What is Concrete Sealing?

Concrete looks great in the backyard and the driveway. Pour the cement, place the print, let it dry and away you go. What a lot of people don’t know is just how porous concrete can be. Those pores if not dealt with properly, it can lead to our concrete breaking down quicker. At the absolute worse it could lead to some pretty serious health problems. In this post, we’ll determine the differences between asphalt and concrete.

What is Concrete Sealing?

Concrete sealing is applying a water-resistant solution to any exterior concrete surface. Any company that pours concrete will recommend getting any exterior concrete sealed if you live in a place that consistently goes through a freeze-thaw cycle (so winter).

Why is Concrete Sealing Important?

Think of concrete as if it’s the skin on your face. Like skin, concrete has millions of pores in the surface. These pores could allow in water and snow during the winter.

As spring arrives that snow melts but as Ontario’s weather history has shown we get polar vortex’ and random -40 days during late February – early March.

When water freezes into ice – it expands. Expanding ice can cause a hairline crack on the surface. Over time as the cycle continues the hairline grows bigger until it’s a bigger structural problem. In the summer, any air that is trapped can expand in the concrete. Tree roots have a habit of growing wherever they want and could push against your concrete from the bottom. A problem you won’t be able to see until it comes up and through like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

During the rainy season, the pores can hold water and different bacteria. Since the bottom of our shoes touch every surface that we walk on, bacteria have a high chance of growing. The sealing solution fills the pores while repelling water. Keeps the bacteria off our shoes and out of our homes.

What is the Difference Between Asphalt and Concrete?

To start they are both gravels based. Asphalt is petroleum, whereas concrete is cement. They both have pros and cons. Concrete is more expensive ($4-6 per square foot) to pour compared to asphalt ($2-4 per square foot) but you have more design options ($15 per square foot) with concrete.

When it comes to maintenance and repairs as asphalt driveway should be sealed six months after it’s been poured and then sealed every three to five years. Concrete sealing doesn’t need to be sealed as often to preserve the colour but you will need to take an extra step to remove any stains.

Once you’ve sealed a stain – you’re going to fall in love with it eventually.

Choosing the Right Sealer

Sealing your concrete is a great DIY project this summer. But there are so many different sealers and different concrete finishes it can get overwhelming (the guys at Canadian tire watched me have a meltdown while researching this for this blog).

So, here are the options:

  • Penetrating
    • Seal the pores of concrete below the surface
    • Prevents freeze-thaw damage
    • Prevents slipping in cold and wet weather
    • Protects against de-icing chemicals and stains
    • Ideal for driveways and pool decks
  • Film-Forming
    • Block penetration of water by creating a barrier on the surface (acrylic, polyurethane and epoxy)
    • Produces a high sheen
    • Protects against UV damage
    • Enhances colour
    • Perfect for driveways and pool decks
  • Siloxane
    • Less volatile
    • Repels water at a lower cost
    • Offers a natural, clear finish
    • Creates a durable barrier against moisture and liquid absorption
    • Ideal for driveways and pool decks

Don’t Forget about Inside

Interior concrete is just as vulnerable to stains and cracks as the exterior. I’m talking about your concrete garages, basements, countertops, and warehouses. Sealing these surfaces will give you the same benefits as the exterior but it will also prolong the life of the concrete as well. Selling your home? Seal that floor. Doing bodywork on your project car in the garage? Seal that floor. Spilled paint on your concrete floor? I don’t have a solution for that one yet.

In closing, if you have concrete that you want to last longer and stain-free, I highly recommend getting your driveway sealed. If you choose to DIY it just is cautious and pays attention to what you are doing. Consult and do your research. If you are worried you might screw something up that’s fine! You can visit our website to book a free estimate for your driveway or pool deck.

5 Tips in DIY Concrete Sealing

  1. If using a film-forming sealer – it is recommended to use a traction additive to make the concrete less slippery.
  2. When choosing a siloxane concrete sealer look for a product that is water-based with low VOC content. These will be easier to apply and safer to be around.
  3. Avoid applying a water-based polyurethane concrete sealer with a garden-type pump-up sprayer. Instead, use a low-volume but high-pressure airless spray or you can use a microfiber mop. (Use a push-and-pull method to get then even coverage if you go with the mop),
  4. Weather determines what kind of sealer, when you can seal and if it’ll seal properly. You need to consider your geographical location – colder climates should use sealers with saline or a silane/siloxane blend, warmer climates could use the silane/siloxane blend or use an acrylic blend which is the best choice for decorative finishes, high gloss or just to bring back the original colours,
  5. When sealing interior floors, you can choose between a solvent-based or water-based acrylic concrete floor sealer. Solvent-based will provide extra years out of the floor compared to water-based.

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