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Concrete driveways are among the most abused concrete surfaces. They are exposed to chemicals from shoes and tires, handle freeze/thaw cycles, harsh UV rays, and take frequent human and vehicle traffic. If you don’t invest in a quality sealer for your concrete driveway, its lifespan is shortened because of the different pressures that occur in driveways. Eventually, it’ll crack, chip, scratch, and lose the vibrancy it has over time. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can seal your concrete driveway to make it look good as well as strengthen it for abuse.
At Armor Coatings, we have dealt with concrete driveway sealing options for many years and understand what works and what doesn’t. Everything usually goes down to a balance between performance and aesthetics for most property owners. Before you read and learn the sealing options we vouch for, here’s why it’s important to seal your concrete driveways.
Most contractors will recommend using the acronym SAP to choose a driveway sealer. That means considering the safety, appearance, and performance of your prospect sealant.
When you apply a sealer on your driveway, you want the surfaces to be safe. It has to be slip-resistant when dry when it rains and in all weather. Often, the sealers in the market come having passed the anti-skid federal standards. The coefficient of friction as it’s also known does guarantee that your floor will be non-slippery during dry seasons but not when it’s wet.
How well a sealer acts during slipperiness depends on how the sealer interacts with the concrete surface. Applying a thick layer of a sealant forms a more slippery surface than a thin coat of sealant. This particularly true for concrete surfaces that are already smooth. If a professional contractor does your sealing, they’ll add anti-skid additives or grit as the sealer is being applied to make the floor non-slip.
Penetrative sealers that are waterproof are a better choice compared to sealants that form a film over the concrete surface. They do not produce gloss, reducing the slipperiness of the floor. To be sure you like what the sealer looks like on your concrete floor, try it on a hidden surface somewhere. Try it on both dry and wet conditions to be sure it’ll be safe for the users.
Appearance is what your floor will look like on a daily basis after drying. Everything comes down to the color and gloss level. Concrete driveway sealers come in a wide range of gloss levels including high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, matte, to glossless.
There are industry standards that regulate gloss levels of sealants, ranging from 1 to 100. This is often provided on the product labels and technical datasheets. Unfortunately, not everyone understands how to interpret the numbers. And some manufactures miss out on the standards. Those who are new should always test the product on a hidden area of their home to be sure you are getting the gloss you need. Otherwise, contact a flooring contractor who has experience with sealers to recommend the best fit when it comes to gloss.
The non-gloss and matte options are a common trend for most concrete flooring contractors because these sealers naturally blend with the floor to enhance its appeal. They come as solvents and water-based sealants.
Coat-forming sealers provide darker surfaces as well as sealers with higher solid contents. While some people find the darkened concrete surfaces appealing, others would rather choose transparent or translucent concrete sealers that bolster the natural look of concrete.
Sealers help protect the underlying concrete slab from the beating it would get from the activity and conditions over it. That means the sealer should be strong enough to handle the abuse. While there’s no sealer that lasts forever, you still want to look for one that is reliable. Some concrete sealers last a year while others can take three years and still remain in good condition.
Performance varies with concrete sealers because their chemical composition also varies. Because most people don’t understand how to read the chemical makeup of products (some ignore), it’d be clever to involve a concrete flooring professional with the experience to differentiate quality. Typically, the better the quality, the more pricey a concrete sealer is.
Consider the Following Types of Concrete Sealers
Apart from SAP, there are additional considerations to help you get the perfect concrete sealer for your driveway. Essentially, the reason you want to invest in a concrete sealer is to protect against discoloration, staining, and freeze/thaw cycles. But then, the sealer you choose will also greatly be impacted by how porous your floor is. Here are some interesting sealing choices you have:
Cure and Seal Products – These types of sealers are applied on freshly applied concrete surfaces. If this is your situation, then you should go with cure and seal products. They penetrate your new laid concrete surface to help retain moisture that promotes slower curing. That makes it possible to get a durable floor surface for the future. The cure and seal sealant can last up to three years.
Penetrating Sealers – These sealers are applied on already cured concrete surfaces. As the name suggests, they penetrate the floor, soak and bond into the upper layer of the concrete slab to improve its durability. Penetrating sealers are an eco-friendly option that is capable of lasting for up to a decade with a single application. This depends on the quality of the product you choose.
Mold Inhibitors – For those that live in humid places, you can go with mold inhibitors that help protect against mold and mildew growth. If your roof is made of concrete, it’s also a great pick as a sealer.
Surface Effects – If you are looking to add special effects to your concrete surface, then surface effect sealants should be your choice. Also, if you’ve installed an acid stain, water-based stain, dyed, or used any other chemical on it prior to sealing, you should get a sealer that is compatible with the type of flooring you have.