Concrete sealer types - the pros and cons

This is a guide I've been wanting to put together to help my clients better understand concrete sealing options. This is a high level guide covering the two most important features of concrete sealing for the home-owner - aesthetics and performance. For concrete benchtops I encourage people to use our reactive sealer for both its aesthetics and durability. But maybe you will be wanting a different look and performance for your concrete product?

This is not a brand specific guide, its focus is on the different types, as many brand of one type will have similar characteristics. I hope you find it useful.

 

Penetrators

Penetrating sealers completely soak into the concrete and will not leave any coating or film on top. There a numerous types of penetrating sealers, but they generally make liquids bead on the surface. Its final look is completely dependent on the final polish of the concrete - raw, matt through to a high polish. Some will darken the concrete.

  • Stain resistance - poor
  • Heat resistance - good
  • Scratch resistance - good
  • Outdoors use - yes
  • Aesthetics - slight enhancement
 
 Wax can be polished to a high gloss

Wax can be polished to a high gloss

 

 

Acrylics

On polished concrete acrylics will sit on the surface and create a coating. Solvent based acrylics will give you a deep wet look and water based will look more dry.

  • Stain resistance - average
  • Heat resistance - average
  • Scratch resistance - poor
  • Outdoor use - yes
  • Aesthetics - semi gloss to high gloss, a slightly plastic look and feel

 

 

 

 

 

 Polyurethanes are also pretty easy to repair.

Polyurethanes are also pretty easy to repair.

 

Reactive Hybrids

Hybrid concrete sealers both penetrate and ever so slightly coat the surface. It leaves the concrete feeling like it should - as concrete. My preferred sealer for kitchen benchtops.

  • Stain resistance - good
  • Heat resistance - good
  • Scratch resistance - good
  • Outdoor use - yes
  • Aesthetics - matt to high gloss, looks and feel like concrete

 

 

 

 Epoxies leave a plastic look, are very stain resistant but they can peel away from the surface.

Epoxies leave a plastic look, are very stain resistant but they can peel away from the surface.

 Penetrating sealing leaves water beading on the surface.

Penetrating sealing leaves water beading on the surface.

 

Wax

Wax by itself is not a very effective concrete sealer, don't use it. It can be used in combination with a penetrating sealer, but this is still on the lower end of stain resistance and not ideal for concrete kitchen benchtops.

  • Stain resistance - poor
  • Heat resistance - poor
  • Scratch resistance - poor
  • Outdoor use - not really
  • Aesthetics - raw to high gloss

 

 

 

 

 

 Acrylics can give a nice deep wet look, but has average performance.

Acrylics can give a nice deep wet look, but has average performance.

 

 

Polyurethanes

Creates a coating over the concrete but only a slight plastic look to it. Its tougher for scratches than acrylics. I like this type of sealer.

 

 

  • Stain resistance - good
  • Heat resistance - good
  • Scratch resistance - average
  • Outdoor use - yes
  • Aesthetics - semi to high gloss, a slightly plastic look

 

 

 

 

 Difficult to apply, but that doesn't worry the home-owner.

Difficult to apply, but that doesn't worry the home-owner.

 

Epoxies

Epoxies are a 2 part component sealer. They leave a thick coating and have high  performance. Aesthetically, they leave a high gloss and give off a plastic look.

  • Stain resistance - very good
  • Heat resistance - poor
  • Scratch resistance - good
  • Outdoor use - no
  • Aesthetics - high gloss only, a plastic look

Created by Jamie O'Toole at Digitizedstone

www.digitizedstone.com