If you have recently had a concrete driveway installed on your property, then you may understand that the concrete will be exposed to the elements. Over time, the concrete can develop stains, cracks, and other types of damage. Thankfully, a concrete driveway can last up to 50 years, but you want to take appropriate measures to ensure that wear and tear is minimized. Sealing is one such way to do this, and there are a variety of sealers that can be applied to the concrete. Keep reading to learn about two of the most popular varieties.
Acrylic sealers are products that create a film over the concrete to keep water, chemicals, salt, oil, and other substances from penetrating the surface. You may already know that concrete is a porous substance and the acrylic keeps the pores from filling with foreign substances. In this way, the sealer acts like a barrier or raincoat that keeps substances from coming into contact with the cement. Acrylic sealers are either water or solvent based. With both types of sealers, solid acrylic particles are mixed with fluid to create the sealer. When the sealer is applied to the concrete, the water or solvent evaporates and leaves the solid acrylic material behind.
While the two types of acrylic sealers work in a similar manner, the solvent based products leave a glossy finish behind, darken the concrete, and dry much more quickly. Water based products take a bit longer to dry and create a matte finish when applied. They are typically easier to add to the concrete and they do not release hazardous fumes. If you are looking to add the sealer yourself, then a water-based acrylic sealer is your best option. Try using a pump sprayer for the quickest application.
You should keep in mind that acrylic sealers are thinner than other products. This means that the solid compounds are likely to wear off from the surface within a relatively short period of time. Solvent-based sealers will last a bit longer than water-based products, but you will still need to invest in a resealing every several years.
If you do decide to apply the sealer yourself, do not make the mistake of diluting the sealer with water or a solvent. This will not help to increase the solid content of the sealer and you will end up with a much thinner layer of acrylic on the driveway. In some cases, coverage will be minimal and you will fail to protect the concrete surface.
Penetrating Silicate Sealers
While acrylic sealers do not penetrate into the surface of the concrete, some products will. These are called penetrating sealers, and varieties made with silicates are the most common. These products do not create a protective coating across the concrete. They instead penetrate into the pores of the material and react with the concrete. When the chemical reaction between the concrete and the silicate occurs, the pores are filled in and a waterproof barrier is formed. The surface of the concrete becomes impenetrable and water, oil, and other substances will bead up on the surface of the driveway.
Penetrating sealers do not change the appearance of the concrete. In other words, you will be unable to tell that the sealer has been applied. The sealer will last much longer than acrylic varieties, but the sealer is a bit more expensive to purchase. However, you can apply it fairly easily with a roller and you do not need to worry about curing or drying issues.
If you like the idea of having a concrete driveway that is protected both internally and externally, then you can have a sealer applied that has both penetrating compounds and acrylic solids. If you have a stamped concrete driveway or a surface with a pattern, then this can offer the best protection to keep the concrete looking beautiful.