In the past, concrete surfaces were difficult to maintain and easy to damage and stain. Wax and acrylic were the most common forms of protection for old worktops, but these historic types of sealer had to be applied very frequently, and you often still ended up with stained and scratched surfaces. This was clearly, not ideal.
Thankfully, technological development has come far in the last few decades, and nowadays there are many types of concrete sealant to choose from, all at a much higher standard of quality. Due to the popularisation of concrete surfaces and furniture, sealant manufacturers have developed a variety of products to meet the needs of the consumer. Three cheers for supply and demand!
Which sealant is best suited to my surfaces?
Sealants come in two categories: topical concrete sealants, and penetrating concrete sealants. As there aren’t many products that do the job of both penetrating and topical sealers, it is difficult but often necessary to choose between them. If your surfaces are polished very finely (#200 diamond grit or higher), then topical sealants may not be able to stick to the surface. For these, and other very smooth surfaces, penetrating sealants, hardeners, and wax are your best options.
These sealers are applied to the concrete in liquid form. After letting them absorb into the concrete, they should be basically invisible. Simply wipe off the excess and leave it to dry. Penetrating sealants generally don’t affect the look of the surface, but sometimes may add a slight sheen or a matte look to the concrete.
These sealers work by penetrating into the concrete, and doing one of two things. Either, the sealer increases the surface density and decreases the porosity of the surface of the concrete, or, it increases the surface tension of the concrete which causes beading.
These sealants do not stop liquids from coming into contact with the concrete itself, but rather reduce the amount it would penetrate and damage below the surface. This means that it is not very good at preventing damage from acidic substances, and substances which are likely to stain such as wine, mustard and oil, as this type of sealant does not create a barrier between the substance and the concrete.
Wax is the only sealer that can be applied for extra protection on top of a penetrating sealant.
Topical sealers are the most common type of concrete sealer. They generally vary a lot in terms of how they look, how well they work and how long they last. Acrylic sealers, urethane sealers, and wax sealers are all types of topical sealants.
Wax is the standard sealant. It gives a reliable shiny finish, is easy to use and brings out the natural texture and colour of the concrete. However, it is not fool-proof, and you must remember to quickly clean spillages if you don’t want your surfaces to stain when you’re working with a wax coating.
Acrylic sealers dry and harden the surface of the concrete to help protect against staining. These sealers protect really well against both heat and substance stains, but it’s not perfect. Acrylic sealant needs to be reapplied regularly and gets damaged by scratches very easily.
Urethane sealants are very good at protecting against damage from spillages and hot pans, preventing stains, protecting against UV damage, and protecting against scratches. They bridge the gap between solvent based sealers and water based ones, and are available in both matte and gloss finishes. However, it is not foolproof, and you must remember to quickly clean spillages if you don’t want your surfaces to stain when you’re working with a wax coating.
If you would like to learn more about the different types of concrete primers available, and which one would be best for your precise circumstances, feel free to contact us via our website. Simply send us an email, or give us a ring.