Concrete Coating vs Sealing | Concrete Ideas (2023)

Concrete Coating vs Sealing | Concrete Ideas (1)

When finishing a great concrete project it all comes down to the concrete sealer or concrete coating you decide to put on as the finish. After having used the same sealer on multiple projects you develop a comfort level and understanding of how it reacts to the concrete.

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Someday however there will come a time when your customer requests a sealer that is outside of your comfort zone or perhaps require you to use a specific product for VOC reasons or based on their specifications.

Understanding how concrete sealers and coatings work and dealing with a quality system is of paramount importance to guarantee the successful outcome of the project.

Here are some typical sealers and coatings and their characteristics.

  • Solvent based acrylics:
  • Water based acrylics
  • Water based epoxy
  • High Solids Epoxies
  • Polyurethanes
  • Polyurea
  • Densifiers (penetrating sealers)

First off let’s explain quickly the difference between a sealer and a coating. To make it easier to understand we will consider any sealer a product that penetrates the surface to seal it whereas a coating is any product that remains on top of the surface creating layer or visual barrier. Keeping in mind enough coats of a sealer will eventually become a coating.

Solvent based acrylics: By far the most popular and most widely used sealers on the market. Because of their ease of use, forgiving characteristics and color enhancing properties these sealers can be found on driveways, to casino floors to, pool surrounds and even concrete countertops. Solvent based acrylics are simply an acrylic emulsion (plastic) dissolved in a solvent often times xylene, acetone or MEK or combination. Once applied the solvent dissipates leaving behind an acrylic sheet or coating that is designed to protect the surface from wear staining as well as enhance the colors in the surface.

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Solvent based acrylics are available in varying concentrations eg: 30% solids, 15% solids or 10% solids. The solids are the amount of acrylic versus the amount of solvent which will eventually dissipate or evaporate, leaving behind the percentage of solids on the sealed surface.

How to apply a solvent based acrylic: Solvent based acrylics are fairly easy to apply. Often times a lower viscosity or lower % solids is applied as a first coat. This will create less of a coating effect and more of a sealer which will help the material penetrate the concrete getting better adhesion while sealing off the surface helping to prevent air bubbles and pin holes. This will set the standard for subsequent top coats with a higher solids acrylic to give some build and as well as a protective coating effect.

Solvent based acrylics are often rolled with lint free roller , or sprayed with a hand pump sprayer or paint sprayer. It is important to remember these products are highly volatile and all pilot lights and ignition sources are out.

Maintenance of a solvent based sealer: Maintaining the look of a surface with a solvent based acrylic finish, could include additional maintenance coats of the same material, assuming the product will adhere correctly or in the case of an interior finish may involve a wax or floor finish maintenance program.

Water based acrylics: When the options for a sealer require low odor, low VOC’s, a natural appearance and environmentally friendly attributes, a water based acrylic may be the answer. Based with water rather than a solvent you can imagine the handling of these materials are a lot easier as well as the safety aspect is greatly increased. Water based acrylics are often white or bluish in color when applied but eventually dry clear. They are a great alternative in an indoor setting where solvents can not be tolerated. Sometimes reserved for residential use because of their low build properties these products are more than adequate for regular use in an average traffic setting. Applied with rollers, sprayer or even lambs wool applicators these systems can leave a natural finish which is sometimes hard to accomplish with high build ‘plastic looking coatings’ In the event these products are used in a commercial setting regular maintenance will protect the finish an yield great results for years to come.

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Water Based Epoxy: Professional quality water based epoxies comes in multi component kits. This means the product must be blended or combined prior to application. Coming is different mix ratios: including 1:1 2:1 4:1 etc. these epoxies are measured with a part A and part B component and blended creating not only a drying but a curing effect. Sealers or coatings that cure because of a chemical reaction are most often more durable, thicker, more abrasion resistant and like epoxies, known for their excellent adhesion properties. Some water based epoxies can also be applied to damp surfaces creating a cure and seal effect and finish. Although water based epoxies make for a great finish it is not uncommon to use these products as a primer or first coat to subsequent top coats which could include another epoxy or a polyurethane.

High solids epoxies: High solids epoxies are generally associated with coatings. They are mainly designed to coat and add a layer of protection to a surface. These coatings are generally referred similar to Solvent Acrylics in “Percentages”. From 80% solids to 100% solids. Epoxies will leave a very high percentage of the “plastic” behind after they are cured, where as a 100% solids epoxy will be the exact same thickness dry as it was wet due to the fact there is no evaporation of any solvents.

High Solids Epoxies are used as coatings and create a chemical resistant barrier between the concrete surface and the elements. Because epoxies can be applied thick, you will find these systems used in industrial applications, as well as a filler material in Quartz floors, color flake garages and epoxy stone systems. Generally the thicker the epoxy the more impact resistant and durable it is. Some also say the higher the gloss of the epoxy the harder and better quality it is.

Polyurethanes: These products are often multi component systems and are ideal for high traffic and heavy wear. Urethane in contrast to epoxies are know for their excellent abrasion resistance and flexibility. Where as epoxies are know for their adhesion. An ideal commercial quality system may be composed of an epoxy primer bond coat with a polyurethane top coat giving the end user the best of both worlds.

Polyurethanes are available in both water based and solvent based compositions as are many of the sealer mentioned above. Even as technology advances and water based material and composition get better generally a sealer or coating is always a bit more durable and forgiving with a solvent base vs a water base.

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Polyurea: Designed for quick turnaround applications and industrial use, polyurea’s are coming of age in the mainstream market due to their quick drying properties and advanced coating characteristics. Almost a blend of all the best properties of an epoxy and polyurethane a polyurea has excellent adhesion characteristics while maintaining its flexibility, UV stability and chemical resistance. It is becoming the new improved garage coating system of choice for home and industry for those who want the very best and want it fast!
Densifiers, hardeners and penetrating sealers: If a natural concrete finish with no surface coating is desired a densifier, may be the solution. Often reserved for natural concrete vs polymer modified toppings and resurfacing systems, Penetrating sealers are designed to absorb into the pores of the concrete and seal of the microscopic paths that a liquid could find and ultimately stain the surface. Often time densifiers are used during the polishing process as a way of hardening the surface of the concrete and making it easier to polish while creating a more functional sealed surface. Many densifiers will not prevent staining but will lessen and reduce the possibility of it occurring. Spills and liquids should be removed quickly to keep them from staining a densified or hardened surface.

Often time a hardener or densifyer is applied by saturating a concrete surface and scrubbing in the material attempting to get maximum penetration. Once the excess material has been removed the penetrated material dries and creates a crystalline like growth within the concrete’s pores thereby closing them off and sealing and hardening the surface.


Is one coat of concrete sealer enough? ›

Two coats are always suggested because the first coat of any concrete sealer is usually absorbed into the concrete at different rates leaving the substrate unevenly sealed. A second coat will ensure proper even coverage.

What are the issues with concrete coating? ›

Coating problems can include surface bubbles (aka solvent pop), peeling/flaking, white spots (aka blushing), fading (loss of shine). Surface bubbles (aka solvent pop) can occur during the coating application process when solvent is evaporating too quickly from a sealer.

What is the most durable outdoor concrete coating? ›

Epoxy-based paints provide high durability and stain resistance, making them ideal for garage or patio floors. Masonry paints are designed for brick and other masonry applications, but also provide effective coatings for concrete.

What is the most critical factor associated with sealing concrete? ›

Both air and surface temperature play a role, but surface temperature is typically more critical. After application, sealers undergo a chemical reaction that causes them to cure and form a film. Temperature plays a critical role in how fast or even whether this reaction occurs.

How long should you wait to apply a second coat of concrete sealer? ›

Apply the first coat and wait at least two hours before applying the second. Check your sealant can for specific drying times. Apply two thin coats to ensure a smooth and even finish.

What time of year is best to seal concrete? ›

As a general rule of thumb, concrete sealing should be performed when the weather is at 50 degrees F or higher, suggests Concrete Network. Though other factors, such as the type of sealant being applied, can adjust the safe temperature to apply sealant, spring is generally considered the ideal time for sealing work.

Does concrete coatings increase home value? ›

These coatings can make your floor easier to clean and maintain. Applying concrete coatings will improve the look of your garage and make it more attractive to potential buyers. Moreover, professionally done coatings can add value to your home by increasing its resale value.

How long do concrete coatings last? ›

How Long Will The Product Last? Acrylic topical coatings have the shortest lifespan, needing re-applied every 1-3 years. Epoxy and urethane systems last between 5-10 years, closer to 5 if the surface experiences heavy traffic.

Do concrete coatings crack? ›

If you're considering epoxy flooring for your garage flooring or other concrete surfaces, make a note of this preparation, maintenance, and epoxy floor tips and guidelines to protect it from damage. While epoxy coatings themselves do not crack in extreme heat or cold, concrete does.

What are the two most commonly used types of coatings for concrete floors? ›

More options are good, but it can be difficult to make a decision between the various types of concrete floor coatings. For starters, the most common flooring options are epoxy and polyurea. Of course, within these two categories are various subcategories and application methods.

How good are concrete coatings? ›

Concrete coatings are remarkably resilient and don't chip or crack like floor tiles. A premium coating product like polyurea is chemical and heat resistant and is not susceptible to hot tire peel. The patented polyurea used by Garage Force is 20x stronger than epoxy, UV stable and VOC compliant.

What is the best product to resurface concrete? ›

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Can you put concrete sealer on old concrete? ›

Before applying a new sealer, it's very important that you make sure the old one is completely gone. This is because any old sealer left on the surface of your concrete can impede the effectiveness of the newly applied sealant, preventing proper adhesion to the concrete surface.

How many coats of sealer do you put on concrete? ›

Concrete sealers are best applied in two thin coats. The first coat of sealer acts like a primer. Most of it will disappear into the concrete surface, and the concrete will probably look fairly unattractive after the first coat. The second thin coat will provide an even finish, color enhancement and gloss.

Why is my concrete blotchy after sealing? ›

The culprits of blotchy concrete after sealing

When you find yourself staring at discolored concrete that has already been sealed, there are usually three potential sources of blame: The sealer was applied poorly. Not enough sealer was applied. The concrete itself had varying absorption rates.

Will power washing remove concrete sealer? ›

A strong enough power washer will blast most types of sealer off of concrete with ease. The trick is to make sure to pressure wash the entire surface area. For more sturdy sealers, it may take a few passes with the pressure washer to get it completely removed.

Is it better to roll or spray concrete sealer? ›

Rollers can also be used to apply sealer, but a sprayer will do a better job. Select the right type of sealer for the job – your main options are water-based sealer and solvent-based sealer.

Do you have to acid wash concrete before sealing? ›

The acid washing of concrete is a requirement after the concrete has cured sufficiently, in order to remove surface efflorescence and to open the pores before sealing. This will help the sealer to penetrate and result in a superior bond between the sealer and the surface.

What happens to concrete sealer if it rains? ›

If a polyurethane sealer comes in contact with moisture, a chemical reaction takes place, causing bubbles and foam.

Should you seal concrete in the morning or evening? ›

The Afternoon is generally the best time of the day to apply concrete sealers and coatings. Reducing Temperature: By the afternoon the air and surface temperatures are decreasing causing any trapped air/gas to compress which will result in the sealer/coating to penetrate and cure flat without any blistering.

At what temperature can you seal concrete? ›

Most manufacturers recommend 50 to 90 degrees as the ideal temperature range for applying concrete sealer.

What adds the most resale value to a home? ›

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  • Improve energy efficiency.

What is the lifespan of a concrete house? ›

For large scale projects like buildings, concrete should last up to 100 years if it's properly cared for. Concrete projects that experience more wear-and-tear like sidewalks and driveways have an expected lifespan of about half that—50 years.

Are garage floor coatings worth it? ›

Garage floors with coatings require less maintenance

That's why a resilient floor coating is worth the investment in more ways than one. First of all, you'll spend less time and money in the future repairing cracks and other types of floor damage.

Is concrete resurfacing a good idea? ›

Resurfacing a driveway will extend its lifespan. Adding an overlay above the existing concrete makes it incredibly durable so it can withstand its usual daily pounding from vehicles, foot traffic and harsh weather.

How much does it cost to coat a concrete floor? ›

Typically, the cost of a concrete coating can range from $9-12 per square foot. It is common for most companies to provide discounts with the more square footage you buy for your project.

Are driveway coatings worth it? ›

If you want your driveway to last, sealcoating is the way to go. Unprotected asphalt leads to cracks and potholes that can severely damage your foundation. Seal coating is cost-effective in the long run and it can significantly improve the appearance of your driveway.

Is concrete coating better than epoxy? ›

Benefits of Polyurea Concrete Coatings

As mentioned above, Polyurea is 4x stronger than Epoxy. It is also 98% more flexible than Epoxy. It is the flexibility of the material that makes it extremely durable and long-lasting. Since the material is flexible, it will not crack or peel.

How long does it take for concrete coating to dry? ›

Most concrete sealers dry fairly quickly and usually dry to touch within 1-3 hours. This is true of both penetrating and topical sealers. Penetrating sealers usually fully dry for traffic in less than 24 hours with topical sealers generally taking up to 48 hours to fully dry for traffic.

Can you put a coating over concrete? ›

Epoxy floor coatings are a great way to update and protect your concrete floors. They come in a variety of colors and styles and can be applied in multiple layers to create a seamless finish. Epoxy coatings adhere firmly to concrete, making them resistant to moisture, grease, scuffing and chemicals.

What is the best coating for a concrete floor? ›

Epoxy floors and polyurethane coatings will provide better chemical resistance and overall durability in these applications. Polished concrete floors generally cost $4-10+ a square foot to install, while grind and seal concrete floor installations can be as low as $1 a foot.

What is the most durable floor coating? ›

Epoxy floor coating. Of all of the choices on this list, epoxy floor coating is the most durable. These coatings are waterproof and capable of withstanding significant amounts of abuse, including heavy weights, high traffic, abrasion, spills, stains and more.

What is the best covering for a concrete floor? ›

To sum it up – carpet, engineered hardwood, laminate, or vinyl flooring are all great options to install over a concrete substrate that can last for years when properly maintained.

What is the purpose of concrete coating? ›

Concrete coating is the covering, typically liquid or semi-liquid, that is applied to cured concrete for aesthetic reasons as well as to make the structure or surface last longer and to reduce maintenance and repair costs.

What makes the smoothest finish on concrete? ›

The trowel finish is the most popular and smoothest concrete finish. After the concrete is laid, a trowel is used to smoothen out the fine-level concrete surface.

Does garage floor coating increase home value? ›

Does an epoxy garage floor increase my home's value? An epoxy garage floor can increase a home's value by up to $8 per square foot. That's a lot of money considering that an epoxy floor is a relatively fast and inexpensive upgrade.

What is the easiest way to resurface concrete? ›

Apply the Resurfacer

The easiest method for applying concrete resurfacer is to pour a small amount on the surface, then immediately begin spreading it evenly with a light, long-handled squeegee. Resurfacer can also be applied with a trowel or brush. Work in segments of no more than about 144 square feet at a time.

Can you skim coat over cracked concrete? ›

Adding a concrete skim coat can approve the appearance of a chipped driveway. The process is easy enough that it can be a do-it-yourself project. Before skim coating your driveway, however, it's important to determine the cause of the chipping to see if the problem needs a professional solution.

Can you pressure wash resurfaced concrete? ›

Pressure washing is the first step in resurfacing a concrete driveway, patio, or walkway. Using a high-pressure stream of water not only removes dirt and debris that would interfere with a tight bond to the new surface but also helps knock loose any chipped concrete.

How many coats of concrete sealer is needed? ›

Concrete sealers are best applied in two thin coats. The first coat of sealer acts like a primer. Most of it will disappear into the concrete surface, and the concrete will probably look fairly unattractive after the first coat. The second thin coat will provide an even finish, color enhancement and gloss.

Is one coat of driveway sealer enough? ›

How many coats of sealer should be applied? Low Traffic such as a typical home driveway, 1 coat is sufficient. Moderate Traffic on a parking lot, 2 coats with a third coat on the entrance and exits. Heavy Traffic 2 coats with a third coat on all travel lanes and roadways.

Can I apply a second coat of concrete sealer the next day? ›

Apply the first coat and wait at least two hours before applying the second. Check your sealant can for specific drying times. Apply two thin coats to ensure a smooth and even finish. If you're sealing an interior concrete floor, make sure that you have plenty of ventilation.

Is it better to spray or roll concrete sealer? ›

The answer depends on the surface's square footage. For large surfaces such as commercial floors, a sprayer is faster and way more efficient. Finally, for small surfaces, such as garages or any other exterior surface, a paint roller or any other type of roller will do the trick. Rolling is a less expensive process.

How many years does concrete sealer last? ›

Acrylic topical coatings have the shortest lifespan, needing re-applied every 1-3 years. Epoxy and urethane systems last between 5-10 years, closer to 5 if the surface experiences heavy traffic.

Do I need to remove old concrete sealer before applying new? ›

Before applying a new sealer, it's very important that you make sure the old one is completely gone. This is because any old sealer left on the surface of your concrete can impede the effectiveness of the newly applied sealant, preventing proper adhesion to the concrete surface.

How many coats are recommended for driveway sealers? ›

Most driveway sealer manufacturers recommend two coats with a minimum drying time of eight hours between coats, so this driveway sealing project will fill an entire weekend.

Should you wet driveway before sealing? ›

Make sure there is no puddled water on the driveway before sealing. If the surface is too cold means the sealer will not set and cure properly.

What is the best time to seal a driveway? ›

It's best to seal your driveway in the fall or the spring because the temperatures tend to be more moderate. In order to put seal coating on, the outside temperatures need to be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the weather needs to be free of heavy rain for 24 hours.

How do you fix uneven concrete sealer? ›

Xylene can be used to re-emulsify the existing coating of sealer in order to repair issues such as roller marks, streaks, a plastic-like appearance, or white spots. A product like Gatorene will work anytime on a solvent-based acrylic sealer.

What happens if it rains on fresh concrete sealer? ›

Rain can also wreak havoc on freshly sealed concrete, causing the sealer to bubble and blister. Be sure to apply the sealer when it will remain rain-free for 24 hours after sealing.

What happens if concrete sealer gets wet before it dries? ›

Second, the concrete surface must be dry at the time of sealer application. If a polyurethane sealer comes in contact with moisture, a chemical reaction takes place, causing bubbles and foam.

Does sealing concrete make it shiny? ›

Sealing brings out the beauty of a concrete floor by enhancing the color and adding sheen. Sealing also preserves the decorative treatment by protecting the concrete surface from abrasions and stains. Some floor sealers form a protective film on the surface of the concrete, while others penetrate into the floor.

Is concrete sealer a good idea? ›

Outdoor concrete sealers are not only worthwhile but necessary. Experts who recommend having a concrete surface sealed are doing their customers a big favor. Without this extra layer of protection, concrete will absorb moisture and may begin to crack, spall, flake, and discolor, among other things.


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