Concrete Floor Basics - To Seal Or Not to Seal?
Although concrete is a solid matter, it is a porous material.
Although concrete is a solid matter, it is a porous material which means it absorbs liquids just like a sponge.
Different liquid substances can seep into concrete from water to vehicle oil, greases and grime. Once the concrete
has absorbed these liquids, it would be very hard to remove them. Sealing your concrete prevents liquid substances
to penetrate its pores, ultimately prolonging the life of the concrete surface.
How do concrete sealers work as a protective barrier?
A concrete sealer changes the qualities of the concrete's surface so that when water comes into contact with it,
the water molecules form tiny blobs on the surface instead of penetrating it. Then, the water droplets just roll
away from the surface. Sealing gives concrete the same protection against oils and grease so even these normally
hard-to-remove stains become easy to clean. It also protects against de-icing salts so sealing is especially
important on exterior concrete surfaces that go through freeze-thaw cycles. It also eliminates the problem of
mildew penetrating the cement, which can leave black stains on the surface over time.
How does it affect the concrete's appearance?
Sealers usually impart sheen to concrete surfaces drawing out the rich colours of decorative concrete. Any
decorative concrete finish will look much better when sealed. Exposed aggregate concrete will definitely benefit
from sealing because it enhances the beauty of the decorative aggregates (i.e. pebbles and small stones) in the
concrete. A tinted sealer can be applied to a plain gray slab or decorative concrete to add colour. Regular
application of a quality concrete sealer will make your concrete more resistant to fading and wear.
How often should concrete sealing be done?
There is no exact rule to this because several factors are involved, mainly the type and quality of the product you
used, the location of the area and the conditions the concrete is exposed to. A sealer, depending on the exact
product, may last from 1 to 3 years.
Basically, you should seal your concrete as soon as you notice the coating is starting to wear away. You should
also reseal coloured concrete as soon as you see the need for it because delaying the work may result to a slight
fading of colour.
You should consider traffic and weather factors. Naturally, concrete surfaces that get a lot of vehicle traffic and
is exposed to sunlight will wear faster than, say, a covered concrete area with moderate foot traffic. This is why
concrete driveways are normally sealed more frequently than patios or sidewalks.
Recommendations: Seal concrete driveways once a year, ideally during fall to prepare it for winter conditions. It
is ideal to re-apply clear seal on coloured concrete that get heavy traffic or is exposed to harsh winter
conditions every 1 to 2 years. Seal other exterior concrete surfaces (plain or coloured) that do not get vehicle
traffic every 2 to 3 years. For interior concrete floors, it's okay to seal them once but apply wax coating
periodically. With periodic concrete sealing, the next coatings only need quick and thin applications.
So, should you seal concrete?
While the benefits of sealing are obvious here, some people still do not seal their concrete. Some say it's not
necessary if you live in a place that has a mild climate or don't get much rain. But the truth is sealing improves
the overall appearance and life of all types of concrete regardless of the location. So, if you want to protect
your investment, there's no question to it - you should seal your concrete.
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