Cleaning your concrete periodically and keeping it sealed with the right concrete sealers are the key components of any good maintenance program. How often you clean and reseal will largely depend on the conditions the concrete is exposed to, especially weather extremes, sunlight intensity and the amount of foot or vehicle traffic. Spring and summer is the ideal time to think about resealing your outdoor concrete.
It’s important to reseal your exposed aggregate and decorative concrete surfaces periodically to protect again spalling, dusting, efflorescence, freeze-thaw damage, stains, deicing salts, and abrasion. A sealer will also enhance the color of the aggregate, accentuating its depth and richness.
Here are some simple answers to common FAQ:
1. What surfaces should I seal?
Exterior concrete in any region subject to freeze-thaw cycles should be sealed. In addition, concrete should be sealed for specific purposes such as stain repellence, dust reduction, abrasion resistance, chemical resistance or to maintain an attractive appearance.
2. What happens if I don’t seal my concrete?
Concrete is a porous material that readily absorbs liquids. In freeze-thaw climates, the expansion of frozen liquids can destroy the surface of unsealed concrete. Oil, salt, fertilizer, and other household chemicals can discolor and damage unsealed concrete.
3. How will my sealed surface look?
That all depends on the type of sealer you apply. Some sealers are nearly invisible because they penetrate into the concrete, while others provide significant color enhancement and give concrete a high-gloss wet look. Water-based acrylic resin sealers provide moderate color enhancement and a satin appearance. Urethanes (generally applied as topcoat over epoxy) are available in a wide range of finishes, from matte to gloss. Many sealers can also be colored with translucent or opaque tints.
4. When do I apply sealer?
Most sealers should be applied as soon as new concrete can withstand the weight of the installer. Other reactive penetrating sealers and most high-performance coatings, such as epoxies and urethanes, should only be applied after the concrete is fully cured (generally 28 days). Almost all sealers can be applied after concrete is 28 days old.
5. Will sealer make my concrete slippery?
Sealers generally have little effect upon the concrete surface profile or traction but some topical coatings can affect concrete surface profile, and may require the use of anti-skid additives in areas exposed to foot or vehicle traffic.
6. How long will my sealer last?
Sealers will last anywhere from 1-10 years depending on the type of product used and the amount of traffic exposure.
7. Is sealer environmentally friendly?
Concrete is locally made and can last for many decades with proper care. As sealers extend the useful life of concrete, they are an important component of “green” building. As for the sealer itself, water-based products are generally considered the most environmentally friendly.
Information obtained from ConcreteNetwork.com articles ‘Exposed Aggregate Sealers’, ‘Clean and Seal Concrete – A Practical Guide to Maintaining and Caring for Exterior Decorative Concrete of All Types: Anne Balogh’ and ‘Plain-Language Answers to the Top 10 Sealer Questions from technical expert Bill York, technical advisor, V-Seal Concrete Sealers’.