How to Seal Stamped Concrete

  • September 14, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
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Concrete that is textured to look like brickwork, tile, slate, wood or any other number of surfaces is known as stamped concrete and is usually seen on sidewalks, pool decks and patios. To reflect the natural color of the material it is supposed to resemble, a base color is usually chosen, along with an accent color to give it a semblance of texture. And to best preserve this appearance, it is best to seal the concrete.

Al Fresco Seating

The sealer not only protects the look and feel of concrete, but it can sometimes also revive the original look of the stamped concrete. And yet, there are other benefits to sealing, such as locking out moisture, minimizing thaw damage, prevent the fading of the color caused by ultraviolet rays, provide protection from stains, chemicals, and deicing salts and in some cases, even improve the appearance. In addition, sealing also makes it easy to clean and maintain the surface of the stamped concrete and also adds sheen to it.

For a stamped concrete surface, the main type of sealer used is either a solvent or water-based acrylic. The reason for this is that acrylic sealers allow moisture in the slab to escape and hence is breathable; it is also economical and also easy to apply. They do not turn yellow easily and are resistant to ultraviolet rays.

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There are lesser chances of them turning milky or white, and perform better when used outdoors when compared to their water-based cousins. 

But before you go gallivanting to the market and pick up a sealer that you please, you need to know if that particular sealer is indeed appropriate for your home project. And these are the questions you should be asking yourself before making a selection:

  • How long does the sealer take to dry?
  • How much surface area would this sealer cover?
  • Does this sealer come with a warranty?
  • How long will this sealer last?
  • Where is the surface I am going to apply the sealer to?
  • What kind of finish am I looking at?
  • If I don’t seal my stamped concrete? What then?

Why Should I Seal Stamped Concrete?

The last question is the most important. Why indeed? To the untrained eye, the surface looks fine, save for some wear and tear. The answer is simply this — you need to protect your investment. This process is akin to putting sunscreen on your skin in harsh summers or putting wax on your car. We have already explained the benefits of sealing concrete.

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Sealing is recommended if the new concrete in your driveway has cured, or whether it has been a few years since you put in the concrete. You can just tell by looking at stamped concrete whether it has been sealed by its sheen or glossy sheen (in other cases, the surface just looks well-cared for).

Furthermore, your stamped concrete surface will be exposed to all kinds of elements such as leaves, dirt, fertilizer, pet urine, chlorine salts and so on. The right type of sealer will keep the elements off, stop them from penetrating the surface of the concrete and prevent ugly stains in the long run. In another scenario, if your house is in colder climates, the chances of freeze-thaw damage will be reduced if the concrete is sealed. Freeze-thaw damage happens when the water that has been absorbed by the surface first freezes, and then expands, causing cracks to the surface.

What the sealer does, in this case, is stop the water from penetrating the surface, causing it to bead up. If you don’t see beads on the surface, there is a good chance that the surface might need resealing. You would also need to re-seal surfaces which see a lot of heavy traffic.

Sealing Stamped Concrete

One way to maintain your stamped concrete looking great is to make sure it is resealed every few years. Normally, as a final step, contractors seal the stamped concrete after installation. But we cannot stress enough that resealing on a periodic basis is important. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to seal (or reseal) stamped concrete on your property and keep it in great condition for a longer period. This can be achieved in simple 5 steps.

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Clearing the Area

You will need to clear the area of all the junk that has been lying there. You may need to put them elsewhere for the time being because this might take a while. Moving around these items after you have started to seal the area is not a very good idea.

Washing the Surface

Before you start putting the sealer on the stamped concrete, it needs to be cleaned thoroughly. It needs to be free of any contaminants such as spilled oil, grease, dirt, paint or waxes. It is generally good practice to maintain a cleaning habit a few days prior to the sealing.

You can use a garden or a power hose to clean the surface thoroughly and use a mild detergent and a medium brush to clean the dirt off from the corners. You will need to make sure that all the soap is washed away. If you are using an industrial cleaning product, you will need to read the instructions on the label carefully.

 Allow It to Dry

Because you have given it a thorough wash, it is very important that you let it dry completely. Usually, this takes about 24 hours or more, depending on the weather conditions. If you put sealer on a wet or damp surface, a “blushing” effect occurs. This happens because moisture is trapped inside the sealer, giving it a cloudy look. 

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Apply the Sealer

Before you start applying the sealer of your choice, you must divide the area into smaller parts. You can either do that mentally or can draw actual lines across the surface. This will ensure that you do a thorough job and cover the area thoroughly. There are many ways you can apply the sealer to the surface; you can either use a brush or a paint roller.

If you are using a roller, you will need to use the brush beforehand, because the roller cannot reach in the corners. Also, while “painting” the surface, take care that your brush edges don’t go dry at any point and blend in with the next stroke. You will need to pay attention because if you don’t, it may lead to a visible, uneven patch that will look ugly.

Letting It Dry

It is important that you let the floor dry for at least 24 hours before you even step on it. Read the instructions on the bottle of the sealer to find out how long you should wait before you can walk on it. If it is an area where you drive on/in, you will need to give it at least 3 days before you do so. 

While sealing the stamped concrete may seem like a pretty straightforward procedure, there are some common mistakes that you should avoid. Let’s have a look at them.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

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  • 1
    Never apply the sealer on the surface unless and until it is cleaned (the surface).
  • 2
    If you are going to apply a second coat of the sealer, make sure the first coat is dry. Applying a fresh coat on an already wet coat will stir it up and create bulges or indents in the surface.
  • 3
    If you are applying the sealant with an anti-skid solution in it, you will need to keep stirring it. If you don’t do this, it may cause the two (the sealant and the anti-skid solution) to separate.
  • 4
    Avoid applying sealant with a spray gun (unless you are using a professional spray gun). Not only will it clog the sprayer nozzle, for the same reason, but it also cannot deliver the anti-skid material.
  • 5
    Make sure the surface you are applying the sealer on is completely dry.
  • 6
    For the same reason, do not apply the sealer when it is raining or when the weather is too humid. The ideal temperature to apply a sealant is when the temperature is below 55 degrees. In any case, read the instructions carefully before starting the process of applying the sealant.
  • 7
    Don’t let any pets venture over to the area where the sealer is drying. This is because the sealer may react with pet urine (which is very acidic in nature) and may lose its strength.
  • 8
    Avoid dragging sharp objects on your stamped concrete surface. Doing so may scratch the sealer off.
  • 9
    Adding anti-skid to the sealer is a good idea because it will prevent the floor from being too slippery when wet.
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Conclusion

Regular upkeep of your sealed surfaces will not only help it maintain the look but also add value to your property. You can put these extra layers on your stamped concrete now to save on repairs later. Besides, the process is fun and is not an expensive one.

If you follow the advice and the procedure in this article, you can enjoy the craftsmanship of your stamped concrete for years to come. Also, remember that concrete can take a lot of abuse, but is tough to repair if it is broken or chipped.