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How to Seal Concrete Countertops: DIY Renovators Guide

  • November 7, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Breakfast Counter

Concrete is porous by nature, which means that spills can stain and diminish its quality since liquids can seep through the concrete.  If your countertops are made of concrete, you need to seal them to avoid any damage caused by acidic food items like vinegar, wine, and mustard. Food is not the only enemy of your concrete countertops because water absorption and everyday wear and tear caused by dragging pots and pans can leave permanent scratches and marks all over it.

Breakfast Counter

Sealing concrete countertops with the right kind of concrete sealer will not only protect the counters from discoloration and scratches but also will enhance the color and shine of the surface.

With numerous concrete countertop sealers available onthe market, it can be a little confusing to choose just one. There are many factors that should be considered when you are choosing a sealant so here are some things that you must keep in mind. In addition to this, we have included a step-by-step guide for sealing concrete countertops that will walk you through the entire process. Knowing how to seal concrete counters will help you understandwhat you need in a sealant and will help you limit your options when it comes to choosing the right brand of concrete sealer.

Before you pick the right concrete sealer for the job, it is important that you understand what type of  concrete sealers are available in the market and how they work. While there are tons of concrete sealers, it is important to choose one that meets the specific performance requirements for concrete countertops and not the generic ones that are commonly used on floors or exterior flatwork. The reason behind this is that the challenges faced by each surface are different.

Wooden Fruit Bowl on Countertop

 Some important factors to consider are given below:

  • The concrete countertop sealer should be heavy-duty, colorless, does not yellow, and is resistant to heat and scratches.
  • Concrete countertops are usually inside the house, which means you will also be carrying out the sealing process indoors. You will need a product that is safe for indoor application. This means that they should not contain any VOCs or harmful chemicals and should also have minimal odor.
  • You can find concrete countertop sealers that come in a range of sheen levels. Use a sealer with a low-sheen matte finish for a more natural look. If you want your concrete countertops to shine more, use a high-gloss sealing product.
  • While most countertop sealers take hours to stop feeling sticky and can take quite a few days before they are ready to use, you can opt for a fast curing sealer to speed up the process if you are in a hurry. These variants cure at a great speed when they are exposed to a special type of ultraviolet light.
  • In the end, it is important that you test the concrete sealer that you plan to use on your concrete countertops. By doing so, you will be able to check the performance and finishing touches of the sealer before you seal all your countertops.
Herbs on Kitchen Counter

What Do You Need for Sealing?

The list of things that you will need when you are trying to seal your concrete countertop effectively is very small. All these things can be found at any local supply store.

  • Concrete countertop sealer
  • Rubber gloves
  • 2 half-liter buckets
  • Cloth towel with good absorption

Step-By-Step Guide to Sealing Your Countertop

While many people enlist the help of professionals and contractors to seal concrete countertops, the process is quite easy and can be carried out by yourself at home. Just put on your work gear and get started!

Counter with Metal Chairs

Step One – Ensure the Right Conditions

It is important that you seal the concrete countertops indoors or in an area that has ample amounts of shade. The process needs to be carried out in an area where the wind is not strong and there is no dust to hinder the process. It is important that the sealer does not dry too fast as it can give an unfinished look to the final product.

Step Two – Dilute the Sealer

A 100% concrete sealer can be quite difficult to work with so you need to mix it with water in this proportion - 30% sealer: 70% water. Using this mixture, you can apply a large number of fine layers on your concrete countertops without the sealer being clumpy. Different amounts of the product will be required depending on the size of your countertops.

If the area to be covered is extremely large, you will have to buy a large package of the sealer to be used. If the project is relatively small, a 500 ml package will be enough to get you through.

Red Kitchenware on Countertop

Step Three – Soak Surface with Water

The next step involves rinsing the concrete well with clean water. You need to use a 100% cotton cloth for this step as using a harsher cloth may damage the countertops or leave marks. You also need to get rid of any remaining sealer or wax if the concrete countertop has been through this process before. The removal can be carried out with the help of specialized products. 

Another piece of cloth should be used to wipe down the surface and the edges of your concrete countertops till the entire surface is saturated with water and has a dark look to it.

Step Four – Apply Countertop Sealer

Since you need to apply multiple coats, soak the ragin the diluted solution that you prepared earlier and start applying it across the countertop. It is recommended that you begin with the corners and apply a good amount of sealer across the entire piece. Keep at it for at least 5 minutes so that the concrete countertops will be covered well.

Allow the sealer to soak into the concrete and continue applying it in the same manner so that you spread it evenly across the area. You will have to work at a quick pace if the piece of concrete is large otherwise you may be faced with the problem of gelling and streaking, which will ruin the look of your sealed countertops.

Countertop and Sink

Step Five – Wipe the Sealer

Use the same rag to wipe up the sealer and remove the excess into the bucket of diluted sealer that you were using. The aim here is to leave some amount of product on the countertop so that the surface does not dry completely. Work quickly and in a shady place to avoid streaking.

If this is the first time your concrete countertop is being sealed, you will need to apply the sealer onto the concrete multiple times until it stops darkening when water is dripped on the surface. This is the sign of a well-sealed countertop.

Step Six – Test with Water

Once you are satisfied that the concrete is sealed well and given at least a night to dry, you can test the effectiveness of the sealer by using water. Start off by pouring water on top of the concrete countertop. Allow it to sit there for at least 10 minutes and then wipe up all the water using a clean cloth. If you notice that the surface darkens at the end of this test, it means that it is not sealed well. Keep repeating steps three and four till your concrete countertop passes the water test without the surface darkening. 

Once the concrete countertops are sealed completely, you can lightly scrub the sealer with diamond-infused hurricane pads, which will allow you to get rid of any streaks that may have formed on the countertop during the sealing process. You can also adjust the surface sheen with this.

Kitchen Countertop

Fixing Scratches on Countertop Surfaces

If you try cutting your fruits or vegetables directly on the surface of concrete countertops, you will definitely end up with minor scratches. Looking at the bright side, if your countertops are sealed well, the scratches will only be found on the sealer itself and not on the concrete countertop. In such cases, it is quite easy to fix these scratches. You can fix some minor scuffs and shallow scratches on the sealer by just buffing out the surface for a bit.

For deeper scratches, however, you may need to fill the scratch with an additional sealer to get the best results and restore your concrete countertops to its former glory.

White Countertop

Sealing the surface of your concrete countertops is a very important step for increasing its lifespan. While you can change your pots and pans easily over time, the likelihood of replacing concrete countertops easily is much lower so you should make sure that it is sealed well to make them last longer. To save some money and to ensure that you are satisfied with the sealing process, you should carry it out yourself. If you need suggestions regarding what sealer will work best for your concrete countertop, see our review of Cheng Concrete Countertop Sealer and other reviews here.