Concrete is a very versatile material that is used commonly in construction worldwide. Not only is concrete quite inexpensive but also it is very sturdy and strong. While concrete sealers have been used for both outdoor uses and for garages in homes for several years, recently, the use of concrete sealer has become quite popular for floors and other interior concrete areas in homes too.
Best Penetrating Concrete Sealer
Best Wet Look Concrete Sealer
Concrete is very porous and requires maintenance over time, it tends to suck up water, liquids, or any other material it comes into contact with. The exposure to water, ultra violet rays, chemicals, and wear and tear can damage the concrete and the presence of water can also cause the growth of mold and mildew that can damage the structural integrity of your home in the long run. This is why it is extremely important to seal concrete.
You can preserve the new concrete in your home by using the high quality sealant. In this guide, we deep dive into the types of concrete sealers and their functions to help you choose the right concrete sealer for your project.
Table of Contents
- Our Reviews of Concrete Sealers
- Other Popular Types of Concrete Sealers to Consider
- What is a Concrete Sealer and Why is it Important?
- Concrete Sealant Types and Their Uses
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our Reviews of Concrete Sealers
Concrete is porous and vulnerable to water, UV rays from the sun, chemicals, salt, mold and mildew growth, and general wear and tear and all of these can damage its surface. Over time, the onslaught of all these elements can cause the concrete to crack. The best way to protect concrete driveways, floors, pavers, walkways, countertops, and other concrete surfaces in your home is by using a high quality sealer.
Applying a high-quality concrete sealer can help create a protective shield that offers excellent protection for the various concrete surfaces in your home and also prolong the life of the concrete by covering the cracks; preventing damage caused by de-icing salts in the winter; preventing water seepage through the basement, walls, and foundation; preventing the concrete from pitting and spalling; and improving the appearance of the concrete surface by adding shine.
Other Concrete Sealer Types to Consider
Type / Use
Best for: Garage & other high traffic floors, enhancing stamped & colored concrete
Best for: Exterior concrete, interiors floors, projects needing a fast drying solution
Best for: Countertops & food preparation areas, high traffic floors, cement overlays
Best for: Decorative concrete, indoor floors, outdoor concrete surfaces
Best for: Concrete driveways, footpaths, concrete pool surroundings
There are so many types and brands of concrete sealers on the market that choosing the right one can be quite confusing. The best choice for a concrete sealer depends on various factors such as the type of concrete surface you are sealing, the type of concrete sealing job, and whether you are sealing interior or exterior concrete.
In this article, we will be discussing some of the best concrete sealers that are perfectly matched for the project your working on. Continue reading our product reviews below, or click here to skip down to the section where we explain what type of sealer is best for use for which application.
Best Penetrating Concrete Sealers
Foundation Armor SX5000 Penetrating Concrete & Masonry Sealer
Foundation Armor SX5000 solvent-based concrete sealer is made of silane/siloxane and is a high solid formulation. This concrete sealer creates an invisible barrier that repels water and the clear sealer is approved by the DOT (Department of Transportation). This concrete sealer penetrates quite deeply into the concrete surface and the bond it forms with the surface is quite strong, which makes it durable and long-lasting and reduces the damaging effects of water, UV rays, and dirt.
Armor SX5000 sealer has low VOC and this solvent-based concrete sealer causes water and other liquids to bead instantly when it comes into contact with the surface. This sealer allows the concrete to breathe and allows any trapped moisture to escape. The Armor SX5000 sealer does not make the surfaces very slippery.
Armor SX5000 concrete sealer reduces the absorption of water by around 95% and offers strong alkali resistance and superior efflorescence protection which helps to resist concrete dusting, mildew, mold and fungus, efflorescence, pitting, spalling, cracking, and damage occurring from freeze and thaw cycles, and de-icing salts.
This concrete sealer can be applied to unsealed concrete, brick, and pavers; does not change the appearance of your concrete; and lasts for up to 10 years. Five gallons of Armor SX5000 sealer will cover around 500 sq. ft. with two coats. All in all, if you are looking for a high-quality product that provides industrial-grade protection, then the Armor SX5000 sealer is a great product all round.
ToughCrete Concrete Sealer
If you are looking for a penetrating concrete sealer that protects the surface of the concrete as well as under the surface, then ToughCrete’s Concrete Sealer is an excellent option that offers long-lasting protection. This concrete sealer from ToughCrete penetrates deep into the surface of the concrete and provides protection from damage and deterioration caused by water and salt for up to 10 years.
This siloxane based concrete sealer offers excellent protection for all concrete surfaces including your patio, driveway, sidewalk, and garage floor. You can also use this sealer for other outdoor concrete structures such as outdoor fireplaces, chimneys, bricks, cinder blocks, blocks, CMUs, and pavers.
Not only does ToughCrete Concrete Sealer protect all the concrete surfaces in your home but also it helps in enhancing the value of your home. This sealer is safe to use and eco-friendly and has been approved by the DOT (Department of Transportation).
Best Wet Look Concrete Sealers
Foundation Armor AR350 Wet Look Concrete Sealer
If you want the concrete surfaces in your home to have a wet and fresh look, then the Foundation Armor AR350 solvent-based sealer is a good option. Applying this concrete sealer instantly renews faded and dull concrete surfaces. You can use this solvent-based acrylic sealer for both interior and exterior concrete surfaces, aggregate concrete, natural stone, bricks, and pavers.
Foundation Armor AR350 sealer is a great choice for warehouse and garage floors and also for patios, pool decks, driveways, etc. You can either go in for the traditional clear sealer or choose from a range of color choices, including the non-slip and matte options. The application of this concrete sealer is very easy—you can use a pump sprayer or roller.
The coating produced by this concrete sealer is low gloss, which is resistant to UV damage, water, salt, heat/cold, mold, mildew, efflorescence, and hot tire pickup and helps to reduce surface abrasion and deterioration and also protects the concrete surface from chemicals and enhances the color of the stone.
Foundation Armor AR350 sealer can be applied to unsealed concrete surfaces or surfaces which have been sealed earlier using a solvent-based concrete sealer. This concrete sealer is very easy to apply and is self-priming, non-yellowing, and does not need a lot of maintenance. This breathable concrete sealer has excellent bonding properties and lasts for 1 to 3 years on exterior surfaces and around 3 to 7 years on interior surfaces.
You can seal around 1000 sq. ft. with a single coat of 5 gallons of Foundation Armor AR350 sealer or 500 sq. ft. with two coats—this depends on the porosity of the concrete and the application method being used. This concrete sealer is stain-, water-, chemical-, and salt damage-resistant and you can use it on poured concrete, stamped concrete, traditional pavers, and integrally colored and acid stained concrete.
Black Diamond Stoneworks Wet Look Stone Sealer
The Black Diamond Stoneworks sealer has been designed, used, and tested by professionals and offers your concrete or stone surfaces with an attractive, effective, and long-lasting gloss finish. You can use this concrete sealer for both interior and exterior surfaces and it offers extra protection and resistance to water, UV ray damage, general wear, and harsh chemicals.
So, if you are looking for a sealer that will protect your concrete driveways, patios, pavers, garage floors, masonry brick and stamped, exposed aggregate, colored, or decorative surfaces, the Black Diamond Stoneworks sealer provides excellent protection, shine, and gloss without turning yellow. This concrete sealer is clear and will not darken the surface. This concrete sealer is easy to use and can be applied quickly with a sprayer, roller, or paintbrush and it is easy to clean too.
One gallon of the product will cover around 600 sq. ft. When applied, the Black Diamond Stoneworks sealer is white, which is extremely useful because it allows you to see where you have applied the sealer already and also ensures that it is spread evenly. After around 20 to 30 minutes, the whiteness fades and it dries clear. The sealer creates a shiny surface and also helps the natural colors of the stone to be enhanced and pop.
Other Popular Types of Concrete Sealers to Consider
While penetrating and wet-look sealers are usually the most sought after concrete sealers, you may be looking for concrete sealers for a specific type of surface or for a specific purpose. So, if you are on the lookout for the best acrylic concrete sealer or a urethane concrete sealer etc., then here is our review on the best concrete sealers in specific categories:
Best Polyurethane Concrete Sealer
Rain Guard CLEAR-SEAL Acrylic Urethane Low-Gloss Sealer
The Acrylic/Urethane Low-Gloss Sealer from Rain Guard is among the best concrete sealers for high-traffic areas. The sealer is a blend of acrylic and polyurethane (or urethane for short) and offers a coating that is both powerful and durable. This concrete sealer can protect your sidewalk, driveway, or other concrete surfaces from the elements. This sealer can be used on its own or you can use it as a protective topcoat over a painted surface.
The non-yellowing formula of this concrete sealer prevents damage caused by water, UV rays, chemicals, and salt and also helps to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. This Rain Guard sealer also helps in resisting hot tire pickup and is suitable for application in commercial, residential, automotive, and warehouse uses. This concrete sealer offers protection from stains, UV rays, and wear due to vehicular and foot traffic.
Rain Guard's CLEAR-SEAL sealer is very easy to apply with a brush, spray, or roller and can be used for indoor or outdoor and vertical or horizontal concrete, stone, wood, or masonry surfaces. The sealer is non-toxic, has a low VOC, and is very safe to use. The sealer offers coverage of between 200 and 500 sq. ft. per gallon; however, this depends on the porosity of the surface.
Best Acrylic Concrete Sealer
Foundation Armor AR500 High Gloss Acrylic Concrete Sealer
If you are looking for a high-quality acrylic concrete sealer, then the Armor AR500 is the best concrete sealer in this category. This concrete sealer seals the concrete surface well and safeguards against the weather and external elements. The strong formula of this concrete sealer does not stick to the surface; rather, it penetrates the surface deeply through the pores and bonds chemically to it.
The formula of Armor’s AR500 sealer is non-yellowing and long-lasting. It produces a breathable finish that restores dull and faded surfaces, giving them a high-gloss finish and making them look fresh and new. This concrete sealer is very easy to apply and you can use a roller or a sprayer for the application. The Armor AR500 sealer consists of top-quality resins and has a non-toxic formula making the sealer very safe to use.
You can use Armor AR500 sealer on all interior and exterior surfaces and the multipurpose sealer can be used for your garage floors, sidewalks, patios, pool decks, basement floors, etc. This concrete sealer is durable and offers around 2 to 5 years lifespan on a 2-coat application before you need to reapply the sealer. Around 5 gallons of the product covers up to 500 sq. ft. with two coats; however, the coverage depends on your method of application and the porosity of the concrete surface.
Armor AR500 sealer can be used on stamped concrete, poured concrete, aggregate, concrete pavers, etc. and it can also be used on unsealed concrete surfaces or surfaces that have been sealed using a solvent-based acrylic sealer previously. So, if you are looking for a professional-grade sealer to seal your concrete structures, the Armor AR500 is a great choice that delivers robust protection against UV rays, cold and hot temperature, abrasion, and hot tire pickup.
Best Epoxy Concrete Sealer/Coating
Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield Professional Floor Coating Kit
If you are looking for the best epoxy concrete sealer/coating for the money, then the Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield probably the perfect one for you. Designed for use on garage floors, the garage floor coating contains a high-solid epoxy resin which offers excellent durability and gloss to the concrete surface.
The coating is not water-based and so, you can use it as a waterproofing agent; however, before using the coating, you should ensure that the floor is completely dry. Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield coating is completely resistant to contaminating and organic corrosive materials such as oil, gas, grease, water, and other chemicals, which are ever present in garages and if you do not have a strong and durable coating on the concrete floor, it will turn dark quickly.
Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield not only helps to resist these materials but also enhances the shine of the surface and keeps it that way for a long time. You can get coverage of around 200 sq. ft. at a very affordable price. The coating dries and hardens very quickly and within just 1 day, you can walk on the surface and in just 4 days, it is traffic-ready.
The epoxy coating has excellent adhesion power, which makes it resistant to peeling and scratching and its high-temperature resistance allows you to park your car with a hot tire after a long drive without any problems. So, overall, Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield is very durable and offers excellent resistance against contaminants and corrosion, making it among the best concrete floor epoxy coatings.
Best Water-Based Concrete Sealer
Foundation Armor SX5000WB Water-Based Concrete Sealer
Foundation Armor SX5000WB is a silane-siloxane water-based concrete sealer that penetrates the surface deeply. This concrete sealer forms a chemical barrier that is water repellent in nature and also reduces the amount of water absorbed by the concrete surface. Upon application, Foundation Armor SX5000WB sealer does not change the appearance or color of the concrete surface, nor does it leave a film on the surface.
Foundation Armor SX5000WB sealer prevents any damage to the surface caused by salt, efflorescence, mold and mildew, cracking, spalling, and pitting. This concrete sealer is suitable for application to different types of interior as well as exterior surfaces such as concrete, natural stone, brick, pavers, and aggregate and is a great solution for patios, pool decks, garage floors, basement walls, and driveways.
The Foundation Armor SX5000WB sealer offers easy application with a pump sprayer or roller and the coverage depends on the applicator and the porosity of the surface. This concrete sealer contains around five times more active ingredients compared to other products and helps to reduce damage and deterioration caused by cracking, staining, spalling, and pitting. It also reduces concrete dusting that is caused by the movement of water and moisture through the pores of the concrete and surface abrasion.
Foundation Armor’s SX5000WB sealer offers a natural unsealed look to the concrete surface and the product is breathable and provides 10 years of lasting performance. This sealer has a low VOC and is approved by the DOT. Not only has the Armor SX5000WB sealer been approved by the DOT but also it has been used by the department in many states to protect roads and bridges against staining, mold and mildew growth, and freeze-thaw cycles.
Best Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer
EnduraSeal Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer
Made of 100% acrylic, the EnduraSeal Concrete Sealer is a high-quality solvent-based concrete sealer. This concrete sealer produces a semi-gloss finish for a wet look and is suitable for any kind of concrete and can protect colored, stained, exposed, or stamped concrete; stained pavers; stones; and terrazzo. The non-yellowing sealer is highly durable and not only works well as a sealer but also enhances the look of the concrete surface.
Upon application, this concrete sealer penetrates deep into the surface and when it dries, it produces a semi-gloss finish. When you apply the EnduraSeal Concrete Sealer, not only does it seal the pavers but also it stabilizes the paver joints. The EnduraSeal Concrete Sealer must be applied in thin coats and you must wait for at least 48 hours before you can step on the surface safely.
The sealer darkens the surface slightly; however, you get a smooth, polished feel. After sealing the concrete with EnduraSeal Concrete Sealer, you can wipe off the grease, oil, de-icing salts, etc. easily just by using soap and water. Five gallons of this concrete sealer covers around 150 to 300 sq. ft. depending on the porosity of the surface. Overall, EnduraSeal Concrete Sealer is an extremely durable product, which is much more affordable compared to urethane and epoxy sealers.
What is a Concrete Sealer and Why is it Important?
Concrete is easily damaged—water penetrates into the pores of the concrete, taking along with it, dirt and other debris. This not only makes it difficult to clean the concrete surface but also reduces the life of the concrete, which is why concrete sealing and choosing the right type of sealer is very important.
To preserve your concrete surfaces, it is recommended that you use a concrete sealer. Concrete sealants applied to the concrete surface help to protect it from staining, surface damage, and corrosion.
So, what is a concrete sealer? Concrete sealers are chemical compounds that offer an additional layer of protection for concrete surfaces and other structures by either forming an impenetrable layer that prevents water and salts from passing through the concrete or by blocking the pores in the concrete surface, thereby reducing the absorption of these materials.
Sealing concrete has several advantages. It helps to protect the concrete from staining, oil spills, and harmful UV rays of the sun. The sealer helps to lock out moisture and prevent any moisture damage, which in turn will help to make the material stronger and more durable. Concrete sealers can help increase the longevity of the concrete and also preserve the color and shine of the concrete.
Most importantly, using a concrete sealer helps to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. In short, sealing concrete can help in many things such as protecting the concrete from stains, cracks, weather damage, and de-icing salts.
There are essentially two categories of concrete sealers: penetrating or reactive sealers and topical sealers or coatings.
Penetrating Concrete Sealer
This type of concrete sealer penetrates the concrete or masonry surface by entering via the capillaries and voids and soaks under the surface and reacts with it chemically. It creates a new chemical solid that forms a breathable barrier over or below the concrete surface, which gets sealed but does not coat the surface top and this barrier prevents the dampness from penetrating the surface.
Penetrating sealers generally do not change the texture or appearance of the surface and provide a natural look. They offer a distinctive, clear matte finish and after the sealer dries, you will not even notice any difference. Penetrating sealers are commonly used on outdoor surfaces to safeguard against staining and harsh weather conditions and work well to protect pool surroundings, patios, decks, and other outdoor entertaining areas as well as interior concrete surfaces. Most penetrating sealers are breathable, permeable, and let the moisture escape.
Since most of the penetrating concrete sealers adhere to the concrete surface permanently, they last as long as the surface lasts or until the surface’s top to the concrete sealer’s depth lasts. You can apply penetrating concrete sealers to either dry surfaces or wet ones; however, you must match the porosity of the surface properly so that the concrete sealant penetrates the surface and reacts effectively. Usually, penetrating concrete sealers last for around 5 years or more. If you need to apply a second coating, you can apply it without removing the first coat.
Finally, penetrating concrete sealers come in two kinds: water- and solvent-based sealers. The solvent-based varieties have higher VOC (volatile organic compounds) and also have more sheen compared to water-based sealers. There are four types of penetrating concrete sealers: silane sealers, siloxane sealers, silicate sealers, and siliconate sealers. Let us take a quick look at each one of them:
Silane and Siloxane Sealers
Silane and siloxane concrete sealers work differently compared to the other penetrating sealers. The molecules penetrate the concrete; however, they do not densify the concrete by reacting with it chemically. Instead, silane and siloxane molecules work in the concrete surface and create a hydrophobic barrier, which repels water and moisture.
The silane molecules complement the barrier and reinforce it, making it stronger; at the same time, the siloxane molecules remain on the concrete’s surface and provide strength. Both these sealers are ideal for concrete surfaces like concrete block, cinder blocks, bricks, and materials that are more porous or where you cannot use silicate concrete sealers.
Silane Concrete Sealer
Silane sealers are perfect for high PSI or dense concrete surfaces since they comprise of very small molecules, which can penetrate smaller pores and these can penetrate much deeper as compared to a concrete sealer with larger molecules. Silane concrete sealers can repel both water and oil very well.
However, the drawback of silane sealers is that they cause the darkening of the concrete surface and they bond with any oils present in the concrete and cause staining. So, it is very important that the concrete surface must be thoroughly cleaned before using a silane sealer.
Siloxane Concrete Sealer
These are essentially derivatives of silane and have larger-sized molecules compared to silanes. And so, their penetration is shallower. However, siloxane concrete sealers have great topical advantages and are suitable for porous materials because of their large-sized molecules.
Silicate Concrete Sealer
A silicate sealer is a penetrating sealer comprising of small particles of silicate that are suspended in a lithium or sodium carrier, which carries the silicate particles through the pores of the concrete. Once the silicate particles are inside the concrete, they go through the network of pores and hairline cracks and react chemically with the minerals present in the concrete to form CSH (calcium silicate hydrate), which makes the concrete surface stronger and also helps to prevent the entry and passage of salts, water, chemicals, etc. through the concrete.
When applied to the concrete, the silicate concrete sealer dries and forms a chemical bond that is non-soluble and permanent. Silicate sealers have a polished appearance and another advantage is that they provide radon protection. Silicate concrete sealers are suitable for machine-troweled or very smooth concrete surfaces like garages and basements.
Siliconate Concrete Sealer
Siliconate sealers contain larger molecules compared to silicates but they can penetrate deep into the concrete and chemically react with it. Siliconate concrete sealers help to strengthen the concrete and protect it effectively from water intrusion and freeze-thaw cycles. This concrete sealer also protects the concrete from wear and tear, staining, salts, de-icing fluids, and mold.
Siliconate concrete sealers are multipurpose, which means that you can apply it to concrete any time at all. You can apply these sealers to new concrete, which is still in the process of curing, or to old concrete, which needs resealing. Siliconate sealers are very easy to apply, they do not alter the appearance and texture of the concrete and are very effective.
Topical / Wet Look Concrete Sealer
Topical sealers (surface coatings) are those that sit on the surface without penetrating it. They form a protective coating or film which gets fixed to the top of the concrete surface without any chemical reaction occurring between the sealer and the surface. Topical concrete sealers can help protect your concrete surface from water and oil stains and also damage caused by foot traffic.
However, since the topical concrete sealer is only on the top of the surface, the inside of the material will not be protected. Although the topical sealer protects your concrete surface from damage caused by foot traffic, it shows scratches, scuff marks, and abrasions especially in areas with high traffic because this concrete sealer is softer.
Generally, topical sealers or coatings change the texture of the surface that they are applied to. They reduce the traction, i.e., the surface becomes slippery when it is wet and you may need to add a non-slip additive if you are using a topical concrete sealer in areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Topical concrete sealers also change the appearance of the surface by adding color or gloss (i.e., low-gloss, high-gloss, matte, or satin finish) to the surface.
Topical concrete sealers not only protect the concrete surface from stains and chemicals but also visually enhance the surface. However, to be fixed properly, topical concrete sealers need to be applied on a clean and dry surface. But, because topical sealers find it difficult to bond with smooth surfaces, they must not be applied on polished surfaces.
Always choose a high-quality topical sealer, because lower-grade concrete sealers can turn yellow, especially when exposed to sunlight. Also, topical concrete sealers are not breathable, which causes moisture and water to be trapped within the surface and this can cause damage such as efflorescence, peeling, flaking, spalling, or cracking of the concrete surface.
Generally, topical concrete sealers are made from polyurethane or acrylic polymers and can be either water- or solvent-based. They are usually not very expensive as well. The life of topical sealers is general around 1 to 5 years, although urethane and epoxy sealers can last much longer. This concrete sealer is extremely simple to apply; however, since it is only on the surface of the concrete, it experiences more wear and need more maintenance and also need to be reapplied more often compared to penetrating concrete sealers.
The build-up of the topical sealer on the concrete surface will cause the scrapes and scuff marks to show more easily and will also make the surface look like plastic or wax. And so, before every new application, the concrete sealer must be stripped off to prevent build up. While some of concrete sealers can be removed easily using a stripper, other concrete sealers made from epoxy and polyurethane polymers are more permanent and are difficult to remove.
Concrete Sealant Types and Their Uses
As we have already discussed, sealing concrete has several advantages and it will protect the concrete surface from various types of damage. Using a concrete sealer to seal old or new concrete is a good idea and the process of curing the concrete and sealing it will not only help to protect the concrete but also help to enhance its appearance.
So, whether it is a concrete patio, driveway, sidewalk, or pool deck, sealing these surfaces can benefit them greatly. However, choosing the right kind of concrete sealer for a specific application can be quite challenging.
For instance, if you have got your concrete floor acid-stained and you want a scratch-resistant concrete sealer that offers durability and will also enhance the color of your floor or if your patio has a stamped concrete floor and you want to know which sealer will protect it best from freeze-thaw cycles—knowing the various types of sealers, what each type can do, and how you can pick the right one for your project can help you make the right choice easier.
As we already know, there are many different types of concrete sealers and it can be quite confusing to pick the best concrete sealer that is ideal for your concrete surface. Here is a general description of some of the most common types of concrete sealers and let us look at each of them in greater detail:
Now, that we have discussed the broad classes of sealers and their applications, let us drill down to the specifics and take a look at each type of sealer, what it is used for, what the sealer looks like, and its application.
Polyurethane Concrete Sealer
Also commonly referred to as urethanes, polyurethane sealers or coatings are also thermosetting polymers like epoxies and are considered to be high-build concrete sealers which offer a very durable finish that is resistant to chemicals. This type of concrete sealer is almost two times thicker when compared to acrylic sealer. It forms a high-build film on the concrete surface and offers excellent protection against chemicals and abrasion.
Polyurethane sealers are available in two versions: water- and solvent-based sealers. They are also available in various shine levels and various finishes from gloss to matte. These concrete sealers can be used on both exterior and interior concrete, and provide a durable and non-yellowing finish.
Aliphatic polyurethane sealers are ideal for garage floors and although they contain around 60–70% solids, the polyurethane coating is around 2–3 mils thick only. In one application, polyurethane coatings cannot be applied thicker like some of the epoxy coatings.
Polyurethane coatings are more flexible compared to epoxies, making their surface more resistant to scratches. It also offers higher resistance to abrasions and can absorb impacts better. Polyurethanes also have a higher resistance to chemicals compared to epoxies and it is also UV stable, i.e., when exposed to sunlight, it will not turn yellow over time, unlike epoxies. They also tolerate humidity and larger swings in temperature much better than epoxies.
However, despite the several advantages that polyurethanes have over epoxies, the bonding with concrete is not very efficient and they do not work very well in filling cracks and divots on the concrete surface. Also, since most polyurethanes are solvent-based, they can have high VOC and there may be restrictions on the use of polyurethane coatings/sealers in many states and counties.
Polyurethane concrete sealers can be used for the following:
When applying polyurethane concrete sealers, you need to take extra care compared to other sealers like acrylic-based sealers. You must not apply the water-based polyurethane sealer with a garden pump sprayer because they do not provide the pressure required to get an even and thin spray. Instead, it is better to use a high-pressure, low-volume airless sprayer or you can apply the sealer using a microfiber mop, whose push-pull motion will allow you to get a thin and uniform coverage.
Most of the polyurethane concrete sealers are not tolerant of moisture and so, if there is any water present on the surface, you must avoid applying the sealer. The presence of water will cause bubbling and foaming and the sealer will also not allow the moisture to escape from the concrete surface, which can cause problems on exterior surfaces like driveways or sidewalks.
Acrylic Concrete Sealer
Acrylic sealers require a very thin coating to be applied and they dry very quickly when applied. Acrylic concrete sealers are perfect for projects where ease of application, as well as affordability, are the main criteria for the selection of the concrete sealer.
This type of sealer is suitable for both interior and exterior use and form a protective film that offers protection against the intrusion of water and chloride, while allowing the moisture in the concrete surface to escape, which makes these sealers ideal for use around the pool areas. Acrylic sealers are resistant to UV rays and are non-yellowing.
Acrylic sealers are available in two types of formulations: water- and solvent-based. The main difference between the water- and solvent-based versions is the sheen, VOC content, and life of the product. Typically, solvent-based acrylic sealers have a higher VOC content and solvent odors; however, they have a higher gloss and last longer compared to the water-based sealers. Also, if you are sealing exterior concrete surfaces, then solvent-based acrylic concrete sealers are stronger.
While solvent-based acrylic sealers may be an excellent option for decorative and exterior concrete and add a beautiful shine and glossy finish, acrylic concrete sealers can also make the concrete surfaces quite slippery if used on surfaces like pool decks. So, you may have to use the concrete sealer along with anti-slip additives.
The other option to avoid a high-gloss slippery surface is to opt for a water-based acrylic sealer. While the water-based concrete sealer may require to be reapplied frequently, they usually meet the VOC regulations. Water-based sealers give a satin or matte sheen.
Acrylic sealers are available in a wide range of sheen levels and can be used to augment the beauty of stamped, colored, and exposed aggregate concrete. However, compared to penetrating sealer, they wear out faster, requiring reapplication much sooner, especially if they are exposed to de-icing salts, in which case you may have to apply the sealer every year.
Because they require constant reapplication, in the long run, acrylic sealers tend to cost more. Typically, the lifetime of water-based acrylic sealer is around 1 to 3 years and solvent-based acrylic sealers last for around 2 to 5 years before requiring reapplication.
Acrylic concrete sealer uses include:
You can apply an acrylic concrete sealer by using a sprayer or a roller. However, to prevent fracturing, you must apply it in very thin coats. The total thickness should be only around 1–2 mils, even with two coats of the sealer. Acrylic sealers are usually thinner than epoxy and polyurethane sealers, so they tend to wear away faster and need to be reapplied more often.
For outdoor concrete surfaces, using a solvent-based acrylic sealer is better than water-based ones, as this helps to enhance the color better than the water-based concrete sealers. When using acrylic sealers on indoor surfaces, they need to be maintained regularly by using wax or sacrificial floor finish to prevent heel marks and wear.
Epoxy Concrete Sealer
Epoxies are essentially a thermosetting polymer coating which also acts like a concrete sealer. This type of concrete sealers form a high-build film on the surface of the concrete and produce a hard finish which is resistant to abrasion and wear. Epoxy sealers are also water repellent.
Epoxy sealers are available in three formulations: 100% solids and water- and solvent-based, which are used in varying thicknesses between 3 mils to more than 10 mils for a single coat. Epoxy concrete sealers are easy to apply and are available in varying VOCs.
Epoxy concrete sealers are available in two varieties, clear or pigmented, that lets you add color to the concrete surface. Most epoxy sealers offer a glossy finish and they are much harder compared to acrylic sealers.
Water-based epoxy sealers offer a clear finish and adhere well with the concrete surface; however, they are nonporous and do not allow the moisture that is trapped inside to escape. Epoxy sealers are ideal for areas where food is prepared and for concrete countertops. Epoxies bond quite well to concrete that is properly prepared and are also sometimes used on old or worn concrete as resurfacing agents and also to repair cracks, pitting, and surface repairs on concrete.
Epoxy sealers containing high to 100% solids are considered the best epoxy formulations and are very thick, hard, and impact-resistant. This thickness helps to fill out the imperfections on the surface of the concrete, fill hairline cracks, and also provide a high-build coating to protect the surface.
Epoxies resist wear due to abrasion and also are resistant to hot tire pickup. Although several epoxy formulas come with UV inhibitors, when exposed to sunlight, they eventually will turn yellow.
Epoxy sealer uses include:
Most epoxy sealers are products that consist of two components that must be mixed before application. When you mix the epoxy sealer, you must apply the material immediately, before it starts to set. Epoxy sealers are quite viscous and have high solid content and so they are best applied using a squeegee and then rolled with a lint-free roller.
Generally, epoxy sealers are used indoors because they may turn yellow when exposed to UV rays. A high-gloss clear epoxy sealer is ideal for decorative floors and will not only protect the floor from wear and abrasion but also augment the color and enhance the floor’s design.
Water-Based Concrete Sealer
Water-based sealers are high-performance sealers with a low sheen and are generally low in VOC. The polymer particles are typically dispersed in water in a water-based sealer and when the water-based sealer is applied to the concrete surface, the polymer particles get closer when the water evaporates. As the water continues to evaporate, the particles get deformed and bond together, forming a clear and continuous coating.
The formulation of water-based sealers allow easy application and they are quick drying with excellent adhesion to the surface and also offer good general protection for the concrete surface. When they are applied to the concrete surface, water-based sealers turn milky white, as the polymer particles scatter visible light differently compared to the water in which the particles are dispersed, but the surface turns clear on drying.
Water-based concrete sealers do not darken the concrete surface like solvent-based sealers and so, the surface looks more natural. These sealers generally enhance the color of the surface moderately and provide a low-gloss, matte finish. However, water-based sealers do not offer the same levels of shine and gloss that is offered by solvent-based concrete sealers.
Some of the advantages of using water-based concrete sealers are that they are not inflammable, they do not release hazardous vapors or strong odors of solvent sealers, and they are environment-friendly. Once the application is complete, the clean-up is very easy and quick. Water-based concrete sealers are generally safer for use indoors, especially when you have people, kids, and pets around.
Overall, water-based sealers are a good choice if you are looking for a high-performance, low-VOC concrete sealer that is easy to work with and is very durable.
The uses of water-based sealers include:
Water-based sealers are much easier to apply and can be sprayed using a plastic garden sprayer, a paint roller, airless sprayer, synthetic closed-loop mop, or synthetic fiber pad to apply the sealer. Water-based sealers dry quickly and in warm weather, they will not flash dry.
If you are applying more than one coat, let the first coat dry completely before applying the next one. Ensure that when you are applying the water-based concrete sealer, the humidity is 65% or less and do not let moisture on the surface for a minimum of 12 hours. It is a good idea to apply a coat of wax on the sealer; however, this should be done only 24 to 48 hours after the water-based sealer coats completely cure.
Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer
Solvent-based sealers are widely used for outdoor concrete surfaces, which help to augment the color of the concrete and also protect the surface. In a solvent-based concrete sealer, unlike the water-based ones, the polymers do not exist as separate particles. The solvent and the polymer are mixed for a clear and continuous solution.
As the solvent evaporates from the sealer, the polymer chains get closer and they become intertwined eventually.
The concrete surface that has been sealed using a water- or solvent-based sealer appears glossy because, in both sealers, the polymer stays on the surface of the concrete. In the case of a solvent-based sealer, it wets the concrete surface and penetrates deeply into the surface and so the result is a glossier finish, which augments the color of the concrete below.
Solvent-based concrete sealers act as a protective top coat for the concrete surfaces and offer stain and chemical resistance. They are UV resistant, non-yellowing, and are available in various sheen levels. A solvent-based sealer has a greater penetration ability into the concrete as compared to a water-based sealer.
However, solvent-based sealers have a few drawbacks. These sealers have higher VOC content and are considered to be less environmentally friendly. Also, they are not recommended for use on interior surfaces and areas that have poor ventilation. Solvent-based sealers are not as cost-effective as the water-based ones.
The uses of solvent-based sealers include:
Solvent-based concrete sealers can be applied using airless or LPHV (low-pressure, high volume) sprayers or roller brushes. Low-pressure or pump-up sprayers are suitable for solvent-based sealers containing less than 35% solid content. Sealers containing more than 35% solids can be applied by using a lamb wool applicator, which is essentially a wool rag that is wrapped around a block of wood.
Avoid applying the solvent-based concrete sealer on rainy, humid, or foggy days. If it is very hot, then the application should be done during the cooler hours and when the concrete surface is in non-direct sunlight or shade. Ensure that the surface is free of moisture and completely dry, otherwise, it will interfere with the bonding and curing.
The sealer should be applied according to the coverage rate recommended by the manufacturer and you must not over apply the sealer. Over-application or too many coats of the sealer can cause the sealer to peel, bubble, and turn white.
Oil-Based Concrete Sealer
Oil-based sealers are formulated for various types of interior and exterior concrete surfaces. The solvent of the sealer in which the resin is dissolved is oil-based and offers excellent adhesion. Nowadays, you can get both oil-based acrylic sealers and polyurethane sealers. Using an oil-based concrete sealer can help protect and extend the life of all concrete surfaces.
These concrete sealers are usually clear and will not get yellow or discolored over time. It is also damage resistant from water, chemicals, salt, UV rays, heavy traffic, and cleaning agents. However, the downsides to oil-based sealers are that they have a strong smell and take a long time to dry.
The uses of oil-based sealers include:
Oil-based concrete sealers accentuate all the inconsistencies on the concrete surface. So, before you apply the sealer, ensure that you sand the surface and remove all the dust and debris. Avoid shaking the sealer can because this can cause bubbles, which can leave bumps on the surface. If the sealer’s consistency is too thick, then use mineral spirits to thin the sealer.
You can apply this concrete sealer in a thin coat using a paintbrush. Wait for 24 hours or until the sealer is completely dry and then remove any dust or debris. Apply the second coat of sealer and allow it to dry completely. Just two coats of the oil-based sealer are sufficient. Wait for a few days and then polish the concrete surface using a polishing compound.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does Concrete Sealer Do?
Concrete is commonly used in building structures and as you already know, concrete is very porous and absorbs liquids easily. Oil, grease, salt, household chemicals, fertilizers, etc. can discolor unsealed concrete and damage it. Also, freezing and thawing can cause frozen liquids to expand and destroy unsealed concrete.
It is a good idea to seal all the concrete structures in your home by using a good concrete sealer.
So, what does a concrete sealer really do? Well, a concrete sealer, when applied to concrete surfaces, helps to protect the surface from staining, corrosion, and damage. Concrete sealers either block the capillaries in the concrete surface to prevent the absorption of water, chemicals. and salt or they form an impervious layer that prevents these materials from passing through the concrete surface.
Concrete sealers not only protect the concrete surface from wear and damage but also enhance the color and shine of the surface. Whether it is your patio, stamped pool deck, paver driveway, exposed aggregate walkway, an acid-stained floor outside your home, or any concrete surfaces such as floors or countertops inside your home, the best concrete sealer will extend the service life and keep your surfaces looking spectacular for several years to come.
And if any concrete surface starts showing signs of wear after years of exposure to the elements and traffic, you can restore its original beauty with a coat of high-quality concrete sealer.
How Long Should Concrete Cure Before Sealing?
Once the concrete mixture is poured, the most delicate part of the process is the curing of concrete. The poured mixture must sit for a specific period before it hardens fully. Constant temperature and moisture levels must be maintained. If the moisture is too less, then the concrete will get too dry and crumble and if the moisture is too much, then the concrete will crack and this is not very good in the future. So, the curing of concrete is a vital part before it sealed.
Usually, concrete takes around 30 days to cure completely before you can walk on it, use it, or uncover it without causing harm to its strength. This is the same reason why a concrete sealer cannot be applied to a concrete surface before the 30-day curing period. If the concrete surface is not fully cured and you apply the sealer to it, then it can harm the potential strength of the concrete. However, if the sealer is applied once the process of curing is complete, then the concrete will be strong, durable, and protected through its lifetime.
Does Sealing Concrete Change Its Appearance?
Sealing concrete may or may not change its appearance and all of it depends on the kind of concrete sealer you use. Most of the penetrating or chemically reactive sealers are almost invisible because they enter into the pores of the concrete surface. On the other hand, solvent-based epoxy and acrylic resin sealers provide the concrete surface with significant color improvement and give the concrete a wet and high-gloss look.
Acrylic resin concrete sealers of the water-based variety enhance the color of the concrete surface moderately and provide a satiny appearance. Polyurethane concrete sealers, which are usually applied over epoxy as a topcoat, are available in a range of finishes, ranging from a gloss to a matte finish. There are many sealers that are colored with opaque as well as transparent tints.
How Much Concrete Sealer Do I Need?
The quantity of sealer you need depends on several factors such as the type of sealer you are using, the type of concrete surface you are sealing, and the number of coats you will be applying.
As you already know, penetrating sealers penetrate the concrete and offer protection inside out. They do not form a film on the surface and also do not provide any enhancement. However, penetrating sealers are long-lasting. They are watery in terms of consistency and because their viscosity is close to water, penetrating sealers can cover between 100 and 400 sq. ft. per gallon.
Usually, two coats of concrete sealer are recommended and so, for two coats, you can get a coverage of around 50 to 200 sq. ft per gallon.
Epoxy and polyurethane sealers or coatings have a thicker viscosity and so, their coverage rate depends on the mils (1/1000th of an inch) thickness of application. Some of the sealers or coatings are applied around 20 mils thickness and are considered a high-build system, while other coatings are applied at around 5 mils thickness, which is considered to be thin-build systems.
From a gallon of durable coating/sealer, you can get around 100 sq. ft. to 600 sq. ft. Usually, a coat of primer and topcoat are applied.
Usually, decorative concrete sealers and coatings are applied in one coat and the amount of sealer depends on the porosity, type of concrete, and if the concrete has been sealed previously. For instance, concrete pavers are more porous compared to hand-troweled concrete and will require more sq. ft per gallon of sealer.
Also, if the concrete surface has never been sealed before, it will be very porous and will need additional coats of concrete sealer. Typically, decorative sealers can cover between 100 and 400 sq. ft. per gallon.
A good tip to save money is that it may be more economical and cost-effective to buy 5-gallon pails of the concrete sealer rather than buying five 1-gallon pails. This can be quite handy if you run out and need to do some resealing later on.
How Long Does Concrete Sealer Take to Dry?
The time that the concrete sealer takes to dry depends on various factors. The most important factor is the kind of concrete sealer used. Different types of sealers work and react differently and also take different times to dry. Let us look at the drying times of various concrete sealers:
How Long Does Concrete Sealer Last?
How long a concrete sealer last depends on several factors and you should first determine the type of concrete sealer being used in order to determine its longevity.
Water, stains, cracks, and erosion can cause any surface to deteriorate and concrete sealers offer protection not only for concrete but also for a wide range of other surfaces like cement, natural stone, granite, and wood. If you are looking for a way to reduce the repair costs in your home, then it is a good idea to invest in a professional-grade, high-quality concrete sealer.
Investing in a high-quality concrete sealer is the ideal way to maintain your interior as well as exterior concrete surfaces without breaking the bank.
Until you apply a coat of concrete sealer, your concrete driveways, floors, patios, walkways, pool decks, pavers, countertops, sinks, etc. will not be fully protected from wear and tear. Not only does a high-quality sealer ensure that your concrete lasts longer but also it helps to enhance and preserve the appearance of these structures. In this way, you can add more durability and value to your home.
As you already know, there is a wide variety of concrete sealers on the market and it is important that you buy the best concrete sealer for your specific project. For instance, while penetrating sealers are the best to strengthen and protect concrete, if you are looking for a sealer that will add gloss and shine to the concrete, then buying a topical concrete sealer may be a better option.
Following our concrete sealer guide can help you make the decision of which is the best sealer for your needs. It is always a good idea to go for quality over quantity; however, make sure that you do not go overboard in buying a sealer that is beyond your budget. In conclusion, any concrete structure is incomplete without sealing and this protective layer is worth all your time and effort in preserving your concrete for years to come.