Concrete is one of the most common construction materials and is especially common in use as flooring. Just about every home has something in it, under it, or in front of it made out of concrete. Since concrete is so common, we need to take care of it. Sealing concrete is the best way to improve its lifespan, but if you find yourself asking “but do I really need to seal it?” then you are in the right place. Let’s start with why you would want to seal your concrete.
Even fully cured concrete can absorb plenty of water from rain, which will freeze and thaw repeatedly in the winter. This could cause significant damage. Sealing concrete also makes it look better and preserves its color. Typical concrete should be resealed every three years for maximum protection.
A popular technique to reinforce concrete is sealing. If you’ve been interested in sealing concrete, read on to learn about its necessity, forms, and how and why you should seal your concrete.
Benifits of Sealing Concrete
Sealing concrete has a huge number of benefits. Overall, you can expect sealing to solidly improve the lifespan and quality of your concrete. Here are a few of the greatest benefits of sealing your concrete.
Fight Off Moisture by Sealing Concrete
Concrete, like most stone surfaces, is vulnerable to water. Though you might not expect it to cause issues, spilling water over unsealed concrete can damage it over time.
It’s especially susceptible to damage from water in colder climates. Water that’s gotten into the concrete can freeze, expand, crack, and otherwise damage your concrete.
Sealing will provide a waterproof layer over the concrete that prevents this. Though sealing doesn’t make it invulnerable, the seal can still have scratches. Although, it will significantly improve your concrete’s defense against water.
Even without moisture, unsealed concrete can crack from other causes. Overheating or freezing will cause cracks, as can the pressure from vehicles over time.
Sealing your concrete will give it a bit of reinforcement. With sealed concrete, cracks are much less common, and cracks that were already in place are much less likely to continue growing.
Improve Aesthetics by Sealing Concrete
Many enjoy the concrete aesthetic, but what if you prefer something less drab? You may have moved into a new home and found a concrete garage flooring that you’d like to spruce up.
In these cases, you can improve the aesthetic of your garage by adding a seal. Many sealing sources will provide aesthetical flourishes like sparkles, paint chips, coloration, and a reflective gleam.
Look into local sealing professionals and see what patterns they may offer. If you prefer a DIY approach, customize your sealant in whatever form you see fit. It’s a great way to bring some life to the concrete while improving its quality.
Sealing your concrete protects it from more than just moisture or cracking. Many hazards cause stains on your concrete.
Spilled paint, leaked oil, moisture stains, and other such hazards can leave permanent marks. These blemishes can remain even through the most vigorous of cleanings. Oil is especially difficult to remove if it manages to sink into the stone.
With a layer of sealing over your concrete, most stains are easily prevented. You will also find cleaning much easier with the seal as it’s a smoother surface. You can also use water and cleaner easily without the risk of harming the concrete.
Different Products for Sealing Concrete
Concrete sealer comes in multiple forms. Here are the three most common forms of concrete sealing mixtures you’re likely to find and use.
Acrylics are arguably the most common style of seal that you’ll find. Many outlets will offer these types of seals for a lower cost than others.
Acrylics form a thin, protective film over the surface of the concrete. Also available as water-based products, it’s much easier to apply than the other styles. Paired with the low cost, many DIY projects use acrylic for this reason.
Acrylic seals are great protection against water and some other items, like salts, sand, or dirt. They’re usually better for indoor use, though solvent-based acrylics are perfectly fine for outdoor use.
Softer seals may require more frequent maintenance. You also might need several coats. A finish over the seal or a layer of wax can help to prevent wear or dark marks from shoes or other travel.
If you want to try out an acrylic sealant, you can get this Armor AR350 5-gallon unit from Amazon. You should easily be able to put a double coat of this acrylic sealant on a 1000 square foot area with 5 gallons.
Epoxy or Polyurethane
Epoxies are common in areas with high traffic. They’re great to create a hard and long-lasting finish. Additionally, they provide a strong and abrasion-resistant finish, fighting off wear and tear from shoes, traffic, and use.
However, epoxies also can sometimes fail to prevent water from seeping in. Many epoxies are purposefully impermeable and can lead to trapping moisture inside the concrete.
If you go for a product that isn’t impermeable, epoxies are one of the best seals for preventing water. Make sure that you’re using the right product and you’ll be able to fend off moisture better than other seals.
Polyurethanes are a strong middle ground between epoxies and acrylics. They’re about twice as thick as an acrylic sealer and will provide a durable abrasion-resistant finish. In comparison to epoxies, they aren’t quite as durable, but will still provide fantastic protection.
Penetrating Resin Sealers
A penetrating sealer is often the best option for outdoor concretes. These sealers are virtually invisible, helping to maintain the concrete aesthetic. They’re also breathable, helping to let water and moisture escape.
These products help to make exterior concrete surfaces much more resistant to corrosion and freezing/thawing damages. They penetrate the concrete rather than seal the surface, reacting with the capillaries of the concrete itself.
Sealing Concrete: Step-by-Step
Applying your sealer is easier than you expect. Here’s a quick step-by-step on sealing concrete and how you can apply your sealer with ease.
1. Clean the Surface
No matter what kind of sealer you’re going to use, your first step will always be to clean the surface. Sweep the surface of the concrete as well as you can.
Once this is done, you should do your best to vacuum or blow away anything you might have missed. It’s crucial to have as clean a surface as possible, or your seal may not properly set.
You also should avoid using water in this situation. Some sealers, like polyurethanes, react poorly to water and can resist sealing properly.
2. Sand Down
Once this is done, you should sand down the concrete to an even level. If your surface is uneven, rigid, or freshly set, it might not seal properly. Uneven surfaces can lead to cracks or blemishes in the seal, letting moisture in and rendering it much less effective.
Not every sealing needs a perfectly even surface. Penetrating sealers sink into the concrete and seal it from the capillaries within. In this case, the surface matters much less, though it will help aesthetically.
Make sure to clean the surface with it sanded down. You may even want to sand it first unless the surface desperately needs cleaning.
3. Mix and Spread
From here, you’re in the clear to go ahead and prepare your sealer. If you have a type that needs mixing or preparation, take care of this step now.
Regardless of the needed preparation, spread your chosen product over your concrete. Make sure it’s in an even, well-applied layer. If you make a mistake, don’t hesitate to remove the seal before it’s set and try again.
You also might want to consider practicing before you seal a large or complex area. Sealing concrete doesn’t give mulligans! A low-quality seal is just as bad as no seal at all, so make sure yours is good! When in doubt, simply let professionals take care of the job for you.
4. Apply Extra Coats
Depending on the type of seal you’re using, you may want to apply more than one coat. Acrylics, for example, will frequently use more than one coat. Once the first layer has set, go ahead and prepare the second coat, repeating as necessary.
5. Let it Sit
Once you’ve applied the final coat or layer, you can let the seal sit. Some may take longer than others, so consult the directions of your product to see how long it should sit.
Remember that some types of sealing products require special care. Avoid letting water, dirt, or other hazards interact with the seal during this time.
What Happens if I Don’t Seal My Concrete?
Unsealed concrete is much more susceptible to damage, especially from the elements of nature. Unsealed concrete will likely stain, crack, leave dust, and have other issues. Sealing your concrete helps to prevent these issues as well as prolong the lifespan of your concrete flooring.
How Much Does Sealing Concrete Cost?
The cost is directly correlated with the size of the area of concrete you’re trying to seal, a larger area means a more expensive job. You can expect to spend around $200 to $600 for DIY after buying sealant and your application method. Professional jobs cost around $2500 on average.
How Long Should You Wait to Apply Sealers?
If you’ve recently installed concrete, you’ll need to wait for the concrete to finish curing before you can seal it. It’s suggested that you wait at least one month. You should also check the weather before you apply the sealer, as wet or damp concrete is not suitable to spread the sealer over.
Sealing your concrete is not a requirement, but a great idea. It will prolong the life and improve the quality of your concrete. Plus it will save you money in the long run since you will not have to replace your concrete! To learn more about improving your home and property, feel free to contact us for more information.