Concrete is a porous material that easily absorbs fluids: in freeze-thaw climates, frozen liquids expansion can destroy a concrete surface that is not sealed. Besides, salt, fertilizer, oil and other household chemicals can as well damage and discolor unsealed concrete. Regardless of whether you have a nice-laid concrete patio or decorative concrete pavement, you will want to make sure that you do everything possible to make it attractive as well as durable for a long time. Using a concrete sealant can help protect concrete by providing additional benefits.
There are various types of sealers but here are the main ones: integral, penetrating and decorative sealers.
- Integral sealants are added to the concrete mix before leaving the plant hence the sealing starts immediately after construction.
- Penetrating sealers penetrates the concrete and create a chemical barrier which protects against moisture, water, and deicing salts. They leave a natural finish without changing the appearance of the surface, and most products are breathable, allowing the escape of vapors. They are commonly used in outdoor applications to protect against harsh elements. They have a long lifespan and usually needs reapplication after 5 plus years of service.
- Decorative sealers are typical of acrylic chemistry which is available in both solvent-based and water-based formulations. They usually leave a satin or shiny finish that changes the look, feel and texture of your concrete. Decorative sealers are excellent for enhancing colors and giving the concrete a desirable look. Generally, they wear faster than penetrating sealers and hence requires to be applied again much sooner like after a year when exposed to water or deicing salts.
How to Seal Concrete
- Start by carefully reviewing the sealer instructions as you gather all the required supplies and necessary safety equipment like goggles/glasses, gloves and respirators if applicable.
- Consider using an industrial hot-water pressure washer and power-wash the concrete surface to completely remove any stains, grease, grime, dirt, and debris. Besides, the steam helps to open the surface pores ensuring a strong bond between the sealer and the surface. You can use biodegradable detergents and degreasers if necessary to get rid of heavy stains, oil or efflorescence.
- For a solvent based concrete sealer wait until the surface completely dry before application. Some water-based sealers can be applied to damp concrete.
- Mask off any nearby structures or surfaces that you want to avoid sealing.
- By following the manufacturer’s instructions, carefully and evenly apply the sealer using a pump sprayer or a short-nap roller. Ensure every part gets enough seal depending on the concrete porosity.
- Typically, the sealer will be dry to touch within an hour for foot traffic or second application if necessary. Freshly sealed surfaces should be protected from heavy traffic and any kind of moisture for about 30 to 48 hours while it cures.
- Clean all the equipment and materials used immediately upon completion. Water can be effective to clean water-based sealers while Xylene or manufacturer’s recommended cleaners for solvent-based sealers.
- Follow proper care and maintenance directions for the sealed surface like using regulated pressure when cleaning the concrete. Besides, simple cleaning with water and soap or detergent is highly recommended if you want the concrete to last for a long time. Depending on the severity of weather conditions or amount of traffic, sealer reapplication may be needed every 3-6 years.
What are the benefits of sealing concrete
Consider using durable concrete sealers if you want a long-serving concrete. Durable sealers form a firm protective layer on the concrete surface, creating a hard, long-lasting abrasion and chemical resistance. Most durable sealers are available in different colors and leave a gloss. No matter what concrete sealant type you choose, you can greatly enjoy the following benefits.
1. They inhibit mold
The concrete is porous meaning that it absorbs water or moisture. If this moisture does not dry out, it will lead to the formation of mold. Mold and mildew might mostly forms on concrete that stays wet for a long time. It may cause the appearance of green discolorations on the concrete surface. When you perform sealing on your concrete, you inhibit the growth of mold. This will help to protect the concrete and makes it look better for a long time.
2. Extends the concrete life
The average concrete surface can last for about 25 to 30 years, but if it suffers from cracks or discoloration, you will be forced to replace it earlier than planned. Sealing can increase the durability of concrete: sealing increases the likelihood that your concrete will survive these 25-30 years or even more.
3. Increases concrete durability
When your exterior concrete is exposed to harsh elements, scaling, cracking and other common problems may occur. However, by applying a seal, the durability of the concrete increases, which even prevents potential damages from occurring. If you want to be sure that the concrete looks great, attractive and works properly, sealing is a reasonable choice.
4. Sealing offers protection
There are several things that can cause damage to your concrete, so it’s essential to protect it. The sealant can protect the concrete against oil leaks, grime, and other stains as well as harmful UV rays of the sun. Besides, the sealant blocks moisture hence keeping it safe from freezing and thawing.
5. Sealers improve the concrete color
Concrete discoloration occurs when it’s exposed to harsh elements. Over time, this makes your concrete look old or dingy. The integral and topical sealants can preserve the intact color of the concrete by offering protection against the harsh elements as well as keeping it clean and sharp for a long time.
6. Sealing adds value to your property
When it comes to renting, selling or buying a house, flooring is one of the most important aspects considered. Applying sealant on your concrete will make it look new again hence raising the value of your property especially to concrete that looks old or has been used for a long time without being sealed.
Remember that the type of sealer you apply determines the time of reapplication. For instance, topical and integral sealers last longer than decorative sealers hence its reapplication will come sooner. Consider sealing your concrete today for it to serve you for many years.