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Concrete Surfaces and Which Sealer to Use 4/5 (4)

Different Types of Concrete Surfaces and Best Sealer to Use.

Decorative Concrete – This is any concrete surface that is not simply a means of construction but that is also altered to enhance its beauty. While still serving as an integral part of the building process such as floors, walls, driveways, or patios the concrete is also transformed into a decorative piece. The altering of concrete to enhance its beauty is accomplished through a number of procedures such as stamping, acid staining, polishing, coloring, overlaying, and more.

Sealer Type to use: Use a sealer that enhances the color tones with a wet look. Typically these are Acrylic sealers in either water or solvent based. If solvent, use a “styrene” acrylic to allow moisture to escape. These come in a Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin, and No Gloss.

Stamped Concrete – Concrete that is altered to look like another material such as brick, stone, slate, flagstone, tile, and wood. To achieve this look, the concrete is normally patterned, textured, or embossed. In addition, a base color is used along with an accent color. Stamped concrete is generally used for driveways, patios, sidewalks, pool decks, and flooring.

Sealer Type to use: Use a sealer that enhances the color tones with a wet look. Acrylic based solvent based are best but there are some good water based versions on the market. If solvent, use a “styrene” acrylic to allow moisture to escape. These come in a Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin, and No Gloss. Sand grip can be added to increase traction of needed.

Acid Stains – Acid stain on concrete is not a paint or coating but rather a coloring process that involves a chemical reaction. Acids and salts react with the concrete minerals to create a color change. Acid stain can be used to enhance both interior and exterior concrete surfaces. Once the color change has occurred, the surface can be sealed to protect the finish.

Sealer Type to use: Wet look with a Gloss sheen is most common. Solvent “styrene” or water based Acrylics. If indoors, you can maintain acid stains with a high-grade concrete floor wax as needed. Grip traction can be added if needed.

Pavers – Concrete brick pavers more commonly known as “pavers” are a special dry mix of pre-cast concrete that is designed to interlock. Pavers are generally used in exterior hardscape applications. The interlocking pavers are installed on a compacted bed of sand. Sand is also used to create joints much like mortar joints in brickwork. A paver sealer can be applied to lock in the sand joints and harden the entire structure.

Sealer Type to use: Wet Look with or without a gloss shine. No wet look (no change in appearance) is okay as well. Acrylic based in either water or solvent based. If solvent, use a “styrene” acrylic to allow moisture to escape. These come in a Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin, and No Gloss. Many of the sealers will also harden or stabilize the joint sand to prevent erosion.

Exposed Aggregate – This is a type of concrete finish achieved by increasing the amount of aggregate (stone) in the concrete mix before it is poured. Once partially set, a surface retarder is sprayed on. This allows the concrete underneath to harden but not the surface. Once the underneath concrete is hardened, the top layer of concrete is washed away exposing the internal aggregates of the concrete mix. Exposed aggregate hides stains, cracks and overall weathering much better than regular concrete due to the busyness of the appearance. Yet exposed aggregate is a very aesthetically pleasing finish. Older exposed aggregate surfaces can look just as good as the day they were poured.

Sealer Type to use: Acrylic solvent or water based with a gloss shine are the most popular. Tints (usually brown) can be added to enhance the appearance even more.

Poured Concrete – A composite mix of cement and other materials like fly ash, slag, limestone, water, and chemicals. It is mixed to meet the needs of a desired concrete slab or other surfaces. It is typically brought in and poured using a cement truck. Concrete can take on many shapes, sizes, and functionalities depending on the job. Forms are set to help the concrete take its shape while a sub base of granular fill or road base is used. Once poured, the concrete surface is smoothed, leveled, and finished to the desired look. Poured concrete is most commonly used for driveways, sidewalks, patios, pool decks, foundations, and retaining walls.

Sealer Type to use: Penetrating Sealers and Water Repellents that do not change the appearance with a shine enhancement are best. Siloxane or silane based sealers. These vary in performance but a good quality will last 5-7 years. The Siloxane will chemically react with the alkali in the concrete, creating an internal barrier to water and stains.

Brick Walls – Brick walls are constructed using bricks and mortar. This type of brick wall construction is commonly referred to as masonry construction. The bricks are normally made of concrete, ceramic, or calcium silicate. Bricks are coated with a cement mix called mortar and stacked on top of one another in layers to create a wall or some other type of building structure. Brick walls can be used for the construction of entire buildings or houses. They are also commonly used for chimney construction, foundations, and more.

Sealer Type to use: Similar to poured concrete in that you would want a penetrating sealer that does not change appearance. Typically higher in concentration of Siloxane as brick can be very porous. The Siloxane will chemically react with the alkali in the concrete, creating an internal barrier to water and stains.

Questions on your Surface and What to Use? Please ask Below

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17 responses to “Concrete Surfaces and Which Sealer to Use”

  1. Jeff says:

    What kind of sealer would you recommend for stone walls with grout? After this winter I noticed white stains on the sides and figured it was from moisture. It's outside and is just decoration along a walkway.


    • Concrete Sealer Help says:

      Jeff, try a penetrating brick water repellent like Masonry Saver Brick Water Repellent.

  2. Wendy says:

    I have a natural stone patio with mortar joints. I am looking for a long lasting quality sealer for at least the joints. To protect them from winter damage.
    I would love to seal stones also to keep that wet look. I have used numerous sealers in the past and none lasted. Even worst they looked worse in a few months. Any suggestions?

  3. ABC says:

    I'm trying to seal the freshly painted red curb in front of my house so it won't fade in the sun quickly. Could you tell me the best sealant.

  4. Bret says:

    Best sealer for Stained concrete with exposed aggregate Patio?

  5. Tom says:

    New hand packed concrete deck over garage. It was broomed finished. I would like advice on a horizontal concrete sealer and stain. Only need a gallon's worth.

  6. Budman says:

    I need a sealer for a courtyard previously sealed with water based material over acid based stain.
    Please Help.

    • Concrete Sealer Help says:

      Try Masonry Saver Decorative Concrete Sealer. it can be applied over both solvent and water based sealers.

  7. Darlene says:

    What product do i use to seal a basement floor?

  8. Vince says:

    Just had a poured concrete patio and walkway. Would like to maybe make the patio a different color and was wondering what you would suggest? Acid stain or a massonary stain such as something Home Depot. I know there are paints put this is defiantly not wanting to paint it's. Then we could seal it with something like a super sealer or that sealer M I see mentioned here- live in Boston MA so the weather is terrible. Thanks so much. Would not even mind a stain that after 2-3 we could change colors if not happy and not a permanent one

    • Concrete Sealer Help says:

      Stay away from HD products. Look at a penetrating stain like an acid or even the Super Color from Clemons Concrete. Top coat when done with a sealer like the SuperSeal VOC for MA.

  9. Bill Devens says:

    I have concrete paver patios, previously sealed 3 years ago, probably solvent based. The color is fading and the joints need to be re-stabilized. Can I put a water based joint stabilizer over the existing sealer? Do I need to do any special prep besides basic cleaning?

    • Concrete Sealer Help says:

      If the old sealer is still there, then it may not work when trying to apply a water based sealer over a solvent. We would stick with the solvent based products. You could also look at Polymeric Sands

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