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Concrete Sealer

Updated on October 18, 2013

Concrete Sealer

When buying a concrete sealer, it is always a good idea to do your research. However, the savvy consumer will immediately be struck by the sheer magnitude of information available online about concrete sealers. Some will advocate for sodium silicates, some will reference VOC contents, and still others will debate the efficacy of solvent- or water-based sealers for various projects.

The important thing to realize, as someone looking to seal their concrete, is that the type of sealer used will vary greatly given each particular project. Some projects, such as a basement, will require a penetrating sealer, like a sodium silicate. Others, like a driveway in the Northeast, will be better off with a lithium silicate. Still others, like pool decks in Arizona, will find an acrylic sealer most effective. The proper application will vary given the different project parameters.

At its most basic level, concrete sealers will either penetrate the material, or they will remain on the surface. Surface sealers, like acrylics and epoxies, are solutions that are made up of large particles of sealing material. These large particles will not fit through the tiny pores decorating the surface of concrete. Instead, they will remain on the surface, acting like a raincoat for the concrete to help resist water. Of course, like a raincoat they will not keep water out indefinitely; they are simply water resistant, not waterproof. In fact, there is no way for a company to guarantee its product to be fully waterproof, although many companies claim this about their products.

Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, are solutions whose particles of sealant are so small that they actually are propelled past the surface of the concrete, sinking into the material where the protection begins. Penetrating sealers are not at all like a raincoat. There is, instead, a chemical reaction between the particles (typically of silicate, siliconate, or a blend of the two) and the free lime and calcium already present within the concrete. This reaction leads to the production of CSH, or calcium silicate hydrate, which serves to repair cracks and fractures within the concrete, as well as filling in the tiny pores flecked throughout the material. The process makes the concrete stronger and more durable, helping prevent the passage of water and vapors through the concrete, all while allowing the concrete to breathe, which is crucial to its strength.

While acrylic sealers are better for decorative concrete, such as pool decks, patios, and driveways made up of concrete pavers, penetrating sealers are better for basements, garages, and driveways made of more traditional, tougher concrete. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make regarding any type of concrete sealer, whether acrylic or sodium silicate, surface or penetrating, is whether to use water- or solvent-based versions of each respective product.

Water-based products, whether surface or penetrating, are safer for the environment. Their volatile organic compound (VOC) contents are either zero or very low, making their environmental impact significantly less than that of their solvent peers. Water-based sealers are also a lot safer to apply. They are typically recommended for indoor projects, such as basements, because they do not emit as many (if any) dangerous fumes, and they do not tend to be at as high a risk of flammability as solvent-based products.

In contrast, solvent-based products tend to be more expensive. They are more harmful to the environment, yes, but they also tend to be more cost-effective, as they are often much stronger than their water-based counterparts. As technology continues to improve until we will live in a society of robots, flying cars, cities on Mars, and virtual immortality (thanks, Ray Kurzweil), water-based sealers are gradually becoming stronger and more competitive with solvents. Similarly, more and more states like California, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are enacting environmental restrictions that prohibit the use of solvent-based sealers. At the present time, however, solvent-based sealers are still a viable concrete sealing option, as they last long and deliver a deeper, richer, glossier color to the concrete to which they are applied.

For a more in-depth look at which concrete sealers to choose, Concrete Sealer Reviews has one of the best articles describing the various concrete sealing options to the layperson – that’s the article you should read if you’re that aforementioned savvy consumer faced with too much information about concrete sealers. And, of course, GHOSTSHIELD product line (manufactured by KRETETEK) is one of the strongest available on the market today. It has a couple solvent-based options (and most of the solvent-based options are actually legal in those strict states), a lot of water-based offerings, and a wide variety of choices for penetrating and surface sealers, from sodium silicates, lithium silicates, silane/siloxanes, acrylics, epoxies, and polyaspartics, all of which are discussed in that article linked above.

Have you ever used a concrete sealer?

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      Apgal 23 months ago

      I need to seal my basement concrete floor. Would you recommend LITHI-TEK LS 9500? Is there a was/sealer that can be applied on top of that to give a glossy/wet look?

    • KRETETEK profile image
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      KRETETEK 3 years ago

      GHOSTSHIELD manufactures two industrial grade acrylic sealers Cryli-Tek 5505 and Cryli-Tek 5505.

      http://www.ghostshield.com/shop/cryli-tek-5505/

      http://www.ghostshield.com/shop/cryli-tek-5500/

    • profile image

      louie 3 years ago

      who makes a good acrylic sealer?

    • KRETETEK profile image
      Author

      KRETETEK 3 years ago

      I have to ask, was the surface ever sealed in the past or was a cure and seal product used? In order for a penetrating sealer to work effectively the surface cannot have been previously sealed. All I can recommend now is that you try to remove that sealer by acid etching the surface and then neutralizing the concrete before apply a new penetrating sealer. Remember that all silicate sealers are not created equally. If you used a silicate sealer is the past and had problems it could be that the sealer had a low silicate to water ratio. I recommend GHOSTSHIELD's Lithi-Tek LS 9500. It is the best all-in-one concrete sealer on the market. Not only does it densify and waterproof but it also acts as a vapor barrier providing the best protection for a basement.

      http://ghostshield.com/shop/lithi-tek-ls-9500

      http://ghostshield.com/best-concrete-sealers

    • profile image

      joey g. 3 years ago

      I used a silicate concrete sealer in my basement last year but I am still having issues. What went wrong and how do I fix it?

    • KRETETEK profile image
      Author

      KRETETEK 3 years ago

      In the second picture of the concrete sealer article above the floor was sealed with a concrete densifier: GHOSTSHIELD's Lithi-Tek 4500. After applying the sealer the floor was polished creating that shiny polished look.

      For more information on how to polish a concrete floor visit:

      http://www.ghostshield.com/how-to-polish-concrete/

      http://www.ghostshield.com/shop/lithi-tek-4500/

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      Gena 3 years ago

      What sealer was used in the picture of the house above to make the floor shiny?

    • KRETETEK profile image
      Author

      KRETETEK 3 years ago

      Depending on what type of protection you are looking for will depend on the type of sealer you will want to use on your garage. If you want to strengthen and densify your garage floor then a penetrating concrete sealer would be your best bet. If you are looking for a shiny shop floor finish then an epoxy floor system would be your best bet. GHOSTSHIELD offers both epoxy garage floor kits and concrete densifiers.

      For more information visit:

      http://www.ghostshield.com/shop/epoxy-garage-floor...

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      cory 3 years ago

      shouldn't i use an epoxy for my garage floor?

    • KRETETEK profile image
      Author

      KRETETEK 3 years ago

      The first step you would have to take is to remove all the DryLok from your basement floor. In order to apply GHOSTSHIELD's Lithi-Tek LS 9500 there can be nothing contaminating the floor or interfering with the penetration of the sealer. After applying Lithi-Tek LS 9500 benefits include:

      • Becomes an integral part of the concrete, forming a complete body of strength and durability with 100% of the results occurring below the surface.

      • Penetrates deeply and seals concrete’s capillary tracts and shrinkage cracks preventing the growth of mold and mildew and the spread of radon.

      • Completely effective against high hydrostatic pressure.

      • Completely effective against the spread of vapor transmission.

      • Increases concrete’s compressive strength.

      • Increases concrete’s adhesion of paints, epoxies and surface sealers.

      • Combats Alkali Silica Reaction (ASR).

      • Efflorescence attacks are stopped.

      • Seals hairline and shrinkage cracks rather than merely masking or bridging them.

      • Resists chemical attack and provides a range of protection from freeze/thaw cycles, aggressive subsoil waters, seawater, carbonates, chlorides, sulfates and nitrates.

      • Waterproofing and chemical-resistance properties remain intact even if the surface is damaged.

      • Dries clear. The color and look of the concrete will not change after sealing resulting in 100% transparent and non-slip surfaces.

      • Easy to apply, labor-cost effective.

      • Nontoxic, Low VOC’s and no harmful fumes.

      visit http:ghostshield.com/shop/lithi-tek-ls-9500 for more information

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      Lou 3 years ago

      A few years ago I had extensive water damage in my basement. We used Drylok and have had nothing but problems since. What can I do to fix this problem and get rid of the water for good?

    • KRETETEK profile image
      Author

      KRETETEK 3 years ago

      Well, while it may depend on the climate where your home is located, a silane/siloxane sealer would be your best option. This type of sealer is a penetrating solution that will seep past the brick's porous exterior to react chemically within the material. After the reactions, the brick will be denser, stronger, and protected from excessive water damage and other problems like chemical spills.

      GHOSTSHIELD's Siloxa-Tek 8500 is a great option that we recommend for your brick house. Please contact us at support@kretetek.com if you have any questions or concerns.

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      x7519esj 3 years ago

      what should i use on my brick house?

    • KRETETEK profile image
      Author

      KRETETEK 3 years ago

      Hi John,

      I'm glad you enjoyed it. You can certainly use a surface and a penetrating sealer on the same piece of concrete; however, you have to be sure to use the penetrating sealer first. If you have a slab of concrete already treated with a topical sealer, the penetrating sealer will not work (as it cannot get past the sealed surface).

      Hope this helps, and feel free to ask any other questions!

      KRETETEK

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      John 3 years ago

      Thanks for the enjoyable article. I was just wondering whether you could ever use a penetrating sealer and a surface sealer on the same piece of concrete.

      Thanks,

      John