Concrete floor sealing is a process that involves applying a coat of sealant to a concrete surface in order to protect it from damage, water absorption, and other environmental factors. Sealing a concrete floor can also enhance the overall appearance of the area.
What Are The Benefits of Sealing Concrete Floor?
Sealing Concrete Provides Floor Protection
Concrete is porous, which means that without it being properly sealed, your old or new concrete floor is open to oil spills, water damage, staining from chemicals, and even mould growth. This can not only cause unsightly stains but also damage the structural integrity of your floor. However, sealing the concrete floor creates a protective barrier that helps prevent these issues from occurring.
Sealing Concrete Protects from Mould and Mildew
Mould and mildew can thrive in damp environments, making unsealed concrete floors a prime breeding ground. These microorganisms not only cause unpleasant odours but can also be harmful to your health. By sealing the concrete floor, you are creating a moisture barrier that prevents mould and mildew growth, keeping your space clean and safe.
Sealing Concrete Prolongs Floor Durability
In addition to protecting against spills and damage, sealing concrete floors can also extend their lifespan by preventing cracks and chips from forming due to wear. When you seal your concrete floor it also acts as a dustproofer. Whenever concrete starts “dusting”, it means that your concrete is wearing away.
This in turn creates dust that will make your premises dirty and increase cleaning bills. Dustproofing is any sealer or process that will stop this happening.
Sealing Concrete Better Maintains Floor Colour
Maintaining the lustrous appearance of your concrete flooring is no easy task, especially with constant foot traffic and the occasional spills. However, sealing your concrete floor simplifies this task, as it better preserves the vibrant pigments or delicate patterns incorporated into your aesthetic designs. Over time, untreated concrete suffers from fading colours due to exposure to sunlight and other chemical reactions.
A good sealer acts as a protective layer, safeguarding your floor’s colour from these influences. Consequently, your floor retains its unique charm, remaining attractive and inviting. This effectively saves you the cost and effort of constantly using floor paint or resurfacing your floor to revive its initial appeal.
Sealing Concrete Extends Floor Lifespan
Without a doubt, a sealer will protect your concrete and provide many benefits. Economically, the biggest plus is that it will extend the lifespan of your floor. By stopping dusting and oil and grease stains alone, these products will add years of life to your floors and reduce costly maintenance bills.
Sealing Concrete Enhances Floor Appearance
If you prepare your concrete correctly and apply the correct sealer using the manufacturer’s instructions, the appearance of your floor will be enhanced. Either clear or coloured sealers can be applied, depending on the type of floor appearance that you desire.
If your concrete is in good condition, you may want to go for a clear option; this usually gives the surface a warmth and depth of colour and provides a sheen that is pleasing to the eye. If your floor has had lots of repairs and has seen better days, you may wish to go for a coloured seal or coating, as this hides a multitude of sins!
How to Prepare Concrete for Sealing?
The condition and porosity of the subfloor and the chosen product will determine the preparation required. Diamond grinding, degreasing, scrubber drying and polishing are all methods that we use prior to the concrete being sealed.
These techniques will ensure the surface is properly cleaned and any imperfections are smoothed out. If the concrete has previously been sealed, it must be stripped of its old coating before a new one can be applied otherwise it will not penetrate into the concrete.
Concrete Surface Cleaning
Any sealer or coating is as good as the preparation that has been carried out beforehand. Below is a set of basic steps to help ensure your surface is as clean as possible before any sealer can be used.
- Remove everything from the floor that you wish to seal
- Using a putty knife, remove the skirting boards from the wall
- Remove any debris that remains on the floor
- Use a degreasing product to degrease the floors
- Scrub any oily areas of your floor with a wire brush
- Use a wet mop to rinse your concrete
- Wait until the floor is completely dry
- Fill any cracks in the concrete using concrete filler
Remove Old Concrete Sealer
- Test for Sealer – To promote good adhesion, you need to remove the old sealers. You can test for sealer by abrading the surface with sandpaper, if a white powder is produced then this is usually a sign of an existing sealer. Sealers are also normally shiny and when removed the concrete will normally be more of a matt finish.
- Strip the Existing Sealer – Depending on the sealer that has been applied, it is sometimes possible to remove the sealer with a floor stripper. This is usually an acidic or solvent liquid that is mopped onto the surface, left to dry completely and then removed. This process etches the sealer coat, lifting it off of the surface. The results of this can be very hit and miss.
- Scrape the Surface – This is usually achieved using a mechanical method, such as diamond grinding. Try to use a light grit, to begin with so that you don’t damage the surface too much; you can always use a more abrasive diamond if the lighter one doesn’t work. This can be done either by wet grinding or dry diamond grinding.
- Clean and Dry – If prepared by dry diamond grinding, the floor should be cleaned with a high power vacuum cleaner. If it has been wet polished or grinded, then we would clean the area with a scrubber dryer machine. Get some airflow throughout the area and this will speed up the drying process.
Apply Concrete Sealer Coating
Once you have prepared the concrete for the sealer, it’s the main event! Ensure you have checked the manufacturer’s instructions, and wear any protective clothing that is stated; rubber gloves are always a good idea. Check the coverage rates of how much product should be applied at a time, this will ensure you are not putting it down too thin or too thick.
The application method will depend on the type of sealer that you are applying. Most sealers, whether they are 1 part or 2 parts, can be applied with a sprayer or by roller and paintbrush. Apply the sealer in thin coats and try to get even coverage, make sure the sealer doesn’t puddle and try to use the same method throughout the whole floor. Most systems normally follow the same steps:
- Apply the First Coat
- Apply the Second Coat
- Allow for Drying
Choosing the Right Concrete Floor Sealer
Any type of sealer is better than none, and all of them will ensure your concrete lasts longer. But not all are equal. Selecting the right concrete sealer involves more than just the cost; it requires a thorough understanding of your specific needs, the differences among various sealers, and key considerations such as VOC content.
Choosing wisely ensures both the aesthetics of your concrete and its long-term durability. The best concrete sealer for you will differ if its for your distribution centre or your garage floor at home.
Different Types of Concrete Sealer
- Acrylic – Acrylic concrete sealers are generally a popular choice due to their ease of application, low odour and cost-effectiveness. They dry quickly and aesthetically improve your concrete by adding a semi-gloss or gloss finish. However, often used as a primer for other systems their durability is lower when compared to other sealers like polyurethanes or epoxies.
- Polyurethane – Polyurethane sealers offer excellent protection against chemicals and abrasion while providing a high-gloss finish. These sealers require a bit more preparation and drying time than acrylics, but they offer superior longevity.
- Epoxy Coating –Epoxy coatings are typically used in commercial and industrial settings due to their supreme durability and ability to withstand high traffic. Epoxies are relatively expensive compared to other sealers and may yellow over time, particularly when exposed to sunlight.
- Polyaspartics – Polyaspartics, the last type on our list, are similar to polyurethanes but with even higher performance characteristics. They are abrasion-resistant, UV stable, and applicable in a wide range of temperatures. They also cure faster than epoxies and polyurethanes, making them an efficient sealing solution.
Indoor VS Outdoor Concrete Sealer
The debate between indoor versus exterior concrete sealer hinges on numerous factors such as location, weather conditions, and foot traffic. Indoor sealers are designed to withstand less vigorous usage and require high aesthetic value rather than resistance to aggressive weather conditions.
They also cater to specific indoor conditions such as moisture mitigation and the need for low VOC content. On the other hand, outdoor sealers have to be tough warriors, resilient to UV rays, varying temperatures and climatic conditions, and heavy foot traffic. In addition to this, outdoor sealers often have enhanced properties like mould and mildew resistance.
Therefore, choosing the right sealer is all about assessing the situation and understanding the specific needs of your concrete surface.
What Are Volatile Organic Compounds?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. High concentrations of VOCs can cause health problems, such as nausea, dizziness, and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Therefore, it is crucial to choose low-VOC sealers or those labelled as ‘VOC compliant,’, especially for indoor use.
Whether it’s as simple as cleaning and sealing an older floor with a one coat water-based system, or installing an impregnating sealer in conjunction with a wet polishing system on a power floated concrete floor, the basic principles are the same. There isn’t a surface in your premises that gets worked more than your floor.
We can sometimes take them for granted, but having the foresight to look after them can often save you and your company thousands of pounds in repairs and downtime. Choosing the correct products and having them installed professionally will prolong the life and appearance of your concrete floor.
Contact us today, and we will happily offer technical data and our advice on what the best solution would be for your application.
How Much Does Concrete Sealer Cost?
The variables that effect this are the size of the area, the preparation required and the system that has been specified.
Is Sealed Concrete Waterproof?
While sealed concrete can provide some level of water resistance, it is not completely waterproof. Over time, water can still seep through small cracks or pores in the concrete. It is important to regularly reapply sealer to maintain its effectiveness.
Can I Apply a Concrete Sealer Myself?
Some of the basic sealers are easy to apply. Most novices make mistakes with the preparation and choosing the correct product for their application. There are many factors that should be considered; we would always recommend speaking to a professional before undertaking any of this kind of work.
How Long do I Have to Wait Before Applying a Second Coat of Concrete Sealer?
The porosity of the concrete, the product being used, and the site conditions will all play a part in how long it takes the sealer to dry. Usually, if you allow it to dry so that you can walk on it without affecting it, then this is a good indication that you can overcoat.
How Long Does Concrete Sealer Last?
This will depend on the system and the use that the floor is getting. If a thin and inexpensive sealer is applied in a very high traffic area the sealer can be worn away very quickly, on the other hand if a good system is installed on a well prepared base with low amounts of traffic it will last indefinitely. The trick is to specify the correct system for how the area is going to be used.