Cleaning your concrete can make it pop, while sealing it can protect it from irreversible damage. But if you’ve never had your concrete cleaned and sealed, you may be wondering about the process and what to expect when it's complete.
With over 30 years of experience in maintaining and repairing concrete here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve gotten a feel for the main questions our customers have when considering cleaning and sealing their concrete.
In order to help answer these questions, we’ve put together this article that will help you get to know what to expect when your concrete is cleaned and sealed.
Only Cleaning & Sealing
When the concrete is being cleaned and sealed, without an additional service like concrete leveling, the concrete is first thoroughly pressure washed to remove debris and loose material from the surface. This step also helps open the pores of the concrete for better sealer absorption.
Once the concrete is dry, a high-quality penetrating concrete sealer is sprayed onto the surface. The sealer then absorbs into the concrete, reacting chemically with the concrete to form a protective barrier.
You must stay off of the concrete for 24 hours after the sealer is applied to allow it to dry.
Cleaning & Sealing + Concrete Leveling
If you're also opting for concrete leveling alongside cleaning and sealing, these are the steps we typically follow:
1. Level the Concrete
The sunken or uneven concrete slabs are lifted.
2. Patch Holes
The drill holes from the lifting process are patched with nonshrink grout.
3. Grind Breaks
If there are any cracks or gaps in need of caulking, they are ground out in preparation for caulking.
4. Pressure Wash
The concrete is thoroughly cleaned using a pressure washer.
5. Caulk Breaks
Cracks or gaps in the concrete are caulked to prevent water infiltration.
6. Seal Concrete
Finally, the penetrating sealer is applied to protect the concrete from moisture and other forms of damage, then left to dry for 24 hours.
Cleaning and sealing your concrete has many benefits. Here are some of the things that it can protect your concrete from:
- Freeze-thaw damage
- Surface spalling or pitting
- Internal cracking
- Oil stains and deterioration
- Mold growth
Concrete is porous, therefore water, liquid chemicals, oil, etc. can penetrate into its pores. When water freezes it expands and causes the concrete to spall, chip, crack, and become weakened. This is especially true in Louisville, Kentucky, as we can see over 100 freeze-thaw cycles in a single winter!
Liquids like deicer break down the concrete from the inside causing irreversible damage, and oil can absorb into the pores and become very hard to remove.
Read more about what cleaning and sealing your concrete can protect it from.
The most common sealer applied to concrete surfaces in residential areas in Lousiville, Kentucky is a topical sealer. As the name suggests, it sits on top of the surface of the concrete rather than penetrating into its pores. It is most noticeable because it creates a wet, shiny look and can darken or tint your concrete.
At A-1 Concrete Leveling Louisville, we do not use topical sealers for the following reasons:
- It fades at different rates depending on the amount of sun, rain, and snow it gets in different areas around the house.
- It changes the color of the concrete and makes the surface look slick or slippery.
- It can affect the tread, causing slipping hazards when wet.
- Once you use a topical sealer, you are stuck with it until all of the sealer has faded.
- It needs to be redone every 1-2 years whereas clear penetrating sealers can last 5-25 years depending on the environment
- It is cheaper upfront, but more expensive in the long run due to its short lifespan and reapplications.
Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, penetrate into the concrete’s pores and prevent water and stains from being absorbed by the concrete. This protects it from the damage caused by freeze-thaw cycles and preserves the texture and look of the concrete without the negatives that come with topical sealers.
A clear penetrating sealer will not change the color of concrete and will keep it looking clean and stain-free. Penetrating sealers can last more than 5x as long as topical sealers, depending on environmental factors, which makes its more expensive upfront cost understandable.
For example, imagine paying $600 for a topical sealer and $1,100 for a high-quality penetrating sealer, but the topical sealer needs to be reapplied every other year compared to the penetrating sealer that lasts 5+ years. The cost for the topical becomes $1,200 after one reapplication, while the clear penetrating sealer that was applied once will likely still be helping preserve your concrete.
How much does it cost to clean and seal concrete in Louisville?
The cost of cleaning and sealing concrete in Louisville, Kentucky starts at $950 and increases from there. In some scenarios, we can provide discounts if cleaning and sealing is approved at the same time the leveling work is approved.
Cleaning and sealing cost varies depending on many different factors, but it typically increases by the square footage of the area, as this requires more material and time to complete the job.
What will the concrete look like after being sealed?
After the concrete is sealed with a penetrating sealer, there will be minimal physical difference in its appearance. The sealer absorbs into the concrete, leaving it looking clean from the pressure washing but unchanged from the sealer.
However, beneath the surface, the sealer forms a chemical bond with the concrete, providing protection against moisture, chemicals, and salts that could cause damage. Although you can’t see the sealer, it is working to protect your concrete.
How long does it take to clean and seal concrete in Louisville?
The time it takes to properly power wash and seal concrete varies, but the average cleaning and sealing job with A-1 Concrete Leveling Louisville takes between 1 and 3 days.
How long to stay off of sealed concrete?
To allow the sealer to properly dry and set, you should avoid foot and vehicle traffic on the sealed concrete for at least 24 hours.
How long will the penetrating sealer last?
How long a penetrating sealer depends on various factors, including the local weather conditions. In ideal conditions, the protective effects of the sealer can last up to 10 years before requiring reapplication.
To determine if your concrete sealer is still providing protection, you can either contact professionals for a concrete test or perform a water drop test at home to check whether or not the concrete is absorbing moisture, or if the water is beading up and running off like it should.
How can I maintain my sealer?
Penetrating sealers generally do not require maintenance to keep them working better or longer. What can really help a sealer last as long as possible is proper preparation and application upfront.
Regular pressure washing can help keep the concrete looking good, but it won't affect the sealer's lifespan.
Now that you know what to expect when it comes to cleaning and sealing your concrete, you’re one step closer to enjoying your clean and protected concrete.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your sealer after the fact, contact us and we’ll help you find the answer or solution that’s best for your concrete.
Here at A-1, we strive to make sure our customers get the right solution to their unique needs. Part of that is by providing you with all the information you need to make educated decisions about your concrete upfront in our online resource library, Concrete Academy. Check out some of these related topics:
If you’re interested in cleaning and sealing your concrete and haven’t already, click the link below to request a free onsite cost estimate!