Monday, September 14, 2015

Sealing Concrete

Concrete sealers. There are many and they are just as diverse as the surfaces they protect. So how do we pick the right one for our surface?  
Many manufactures have tried to make the super sealer that can cover everything. This concept is obviously attractive to the installer and home owner alike as it just keeps everything simple. But is that the best approach? And is the seal good enough for "every" surface or even most surfaces? Let's take a closer look at sealers, specifically the ones for concrete or exposed aggregate for now. I will go into other hard surface sealers in another blog post later on,.
First some background- with chemistry as hobby and 25 years in industrial chemical sales, it's safe to say that I have seen a few revolutionary products as well as complete disasters. Also , working with large general contractors that are eager to test products over the years has afforded me some grey hairs that remember what works and what failed over time. Sealers are one of the items that fall into that category. One of my first experiences was watching the de lamination of sealer on concrete that hadn't cured long enough to accept it.
That took a lot of sorting out as the manufacture gave some wrong information on its use as well as installer error and other various conditions causing multiple faults and failures.
But let's not get overly concerned about  failure of multi million dollar construction projects. Let's look at the simple home owner driveways, walkways, patios  and entry ways etc...
To make it simple I will skip over all the box store sealers that are made for home owners. Most contractors that do any amount of sealing most likely won't use them. The two basic types are silca and acrylic or water based and solvent based. The water based types are utilized indoor more often as the solvents are toxic with fumes that are also flammable and shouldn't be used in enclosed areas with spark or ignition sources. That said, they both have about the same longevity from my experience, and needs to be re applied after a couple years to maintain the look that is desired.
We have found that some people have applied these topical sealers made for concrete on their indoor natural stone floors even.. It would not be my first suggestion for sure as the stone sealers are usually a penetrating type over the topical types on concrete.
I will cover stone sealer at a later time and some of the potential issues with those...