Penetrating garage floor sealers are sealers that penetrate into the garage floor and work entirely below the surface. They are designed to protect the concrete without changing the look or color, and reduce issues such as cracking, spalling, pitting, staining, mold and mildew, and efflorescence.
The two best penetrating garage floor sealers are concrete densifiers and water repellent sealers. While both types of penetrating sealers fall under the same category, they couldn’t be more different in terms of performance abilities.
Concrete Densifiers: Concrete densifiers chemically react to form calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) within the pores. CSH looks like tiny white crystals, and they continue to grow within the pores for up to 90 days after application. Concrete densifiers increase the density of the concrete, therefore increasing the strength. Concrete densifiers are used to strengthen weak concrete, reduce dusting and deterioration caused by surface abrasion, reduce efflorescence, and reduce sub-surface water seepage through the concrete.
- Armor S2000: Sodium silicate concrete densifier for porous concrete.
- Armor L3000: Lithium silicate concrete densifier for dense concrete.
Concrete densifiers will not reduce damage or deterioration caused by water absorption, and they will not stop surface stains. Their primary function is to increase the strength and density of the concrete.
Water Repellent Sealers: Water repellent sealers chemically react to form a hydrophobic (water repellent) barrier within the pores. Water repellent sealers help to reduce the absorption of surface water and other liquids, to reduce staining and deterioration, and mold and mildew growth.
The most common type of water repellent sealer is a Silane-Siloxane sealer. Siliconate sealers are fantastic water repellent sealers, but when used on dense or medium to dark colored concrete, they will leave behind a semi-permanent white surface residue. Silane-Siloxane water repellents are the best penetrating water repellent sealer for dense concrete because they won’t leave a surface residue, and they won’t change the look or color of the concrete.
- Armor SX5000: Solvent based Silane-Siloxane water repellent sealer.
- Armor SX5000 WB: Water based Silane-Siloxane water repellent sealer.
Water repellent sealers leave the surface of the concrete fully exposed. They reduce staining by helping to keep liquids closer to the surface for easier clean-up, but if liquids are spilled on the surface and aren’t immediately cleaned up, they will stain the surface. Further, some liquids, like wine or gasoline, will stain the exposed concrete. Unfortunately, the only way to truly stop concrete staining, is to apply a concrete coating. Concrete coatings put a protective layer over the surface to protect the concrete from anything that is spilled on the surface.
Which Penetrating Concrete Sealer is Best?
As mentioned before, one type of penetrating sealer isn’t better than the other, but the best sealer for your garage floor will depend heavily on the condition of your concrete and your reason for sealing. If you have issues with dusting, weak concrete, efflorescence, or seepage, then you want a concrete densifier. If you have issues with staining and deterioration, moisture, mold or mildew, then you want a water repellent sealer. If you have weak concrete, and concrete with issues caused by water absorption, then you need both a densifier and a water repellent sealer. In this case, you would apply the densifier first, followed by the water repellent sealer a week later. While it never hurts to use a densifier, water repellent sealers are the best type of sealer for use on garage floors because it offers the most protection against water damage.
Acrylic sealers are called sealers, but they are considered a concrete coating because they leave behind a visible surface film. They are very easy to apply, and provide years of life. They will also enhance the concrete with a tinted or clear low to high gloss finish. Acrylic sealers are a great option if you want more protection than a penetrating sealer, but you don’t want to apply an epoxy or urethane coating.
Acrylic sealers are great for most residential garages, but they are only so resistant to harsh chemicals that a garage floor can be exposed to. Oil, gas, and transmission fluid need to be cleaned up immediately if spilled on the surface as they can cause the acrylic sealer to bubble or delaminate in those areas. If you constantly spill harsh liquids onto your garage floor, or if staining is your primary concern, regardless of what is spilled, then an epoxy or urethane coating is a better option.
Acrylic sealers are designed to protect the surface, but with abuse comes maintenance.
Not sure which product is best for your garage? Contact a Foundation Armor technician and they can help you to choose the best product for your garage floor.