When it comes to determining how often you need to reseal your concrete or paver driveway, there are a few different factors to consider. The first is the type of concrete sealer you use.
Most concrete sealers have an estimated life. The actual life of the sealer will depend heavily on the amount of sealer that was initially applied and how the sealer was applied, and how hard the sealer needs to work. If it is constantly exposed to surface abrasion, or extreme changes in weather, it won’t last as long as when applied to an area with little to no surface abrasion and consistent weather. Let’s dive a little into the type of concrete and paver sealers first.
- Silicate Concrete Sealers: A silicate sealer can never be removed. It chemically reacts to form a calcium silicate hydrate structure within the pores that can only be removed if the concrete itself is removed. The silicate sparks a chemical reaction, but once the chemical reaction takes place, all that is left is the newly formed CSH structure. Silicates last forever, but they should only be used on concrete that is experiencing dusting and deterioration caused by surface abrasion. If your concrete isn’t in need of strength or density, a silicate sealer may not be necessary.
- Silane Siloxane Water Repellent Sealers: Silane Siloxane sealers typically last anywhere from 2-10 years depending on the silane-siloxane sealer you use. Formulas vary greatly from one manufacturer to the next. Silane-siloxane sealers are the most common penetrating sealer for unsealed concrete and pavers simply because of the many benefits that come along with using them. They penetrate into the surface where they chemically react to form a hydrophobic barrier within the pores. They reduce the absorption of water and moisture, therefore reducing damage and deterioration. Because they work below the surface, they can’t be broken down from surface abrasion. Instead, they break down over time from having to work. The harder they need to work to repel water and moisture, the faster they break down.
- Siliconate Water Repellent Sealers: Siliconate water repellent sealers work great, but they can only be used on white or very light concrete surfaces. They typically last for anywhere from 2-7 years depending on the manufacturer, and in most cases, you can only apply one coat because the sealer starts to work fast. They are very similar to Silane-Siloxane sealers in terms of the benefits they offer, but because they work closer to the surface and require less material, they can break down faster.
- Acrylic Concrete Sealers: Acrylic sealers are very different from penetrating sealers and typically require re-application every 6 months to 3 years, although you find most people prefer to reseal every 1-2 years. Penetrating sealers work entirely below the surface, leaving the surface of the concrete or pavers exposed, while acrylic sealers leave behind a visible and protective surface film, protecting the surface of the concrete and pavers. If you want to enhance your concrete or pavers in anyway, or if you want full protection against surface abrasion and surface films, an acrylic sealer is a great option.
What Determines the Life of a Concrete or Paver Sealer?
It would be great if we knew exactly which sealer would last for exactly what amount of time, but in unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. There are a lot of factors to consider when determining the actual life. You will also find that as you re-apply, the life may be extended. Let’s dive into what determines the actual life of a concrete or paver sealer.
- Type of Sealer – As mentioned above, most sealers have a general guideline as to how long they last. Most of those guidelines come from general chemical performance, others come from manufacture formulas. It is best to talk to the manufacturers you are interested in to get a better idea of how long that could last for.
- Amount of Sealer Applied – This is very important. You don’t want to over-apply any sealer because you can end up with discoloration or failure, but you also don’t want to under-apply. The amount of material present in the pores or on the surface will determine how the sealer will be able to perform and for how long. If you apply one coat of a Silane-Siloxane or acrylic sealer to concrete or pavers you will find that the sealer won’t last as long as a surface where two coats of each were applied. The main reason for this is porosity. If you have a porous paver for example and you apply one coat of a water repellent sealer to it, the paver will soak up the water repellent almost entirely through the pores, instead of being kept closer to the surface where it needs to be in order to perform. Two coats help to keep more material closer to the surface for even coverage rates.
- How The Sealer Was Applied – This goes hand in hand with the amount of sealer applied. If you use a roller to apply a penetrating sealer, you will get significantly more inconsistent coverage than you would with a sprayer. The areas where the roller was first placed down with have more material, and where you finish with the roller will have less. It is a lot harder to control. Further, only the applicator can control the amount of material applied to the concrete or paver. If you apply too little, the sealer won’t last as long. If you apply too much, that comes with its own set of issues. This is why it is very important to apply the product to a test area so you can gain experience with application techniques, and determine true coverage rates.
- Age of Concrete or Pavers – This has two parts. Older surfaces are more porous and require more material, but if the concrete or pavers have been previously sealed for 5-20 years, they will already have resin in the pores, allowing each new application of sealer to perform better and last longer. Acrylic sealers may require some maintenance if there is too much resin build up, but that will depend heavily on how long the sealer was applied for and the type of acrylic sealer that was used.
- Weather – Weather play a large role in sealer life. With acrylic sealers, they are constantly exposed to the elements. If the sealer is exposed to extreme heats, lots of sun, or snow and ice, they will have to be re-applied sooner. There are many areas of this country where an acrylic sealer can only last for 6 months to a year, and annual re-application is necessary. Penetrating sealers will naturally get more life than an acrylic sealer because they are sheltered from exposure to the elements, but if the concrete or pavers are constantly wet, or have to endure harsh weather conditions, the sealer will break down faster. Penetrating sealers will still outlast acrylic sealers, but it is like comparing a tomato to a carrot. They are both sealers, but they are designed to work and function very differently.
- Performance Requirements – This applies mostly to acrylic sealers because they leave behind a protective surface film. If an acrylic sealer constantly has cars driving over the surface, or children and dogs running across it, or foot traffic around a pool – the coating will break down faster.
The above factors are some, but not all of the factors that determine actual sealer life. As you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into determining actual life. Most manufacturers will give you a window, but until you apply the sealer in your environment, you won’t be able to truly know how long the sealer will last at optimal performance. It is also important to be weary of warranties offered by some manufacturers. While chemical formulas do impact life, they aren’t the only factor that determines actual life. If you are looking to purchase a sealer strictly on the basis that it offers a warranty, make sure you properly research the company, products, and warranty fine print. Call and talk to their product technicians and apply their product to a test area comparing it against other products. The relationship and availability of technical support is just as important as the product itself, and you should be comfortable with your sealer decision.