To Seal or Not to Seal

June 19, 2014

Slipping on Sealer can be Avoided with Non-Slip Additives

Any surface can become slick when exposed to water or ice, not just concrete. However, if you want to maintain the color of your concrete, and all of the other benefits of sealed concrete, you need to seal it. You should plan to seal your concrete every 2 years (sooner if concrete is exposed to extreme weather conditions.) Sealing concrete enriches the color intensity whether the color is integral, a stain or dye, or from color hardener. Sealers can add sheen to the concrete such as a high gloss or no sheen like a matte. Concrete sealers block the penetration of dirt, oil, grease and chemicals and make the concrete surface much easier to clean. Concrete sealers also help to prevent wear and tear from high foot and auto traffic areas.

So what type of sealer do you need? The price of sealers can differ a great deal. Is the more expensive sealer the best option? Does your state even allow you to use the pricier sealer? The first thing you need to know when selecting a sealer is what is your state’s VOC (volatile organic compounds) requirement? If you are unsure, check with your state’s EPA office. Many sealers with a higher VOC are not legal in all of the states. For example, Californians are only permitted to use sealers with a VOC no higher than 100.

The most common concrete sealers are acrylic-resin based sealers. Acrylic sealers are cost effective and often blended with epoxies, polyurethanes or silicones to improve the performance and water resistance. Acrylic sealers are available in many forms with some performing far superior to others. A less expensive sealer such as a styrene acrylic is a lower performing sealer that may yellow and degrade when exposed to sunlight or extreme weather conditions. The best type of sealer is a pure acrylic resin sealer that will last longer with no yellowing.

There are other types of sealers such as polyurethanes, epoxies and penetrating resins. In general, the epoxy or polyurethane sealers cost more than acrylics and tend to be more slippery. They also may not allow for moisture vapor to move out of the concrete if applied incorrectly. If the sealer doesn’t allow for moisture vapor and air to move in and out, a white hazing or fogging can occur. This can be prevented by avoiding moisture in the sealing process. Strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations for allowing the concrete to cure fully before applying the sealer if required. Also, be sure to apply the sealer to the appropriate thickness required for the sealer. Applying a sealer too thickly will prevent the water moisture from passing through the sealer and result in a foggy appearance. MSDS and product information sheets are available for all of the sealers we sell. Read them fully before applying the sealer and call or email with any questions.

It’s important to always select a sealer that will protect your decorative concrete from foot traffic and weather. If you are sealing a driveway or garage that will be subjected to grease and oil, you’ll need a sealer that specifically repels these stains, resists water intrusion and abrasions. Primarily, the sealer used for exterior concrete flatwork is a solvent based or water based acrylic. For interior concrete work, a sealer with good resistance to scuffs and stains such as polyurethane or epoxy would be best and easiest to maintain. A good concrete surface protector such as Calico Top Finish would also help to protect your already sealed surface. Acrylic sealers are often used on exterior concrete surfaces because they breathe well and provide good water resistance. Epoxies are excellent for water repellence and oil and grease spills, but must be applied correctly to prevent the restricted release of moisture vapor.

If you are nervous about slick concrete there are many products available to decrease the slickness of the surface. We offer several products including Calico Aluma Grip and Calico Grip. Calico Aluma Grip comes in coarse or regular and provides slip resistance. It’s typically tossed in the air and broadcast on the surface of still wet coatings. It’s excellent around pools or food preparation areas and recommended for use with Calico’s solvent based Acrylic and Acrylic Urethane 2C sealers. Calico Grip also provides slip resistance. It stirs into most oil-based and water-based coatings and sealers. It’s also excellent around pools or food preparation areas where cleaning is often necessary or any surfaces needing additional slip resistance. (Do not use Calico Grip in repellents, silicones or wax coatings.) Both Calico Aluma Grip and Calico Grip are easier to clean than sand textured surfaces and easy on bare feet.

To find out more on the sealers we offer, please read the Frequently Asked Questions article under sealers for specific details on each sealer we carry. The link is