your project. Compare Sealer Types
  • Concrete Floor Sealers Discover how sealers protect decorative concrete flooring and enhance its appearance. Concrete Floor Sealers
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Driveway Sealers Get advice on selecting and purchasing the best sealer for a concrete driveway.
Removing Concrete Sealers Learn 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.
Concrete Sealer Videos Watch 5 videos demonstrating the different types of concrete sealers, when to use each type of sealer and how to apply them to concrete surfaces.

Whether it’s a pattern-stamped pool deck or patio, an interlocking paver driveway, an acid-stained floor, or an exposed-aggregate walkway, a good sealer will keep it looking spectacular for many years to come while extending its service life. And even if the surface begins to show wear after years of exposure to traffic and the environment, you can often restore its original beauty with a good cleaning and fresh sealer application.

SEALING OUTDOOR CONCRETE

Sealing outdoor concrete surfaces is an essential part of hardscape maintenance. Concrete sealer is a lot like car wax-many people go without and then regret it when the paint peels. Sealer may not seem necessary at first, but after a few years of exposure to weather and use concrete can become discolored, stained or even flaky.

A combination of spraying and rolling is being used to seal a stamped concrete driveway.
Decorative Concrete Institute in Temple, GA

A concrete driveway or patio sealer will protect against:

  • Oil stains
  • Tire marks
  • Deicing salts
  • Yellowing or fading
  • Water damage
  • Dirt, mud and mold
  • Lawn care chemicals

All types of exterior concrete should be sealed including plain concrete, stamped concrete, stained concrete, integrally colored concrete, exposed aggregate, stenciled concrete, engraved concrete and overlays. When a good concrete sealant is used, maintenance is easy—wash the driveway or patio with soap and water, or a degreaser designed for use on cement, and apply a fresh coat of sealer about every three years.

The best concrete sealer for a driveway, patio, pool deck or walkway is:

  • UV resistant
  • Breathable
  • Slip resistant, even when wet

Outdoors a penetrating concrete sealer is usually better than a film-forming product for safety reasons, but also because the end result will last longer and looks more realistic and natural, especially when sealing stamped concrete.

SEALING CONCRETE FLOORS

Concrete is an incredibly durable flooring choice, especially when properly sealed. Whether for a commercial or residential property, a basement or a garage, a concrete floor sealer is an easy and affordable way to ensure the surface will look its best and function well for years.

A good concrete floor sealer will:

  • Prolong the life of a floor
  • Enrich and preserve its appearance
  • Provide resistance to scuffs and stains
  • Prevent moisture problems

Film-forming sealers, either epoxy or acrylic, are most often used for indoor flooring. Epoxy concrete sealers are the most durable, making them good for sealing garage floors and high-traffic retail environments. Softer acrylic sealers, which require a sacrificial floor wax, are more affordable and popular for residential concrete floors, including basements. When working indoors, it's safest to apply a water-based sealer, because they don’t contain harmful fumes from VOCs.

SEALING CONCRETE COUNTERTOPS

Sealing is the last, but most important, step when installing concrete countertops in a kitchen or bathroom. A waterproof concrete countertop sealer will prevent food stains as well as scratches.

The best sealers for countertops are:

  • Heavy-duty
  • Food-safe
  • Colorless
  • Non-yellowing
  • Heat and scratch resistant
  • Low-odor, with zero VOCs

Countertop sealers come in varying sheen levels, from matte to high gloss. If you want to be able to use your countertop immediately, you can opt for a fast-curing sealer. For extra protection and shine, some countertop installers will apply a food-safe finishing wax over the concrete sealer.

Decorative Concrete Institute in Temple, GA

WILL SEALING CONCRETE CHANGE ITS APPEARANCE?

This depends on what type of concrete sealer you choose (use this concrete sealer comparison chart to compare your options). The main purpose of any sealer is protection; however, some also enhance the color or gloss of the concrete. If you don’t want your concrete to look different, a clear concrete sealer that penetrates beyond the surface will not change its appearance.

Sealer Color: Colored concrete sealers are tinted to add color to plain concrete or augment the color of stained concrete. Additionally, some sealers enhance, or deepen the color of concrete that has been integrally colored or stained.

Sealer Gloss: Sealers come in different gloss levels, ranging from a flat natural finish to a high-gloss, reflective finish. Wet look concrete sealers have the highest solids content, giving the concrete the glossy look some people desire. Sealers with high-gloss often need grit added to make them slip-resistant.

CONCRETE SEALER REVIEWS

The concrete sealers with the best reviews tend to be professional grade, not the type you can buy at your local home-improvement store. Professional grade sealers can be ordered online through specialized companies, or purchased at a local concrete supply store.

Top reasons for a good concrete sealer review:

  • Easy to apply
  • Good coverage rates
  • Water beads up nicely
  • Dries quickly
  • Low odor
  • Doesn’t change the color of the concrete
  • Resists scratches
  • Lasts a longtime
  • Prevents flaking from freeze-thaw damage

Decorative Concrete Institute in Temple, GA

CONCRETE SEALER APPLICATION TIPS

Applying a sealer to concrete is a fairly simple and fast process (learn more about how to apply concrete sealer). Most are applied in a similar way, but always check the instructions on the specific sealer you are using before getting started.

Sealer success tips:

  • The surface must be clean and dry to ensure good adhesion
  • Allow new concrete to cure fully prior to sealing
  • Seal concrete when the weather is dry and above 50°
  • Always apply sealer in thin layers
  • Two coats will provide the best protection
  • Solvent-based sealers are best spray applied
  • Water-based sealers are best applied by roller
  • If you have textured concrete (broom finish or stamped), sealer may pool if applied too thickly

WHEN SHOULD CONCRETE BE RESEALED?

Most concrete should be resealed every 1 to 3 years. However, this will depend on the type of sealer used, the amount of abuse it is exposed to and so forth.

Signs that you may need to reseal:

  • Water no longer beads on the surface, but instead soaks into the concrete
  • The sealer appears scratched, worn, dull or dirty

COMMON CONCRETE SEALER PROBLEMS

Sometimes concrete sealers fail. The most common reason for sealer issues is improper application.

Concrete sealer problems and their causes:

  • Bubbles - caused by applying sealer too thickly or over-rolling
  • Discoloration - white or cloudy efflorescence-like markings caused by trapped moisture
  • Peeling - caused by moisture-vapor, contamination or over-application of the sealer
  • Streaks/Lines - caused by the sealer drying too quickly during application

In some cases, these problems can be fixed by applying a fresh coat of sealer to the concrete, other times the existing sealer may need to be stripped first to start fresh.

Last updated: March 28,2018 - Contributions by Anne Balogh, Bob Harris, Bill Palmer, Chris Sullivan, and Bill York


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