Choosing the Best Concrete SealerSealing your stained concrete project is crucial to ensuring the longevity, quality, and craftsmanship of your work. It might seem like an extra, unnecessary step, but sealing colored concrete is too often overlooked. Simply choosing the wrong concrete sealer for your project can be disastrous for your indoor or outdoor project.
Concrete sealers are not one size fits all. There are a few factors that go into choosing which sealer is right for your project. To help you make that choice, we have put together a brief guide on which concrete sealer to use for any indoor or outdoor concrete coloring project. Let’s get started.
Choosing the right sealer for your concrete coloring project depends on three things: location, size, and desired finish outcome.
Choosing a Concrete Sealer: Location
The location of your concrete staining or coloring project will largely determine which type of sealer to use. Different concrete sealers are used for different things such as moisture, porosity, shine, and abrasion resistance among other things.
So, before you buy, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is your project outdoors?
- Will your project be exposed to moisture?
- Is your project in a high traffic area?
- Will your project be exposed to heat and/or sunlight?
Once you’ve figured that part out, the next step is to measure the size of your concrete floor or countertop.
Choosing a Concrete Sealer: Size
Depending on where your concrete is located and how exposed the area is to traffic and other potentially damaging contact, you may want to consider multiple coats of sealer or protective wax. Almost all concrete sealer products will specifically note the square footage per gallon per coat. This should help you easily determine how much sealer you will need.
Choosing a Concrete Sealer: Finish
Last but certainly not least, the desired top coat finish of your concrete staining project is an important part of this process as well. Sealers not only protect your concrete stain, but they can also highlight the color, shine, and ultimately add some extra aesthetics to your hard work.
Some examples of these sealers are Direct Colors’ High Gloss, Satin and Matte options.
While this generally depends on the underlying material as well, High Gloss concrete sealers will give your color a shiny, almost reflective look, while the Satin concrete sealer provides a low sheen finish truer to the shade of the underlying material.
Once you’ve determined those three things, it’s time to choose the perfect sealer for your individual project. Let’s start with some indoor concrete staining ideas.
Indoor Concrete SealerIf your concrete staining project is indoors, smell and ventilation are going to be your biggest concerns. For that reason, we generally recommend water-based sealers for any indoor concrete sealing project. They’re nearly odorless, and will be safe to apply if your family or animals are in the home.
Sealing Interior Concrete FloorsConcrete floors can be found all around your home. Basements, bathrooms, kitchens you name it, and we’ve had a customer with a concrete floor in that room.
For all of these applications, we recommend Water-Based Acrylic Sealers. These sealers are nearly odorless with low V.O.C., meaning that they are more environmentally friendly than other sealers. But the most well-known benefit of an acrylic sealer is in its ability to pop the color of the underlying floor. Some sealers, especially those used for outdoor applications, can cover a bit of the staining job, as they offer a more protective seal from the environment. Acrylic based sealers, however, don’t require as thick of a layer, instead highlighting the color of the concrete.
Water-based acrylic sealers are also much easier to maintain. Some sealers require removal before adding or repairing an older layer. But, with this sealer in particular, you can apply the new layer directly onto sealed or unsealed concrete. This is a major benefit, and makes the project much easier to do yourself. Finally, acrylics are a very economical choice for sealing indoor concrete.
Sealing Interior Concrete CountertopsConcrete countertops are very popular in newer homes, and can be a more cost-effective alternative to granite or marble if the right concrete stain is applied. To make sure your hard work and concrete coloring skills don’t go to waste, a protective and high gloss sealer is recommended to top the color, and make your countertops resemble truly natural stone.
Solvent-Based Polyurethane Sealers are your best bet for sealing concrete countertops. The main benefit is durability, both in the fact that countertops, especially in your kitchen) see frequent, daily use, and encounter many different types of abrasion from pots and pans to knives and food.
Polyurethane sealers, however, are more challenging to apply than acrylics. They require more layers, and need to be applied in a much more even coat than acrylics. They are much less forgiving. However, the result is an eye-catching, beautifully sealed concrete countertop that your family will love.
Sealing Concrete Garage FloorsGarage floors are messy. They’re dirty from the cars, have oil stains all over them, and seemingly just aren’t meant to look nice. But, with the right attitude and some heavy-duty sealer, your garage floor concrete coloring job won’t just look great, it’ll last.
As with the rest of this list of concrete projects, concrete garage floors can be stained and colored to create a unique, beautiful, and long-lasting effect that will make your garage a place you want to be.
But, given the amount of traffic (pun intended) and exposure to the elements that garages go through, a thicker, more durable sealer is used to protect the surface from damage, and any underlying stain from wear.
For that, Direct Colors’ Water-Based Polyurethane Sealer is your best bet. Polyurethane sealers are known for their impact and abrasion resistance, as they’re also used to seal other high traffic areas such as countertops. The water-based aspect of this sealer is good for high moisture areas (such as outdoor concrete). This sealer will allow for breathability, and won’t trap any moisture that makes its way between the sealer and the concrete which can cause the sealer to cloud and thus hide your underlying stain color.
Outdoor Concrete Sealer
Sealing Outdoor Concrete Floors, Patios, Pool Decks, and DrivewaysWe won’t waste your time. When it comes to indoor concrete projects, there are specific, recommended sealers to use depending on moisture, foot traffic, and non-slip considerations. The difference between indoor and outdoor concrete though is, well, one’s outdoors.
Outdoor concrete, no matter if it’s a floor, patio, pool deck,or driveway is going to come up against the environment at some point or another. Rain, wind, sun, spills, slips, anything and everything that you worry about when staining indoor concrete is there, and then some.
Fading concrete color is the number one issue homeowners run into when it comes to outdoor concrete colorants. When properly applied, even the best-looking stained concrete will fade over years of direct weather exposure if not properly maintained.
If initially sealed correctly, and with outdoor maintenance, any outdoor concrete stain job can last years, allowing you, your family, and your friends to enjoy it. Plus, it’ll make your neighbors jealous.
To be safe, no matter what outdoor concrete stain project you’re doing, we recommend Acrylic, Solvent-Based Sealers with a Satin finish. This sealer is durable, non-slip, and highly resistant to UV rays. Extreme amounts of direct sunlight can yellow some concrete sealers. However, Direct Colors Acrylic, Solvent-Based Sealers are UV resistant, keeping your underlying concrete colorant clear and vibrant.
More importantly, Acrylic, Solvent-Based Concrete Sealers simply do not allow moisture to penetrate. For outdoor concrete surfaces, especially patios and pool decks, this feature is essential to the quality of your concrete stain job and to the longevity of your sealer.
Sealing Concrete FireplacesWhile the type of colorant depends on the result you’d like to see, we always recommend a Penetrating Concrete Sealer. This sealer is safe for up to 160 degrees fahrenheit of heat resistance. This added layer will protect your underlying colorant, and won’t melt like other sealers might. The only downside with this type of sealer is its clarity. The main function Penetrating Concrete Sealers is the heat resistance aspect, which causes a bit of natural cloudiness. While you’ll still see the underlying coloring job, Lithium-Based Penetrating Concrete Sealers don’t “pop” or highlight colors like other sealers will.
But, if you’re looking to seal a hot concrete area, this is the product you’re looking for.
Every concrete coloring job needs a strong, protective sealer. We hope this article helped you find what you were looking for. For more information on concrete sealers, or for some ideas for your next concrete coloring project, visit our resource center.