Sealing concrete can mean something different if you have indoor concrete vs outdoor concrete, stained concrete, painted concrete, or a concrete overlay. If you have a natural gray concrete driveway, you are going to select a much different product than if you have indoor, decorative concrete that you want a high-gloss on.
Sealer… finish…or wax?
At ICA, on a daily basis we have customers who come in and don’t know if what they need is wax, sealer or finish. The term ‘wax’ isn’t as commonly used as it was decades ago. Paste waxes were frequently used on concrete floors and driven into the floors using a floor buffer. They were a natural product derived from carnauba wax and provided excellent protection for the floor. For ease of use and to achieve higher shine, manufacturers created liquid acrylic sealers that could be mopped on to the floor without the need of floor equipment. These products are easier to apply, maintain and strip off of the floor than the previously-popular paste waxes. Additionally, they create a higher shine on floors than paste wax.
A “sealer” denotes a product that is applied on the floor to protect the floor from water damage, stains, or to protect the top layer of the floor from surface damage. They can be oil-based or water-based and contain synthetic materials. Oil based sealers can be used indoors or outdoors, but the vast majority of water based sealers can ONLY be used indoors because they do not hold up to rain, sprinklers or regular contact with water and UV rays. Oil-based
sealers may contain petroleum products and therefore, require a non-synthetic applicator.
If a sealer is what protects the floor, you can think of a floor ‘finish’ as the visible part of the sealer that creates the shine on the floor. A sealer may not contain a visible ‘finish’, and not all finishes provide sealing protection for the floor.
Although some products are just a sealer, or just a finish, today the majority of the products on the market now are combination sealers/finishes which means that there is no need to apply the sealer first, and the finish in later coats. The product is 2 in one and provides sealing protection for your floor, and a matte, mid-shine, or high-gloss finish.
Although sealers may contain a finish that provides a shine, there are other sealers that provide only a protection to the floor, and are not glossy. These are called penetrating or impregnating sealers. These sealers are not topical sealers, meaning, they do not lay on the surface of the floor but rather, are meant to penetrate deep into the pores of the floor to provide protection beneath the surface. A penetrating sealer does not change the appearance of the floor at all. Once applied, a penetrating sealer cannot be stripped or removed from the floor. For specific directions on how to apply penetrating sealers, please contact the staff at ICA.
Another type of penetrating sealer are enhancing sealers. These sealers ‘enhance’ the color of concrete, flagstone, slate and other porous floors. They make the surface look damp, but not shiny. They do NOT create a glossy surface on the floor. Once applied, these sealers cannot be stripped off or reversed.
Call ICA today and we can help you select which product to use on your floor to help you achieve the look you are going for. In addition to selling many types of water-based, oil-based, indoor and outdoor finishes and sealers, ICA also has every piece of equipment, supply or product needed to give your flooring project the best possible outcome. We rent floor buffers, auto scrubbers, burnishers, and shop vacs. ICA also has a wide selection of stripping, scrubbing and polishing pads and brushes.