Staining or dying concrete not only improves the visual appearance of your home, but the life and durability of high-traffic concrete walkways and flooring as well. While numerous factors, such as existing acid stain, dye or the quality and condition of the existing concrete, will influence the concrete’s final appearance, a premium concrete sealer must be applied to ensure the life and protection of your home’s concrete.
Benefits of using high-quality concrete sealer include:
- Protection from moisture, dirt, oil, chemicals, stains, etc.
- Protection against abrasion – car tires or foot traffic
- Protection from extreme weather – minimize freeze/thaw damage
- Color enhancement and finish for concrete acid stain and integral pigment
Other than choosing an appropriate Concrete Sealer to begin with, the application method is the most critical factor influencing the effectiveness and longevity of your concrete sealer. In general, Direct Colors recommends that you apply multiple thin coats of sealer in place of “one thick coat” to achieve the best look and performance. Poor application, or choosing the incorrect sealer, may result in botched results that negatively impact concrete color and durability.
To make the process of choosing the best concrete sealer easier, it is helpful to understand the basic components of each sealing option. Use this guide to evaluate Direct Colors formulated products only, and for optimal results, use these sealers after coloring concrete with Direct Colors concrete acid stain, pigment and dye.
WHAT DIFFERENT CONCRETE SEALERS ARE AVAILABLE?
In general, concrete sealers are defined by three determining factors:
- Resin Type: Polyurethane, Epoxy or Acrylic
- Liquid Base: Solvent-Based or Water-Based
- Solids Content: High-Gloss, Matte, Satin
WHEN TO USE A WATER-BASED CONCRETE SEALER?
While not interchangeable in every concrete stain application, water-based concrete sealer performs as well or better as a solvent-based sealer in basic sealing function of concrete. One of the most pronounced advantages of water-based concrete sealer is its low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) content, which means it doesn’t release harmful vapors into the air. As a result, water-based sealer falls within most current state environmental restrictions for use. This also makes them a friendly option for indoor stain projects.
Another commonly cited characteristic of water-based sealer is its ease of use. Due to the sealer’s liquid base, it can be easily applied with a pump sprayer. This application method results in a more even layer of sealer, while avoiding any opportunity for marking or bubbling.
When using a water-based sealer for plain concrete, the sealer will not darken the surface look of the concrete much. If a darker look is desired, we recommend applying our Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer.
Finally, because a water-based sealer is capable of greater penetration into concrete, they can be much more durable than a solvent-based sealer. This penetrating aspect also makes water-based sealer more difficult to remove—but hey, that’s the whole point, right?
WHEN TO USE A SOLVENT-BASED CONCRETE SEALER?
ACRYLIC CONCRETE SEALERS
- Thin film coating that dries quickly and is water/chlorine resistant (good for pools)
- Very breathable – acrylic sealers breathe allowing trapped moisture to escape
- Requires maintenance, can be waxed
- Lifetime 1-3 years
- Acrylic sealers are not as hard polyurethanes and scratch easier.
Solvent Based, High Gloss: acrylic xylene-based cure and seal product designed to provide a high gloss finish to exterior and interior concrete surfaces; fast drying
Solvent Based, Satin: Ideal for exterior use and well ventilated interior areas; On smooth concrete floors, add Anti-Slip Grit Additive to the second coat of sealer; Fast-drying
Water Based, High Gloss: ideal for interior concrete applications, particularly for concrete decor, confined spaces and areas with little ventilation to the outside; Best low odor, high gloss sealer option for indoor applications
Water Based, Satin: provide a satin finish to any exterior or interior concrete surface. As a low odor product, it is preferred for indoor floor applications, especially basements and occupied homes or businesses. One or two coats can be applied to indoor concrete floors depending on the desired gloss level.
**Acrylic Sealer Repair: Acrylic Concrete Sealer Repair will help to re-cast an existing acrylic sealer coating, correcting application imperfections, such as bubbles and over-applied thick coatings. Once corrected, the sealed decorative concrete floor should have a uniform appearance. Not for use on polyurethane sealed surfaces
PENETRATING CONCRETE SEALERS
Penetrating sealers are made of resins that literally penetrate the concrete forming a chemical barrier to water, oil and dirt.
Penetrating sealers are salt protectant, dust proofer that hardens, seals and protect concrete. This sealer’s matte finish which will not alter the color or look of the concrete floor.
Polyurethane sealer lays a thicker seal (almost double) than acrylic sealers. Although, polyurethanes sealers are more durable, keep in mind that resurfacing sealed floors will be high intensive as old polyurethane needs to be mechanically remove before reapplication.
Polyurethane concrete sealers are available in both solvent- and water-based formulations as well as gloss. The solvent based formulation is only available in gloss finish. The water-based formulation is available in satin and gloss finish.