To Seal or Not to Seal
Any surface can become slick when exposed to water or ice. To avoid slippery concrete, it’s essential that you apply a sealant. You should plan to seal your concrete every 2 years, and more frequently if the 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 or 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.
So 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 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 any manufacturer’s recommendations for allowing the concrete to cure fully before applying the sealer. 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 with any questions.
It’s important to 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 product that specifically repels these stain while resisting 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. 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.
To find out more about the sealers we offer, please read our Frequently Asked Questions.