Concrete counter sealer

14.02.2020
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Concrete Sealers - What's The Best Sealer?

A concrete sealer is essential for protecting surfaces from water damage caused by freeze/thaw cycles, stains from dirt, deicing salts, oil and other contaminants, and much more. So, if youve just installed the decorative concrete masterpiece of your dreams, make sure it gets sealed.

Concrete Sealer Product Information

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Whether its a pattern-stamped pool deck or patio, an interlocking paver driveway, an acid-stained floor, or an exposed-aggregate walkway, a good sealer will keep it looking spectacular for many years to come while extending its service life. And even if the surface begins to show wear after years of exposure to traffic and the environment, you can often restore its original beauty with a good cleaning and fresh sealer application.

SEALING OUTDOOR CONCRETE

Sealing outdoor concrete surfaces is an essential part of hardscape maintenance. Concrete sealer is a lot like car wax-many people go without and then regret it when the paint peels. Sealer may not seem necessary at first, but after a few years of exposure to weather and use concrete can become discolored, stained or even flaky.

Sealing Stamped Concrete

A combination of spraying and rolling is being used to seal a stamped concrete driveway.
Decorative Concrete Institute in Temple, GA

A concrete driveway or patio sealer will protect against:

  • Oil stains
  • Tire marks
  • Deicing salts
  • Yellowing or fading
  • Water damage
  • Dirt, mud and mold
  • Lawn care chemicals

All types of exterior concrete should be sealed including plain concrete, stamped concrete, stained concrete, integrally colored concrete, exposed aggregate, stenciled concrete, engraved concrete and overlays. Each surface lends itself to unique needs when it comes to a sealer. For more information, check out these in-depth resources:

The best concrete sealer for a driveway, patio, pool deck or walkway is UV resistant, breathable, and slip resistant, even when wet. When a good concrete sealant is used, maintenance is easywash the driveway or patio with soap and water, or a degreaser designed for use on cement, and apply a fresh coat of sealer about every three years.

Outdoors a penetrating concrete sealer is usually better than a film-forming product for safety reasons, but also because the end result will last longer and looks more realistic and natural, especially when sealing stamped concrete.

SEALING CONCRETE FLOORS

Concrete is an incredibly durable flooring choice, especially when properly sealed. Whether for a commercial or residential property, a basement or a garage, a concrete floor sealer is an easy and affordable way to ensure the surface will look its best and function well for years.

A good concrete floor sealer will:

  • Prolong the life of a floor
  • Enrich and preserve its appearance
  • Provide resistance to scuffs and stains
  • Prevent moisture problems

Film-forming sealers, either epoxy or acrylic, are most often used for indoor flooring. Epoxy concrete sealers are the most durable, making them good for sealing garage floors and high-traffic retail environments. Softer acrylic sealers, which require a sacrificial floor wax, are more affordable and popular for residential concrete floors, including basements. When working indoors, it's safest to apply a water-based sealer, because they dont contain harmful fumes from VOCs.

SEALING CONCRETE COUNTERTOPS

Sealing is the last, but most important, step when installing concrete countertops in a kitchen or bathroom. A waterproof concrete countertop sealer will prevent food stains as well as scratches.

The best sealers for countertops are:

  • Heavy-duty
  • Food-safe
  • Colorless
  • Non-yellowing
  • Heat and scratch resistant
  • Low-odor, with zero VOCs

Countertop sealers come in varying sheen levels, from matte to high gloss. If you want to be able to use your countertop immediately, you can opt for a fast-curing sealer. For extra protection and shine, some countertop installers will apply a food-safe finishing wax over the concrete sealer.

Concrete Sealer Before and After

Decorative Concrete Institute in Temple, GA

SEALING NEW CONCRETE VS. SEALING OLD CONCRETE

Most sealers are best applied when the concrete has been allowed to fully cure for at least 28 days. However, there are cure and seal products available that can be applied as soon as the concrete is strong enough to support the weight of a person.

If youd like to seal fresh concrete soon after pouring, select a sealer that contains a curing compound. Make sure to wait until all the bleed water has evaporated from the surface of the concrete before applying a cure and seal.

Sealing can be a great way to restore the appearance of old concrete. Existing concrete can be sealed or resealed at any time. Some manufacturers make sealers specifically formulated for older, more porous concrete.

If there is already a sealer present, it may need to be removed. Check with the sealer manufacturer to see if you can seal over the top of the existing sealer. If the concrete is unsealed, all it needs is a thorough cleaning before applying sealer. You may also wish to fill any significant cracks prior to sealing.

WILL SEALING CONCRETE CHANGE ITS APPEARANCE?

This depends on what type of concrete sealer you choose (use this concrete sealer comparison chart to compare your options). The main purpose of any sealer is protection; however, some also enhance the color or gloss of the concrete. If you dont want your concrete to look different, a clear concrete sealer that penetrates beyond the surface will not change its appearance.

Sealer Color: Colored concrete sealers are tinted to add color to plain concrete or augment the color of stained concrete. Additionally, some sealers enhance, or deepen the color of concrete that has been integrally colored or stained.

Sealer Gloss: Sealers come in different gloss levels, ranging from a flat natural finish to a high-gloss, reflective finish. Wet look concrete sealers have the highest solids content, giving the concrete the glossy look some people desire. Sealers with high-gloss often need grit added to make them slip-resistant.

FILM-FORMING VS. PENETRATING SEALERS

Concrete Sealers - Sealer Selection Tips
Time: 04:34

There are two main types of concrete sealers: film-forming sealers and penetrating sealers.

Film-forming sealers include acrylics, epoxies, and urethanes that form a coating on the surface of the concrete. Film-forming sealers, especially acrylics, are more susceptible to wear and will need to be reapplied frequently. This type of sealer is sometimes referred to as a topical concrete sealer or a coating.

Tip: Choose a film-forming sealer if you want a wet look or high gloss finish that enhances the color of your concrete.

Penetrating sealers include silanes, siloxanes, silicates and siliconates that penetrate into the concrete to form a chemical barrier. Penetrating sealers have a long lifespan and are a great choice for exterior applications. They dont peel, delaminate or wear away. This type of sealer is sometimes referred to as an impregnating concrete sealer.

Tip: Choose a penetrating sealer if you prefer a natural finish that will not change the look of your concrete.

CONCRETE SEALER REVIEWS

The concrete sealers with the best reviews tend to be professional grade, not the type you can buy at your local home-improvement store. Professional grade sealers can be ordered online through specialized companies, or purchased at a local concrete supply store.

Top reasons for a good concrete sealer review:

  • Easy to apply
  • Good coverage rates
  • Water beads up nicely
  • Dries quickly
  • Low odor
  • Doesnt change the color of the concrete
  • Resists scratches
  • Lasts a longtime
  • Prevents flaking from freeze-thaw damage

HOW MUCH SEALER DO I NEED?

To determine how much sealer youll need for your concrete you need to know these things:

  • Coverage rate
  • Square feet
  • How many coats are required

For example, if the sealer you are using will cover 100 square feet per gallon and your patio is 200 square feet, you will need two gallons. For sealers requiring two coats, they typically cover twice as much on the second application. So in this scenario that would be 200 square feet, meaning you would only need one additional gallon for the second coat, making it three gallons in total.

Coverage rates will vary depending on the porosity of your concrete. Typically, older concrete is more porous and may require extra sealer.

It is always a good idea to have more sealer on hand than you think is necessary. You dont want to run out before the job is complete. Stopping and starting sealer application can cause appearance and performance problems.

Concrete Sealer Sprayer

Decorative Concrete Institute in Temple, GA

CONCRETE SEALER APPLICATION TIPS

Applying a sealer to concrete is a fairly simple and fast process (learn more about how to apply concrete sealer). Most are applied in a similar way, but always check the instructions on the specific sealer you are using before getting started.

Sealer success tips:

  • The surface must be clean and dry to ensure good adhesion
  • Allow new concrete to cure fully prior to sealing
  • Seal concrete when the weather is dry and above 50
  • Always apply sealer in thin layers
  • Two coats will provide the best protection
  • Solvent-based sealers are best spray applied
  • Water-based sealers are best applied by roller
  • If you have textured concrete (broom finish or stamped), sealer may pool if applied too thickly

Applying concrete sealer is something that many homeowners take on as a DIY project. If you choose to do so make sure you have the appropriate protective gear and equipment needed. Also do plenty of research about the process and follow the instructions included with your sealer carefully.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SEAL CONCRETE?

Sealing concrete is a fast process that can be completed in a single day. If the sealer youre using requires two coats, you may have to wait a specified amount of time before applying the second coat. However, some sealers can be applied wet-on-wet, which means there is no downtime.

Here are approximate dry times for the various sealer types:

  • Acrylics dry fastest, dry to the touch within one hour
  • Penetrating sealers are dry to the touch in about 3 hours and ready for traffic in 6-12
  • Epoxies and urethanes take the longest to dry, up to 48 hours

WHEN SHOULD CONCRETE BE RESEALED?

Most concrete should be resealed every 1 to 3 years. However, this will depend on the type of sealer used, the amount of abuse it is exposed to and so forth.

Signs that you may need to reseal:

  • Water no longer beads on the surface, but instead soaks into the concrete
  • The sealer appears scratched, worn, dull or dirty

How long concrete sealers last:

  • Penetrating sealers containing silicate, silane, or siloxane last longest, sometimes a lifetime
  • Soft acrylic coatings wear the fastest, needing reapplication every 1 to 3 years
  • Epoxies, polyurethanes and polyaspartics are much harder than acrylics lasting 5-10 years

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT A SEALER IS BREATHABLE?

Concrete is porous, which means air and water can pass through from one side to the other. If a sealer isnt breathable, this moisture would become trapped and cause problems. During the winter, trapped moisture can freeze and expand within the concrete, leading to cracks or other surface damage such as spalling or efflorescence.

The best concrete sealers allow moisture and air to escape, while still providing protection. Most manufacturers describe this quality as breathability and recognize that it is especially important when sealing outdoor surfaces. Penetrating sealers and acrylics offer the best breathability.

COMMON CONCRETE SEALER PROBLEMS

Sometimes concrete sealers fail. The most common reason for sealer issues is improper application.

Concrete sealer problems and their causes:

  • Bubbles - caused by applying sealer too thickly or over-rolling
  • Discoloration - white or cloudy efflorescence-like markings caused by trapped moisture
  • Peeling - caused by moisture-vapor, contamination or over-application of the sealer
  • Streaks/Lines - caused by the sealer drying too quickly during application

In some cases, these problems can be fixed by applying a fresh coat of sealer to the concrete, other times the existing sealer may need to be stripped first to start fresh.

IS CONCRETE SEALER TOXIC?

All concrete sealers should be handled with caution. During application, toxic fumes can be bothersome and the sealer can be a skin or eye irritant.

Sealer safety tips:

  • Open doors and windows for good ventilation
  • Wear a mask or respirator
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Wear gloves, good shoes and eye protection
  • Wash well after applying sealer

Some sealers contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are released into the air during application and at a slower rate after the sealer has dried. Recent federal and local regulations have set limits for VOC content.

Newer water-based sealers are less harsh and contain lower amounts of VOCs. Many are also environmentally friendly and qualify for LEED points.

If you are a contractor who applies sealer on a regular basis, take precautions to prevent breathing in an excessive amount of fumes.

Last updated: September 26, 2019 - Contributions by Anne Balogh, Bob Harris, Bill Palmer, Chris Sullivan, and Bill York


concrete counter sealer
Concrete Countertop Sealer Food Safe Coating Gloss or Matte XS-327

Matte or Gloss Finish Food Safe Concrete Countertop Sealer XS-327 by SureCrete

Matte or Gloss Finish Food Safe Concrete Countertop Sealer XS 327 by SureCrete


SureCretes XS-327 concrete countertop sealer protectionis a specially formulated two component water-based, moisture-cure, high solids hybrid polyurethane coating designed for application over completed concrete countertops and surfaces. XS-327 is a penetrating food safe, UV stable, minimal color enhancing sealer, available in both matte and gloss finishes. At 64% solids (varies upon reduction rate) and 25 g/L VOC this high-performance clear top coat generates the premier balance of strength, flexibility, chemical and scratch resistance. XS-327 concrete countertop sealer is ideally suited for both commercial and residential settings applied upon concrete countertops, fireplace surrounds, shower panels, floor tiles, wall panels, and all Xtreme Series products. Like some other sealers, XS-327 countertop protection becomes food safe upon curing. It is stain resistant to most household chemicals and culinary items and is heat resistant to 300F (149C). XS-327 is distinctive in its ability to be touched up or repaired.

With such a low VOC rating at only 25 g/L, XS-327 is an incredible eco-friendly sealer concrete countertops, after curing, thesealers staining is completely food safe, making it an ideal sealer for use in both residential and commercial kitchens. Also, being a water-based sealer, XS-327 cementcountertop coatingputs out little to no odor, making it an ideal layer for use in residential applications. XS-327s scratch and abrasion resistance are also second to none, making it viable for a variety of surfaces. XS-327 is simply the best countertop sealer on the market today.



Food Safe Concrete Countertop Sealer Typical applications:



Concrete Countertop Sealer - How to choose the best sealer for your countertop.

What is the best concrete countertop sealer? Do I need to seal my concrete countertop? Two great questions, first lets' take a look at why sealing a concrete countertop is important and why choosing the proper sealer is even more critical when it comes to maintaining them.

best sealer for concrete countertopsJeff Girard applies a water-based urethane sealer with a HVLP spray gun. Photo courtesy of The Concrete Countertop Institute.

Unsealed concrete is porous which makes it prone to staining and chemical attack. Liquids will tend to soak into the surface, carrying stains into the concrete. Acidic substances like vinegar and lemon juice will dissolve the cement paste, etching the surface.

For concrete to be a practical countertop material, it must be sealed to protect it from stains and etching. The best concrete countertop sealer must satisfy these basic items.

1. Enhance the appearance of the concrete
2. Resist stains from food, oil and other household substances
3. Resist etching from acidic substances like vinegar and lemon juice
4. Resist heat from hot pots and pans
5. Resist UV degradation and yellowing from sunlight
6. Be scratch proof
7. Be food safe
8. Clean easily using common household cleaners
9. Not peel, flake, chip, or blister
10. Provide long term protection
11. Easy to apply
12. Inexpensive

As with most things the ideal sealer for concrete countertops doesn't exist. So you must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type of sealer and choose the one that's best for you.

Concrete countertop sealers can be separated into two basic groups: penetrating sealers and topical sealers. One consideration when choosing between penetrating and topical sealers is that sealing concrete that has been polished with a diamond grit finer than #200 can be difficult.

The surface is too smooth for many film forming (topical) sealers to stick to. For best results when using a "sealer" on your countertop, don't polish to more than a 200 grit finish. When concrete countertops are polished to 400 grit and higher, only penetrating sealers, densifiers and wax can be used.

Types of sealers for concrete countertops

PENETRATING SEALERS - These work by reacting with the concrete to decrease its porosity and increase the surface density. They are applied to the bare concrete, soak in, and after wiped off and dried, are usually invisible. They don't usually affect the appearance of the concrete, but may leave it looking slightly darker.

Wax is used over penetrating sealers to protect the countertop surface as staining may still occur if the spilled substance is not wiped up immediately.

ACRYLICS - Acrylic countertop sealers are topical, film forming, and are brushed, sprayed or rolled on. Acrylic sealers offers fairly good stain protection but are easily scratched.

They require more frequent reapplication because they tend to wear off. Solvent based acrylic sealers are simple to touch up because the sealer will melt into itself. These come in a high gloss or a matte finish. Acrylics offer modest heat protection but are UV resistant.

EPOXIES - Epoxy countertop sealers are a two component system that chemically reacts when mixed. The end result is a very durable, very hard surface. There are three basic types of epoxies: solvent based, water based, and 100% solids. Epoxy that is 100% solids means there is no solvent or thinner in the epoxy, all of the material that is mixed together reacts and forms a coating.

Epoxy provides good stain resistance, is very glossy and builds to a thick film. Epoxies tend to be heat sensitive and do scratch easily. The application of epoxy sealers can be tricky, they are sensitive to moisture and can bubble if applied to even slightly wet concrete.

URETHANES - Urethane countertop sealers are very tough and durable. They are very stain and heat resistant, provide excellent UV resistance, are scratch resistant and come very glossy or in a matte finish. Urethanes are very sensitive to the surface they are applied to. Many require a primer, which is often epoxy. Because of this they tend to look like a thick plastic coat.

There are versions of urethane sealers that can be applied to bare concrete if the surface is prepared properly. They must be measured out precisely and mixed thoroughly. If not, they could peel and are difficult to repair.

POLYASPARTICS - Polyaspartic sealers are very tough, durable and extremely hard. They are heat resistant, stain resistant and UV resistant. They are a two component system that chemically reacts when mixed. They dry very fast, which could make them difficult to apply for a do it your-selfer.

For overall protection, a polyaspartic concrete countertop sealer is the way to go. I use Spartic-All RM Clear from Elite crete systems. For ease of installation an acrylic countertop sealer is the best choice. As you can see, there is no best concrete countertop sealer. You have to decide which sealer will work best for your countertop.

Update for 2015: Here's my recommendation for the best sealer for concrete countertops.



See below for more information:

DIY CONCRETE_COUNTERTOPS

HOW TO MAKE CONCRETE_COUNTERTOPS

CONCRETE_COUNTERTOP FACTS

CONCRETE_COUNTERTOP MIX

CONCRETE_COUNTERTOP REINFORCEMENT

FORMING CONCRETE_COUNTERTOPS

POURING CONCRETE_COUNTERTOPS

FINISHING CONCRETE_COUNTERTOPS

STAINING CONCRETE_COUNTERTOPS

PRECAST CONCRETE_COUNTERTOPS

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Sealers for Concrete Countertops - The Concrete Network
Omega Countertop Sealer Site ConcreteNetwork.com ,

Formulated specifically for countertops, Omega Concrete Countertop Sealer provides superior protection.

Because concrete is naturally porous, concrete countertops should always be sealed to protect them from food stains, scratches and water absorption. The right sealer will not only protect the countertop surface, but also enhance its color and sheen. There are many factors to consider when choosing a countertop sealer. Following are some tips for selecting a product appropriate for the function and design intent of your countertop.

Choosing the Right Sealer for the JobWith so many countertop sealers to choose from, it's important to understand what's available, how they work, and what each type is best suited for. "There are a multitude of concrete sealers on the market, but it's important to choose a product that meets the unique performance requirements for countertops as opposed to floors or exterior flatwork," says Jeff Girard of the Concrete Countertop Institute. Here are the most important factors to consider:

  • For countertops, be sure to choose a heavy-duty sealer that is food-safe, colorless, non-yellowing, and heat and scratch resistant. Learn more about polyaspartic sealers for countertops, which resist heat and are impervious to lemon juice and red wine.
  • In most cases (with the exception of outdoor countertops), youll be applying the sealer indoors. Use a product that is safe for indoor application, one that contains no VOCs or harmful chemicals and is low in odor.
  • Countertop sealers are available in a range of sheen levels. For a more natural look, youll get the best results using a sealer with a low-sheen matte finish. If you want a shinier porcelain-like finish, choose a high-gloss sealing product.
  • Most countertop sealers can take hours to become tack-free and several days to reach full cure. If you want to speed up the process, fast-curing sealers are available that cure almost instantly upon exposure to a special ultraviolet light. Learn more about a countertop sealer that offers instant curing.
  • Be sure to test any sealing product youre considering before you apply it. Testing is the most accurate way to verify that a countertop sealer will deliver what you expect in terms of both appearance and performance. See this procedure for testing sealers for concrete countertops.

How to Apply Countertop SealerHow a sealer is applied can significantly affect the final appearance and performance. Using the right tools is critical to achieving the best coverage rate and sealer thickness. While there are some general guidelines for applying sealer, you should always refer to the manufacturer's installation instructions regarding the tools and procedures they recommend. The most important rule to remember is that less is more. You should apply sealer in multiple thin coats vs. one thick heavy coat. Get more tips for sealer application: Choosing the Best Applicator.

For additional protection and luster, some countertop installers will also apply a food-safe finishing wax over the sealer. This sacrificial protectant will help to preserve the sealer but requires regular reapplication to maintain its effectiveness.

Fixing Scratches in Countertop SurfacesMinor scratches can occur in concrete countertops by cutting directly on the surface. If scratches do appear, they are usually in the sealer and not in the concrete itself, making them easy to repair (see How to Fix Scratches in Topical Sealer).

Minor scuffs and shallow scratches in countertop sealers can usually be buffed out. If the scratch is deep, however, you may need to fix it by filling the scratch with more sealer. For information on the best tools to use to apply touchup sealer, see Touching Up Minor Surface Scratches.

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