When do you need to use concrete stain and sealer? Well, if you have recently completed a project using concrete, you may need to seal the surface to prevent water and other seepage. Additionally, some concrete projects will receive an aesthetic "lift" if stained properly. Whether it is a paver driveway, an exposed aggregate pathway, concrete flooring, or a patio, you will want to consider the benefits of sealing and staining your work. Here are some tips.
- Concrete Sealer: Why use it? Concrete sealers are needed for projects that require the material to be impenetrable, or at least, less penetrable than unsealed concrete. Concrete sealers are finish concrete floor coatings used to protect the concrete. Sealers act to prevent damage from traffic, water and chemical agents. Sealers reduce the porosity of concrete and prevent water and dirt from getting into the concrete. Many people use epoxy concrete sealer.
- Types of Concrete Sealers: Film Formers. Film formers inhibit the penetration of water and impurities by creating a barrier on the concrete's surface. Since many of these film formers create a luster or shine on the surface, they are often used to enhance exposed aggregate colored concrete.
- Type of Concrete Sealers: Penetrates. These sealers penetrate into the concrete. They get 1 to 4 millimeters into the concrete to increase water repellency. Unlike the film formers, they do not leave a sheen or gloss.
- Which Type of Concrete Sealer to Use? This depends on two factors: What do you want the surface to look like and what type of maintenance are you willing to do? If you want a glossy finish, go with the film formers. If you desire a matte finish, use a penetrate. If you need a slip-free surface, stay away from film formers. To keep maintenance manageable, you will need to choose the correct product. For instance, for sealing a driveway, you need a coating that repels grease and oil and prevents water penetration. To make it easier to care for an interior floor, use a coating that dustproofs the surface and resists scuffs and staining.
- Concrete Stains: Why Use Them? Acid concrete stains add aesthetic value to your concrete. Many consider concrete staining a perfect substitute for painting, or adding carpet or wooden floors. A concrete surface can be heavily brushed or lightly smoothed. A design can be created to look swirled, tinted, geometric--basically any design or pattern can be created. Homeowners often prefer to use stain on concrete since no matter how discolored the surface is, any blemishes highlighted by the stain will simply add to the character of the finished coating.
- One Step Concrete Sealers and Stains: There are products that perform both the sealing and staining process. Products like Color n' Seal serve this dual purpose. They are semi-transparent stains as well as a protective acrylic coating. Most products do not perform both functions, so make sure to read the manufacturer's label thoroughly before applying to your surface.
- Concrete Sealer Application: Tools and Materials. You will need protective clothing, a water bucket, a stiff brush, concrete sealer, goggles, a paint roller, rubber gloves (neoprene), a fan, a concrete cleaner, a paintbrush, and a protective covering for your nose and mouth.
- Concrete Sealer Application: Floor Prep. You must clean the concrete surface before sealing. The floor must be free of dirt, grease and oil. Use a stiff scrub brush, concrete cleaner and degreaser to clean the floor. For obstinate stains, allow the detergent to coat the floor for 10 to 15 minutes after scrubbing and before rinsing with water. Wear protective clothing, use rubber gloves, goggles and a face mask while cleaning, as many sealers contain dangerous chemicals. Use a fan to ventilate the area you are working in.
- Sealer Application: Apply Sealer: Test the sealer in an inconspicuous area. If it looks good, continue. The easiest way to apply sealer is with a medium-nap paint roller with an extension handle. Use a regular paint brush to cut in the edges. Work the sealer into the surface and keep the substance from puddling anywhere on the surface. Your goal is to achieve a thin uniform coat over the entire surface. Typically, you only want to do one coat of sealer. Allow the sealer to dry as directed, usually for several hours.
- Clean Up: Wash up with warm soap and water immediately. Throw away all used material.
- Application: Stain. Concrete stain solutions are applied by brushing, spraying or rolling. The most effective way of applying these substances is by spraying the surface with a plastic garden sprayer. This allows the sealer or stain to spread evenly without a puddling effect. Use the same protective clothing and equipment as you did when applying the sealer.
Finishing a concrete project with the correct sealer and stain (if desired) is a crucial step. If the sealer is not applied correctly, or if you use the incorrect material to seal the surface, your concrete will suffer and may need to be repoured in the immediate future. To avoid future problems, make sure you always read the manufacturer's label and follow the instructions to a tee. Use the guidelines above, but be aware that every product is slightly different and may require variations in the application process.