When it comes to protecting your concrete driveway, nothing can be more beneficial to its longevity than a concrete sealer. Concrete sealers provide protection from weather exposure, moisture, oil stains, tannin stains, deicing salts, and will protect from freeze/thaw damage. They enhance the natural beauty of the concrete and make it easier to clean and maintain in the future.
Preparing an existing concrete driveway for a sealer is vitally important. It is best to wash the surface with a pressure washer and a high-quality concrete cleaner. Dirt, mold, mildew, and all unsightly stains should be removed prior to applying a driveway sealer. If there are remnants of an old concrete sealer, it should be removed using a concrete sealer stripper prior to sealing.
Allowing the concrete at least 24 hours to dry after cleaning is very important. Applying a concrete driveway sealer too soon can actually trap moisture in the concrete which can lead to future problems like mold/mildew growth. On newer concrete driveways it is important to allow the concrete to cure before sealing it. Check with the concrete contractor that poured the drive to see how long to wait.
Once the concrete driveway is dry after cleaning or cured if it is newer, it is ready for a coat of concrete or cement sealer. Choose a quality cement sealer that you are comfortable with. It is recommended to do some research to find the best product for your concrete. You will also have to make a choice of the desired finish. There are many sealers that will give a matte finish that will not alter the concrete’s appearance, and there are some that can give a more glossy finish.
Applying a concrete sealer to driveways is not hard with the right equipment. It is not recommended to use an inexpensive plastic garden sprayer. It is worth the money to buy a contractor grade metal sprayer. This will give you a more even and professional looking result and the sprayer will hold up much longer.
Be sure to section off the driveway so nobody drives on it by accident. Start on one end of the drive and using the pump sprayer apply an even coat moving side to side. Most concrete driveways are sectioned off into squares where a concrete saw has been used to prevent cracking. It is easier to just concentrate on sealing one square area at a time. It may be necessary to use a brush to cut in edges that butt up to structures like the house or garage.
Spraying the sealer, you will notice the concrete will turn darker just like when it gets wet. As the concrete sealant absorbs into the concrete it will begin to look dry again. Move fast enough within the square sections to coat the whole square evenly before it dries, then move on to the next section. Repeat this step until you are completely finished.
Follow the clean up directions to clean out the sprayer and wash off all the tools that were used. Allow the minimum amount of dry time according to the sealer label before walking or driving on the driveway. Once a driveway is sealed, it should last a couple of years. When you begin to notice that water does not bead up on the concrete anymore, it may be time to seal it again.