To Seal or Not to Seal Concrete

Not sure if you should use a sealer on your new concrete patio, driveway, or walkway? While it might be tempting to skip one more step, we highly recommend that you seal your concrete project! Whether it’s to enhance colors or to repel stains, sealers are a vital step in most concrete jobs.

Concrete Sealers are a must!

While sealers are usually the last step of your decorative concrete project installation, you should re-seal your concrete every 2 years (and even more frequently if your concrete is exposed to extreme weather conditions). Sealing concrete helps to maintain and enrich the color of concrete, whether the color is integral, a stain, a dye, or from color hardener. Sealers can add sheen to the concrete, such as a high gloss, or no sheen at all, like a matte. Concrete sealers block the penetration of dirt, oil, grease, and chemicals while making the surface much easier to clean. Concrete sealers also help to prevent wear and tear from high foot and auto traffic areas.

What type of sealer do you need?

You should first take into account your state’s requirements on volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sealers with higher VOC levels may not be legal in your state. 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 performance and water resistance. Acrylic sealers are available in many forms with some performing far superior to others. A less expensive, lower performing sealer, such as one composed of styrene-acrylic, 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.

Follow the concrete sealer instructions!

We highly recommend you stick to manufacturer recommendations for allowing concrete to cure fully before applying a sealer and for the appropriate surface preparation. Pay attention to the temperature and weather forecasts as well, because applying while too hot or too cold or being surprised by a rain shower can cause issues. 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 at Calico Construction Products. Read them fully before applying the sealer and call us at 800-221-9469 or send an email if you have any questions.

Sealers protect concrete, too

It’s important to select a sealer that will protect your decorative concrete from foot traffic and weather. Keep these tips in mind:

  • If you are sealing a driveway or garage that will be subjected to grease and oil, you’ll need a product that specifically repels these stains while resisting water intrusion and abrasions.
  • The sealer primarily recommended 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 can add extra protection to your sealed concrete 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.

Don’t slip

If you are nervous about slick concrete there are many products available to decrease the slickness of the surface. 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. Proline’s Dura Grip also provides slip resistance. This non-abrasive micronized polymer can be easily mixed into most sealers without affecting viscosity. It’s a great way to add slip resistance to a high-traffic decorative concrete project, such as patios and walkways.

One place for all your concrete needs

Calico Construction Products is your source for the best in concrete sealers, as well as Proline concrete stamps, tints, accessories, and more. To find out more about the sealers we offer, please read our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us at 800-221-9469. We’re here to answer all your questions and help you find the right product for the job!

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