A clear concrete sealer is required for every decorative concrete flooring project. First, and most importantly, 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 moisture, stains, dirt, scratches and abrasion - an acid-stained or decorative concrete floor with no sealer would eventually lose much of its color due to foot traffic. Third, sealers make maintenance easier. Dust comes up readily, and wax or floor finish can be applied, burnished 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.
There are four types of sealers commonly used on acid-stained and other types of decorative concrete flooring: 1) acrylics; 2) epoxies; 3) urethanes; and 4) polyureas. Each type of sealer achieves the four purposes listed above, to varying degrees. 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 floors in most homes, while epoxies and urethanes are almost always required for business and commercial settings. Polyureas are best reserved for harsh environments, such as warehouses, garage floors and hair salons.
Most sealers also come in water and solvent-based versions. Contractors tend to favor solvent-based sealers because they are easier to apply and later fix. Homeowners and businesses generally 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 properties. 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 or "tones" of the same color of concrete stain. Premier Veneers works with each and 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, "leading-edge" sealers on the market that contain no water or solvent whatsoever. These generally fall into the categories of epoxies, polyureas and "polysiloxanes", which are an organic-inorganic, "hybrid" coating. The main advantage of 100% solids clear sealers, in addition to low odor and durability, is their very short cure time and quick return to service of the floor.
One final note about clear concrete sealers: While, in general, they match or exceed the slip-resistance of most other forms of hard flooring, some of the most durable sealers, particularly polyureas and polysiloxanes, do become slippery when wet, and require a non-slip additive during application. Premier Veneers uses several sizes and varieties of non-slip additives on its flooring projects that are effective and at the same time inconspicuous.