Protecting your concrete surface against weathering, wear, and other kinds of damage is not an easy task. Like all assets, concrete has a service life of a few decades and a life cycle. While you cannot expect your surface to last forever, you can extend its life by years with proper care. A crucial part of concrete maintenance is sealing.
There are different types of sealers available in the market that can be used for your concrete sealing project. You can discuss all options with your contractor to choose one that is the most appropriate for your needs. So let’s explore all the concrete sealer options.
Acrylic Concrete Sealers
Acrylic sealers are the most popular choice for concrete surfaces as they are budget-friendly, easy to apply, and quick-drying. In addition, acrylic sealers provide better protection against deicing salt, moisture, chemicals, and oil. Some of them are also UV resistant. They are thinner than other concrete sealers but provide superior protection. Acrylics can be used on stamped, stained, or other kinds of concrete surfaces, both interior and exterior.
A drawback of acrylic sealers is that they need to be recoated more frequently than other sealers because they are not very durable. Acrylic sealers are best for pattern concrete, full-depth colored concrete, stencil concrete, style pave, and exposed aggregate.
There are two main types of acrylic sealers – water-based concrete acrylics and solvent-based concrete sealers.
Water-Based Acrylic Sealers
Water-based acrylic sealers do not release harmful vapors, so are safer for workers. In addition, they are easy to apply, cheaper, and more durable than solvent sealers, and do not face roller marks and bubbling issues.
Solvent Based Acrylic Sealers
Solvent-based acrylic sealers are for outdoor applications. They can enhance concrete color better than water-based acrylics and give the surface a wet look and darkening effect. Also, unlike water-based acrylics, solvent-based acrylics do not require extra preparation like sanding before recoating.
Epoxy sealers form a thick protective layer over your concrete surface. They are strong, long-lasting, abrasion-resistant, and water repellent.
Epoxy sealers can contribute to the aesthetics of your pavement as color pigments can easily be added to them, leaving behind a glossy surface. Apart from enhancing the color and design of your pavement, epoxy sealers protect the pavement against damage and foot traffic. In addition, an anti-slip aggregate can be added to them for more functional garage floors and factory surfaces. However, epoxy sealers are vulnerable to UV rays which can lead to stains.
Penetrating sealers absorb into the concrete surface to prevent moisture from entering and allow vapors to escape from inside the pavement. Penetrating sealers offer protection without altering the appearance of concrete surfaces.
Penetrating concrete sealers protect against UV rays, stains, chemicals, deicing salt, erosion, extreme temperatures, and weather.
They are a good choice for frictional surfaces like walkways, patios, and driveways, as they can increase the durability of the surface without compromising on the look or texture.
There are three different types of penetrating sealers, including silicone, silane, and silicate; each is used for a different purpose.
Silicate Concrete Sealers
Silicate sealers harden and increase the density of concrete surfaces. However, they do not protect against water erosion.
Silicone Concrete Sealers
Silicone concrete sealers serve for a short while, which means they need recoating frequently.
While they are incredible at retaining the natural look of the concrete surfaces, they offer no protection from UV rays.
Silane Concrete Sealers
Multiple coats are used to create a thick layer of silane sealant for long-lasting protection of up to 8 years. Since they require around two to three coatings, silane sealers tend to darken the surfaces, thus altering their natural appearance.
Polyurethane sealers are nearly twice as thick as acrylic sealers. Thus, offer stiff protection against chemical and erosion. In addition, they provide high durability, prevent the surface from yellowing, and protect against scuffing and staining. They come in a slight sheen and high gloss finishes. Polyurethane sealers come in water and solvent-based.
Polyurethane sealers are ideal for exterior and interior surfaces facing high traffic like shopping malls, amusement parks, café floors, and walkways. In addition, they are suitable for decorative concrete and can be applied to exposed aggregate, stamped, and colored concrete.
Furthermore, they are abrasion-resistant, impact-resistant, and offer flexibility. They also have strong resistance to scuffs and stains and can last for four to eight years without the need for recoating.
Since polyurethane sealers are not moisture tolerant until they are dry it is not advisable to apply the sealant to a wet surface. If they are exposed to water before drying, then a chemical reaction occurs, resulting in bubbling and foaming on the concrete surface.
Keep in mind that polyurethane sealers contain high levels of VOC (Volatile organic compounds), which is harmful for the environment and dangerous for humans, so a respirator should be used when applying. Also, you need to sand the surface before recoating. Finally, polyurethane concrete sealers need more care than acrylics.
Polyaspartic sealer or polyaspartic polyuria is a sealant option that can be applied at any temperature, cures within half an hour, and can bear extreme temperatures. In addition, they bond smoothly with any kind of interior or exterior concrete surface and offer outstanding UV and stain resistance.
Polyaspartic sealers can rapidly dry within five to 120 minutes and can safely be applied at surface temperatures between -30°F to 140°F. Due to their low viscosity, they have an outstanding wetting ability, and a single coat of polyaspartics can have a film build of up to 18 mils. Unlike most other sealers, polyaspartics do not form bubbles at the surface during high humidity. Also, since they are created of solids, little to no VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) are released at the time of application. After they are cured, polyaspartic coatings can withstand temperatures up to 350°F.