The driveway is the first thing one notices about a house. If it’s your house you would want it to look simple yet stylish. Since the driveway sees a lot of traffic, it’s made of durable material such as concrete and asphalt, among others. While these materials can withstand a lot of wear and tear, they aren’t necessarily good to look at.
In addition, these materials deteriorate with exposure to natural elements such as rain, snow, UV rays, etc. over the years. This is the reason concrete driveway sealers are important. Just like you polish and maintain hardwood floor inside the house to ensure it lasts longer, driveways need to be sealed as well to increase its longevity.
Find out which is best for you in our full in-depth reviews below ...
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Concrete is by far the most common material used for making driveways. Concrete costs more than asphalt, but it makes up for the extra cost by being more durable. Asphalt requires a lot more maintenance than concrete, but it’s also easier to repair. The durability of concrete is further enhanced by applying a good quality sealer.
The best concrete driveway sealer protects concrete from damages caused by moisture as well as regular wear and tear, which ensures it doesn’t require much maintenance. A concrete driveway coated properly with a good quality sealer won’t require any more of your attention for up to 10 years.
This siloxane concrete sealant is the ideal sealant for driveways because it seeps deep into the concrete and lasts for much longer than acrylic concrete sealers. It can also be used on other concrete surfaces such as garage floors, brick patios, walkways, pool decks, etc. It costs more than acrylic and water-based sealants, but you will end up saving money in the long run as you won’t have to recoat the driveway every year or so.
This is a solvent-based silane and siloxane concrete sealer. It protects the driveway from moisture and at the same time doesn’t alter the appearance of the driveway in any way. Before applying this sealant you need to make sure that the driveway has thoroughly cleaned and all dust, dirt, and debris have been removed.
You also need to ensure that the driveway is completely dry as otherwise the sealant will trap the moisture inside and dark patches will start to appear on the driveway.
If you’re looking to give your driveway a wet look, then the AR350 is the right sealer for you. This too is a Foundation Armor product, so there’s no question about the quality of the sealer. If you want the extra glossy look, then the AR500 is a better option. You can add non-slip additives to ensure that the driveway isn’t slippery and if you do not want the wet look, then the matte packets can take care of that as well.
Note that you can apply this sealer on unsealed concrete surfaces as well as surfaces that were previously sealed using an acrylic sealer that’s solvent based. However, in such cases, you should test it on a small corner section first, before applying it to the entire driveway.
This is a commercial grade concrete sealer that can be used at home as well, but with care. It’s a water-based silicone sealer that’s penetrating and water repellent. It can be used on blocks and masonry pavers, besides concrete. Similar to other water repellent sealers, Aqua-X 11 creates a moisture barrier on the surface and at the same time ensures that the natural finish of concrete is retained. This will protect the concrete and last longer.
Selecting the right type of sealer is the most important decision while picking a sealant for the driveway. Each type of sealant offers its set of advantages and drawbacks. The best concrete driveway sealer for your driveway will depend on the material used to make the driveway, the weather at your location and any other specific requirements you may have.
Acrylic sealers or acrylic resin sealers cost less than the other types of sealers. These sealers are also versatile in nature as these can be combined with other sealers to enhance the overall quality of the sealing. However, this doesn’t mean that acrylic sealers are the best sealers for concrete driveways.
Firstly, acrylic sealers have a tendency of turning yellow as it’s exposed to sunlight for a period of time. This is bound to happen unless you live in a place that sees very little sunlight through the year, which is unlikely. The yellowing of the driveway will spoil the look and you will be forced to remove the sealer and apply a new coating. Virgin acrylic sealers are less likely to turn yellow, but there’s a risk nonetheless.
In case you do decide to go for an acrylic sealer and want a glossy finish, then opt for a solvent-based acrylic sealer instead of a water-based sealer. The level of gloss or shine offered by water-based acrylic sealers is lower than the solvent-based ones. Plus, it requires recoating more often than solvent-based ones. Of course, if you want to retain the natural finish of concrete, then a water-based sealer will do just fine, though you will have to reapply it every year or so.
The one issue with solvent-based sealers is that these tend to contain a higher count of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in it and tend to have an unpleasant odor. So, you need to be careful while applying it and take the necessary precautions.
Polyurethane or epoxy sealers are probably at the bottom of the preference list as far as the best concrete driveway sealant is concerned. These sealers cost a lot more than acrylic sealers but do not deliver the same upgrade in performance or durability. One issue with epoxy sealers is that these tend to be quite slippery, which isn’t ideal for driveways.
At times during the year, driveways will be covered by rainwater or snow, there will also be spots covered with grease spillage from the car, which in any case will make the driveway slippery. If the driveway sealant is slippery too it can potentially cause a lot of problems. While this isn’t a dealbreaker, as would be the case for patios, it’s an important factor to take into consideration.
What does make epoxy sealers a poor choice for driveways is that it doesn’t allow the driveway material to breathe or release moisture. Over time, this will result in patches forming all over the driveway and damaging it.
Penetrating sealers are the best sealers for concrete driveways driveway. Both acrylic sealers and epoxy sealers form a layer on top of the driveway surface, whereas penetrating sealers seep into the surface of the driveway. This ensures that the driveway surface can breathe and prevents it from becoming slippery. At the same time, it protects the driveway surface from rain, snow, UV rays, freeze and thaw cycles, de-icing damage, etc.
Penetrating sealers provide a clear finish, which means that it retains the natural finish of the driveway surface or that it doesn’t alter the appearance of the driveway in any way. Penetrating sealers can be expensive, but these sealers last longer as well. In fact, a high-quality penetrating sealer will protect your driveway for up to 10 years without the need for a recoat and you end up saving a fair bit of money.
Silane and siloxane penetrating sealers are the best within this category. These are comparatively less volatile and provide a greater degree of protection against moisture. It creates a barrier over the driveway surface and water or any other form of liquid beads on the surface.
You will be applying a sealer on the driveway to protect it from damage and lower your maintenance responsibilities. However, that doesn’t mean that the driveway should look drab or dull. We meticulously design every part of the house, then why neglect the driveway completely. Injecting a little bit of personality into it will do no harm.
You can choose from low gloss, high gloss, semi-gloss, satin gloss, and matte, besides opting to retain the natural finish of the driveway surface with a clear sealer. The level of gloss is denoted on a scale of 1 to 100, which is typically mentioned on the container. Here, 1 denotes the least gloss and 100, the highest gloss. You also get zero gloss sealers.
Solvent-based sealers typically have the highest level of gloss at 80 to 100. However, applying a solvent-based sealer will darken the driveway surface by a shade or two. This is commonly referred to as the wet look. Water-based sealers provide mid-level gloss or semi to low gloss. The gloss level will typically fall between 50 and 80. Depending on the gloss level, the end result will be between mildly glossy and matte. One point worth mentioning is that dust might stick to a matte finish surface more than a glossy surface. Penetrating sealers, as mentioned earlier, offer a clear finish or natural finish.
It needs to be mentioned here that the core objective of applying a sealer is to protect the driveway, so do not compromise on that in order to make the driveway look more appealing. First, decide the ideal sealer from the protection point of view and then look for the superficial element.
A lot of people who have added etchings and patterns on the driveway surface mistakenly think that fancy sealers might spoil the look. However, if you select the right sealer you can enhance these etchings and patterns. Also, if you’re planning to reseal an old driveway that has started fading a bit or has become dull, a wet look sealer can make it appear brand new.
The two Foundation Armor sealers, SX5000 and AR350, are both excellent for driveways. The hydrophobic barrier created by SX5000 is effective. It will protect the driveway from moisture as well as its byproducts such as mold, mildew, and fungus. It also lasts a long time. If applied properly, i.e., as per the instructions provided by the company, it can last up to 10 years, which dramatically lowers maintenance cost as well as your responsibilities. In addition, it provides a natural finish.
If, however, you're looking for a glossy finish, then the AR350 is not a bad choice. It provides a low-gloss finish but doesn't make the surface slippery. It also offers a high level of protection to the surface. Both these sealers also provide a decent level of coverage.
The ToughCrete sealer is not a bad option in terms of quality, but in terms of coverage it's a bit lower than that offered by the Foundation Armor sealers and it costs a lot more than the Foundation Armor sealers. It lasts up to 10 years as well if applied properly. Whereas, the Black Diamond sealer offers excellent coverage, which is more than what Foundation Armor offers and is priced lower as well. The price difference between Foundation Armor and Black Diamond is about $40. If that doesn't make a major difference for you, then go for the Foundation Armor sealers.
If you're planning to do it yourself and this is the first time you're embarking on such a project, then the Liquid Rubber sealer might be the safest option. It's water based, so there are no VOCs or unpleasant odors. It's really easy to apply. But the coverage is really low and for effective protection against moisture, you need to apply multiple coats. While it does cost a little less than the Foundation Armor sealers, the low coverage means that the effective price is more.