Concrete Sealing Types & Methods
Choosing the right concrete sealer for your job depends on a number of factors, primarily the appearance, and longevity of the application.
Tinted Concrete Sealing
Sealing doesn't have to be clear. Adding a little tint to the sealer can really make your concrete pop.
See below for a short description of the main types of sealant, then talk to your A-1 Concrete Leveling representative for a free evaluation and estimate to keep your concrete looking beautiful well into the future.
Available in both solvent and water-based formulas, acrylic sealers are ideal for projects where easy application and low-cost are important. On your concrete driveways, patios, and sidewalks these sealers create a protective film that provides good protection against oils, and salt penetration while causing water on the slabs to runoff. They are also UV resistant and non-yellowing. Available in a range of sheen levels, they also can be used to enhance the beauty of colored, stamped or exposed-aggregate concrete.
- How They Work - Acrylic sealers form a thin protective film on the concrete surface.
- Primary Applications - Can be used for both exterior and interior concrete. Great for projects where easy application and cost-factors are important. They enhance the beauty of colored, stamped or exposed-aggregate concrete. Useful for faster application, since acrylics often dry to the touch within an hour
- Type of Finish - Available in a range of sheen levels. Solvent-based acrylics generally enhance color better than water-based products.
- Performance - Provide good protection against water and chloride intrusion, but usually wear faster than polyurethanes and epoxies. Solvent-based acrylics generally perform better than water-based products for outdoor use.
Penetrating sealers, such as silanes, siloxanes, silicates and siliconates, penetrate into the concrete to form a chemical barrier that shields against moisture penetration and deicing chemicals. Usually, they provide invisible protection without changing the surface appearance, and most products are breathable, allowing moisture vapor to escape. They are most commonly used outdoors, since they provide excellent protection against harsh exposure conditions.
- How They Work - Penetrate and react chemically within the capillaries of the concrete to shield against moisture penetration and deicing chemicals.
- Primary Applications - Exterior concrete surfaces subject to corrosion and freeze-thaw damage Where a natural, matte finish is desired
- Type of Finish - Provide invisible protection without changing the surface appearance or leaving a sheen.
- Performance - Provide excellent protection against outdoor exposure conditions. Most products are also breathable, allowing moisture vapor to escape.
Polyurethane sealers are nearly twice as thick as an acrylic sealer and form a high-build protective film on the concrete surface that provides excellent resistance to abrasion and chemicals. They are available in water and solvent-based versions and a range of sheen levels. They can be used on both interior and exterior concrete to impart a transparent, non-yellowing, highly durable finish.
- How They Work - Form a high-build protective film on the concrete surface. Available in both solvent and water-based formulations
- Primary Applications - Both exterior and interior concrete On floors in high-traffic areas, to provide good resistance to scuffs and staining To enhance the beauty of colored, stamped or exposed-aggregate concrete countertops
- Type of Finish - Available in a range of sheen levels. Finish is transparent and non-yellowing.
- Performance - Nearly twice as thick as acrylic sealers, and produce a very durable chemical- and abrasion-resistant finish. Most urethanes are moisture intolerant until they cure, so no water should be present on the surface when the sealer is applied.
Densicrete is a penetrating sealer that reacts with the silicas in the concrete, effectively forming new concrete bonds that fill tiny capillaries and cracks in the concrete. This process creates an effective water barrier by "densifying" the concrete thereby not allowing water to freely move through it. During the application and chemical reaction phase, oils and salts are expelled from the concrete as the capillaries restrict. Densicrete is considered a one and done solution as it forms a permanent barrier to moisture in the top layer of concrete. Reapplication is not necessary unless a significant portion of the concrete's surface is worn away.
- How it Works - As Densicrete is sprayed on the surface of the concrete, it is absorbed into the pores and capillaries of the top 1/2" or so of concrete. Then a chemical reaction occurs with the silicas in the concrete, which in effect creates new concrete to fill and densify the concrete. This pushes foreign material to the surface and creates a water-resistant seal against the elements and chemical de-icers.
- Primary Applications - Outdoor applications, including driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
- Type of Finish - Provides invisible protection without changing the surface appearance or leaving a sheen.
- Performance - The longest-lasting sealer of the products listed. Instead of creating an artificial barrier on top of the concrete, it causes the concrete itself to become the barrier.
The process for installing sealers is almost the same across the various types. This guide will walk you through the main elements of the installation. Be sure to read the directions on your sealant to learn of any cautions (such as necessary temperature or moisture levels of the concrete.)
- Preparation - Possibly the most important step. The concrete should be as clean as possible and devoid of any loose debris. Most professionals recommend high-powered pressure washing before sealing. Remove all dirt, grime, and molds or mosses from the concrete. Don't forget to clean any cracks and joints out as well. You want the sealer to wrap around the edges of your concrete slabs as much as you can. Most sealers require a dry surface before application (again check your specific sealer's directions.) Click Here to Learn More About Concrete Cleaning & Powerwashing »
- Application - Sealer can be applied in a few different ways. And, again, based on the sealer one may be recommended over another. Most penetrating sealers can be applied using a garden/weed sprayer. These are the type with a large canister, and a pump handle to build up pressure and a wand with a spray attachment at the end. Thicker sealers can be applied with a roller or brush. It's important to follow the directions on how much to apply. For penetrating sealers you want to achieve a wet look throughout your concrete slab, but want to avoid a filmy sheen. The goal with acrylic and polyurethane sealers is consistent and even coverage over your entire area.
- Let Dry and Enjoy - Again, various sealers have varying drying times. Many are dry to the touch within a few hours, but most recommend 12-24 hours before walking or driving on them. Pay special attention to the recommended re-application guidelines for the sealer you've chosen. We recommend that you make yourself a note in your calendar to remember when to reapply. Keeping your concrete sealed is one of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your concrete and to enjoy it for years to come.
- Saves you the effort of having to evaluate the best sealers and methods of application
- A-1 has professionally trained technicians who know just how much sealer to apply
- No need to rent equipment, saving time and money
- Locally Owned and Operated
- Supported by our National A-1 Franchise Network
- A-1 is a fully insured contractor
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You could say that Zach has concrete running in his blood. He's been working with his dad nearly his entire life. He also has a great love of data and will often be found poring over spreadsheets looking for better ways to help his dad run A-1 and service its customers better.
My sidewalk was a hazard. The slabs were all uneven causing a trip hazard and water running toward my house. The guys were fast, courteous, hard-working and professional. They got the slabs level and cleaned up all good as new.