Sealer is a crucial element in concrete polishing. Sealers work by filling in the microscopic pores in the concrete, which protects the surface from water and other liquids. Several forms of sealers are available on the market, each with advantages and disadvantages.
The sealer you use will depend on the look you are going for and the amount of traffic the floor will see. This article will analyze the different types of sealers available and help you choose what sealer to use on polished concrete.
What Sealer To Use on Polished Concrete: What To Look For
When choosing a sealer for your polished concrete floors in retail stores and warehouses, there are things to keep in mind:
- The type of finish you want
- The amount of foot traffic
- The environment the floor will be in
For example, if you are sealing a space prone to moisture (office space where spills and cleaning occur), you will need to choose a sealer resistant to water.
Types of Sealers
There are two primary types of sealers available: topical and penetrating. A topical sealer sits on top of the concrete and provides a barrier between the concrete and the outside world. Topical sealers, also known as film forming sealers, are typically acrylic or polyurethane. However, they are less durable than penetrating sealers and must be reapplied more often.
Acrylic sealers provide a high-gloss finish and are available in water- and solvent based sealers. Acrylic sealers are durable and easy to apply, but they can yellow over time.
One of the best acrylic sealers is Sikagard High Gloss Sealer. It’s water-based and has low VOC content. Sealers with high VOC content can cause headaches, nausea, and organ damage. Unfortunately, solvent based formulas have a higher VOC content. Limits (Rule 1168) for VOC content do exist but not enough to prevent these effects.
Polyurethane sealers are another type of topical sealer. They also provide a high-gloss finish and are available in both water-based and solvent based formulas. Polyurethane sealers are more durable than acrylic sealers.
Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane sealer gives customers scratch resistance and even dries in 30 minutes. These properties make it ideal for any interior concrete floors.
A penetrating sealer or a concrete densifier penetrates the concrete, forming a barrier within the pores. They typically comprise siliconate. They provide a more natural finish. They are also more durable than topical sealers and do not need reapplication as often.
In fact, they prevent absorption up to 85 percent, which lasts much longer. However, they can be more challenging to apply and may require professional help.
Siliconate sealers work best on unsealed and uncolored concrete. This sealer repels water which prevents the concrete from breaking down over time. It is a clear sealer, giving your concrete floor a professional yet clean look.
PS101 by Concrete Sealers USA is one of the best Silicate concrete sealers. It works great on floors that attract dust. Once this sealer dries, the floor has protection from cracking, staining, dust, mold, and mildew.
What Sealer To Use on Polished Concrete
As mentioned before, the type of sealer you choose will depend on the location of the floor, the amount of traffic, and your budget.
If the floor is in a high-traffic area, you’ll want to choose a sealer that is durable and easy to clean. A penetrating sealer is a good option for high-traffic areas. If the floor gets minimal traffic, choose a less durable topical sealer.
Your budget will also affect the type of sealer you choose. Consider an acrylic sealer if you have a limited budget. Acrylic sealers are less expensive than other sealers and provide reasonable protection for your floor.
The thing to consider here comes down to maintenance. Topical sealers will need reapplication much sooner in a high-traffic area. You will spend more money reapplying topical sealers more frequently.
If you can’t afford penetrating sealers for a high-traffic location, plan to use the topical option only once. Always consider a penetrating sealer if you have a bigger budget, as the amount of traffic can change over time.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Warehouses and Retail Stores
Warehouses and retail stores will almost always have specific times and dates of high traffic. Therefore, they will need a durable option.
If you are looking for a sealer for your polished concrete floors in a warehouse or retail store, you will need to choose a durable sealer that can withstand high traffic. Siliconate Sealers are the best for this type of environment. They will protect the floor year-round through spills, wet shoes from the rain and snow, and constant cleaning.
Restaurant floors usually get cleaned daily. Therefore they will need a water-resistant and slip-resistant surface. If you are looking for a sealer for your polished concrete floors in a restaurant, you will need to choose a sealer that is resistant to water and slip.
The best sealers for this type of environment are siliconate and polyurethane. These sealers will provide a high-gloss finish resistant to moisture and unwarranted falls.
Some offices have lower foot traffic because they don’t serve the general public, just the staff. This makes them easier to clean. If you are looking for a sealer for your polished concrete floors in an office, you will need to choose a sealer that is easy to clean and low maintenance.
The best sealers for this type of environment are acrylics and polyurethanes. These sealers will provide a high-gloss finish that is easy to clean and low maintenance.
Should You Seal Polished Concrete?
Sealing polished concrete is not mandatory. However, it can help to protect the floor from stains and dirt. Sealing also makes it easier to clean the floor. If you decide to seal your floor, you’ll need to reapply the sealer every few years to maintain the protection.
How Do You Seal a Polished Concrete Floor?
Here are some tips to follow before sealing polished concrete.
- First, you should apply concrete sealer when the temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is below 80 percent.
- Before applying the sealer, ensure the floor is clean and dry. If there is any paint on the surface, you should grind it away.
- Avoid using concrete sealer in direct sunlight. It can cause the sealer to dry too quickly, resulting in an uneven finish. It will also cause the sealant to wear out more rapidly in those areas.
- Cover windows and doors to prevent sunlight from coming into the room.
- Also, wear protective clothing to avoid getting the sealer on your skin or your eyes.
- Remember that a solvent based sealer or an acrylic sealer will require two coats. A penetrating sealer will only need one coat.
- Avoid applying too much sealer because it can cause the sealer to pool on the surface of the concrete and form a thick, glossy film. It can make the floor difficult to clean and cause the sealer to peel.
To seal a polished concrete floor, first clean the floor with a vacuum and broom. Then, apply the sealer to the floor with a roller or brush. Rolling is the best way to apply concrete sealer because it provides even coverage. Spraying also works, but it is more difficult to control the amount of sealer used. Allow the sealer to cure for the recommended time before walking on the floor.
When Should You Not Seal Concrete?
There are instances when you should not seal concrete. One example is when the concrete is new. Concrete needs to cure for one month before applying sealant.
Another instance when you should not seal concrete is if the floor is in poor condition. If the floor is cracked or damaged, sealing it will not repair it. In fact, sealing a cracked floor can make the problem worse.
If you need clarification about whether or not you should seal your concrete floor, it’s best to consult a professional.
What’s the Difference Between Epoxy and Acrylic Sealers?
Epoxy and sealer are two different products used to protect concrete floors. Epoxy is a resin that cures to form a hard, protective coating that is harder than acrylic. It comes in color options as well. Film-forming sealer is a liquid applied to the floor and dries to form a thin, protective film.
Epoxy is more durable than sealer and is better suited for high-traffic areas. Sealer is less expensive than epoxy and is a good option for low-traffic areas.
Removing Concrete Sealer
Some jobs will require you to remove the old sealer before applying the new one. Do this by using a chemical stripper or by sanding the floor. You can also try power washing.
If you are removing an old sealer, thoroughly clean the floor before applying the new sealer. Any debris on the surface of the concrete will prevent the new sealer from adhering correctly.
If you want to power wash your floor, choose a detergent designed for use on a sealed concrete floor. Also, remember that you may need to grind the surface to remove the sealant.