Concrete sealers and concrete coatings. There are thousands on concrete sealers, concrete coatings, and concrete paints on the market – thousands. Many customers call us up and their heads are still spinning from the amount of research they have been doing. To help make your research easier, we have put together a list of the most common types of sealers, coatings, and paints – and what you need to consider about each when making a decision.
Once you have determined the type of sealer, coating, or paint you will be going with, make sure you read our Concrete Sealer Buying Guide which breakds down what to look for when considering a manufacturer.
Silicate sealers are the most effective type of sealer. They react with the free lime to form a crystalline structure within the pores – stopping water, vapors, moisture, efflorescence, the growth of mold and mildew, and radon. Silicate sealers are permanent, do not breakdown, and do not require reapplications.
Downside: None. The reaction that takes place when applying the silicate sealer is similar to the reaction that takes place when concrete forms. Silicate sealers, like the Foundation Armor Concrete Sealer, strengthen the concrete by up to 45% – preventing cracking and spalling.
Silane sealers form a film on the surface and repel water (water will “bead” off the surface).
Downside: Silane sealers may become slippery when wet, can darken the substrate, and yellow over time. They are soft coatings and disintegrate quickly from UV-rays or traffic. Regular re-application required. They can’t be used for negative side water pressure.
Siloxane sealers form a water-repellent layer inside and below the surface, which sheds and beads water.
Downside: Siloxane sealers may become slippery when wet, can darken the substrate, and yellow over time. They are soft coatings and disintegrate quickly from UV-rays or traffic. Regular re-application required. They can’t be used for negative side water pressure.
Epoxy coatings are very strong and durable. They bond well with concrete surfaces and form a transparent, shiny film - allowing for the easy cleanup of spills.
Downside: Epoxy coatings are not permeable to water vapor and can’t be used where hydrostatic pressure is present. Because epoxy coatings are so strong, they often trap moisture and will not let the substrate “breathe”. Eventually, the build-up of water will cause the epoxy to feel, flake, and bubble. Many epoxy coatings can be applied over surfaces that have already been sealed with a water-based sealer. Applying the Foundation Armor Concrete Sealer reacts with the lime to form a crystalline structure within the pores. It strengthens the concrete by up to 45% and helps increase the adhesion of epoxy coatings by 20%. It also stops water in-filtration and ex-filtration – protecting epoxy coatings AND the concrete – increasing the life of the coating and the life of the concrete.
Wax sealers are the most basic type of sealer. They are easy to use, provide a low to high sheen, and are often used by contractors as a curing agent for green concrete and to keep surfaces clean during construction.
Downside: Wax sealers are meant for temporary use and have relatively poor sealing properties. Re-application is required every 9-12 months. Wax sealers stain easy.
Tar or Asphalt Coatings
Tar and asphalt are very cheap and also very common for use on foundations.
Downside: Tar or asphalt coatings are effective for damp proofing, but not waterproofing. The lime in the concrete attack the coatings (alkali attack), causing them to peel and flake over time. If you use a tar or asphalt, sealing it with the Foundation Armor Concrete Sealer first will help to prevent that by neutralizing the alkalis. The Foundation Armor sealer reacts with the lime to form a crystalline structure within the pores. It strengthens the concrete by up to 45% and helps increase the adhesion of coatings by 20%. It also stops water in-filtration and ex-filtration – protecting tar and asphalt coatings AND the concrete – increasing the life of the coatings and the life of the concrete.
Latex-Based Waterproofing Paints
Latex-based waterproofing paints can be found at most hardware stores and are very inexpensive. For the most part, latex-based waterproofing paints are safe and easy to use.
Downside: Latex-based paints are surface coatings – this sit on the surface of the concrete. Hydrostatic pressure, water, and efflorescence will quickly and easily form under the latex paint, lifting the paint and causing it to crack and peel. Further, like with all paints, alkalis from the concrete attack the paint, shortening the life of the coating. Latex-based paints are soft and brittle and are not suitable for floors.
Acrylic sealers enhance the appearance of colored and decorative concrete. Solvent based acrylic sealers have a high UV resistance making them ideal for exterior uses. Water-based acrylics sealers are less toxic and have low odor, making them ideal for interior uses.
Downside: Acrylic sealers are susceptible to black hell marks and “hot tire” pick-up (black marks you see on your driveway from tires). Because acrylic sealers are relatively soft, they need to be reapplied frequently and are not suitable in high traffic areas. Solvent-based acrylics pose health and fire hazards.
Urethane coatings are good for use in high traffic areas. Solvent-based urethane coatings provide a “wet-look” and are most commonly used on outdoor applications. Water-based urethane coatings have a low odor and are used primarily for indoor uses.
Downside: Urethane coatings are not permeable to water vapor and can trap moisture under the surface (causing the urethane coating to bubble and crack), and can activate efflorescence.
Polyester sealers penetrate into the pores in concrete and harden.
Downside: Polyester sealers do not stop vapor, gases, moisture, or efflorescence.