Do you have an aging concrete basement or garage floor? Has your paver patio or the driveway seen better days? While most surfaces tend to outlast their owners, many take a heavy beating from all those years of exposure and hard usage.
Concrete sealers bring out that spectacular look of the surface restoring its original beauty. It is designed to seal and protect its surface as well as expand its lifespan. Tempted enough? Can’t wait to learn how you can seal concrete floors, then this is the perfect place to start.
Is It Necessary to Seal Concrete?
There is considerable debate on whether it is better to use a sealer on the floor or just leave it as it is. Although concrete performs quite adequately even if it is never sealed at all. But, sealing would increase its longevity manifolds.
Sealing creates a barrier between the concrete and the environment.
This layer protects the surface from being corroded, water damage, scrapes, and abrasions, etc. A sealer also gives a new appearance keeping grease stains away. Sealing your concrete basement, and indoors, offers protection against heavy foot traffic. As a result, the floor potentially lasts longer than expected.
Besides, the exterior surfaces like the driveway, walls, patio, pavers, etc., need protection as well. Extreme temperature, heavy rain, abrasion, sunlight don’t let the external surfaces rest any time of the year. Consequently, sealing would give them a new look. Following that, surface clean-up and maintenance become easier.
Steps to Seal Concrete Driveway, Floor, Walls, etc.
Sealing concrete floors and walls is actually a pretty easy task if you know how! In this write-up, we’ll discuss all the necessary steps to accomplish the task properly. Especially if you are a DIYer and a perfectionist, these simple steps will get you going in no time. Can’t wait to know all about how to do that? Well, keep following the steps below!
Step 1: Choosing the Sealer
This is the most sensitive and critical step of the entire sealing process. Luckily, we’ve published an entire article on choosing your perfect concrete sealer. You really need to be concerned as the type of sealer impacts the result a lot. To give you an idea, while acrylic sealers are thinner and require a few coats, epoxy versions are a bit thicker. And, they provide better protection than acrylic products.
Step 2: Cleaning and Damage Repair
Start by preparing the surface with a thorough cleaning. Move anything, either small or big, off the area first. Use a broom to clean off dust and small particles. In other words, sweep it clean. Use a brush, soap, detergent, or anything necessary to hit all the corners, nooks, and crannies. Use mineral spirits as much as necessary to scrub away any oil or grease stain.
Sweep out any dirt that may be lodged inside any cracks and fill them with concrete repair caulk. Allow the caulk and the whole surface to dry properly. Because a dry surface is critical for the sealer to adhere properly.
Step 3: Ensure Safety
Your concrete surface is now totally ready to be sealed. But before you start, take all the necessary precautions so that your skin or eyes don’t come in contact with the substance. Wear safety gloves and goggles, long sleeves and trousers.
Step 4: Prepare the Sealer
Read the application instructions thoroughly to prepare it. Different sealers have different methods of preparation. Some of them might require mixing of different additive parts to prevent becoming slippery, while others just need some shaking.
Step 5: Apply the Coats
To apply, you can either use a roller or a sprayer, or both. Depending on the product you’re applying, the tool might change. A sprayer won’t be able to throw or spray thick epoxy products. Now, if you’re using a roller, then pour some into a painting tray and dip it in.
Remember to roll the brush evenly on the sealer. Apply the sealer along the edges of the floor or patio first. Then, work your way towards the inside. You can also start in the far corner of the surface first. One may ask, can you seal a driveway in sections as well?
The answer is, of course, you can! An intelligent person will divide the floor into small sections and apply two or three thin coatings to it. When one section is done, he/she’ll move to the next. However, this method will require time and patience.
Step 6: Drying or Curing
Curing simply refers to leaving it for some time to let it dry properly. There has to be a drying period of at least five or more hours between them. This might vary depending on the product type you’ve chosen. Make sure to check the instructions before applying the next coat.
Benefits and Downsides of Sealing Concrete
While many think concrete itself is self-sufficient, but the truth is that it’s not enough. There are many pros and cons of sealing your concrete driveway, floors, walls, paver, or patio, and we’ll discuss some of them here.
1. Improves Surface Appearance
When you apply the sealer, it looks as if it is wet and new, even after years of application. Sealer preserves and adds to the original color of the surface and keeps it looking fresh always.
2. Extends Durability
Sealed concrete is protected from outside elements, and as a result, its lifespan increases. Since it acquires less damage, cracks, and discoloration, it lasts longer than the unsealed one.
3. Repels Moisture and Inhibits Mold
The unsealed concrete surface is porous. Often water gets absorbed through and results in the growth of harmful funguses like mold or mildew. So, sealing it would shut off its ability to absorb and thus repel moisture and prevent mold and mildew.
4. Protects against UV Rays
Just like anything else, the UV of sunlight can damage your concrete floors too. Some sealants offer protection against this UV ray and protect it from discoloration for a long time.
5. Easy to Apply
Applying sealer on concrete is a very easy task, provided you have the necessary tools to do so. You can easily do it all by yourself with some simple instructions provided in this article.
There are some minor difficulties you might face during or after you seal the concrete. Let’s see what sort of downsides are those!
1. Makes the Floor Slippery
Some sealers are thick and highly glossy. They tend to make the concrete floor slippery, especially when it is raining.
2. Re-application Is Necessary
Sealers have a definite lifespan, and it is usually two to three years. So, you need to reapply to reap the benefits again.
3. May Contain Harsh Chemicals
Many sealers contain harsh chemicals, and that’s why it is necessary to take adequate precautions while applying.
After all, sealing the surface is not the end goal in and of itself. After learning all the methods of how you can seal concrete, you’d have to invest your time in its regular maintenance as well. And, that involves some scheduled cleaning to extend the longevity of the sealer. Hence, you might use some soapy water every few months to keep it clean and better looking.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you seal old concrete?
You can definitely seal old concrete floors. Sealing old surfaces also improves its looks, brightens the color, and increases its lifespan many times over. However, some additional work is necessary before applying.
All of the necessary steps required to apply sealant on the old or new floor have already been explained in the above steps. The only additional thing you need to do is remove the previous sealing with acid etching or grinding.
2. Is driveway sealing worth it?
Although there are conflicting reports on whether it is beneficial to the extent as they say it does, in reality, it all boils down to the type and number of coatings of the sealant. Your concrete driveway, floor, patio, and other basements face all the harshness of the environment and the seasons over the year, not to mention the UV from sunlight.
So, make sure to use the best sealant from the market and to rip all the benefits of it on the driveway, have patience, and put multiple coatings of it. And most importantly, learn exactly how you can seal concrete driveway properly beforehand.
3. How long does it take for the concrete sealer smell to go away?
There is no definite timeline for the sealer smell to vanish completely. Most products don’t smell after curing totally within a day. However, there are some which do smell for days. If it leaves a nasty smell even after 24 hours, make sure to ventilate the place properly. Some people also use ‘smell eraser’ products such as ‘Fabreze’ to erase the memory of smell.
4. Does power washing remove the concrete sealer?
If you want to remove the old layer, determine first which type of sealer it was used. There are two major types; water-based and solvent-based. Water-based products are much easier to remove with power washing or hot water washing. You can also use products such as Aqua Mix’s or any other type of coating remover beforehand to make the washing process easier.
5. How many coats of sealer can you put on concrete?
Some DIYers ask how many sealer coats to apply on the surface to make it last longer. It is a misunderstanding that putting many coats extends its longevity. In fact, the opposite is true mostly; less is more. If you ask any specialist, they’ll say two thin coatings work best on concrete. The first coat gets absorbed and acts as a primer. It is the second coat that will change the look of the surface.
This second coating will provide an even finish and brings out the glossiness. Remember to apply it in the opposite direction of the first coating. And always wait for at least two to four hours before applying the second one.
6. Is concrete sealers slippery?
Not all of them are slippery. Penetrating sealers like polyurethane get absorbed into the surface. So, they are not slippery at all! However, epoxy versions can get slippery, especially after multiple coatings. These are used to make the pavers look wet.
Some products slip-resistant when dry but become slippery when wet. To avoid that issue, you could always add some grit additive like polyethylene with the second coating. This creates a sufficiently rough surface when wet and reduces the chance of anyone getting slipped.
7. Can I paint over the concrete sealer?
Painting over concrete is certainly tougher than throwing a coat on drywall. Since it’s a porous material, it tends to absorb the color inside. And, if it’s sealed, that’s yet another problem. Most sealers contain a chemical named silicone that penetrates through the surface. If you paint over it, then the paint will wear off very soon. So, you’ll just have to wait till the product wears off itself. Otherwise, the paint won’t bond with the surface.
8. Can I put sealer on fresh concrete?
Of course, you can! But you have to let it cure and dry properly for at least a month to get the best result. In that period, any water trapped inside will get vaporized. If you paint over fresh concrete that is still new and wet, the liquid inside will produce mold or mildew funguses, and both the concrete and the sealer will get affected.
9. How long does the concrete sealer need to dry before the rain?
Usually, it takes about 2 to 4 hours to get dry enough for a second coating. But make sure to give it around 6 to 12 hours before it gets soaked in the rain.
10. Can I use a garden sprayer to apply the concrete sealer?
Yes. You can use regular garden sprayers to apply the sealant on the concrete. However, solvent-based sealers tend to be thicker and contain harmful chemicals. So, it is not recommended that you use the garden sprayer for it. On the other hand, water-based products are less thick and have very few harmful chemicals. So, you can use the same sprayer for sealing that you use for fertilizer and insecticide in the garden.