If you have a commercial, residential or industrial setting and you have had a newly installed concrete floor, you have probably been told to seal it off. What these contractors do not tell you is why, how, or what to use when it comes to sealing the concrete. You need to seal concrete floors to protect your concrete from water, daily wear and tear, and harsh chemicals. Exposure to these conditions could lead to mildew and mold and could pose a threat to the foundation of your construction.
The plus side to having a concrete floor is that they are durable and easy to clean. However, a concrete floor is also vulnerable to contaminants and spills. No matter how hard the surface is, it is bound to crack with time. This is a major concern especially if you have stained or decorative flooring. You need to do what you can to maintain the pristine condition of your concrete floor.
When you do research on how to seal concrete floors, you are likely to be confused by the jargon and process and may be deceived by claims of great performance. This is bound to happen when you are looking for a general sealant for your concrete floor. If you are aiming to find the best sealer for concrete floors, then you do not need to go any further: simply read our comprehensive guide, which also tells you the types of products there are on the market. But if you are looking for an in-depth guide on the what, how, or why of concrete floor sealing, read on.
Let us get this off the table first — concrete floor sealers are used to seal and bind the surface, whereas floor paints are available in a whole spectrum of sheens. Also, floor sealers can just be left like that or can be painted over. There are plenty of concrete floor sealants, like the Quikrete Acrylic Concrete Cure Seal, which leaves a lovely stain like finish which is not too glossy.
Knowing how to seal concrete floors is a must. If you have a concrete floor, chances are that your contractor told you about the benefits of sealed concrete. Concrete is a porous material that has a tendency to absorb liquids. Sealing concrete floors will not only enhance its look and feel but also protect your concrete floor from hazards such as spilling, erosion, or damage caused by high traffic.
On unsealed concrete, freezing climates can cause the frozen liquids to expand and cause damage that will need filling. Other stuff that can damage the floor would be salt, oil, chemicals, or fertilizers. So, by sealing the concrete (or waxing it in some cases), you are creating a barrier between the concrete and these other elements, thereby protecting the concrete.
Sealing the concrete floor may or may not change the appearance, depending on the type of concrete sealant. You will hardly be able to tell that there is a concrete sealer if you use a chemically reactive sealer because it is absorbed in the floor. If you use an epoxy or a solvent-based concrete sealer, it will give your concrete floor a wet, high-gloss appearance, making the colors look a lot more enhanced. If you use a water-based acrylic sealer, the colors on your floor will look moderately enhanced and glossy.
There are sealers known as urethanes, which are generally applied over epoxies as a topcoat, and are available in gloss or matte (for a less shiny surface). Some concrete floor sealants may even be colored with tints or opaque shades.
Again, this depends on the kind of sealer you are using on your concrete floor. There are high-performance coatings, such as urethanes and epoxies, which should only be applied after the concrete has cured completely (usually, this could take between 25 and 30 days). There are other types of products which are reactive (penetrative) that should be applied as soon as the concrete can take the weight of the installers. These are known as silicates and siliconates. But, as a general thumb rule, nearly all sealers can be applied after the concrete floor has cured.
When a concrete sealer is applied to the concrete floor, it will usually be slippery initially while it is wet – just like any other wet surface. But again, it depends on the kind of sealant you are using. A water-based sealer will be less slippery when compared with a solvent-based sealer. So, for these, there are traction additives that can be used with such sealers, and you can ask your local hardware seller for recommendations. These additives are very essential, especially in areas that see a lot of foot or vehicular traffic.
There are some factors at play here – mostly the environment. The period is usually 10 years or so, in the case of reactive chemical sealers, which will last as long as the substrate surface. And depending on the traffic in the area, urethane or epoxy will behave in a similar manner (a wide range of 5 to 10 years). Acrylic resin sealers do a great job of enhancing the look of your concrete floor, such as the Black Diamond Stoneworks Stone Sealer, but they seem to have the shortest lifespans and generally last 1 to 3 years at best.
Other factors that may influence the life span of a concrete sealer are:
Well, in this case, you will need to repair these cracks before you apply a concrete sealer. If left vulnerable, the concrete sealer cannot protect the concrete floor from further damage if it has been cracked because of too much sun, water, or chemical exposure. You should also be aware that small cracks can develop into big ones if left untreated, under the right pressure.
For these purposes, a product such as the one-size-fits-all Quikrete Concrete Crack Seal Natural has been proven to be durable and effective.
Generally speaking, water-based floor sealers are more environment-friendly than their solvent-based counterparts because the latter may contain dangerous levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs vaporize under ordinary circumstances indoors and are essentially air contaminants; inhaling them can be dangerous. If you are environmentally conscious, you may need to ask the resellers in your area for recommendations and you might want to know more about the regulations in your state regarding VOCs.
While you could pay a company or contractor to do it for you, DIY is what this guide is all about. This guide helps you seal a leaky basement or garage floor, eliminate and control dust buildup from your concrete floor, protect it from spills, abrasions, discoloration, and stains.
Below you'll find some tips to get you started:
So, there you have it! You now know the entire procedure to seal a concrete floor. Sealing both interior and exterior concrete floors not only adds an extra layer of protection but also saves you money on home repairs and renovations later on. So, make sure you select a professional grade and quality sealer. You can go right ahead and read these reviews to pick up the best one for you.