A clear concrete sealer is required for every decorative concrete flooring project. First, the sealer brings out the color of stained concrete (see photo right). Without it, the color of the floor would be pale and flat. Second, the sealer protects the concrete surface from scratches, abrasion, moisture, stains, and dirt. An acid-stained concrete floor with no sealer would eventually lose most of its color due to foot traffic. Third, sealers make maintenance easier. Dust comes up readily, and wax or floor finish can be applied and removed without affecting the basic appearance of the floor. Fourth, concrete sealers add depth and gloss to stained concrete, drawing greater attention to its elegance and beauty.
Four types of sealers are commonly used on acid-stained or decorative concrete: 1) acrylics; 2) epoxies; 3) urethanes; and 4) polyureas. Each type of sealer achieves the four purposes listed above. The main differences are in terms of durability and expense. Acrylics are the least durable and most affordable, whereas polyureas are the most durable and most expensive. Epoxies and urethanes fall somewhere in between, the main advantages of epoxies being toughness, and adhesion, and those of urethanes, chemical, UV, and scratch resistance. Acrylics are sufficiently durable for most homes, while epoxies and urethanes are almost always required for business settings. Polyureas are best reserved for harsh environments, such as warehouses, garage floors, or hair salons.
Sealers come in water and solvent-based versions. Contractors favor solvent-based sealers because they are easier to apply and to fix. Homeowners and businesses prefer water-based sealers because they are odorless and safer to use. But water- and solvent-based sealers are also chosen for their color enhancement abilities. Solvent-based sealers significantly deepen the color of stained concrete, while water-based sealers enhance color only slightly. As such, the choice of sealer can result in two completely different shades of the same color of concrete stain. We work with every customer to choose the sealer that best suits their project environment, fits their budget parameters, and achieves the optimal color enhancement and gloss. We perform stained and sealed color samples at the outset of every stained concrete flooring project.
Lastly, there are many new sealers on the market containing no water or solvent whatsoever. These generally fall into the categories of epoxies, polyureas and polysiloxanes. Their main advantage, in addition to durability, is very short cure time and quick return to service of the floor.