Concrete is one of the most common materials used in flooring thanks to its durability. Used for both residential and commercial purposes, you can rest assured that it can last a long time especially when it’s sealed properly. Whether indoor or outdoor, using the right sealer will make your concrete wall or floor functional and looking great.
Choosing a good concrete sealer for your floor is extremely important. For one, this will help extend the life of your concrete floor. It can also elevate the appearance of your floor depending on the surface finish that you want. In addition, a sealer also acts as a barrier that protects your concrete floor from stains and scratches.
There are several types that you can choose from. Each one has its own unique features. Some concrete sealers work great on exterior elements while others are better used indoors.
Penetrating sealers are commonly used on bare concrete surfaces to act as protection against external elements such as moisture. They can help keep your concrete floor safe from erosion, scuffs, and stains. They’re best used on driveways that are constantly subjected to harsh weather conditions and extreme temperatures.
This type of concrete sealer also protects your floor against deicing chemicals and freeze-thaw damage. It works by penetrating deep into the concrete and chemically reacting within its pores. Generally, this type does not affect the physical appearance of the concrete floor. Its matte finish helps prevent slipping when wet. There are four different kinds of penetrating sealers: silicate, siliconate, silane, and siloxane.
Silicate sealers are classified as a densifier that helps strengthen the concrete. They work as a hardener of concrete surfaces, which makes them more resistant to surface abrasion. This type of penetrating sealer works by decreasing the size of the pores in the concrete. It also does not change the natural look of the concrete after application. However, they cannot protect the concrete against water damage.
Siliconate sealers are effective in resisting fluids including water, oil, salts, and chemicals. They help prevent damages caused by water absorption such as concrete pitting and spalling. This type of penetrating concrete sealer is typically used in garage floors, walkways, and basement floors. Due to its hydrophobic properties, it can also protect the concrete against mold and mildew.
Silane sealers are considered water-repellent sealers. They work great in protecting the concrete against water absorption. However, they generally do not offer that much additional strength to the concrete. Still, this kind of concrete sealer can protect your concrete floor for up to eight years because of its required thick application. It can slightly change the appearance of concrete and is generally used in parking garages as well as exterior walls.
Siloxane sealers help protect the concrete against freeze-thaw damage like concrete scaling and surface delamination. They work great by creating a barrier to keep water and other liquids from seeping into the concrete. It is important to choose a water-based siloxane concrete sealer that has a low content of volatile organic compounds (VOC) for safer and easier application.
As the name suggests, topical or film-forming sealers work by forming a film or a seal on the surface of the concrete. This type of concrete sealer improves the physical appearance of concrete with varying levels of sheen. However, it is more prone to making surfaces slippery in cold or wet conditions. There are three kinds of film-forming sealers: acrylic, epoxy, and polyurethane.
Acrylic sealers can be used both indoors and outdoors. When looking for a quality acrylic sealer, be sure to choose one that comes with a non-yellowing additive. Otherwise, it will turn yellow and delaminate over time, which will make your concrete surface look ugly. In addition, try to select one that is UV resistant.
One of the great benefits of using acrylic sealers is their easy application. They dry quickly and add sheen to your concrete floor. This type also protects the concrete against water and chloride. For this reason, it is often used in pool decks.
You can choose from water-based acrylics or solvent-based acrylics. Water-based acrylics do not provide much sheen but have a lower VOC and a faint odour. However, they often don’t last that long. On the other hand, solvent-based acrylics provide a glossy finish and great longevity but have a higher VOC and a strong odour.
Epoxy sealers are mainly used on indoor concrete. They are the primary choice for aesthetic purposes since they work well with colour pigmentation. Furthermore, they also add a nice glossy finish to the surface of the concrete. If slipping is a concern, you can add an anti-slip aggregate to the mix to avoid accidents.
Another reason why epoxy sealers are commonly used indoors is their low resistance to UV rays. Unlike penetrating concrete sealers, epoxy does not allow for the concrete surface underneath to breathe. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that there’s no moisture trapped underneath when you have the concrete sealed, which may cause concrete issues in the long run.
Polyurethane sealers are excellent in protecting concrete against abrasion and chemicals. Similar to acrylic sealers, they also come in water-based and solvent-based solutions. However, they are twice as thick as acrylic sealers. They are typically used in high-traffic areas and are effective in preventing stains.
This type can enhance the final look of the concrete surface with a nice sheen. It offers a durable finish that doesn’t yellow over time. Moreover, it is highly flexible and can withstand impacts. On the other hand, polyurethane sealers contain a high level of VOC. Using a respirator is a must during application for safety purposes.
Aside from the type, there are also other factors that you should keep in mind when looking for the appropriate concrete sealer for your project.
One of the determining factors for choosing the right concrete sealer is the type of surface or function of the concrete. For example, high-traffic outdoor concrete such as a material used in a driveway usually requires a penetrating sealer. If the concrete is subjected to scraping or plowing during winter, silane or siloxane sealers would work great.
On the other hand, if the concrete surface is for decorative purposes, an acrylic sealer would be the top choice due to its color-enhancing properties. This type is excellent in providing a high level of protection for concrete floors in basements and shops. As for concrete countertops, epoxy or polyurethane sealers would be good options.
One of concrete’s biggest enemies is moisture. Concrete is extremely porous, which means that it’s susceptible to moisture absorption. It becomes an even bigger problem during freeze-thaw cycles because of the cracks that it causes in the concrete.
Another issue that concrete has to contend with is salt. It is among the main causes of corrosion, which weakens the strength of concrete. Hence, living in a humid climate means that your concrete floor is at risk of water damage and corrosion.
A penetrating concrete sealer is the best way to prevent moisture and chemicals from damaging your concrete floors. It is also safe to use in wet conditions because it does not alter the rough texture of concrete so slipping won’t be a problem. It is common for this type to be used on driveways and patios.
Some concrete sealers are solvent-based solutions, such as acrylic and polyurethane sealers. These often produce fumes known as volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are known to be harmful to the eyes and skin. Being exposed to VOC for a long time can lead to certain chronic health issues.
While solvent-based sealers are more durable, water-based ones are often safer to use due to no or low VOC content. However, they don’t last very long. When choosing a water-based sealer, opt for one with long intervals between applications for maintenance so you’re less often exposed to VOC.
Choosing the right concrete sealer for your project also depends on the type of finish that you want. For outdoor concrete surfaces, they should at least be water-resistant and able to withstand UV rays. Durability is also a must. The sealer should be breathable to allow moisture to evaporate and prevent a slippery finish during cold or wet conditions.
On the other hand, if you want a glossy finish, film-forming sealers would be a great choice. For interior concrete floors, you can opt for acrylic sealers. As for your concrete countertops, epoxy or polyurethane sealers are the way to go. They provide good water resistance and enhance the final look of the concrete.
Two of the most common concrete sealers used for design purposes are acrylic and epoxy. Aside from aesthetic purposes, acrylic sealers are great for their durability and flexibility. You can choose from a matte to a glossy, clear finish. As for epoxy sealers, they provide a thick, glossy finish that can be either clear or pigmented.
There are several ways to apply concrete sealers. Most can be applied using a garden-style pump sprayer or a high-pressure, low-volume (HPLV) sprayer. Some sealers are applied using a lint-free paint-and-stain roller. As for epoxy sealers, they come in two separate components: resin and hardener. They should be mixed thoroughly and applied quickly because they dry fast.
There are a lot of options when it comes to concrete sealers in the market. Here are some of the best ones known for their durability and excellent quality and organized by their best features..
MasonryDefender Penetrating Sealer is a water-based solution that protects concrete from moisture while still letting it breathe underneath. It is a blend of silane and siloxane that’s durable and great for outdoor concrete floors such as driveways and patios. Apart from moisture, it also helps prevent staining and chemical damage. This sealer offers easy application and can last up to five years.
EnduraSeal 100% Acrylic Semi-Gloss Sealer is another solvent-based solution that will give your concrete floors a wet look. It has a low odor and contains a non-yellowing additive as well. You can use this on both indoor and outdoor applications, as it’s also UV resistant. This can also be applied to colored, stamped, and exposed aggregate. Two thin coats of this sealer are recommended for good protection.
TotalBoat Epoxy Resin and Hardener Kit consists of epoxy resin and hardener. When mixed right, you’ll get a crystal clear, smooth solution that’s perfect to use on concrete countertops. It is also food safe and does not contain BPA or VOC. This product is self-leveling and produces a durable, high-gloss finish. Unlike other common epoxy products, this is not prone to blushing and is resistant to heat.
SEAL-ONCE SO7910 Nano+Poly Concrete and Masonry Sealer is a penetrating concrete sealer that uses nanotechnology to effectively protect concrete from water damage. This includes efflorescence, spalling, and cracking. It efficiently penetrates the pores and coats the concrete surface to act as a barrier against UV damage. While it does have a milky white consistency upon application, this sealer turns clear once it dries.
Rain Guard Water Sealers CU-0201 is a water-based acrylic urethane solution that protects concrete against moisture and chemicals. It can also resist damage caused by UV rays such as peeling and yellowing. This product provides a low-gloss finish and adds a nice sheen to dull concrete surfaces.
ToughCrete Sealer is one of the top choices if you are looking for an environmentally friendly option. Its non-flammable formula is primarily made from non-toxic siloxane, which makes it a safe and effective option. This product dries to a clean, non-glossy finish, so the concrete retains its original appearance. You can simply use a brush or a spray to easily apply this solution on concrete surfaces.
Foundation Armor SX5000 Water-Based Sealer is a blend of silane and siloxane that lets the concrete surface breathe while still reducing moisture absorption by 95%. It contains high solids and low VOC, making it safer to use than other solvent-based concrete sealers. This product can protect concrete for up to 10 years before reapplication.
GhostShield Siloxa-Tek 8500 is a water-based, industrial-grade penetrating concrete sealer composed of both silane and siloxane. Apart from water, this product can also protect concrete surfaces against salts and chloride, which cause corrosion. Aside from concrete, you can also use this on brick and masonry. It works beautifully on both hard-wearing substrates and embellished surfaces.
Rainguard Micro-Seal Penetrating Sealer is a relatively affordable option that can effectively coat concrete surfaces and protect them from moisture. It’s a water-based concrete sealer made from a mixture of silane and siloxane. This high-performing product applies clear and does not alter the natural appearance of the concrete surface. It dries off to a matte finish and has great resistance against harsh natural elements.
Foundation Armor AR350 Wet Look Sealer is a solvent-based acrylic that already comes with a non-yellowing additive. As the name implies, this product provides concrete a wet look that brightens dull concrete surfaces. It has a low-gloss finish that also protects concrete from surface abrasion. This concrete sealer can last up to three years when used outdoors and up to seven years when used indoors.
As you can see, choosing the best concrete sealer for your flooring is not as easy as it seems since there are so many options available. There are also several factors and conditions to consider before you can make the proper choice. In addition, depending on the type you need, it can also pose a health risk to apply if you’re not careful enough. Having a professional who knows the do’s and don'ts of concrete sealing can certainly help you make the best choice for your concrete or epoxy flooring.
If you’re looking for an expert in this field and you reside in Melbourne or the surrounding areas, Flawless Floorz can help you make the right assessment. Call us at 0450 550 649 or get a quick quote here.