Though concrete is among the most preferred materials for paving driveways, it can break down in as few as 10 years. It can weaken over time due to exposure to rain, snow, ice, sunlight, and overloading. Expect this to lead to cracks or spalling that can compromise your driveway’s structural integrity.
Since your concrete driveway is one of the first things people see when approaching your home, keep it looking its best. The best concrete driveway sealer can help protect your driveway from damage. It extends your driveway’s lifespan and improves its appearance.
With so many concrete driveway sealers on the market, knowing which one is right for you can be difficult. In this guide, we’ll help you to choose the best one for your needs and budget. Read on for more insights:
Penetrating Concrete Sealers vs Decorative Coatings & Sealers: The Differences
Your driveway sealant options are penetrating sealers and decorative coatings & sealers. You need to understand their different properties and benefits. By understanding them, you can choose the right one for your specific needs and budget.
Penetrating Concrete Sealers
To protect your concrete from deicing salts, choose a penetrating sealer. Choose this option to protect concrete from freezing/thawing and water damage and maintain its original look and texture. Concrete sealers that penetrate the surface last longer.
They soak into the concrete pores to form a chemical barrier that protects against elements. Expect them to leave a natural finish and allow water vapor to escape. Penetrating sealers are common in outdoor applications to protect against the elements.
Examples of penetrating sealers are silane, siloxane, siliconate, silicate/silica, and fluorinated chemistries. They can either be densifiers and hardeners or water repellents. Densifiers and hardeners, made from silicate or silica, make concrete strong and durable.
Silicone and fluoridated water repellents form a barrier on the concrete. The barrier repels water and other liquids. Unlike topical coatings like acrylic sealers, epoxies, and polyurethanes, penetrating sealers only need little surface preparation.
Decorative Coatings & Sealers
Most decorative concrete coatings are available in both solvent-based and water-based formulations. Decorative concrete coatings and sealers come in a range of sheen levels and leave a satin or gloss finish. This way, they change the concrete’s look, feel, and texture.
Acrylic concrete sealers can enhance colors and give concrete a wet look. But they wear faster than penetrating sealers and usually need reapplication much sooner. Examples of decorative concrete coatings and sealers include acrylic, epoxy, polyaspartic, and polyurethane.
Types of Concrete Driveway Coatings & Sealers
Choosing the right concrete sealant can make a difference in appearance and performance. Compare the different types of concrete sealers below and determine which one is best for your project. Let’s get into the details of each sealer:
As one of the most durable types of sealants, epoxy coatings create a hard, protective film over the concrete. The film can last many years and resist water, stains, chemicals, and wear and tear. Epoxy is also a middle-priced type of concrete coating and a more difficult type of concrete coating to apply. As such, it may need professional application. Epoxy also shouldn’t be used outside as it is not U.V. stable nor is it breathable and will not stand up to certain climates. It’s because it forms a hard, impermeable barrier on the concrete surface that prevents moisture from escaping from the concrete. So, epoxy coatings are best used on indoor concrete surfaces.
The installation involves two coats, which you should only perform with relevant professional training. On the first coat, a primer helps the coating bond to the concrete. The second coat is the topcoat, which offers protection against water, stains, and other elements.
Among the top advantages of polyurethane coatings is durability. Polyurethane coatings are a type of concrete coatings made from polyurethane resin. Polyurethane resin is durable and tough to protect against water, stains, and UV rays.
Polyurethane coatings like epoxy require professional training. They’re more expensive than both acrylic sealers and epoxy coatings. They are also an indoor concrete surface coating.
The first step to applying polyurethane concrete coatings is to grind the surface, which requires specialized equipment. Once the surface is ground and clean the polyurethane coating can be applied.
Most polyurethane sealers need a roller or a brush to apply and some even require a primer coat. The polyurethane coat should also be thin and even.
A solvent-based sealer is a type of driveway sealer or decorative concrete sealer that uses a solvent, such as acetone or mineral spirits, as its carrier. The solvent makes it more durable than a water-based sealer. On the downside, it’s more toxic and difficult to apply.
The installation should occur in well-ventilated areas. Protective gear like gloves and a mask are also important when applying this sealer. Special disposal procedures are necessary to prevent pollution of the environment.
You may need to reapply a solvent-based sealer every 3-5 years. But, depending on your area’s climate and driveway traffic, you may need to seal it more often. Solvent-based sealers are flammable, so avoid open flames and heat sources when working with them.
Consider a water-based sealer if you prefer a less toxic and easy-to-apply sealer. Water-based sealers use water as their carrier solvent. They’re more environmentally friendly, emitting fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Water-based sealers are less durable than solvent-based sealers. But they still protect against water, stains, and UV rays. They’re a good choice for DIYers or homeowners looking for an environmentally-friendly or affordable option.
The first step to applying water-based driveway sealer is thoroughly cleaning the driveway. Remove any dirt, debris, or oil from the driveway using a pressure washer or a broom. Once the driveway is clean, allow it to dry completely.
Next, apply the sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most water-based sealers need a roller or a brush to apply. Be sure to apply the sealer in a thin, even coat.
Once you apply the sealer, allow it to dry completely before using the driveway. The drying time will vary with the type of sealer and the weather conditions. If you live in a climate with extreme weather conditions or your driveway gets a lot of traffic, you may need to seal it more often.
How to Choose the Best Concrete Driveway Sealer for Your Needs
Choosing the best concrete driveway sealer for your needs can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with the different types of sealers and their properties. There are several factors to consider. These factors include the climate where you live, the amount of traffic your driveway gets, the desired finish, and your budget, as discussed below:
Consider the Climate Where You Live
Different types of sealers can withstand different climates. For instance, if you live in a cold climate, choose a sealer that’s resistant to freeze-thaw cycles and deicing salts. But a UV-resistant sealer is ideal if you live in a climate with lots of sun exposure.
A sealer resistant to mold and mildew is perfect for humid climates, while one that can resist salt corrosion suits coastal climates. The product label will list the climates that the sealer is perfect for. By choosing the right concrete driveway sealer for your climate, you can protect your driveway from harsh weather elements and extend its lifespan.
Decide on the Desired Finish and Appearance
Concrete driveway sealers come in various finishes, including glossy, matte, and satin. Your desired finish and appearance is the look you want your concrete driveway to have after applying a sealer. The available options include glossy, matte, satin, and colored dealers.
Since glossy sealers create a shiny, reflective finish, they’re a good choice for driveways that you want to look their best. Matte sealers create a natural-looking finish that can blend with the surrounding landscape.
Satin sealers look good and are not too shiny since they create a finish between glossy and matte, while colored sealers can change the color of your concrete driveway to match your home’s aesthetics.
Think About the Amount of Traffic Your Driveway Gets
The traffic of a driveway is the amount of use it gets. It depends on the number of vehicles that use the driveway each day and the type of vehicles. For example, a driveway used by several cars and trucks daily will have more traffic than a driveway only used by a single car occasionally.
Choose a durable and wear-resistant sealer if your driveway gets lots of traffic. Consider penetrating sealers, the most durable concrete driveway sealers, which are an excellent choice for driveways with high traffic.
Decide on a Budget
You should decide on a budget for concrete driveway sealers because the price can vary. Expect the price to depend on the type of sealer you choose, the brand, and the container size. Some sealers and brands are more expensive than others, and the container size will also affect the price.
In addition to the price of the sealer, factor in the labor costs if you are hiring a concrete expert to apply the sealer. Ask different contractors for service quotes to help you budget for the labor costs. With a budget, you can avoid overspending on a concrete driveway sealer.
Read Reviews of Different Concrete Driveway Sealers
Once you have narrowed down your choices, read reviews of different concrete driveway sealers to get feedback from other homeowners. Doing this can help you choose the best concrete sealant for your needs and budget and avoid potential problems.
Instead of relying on reviews from one website or retailer, read reviews from multiple sources such as online retailers, home improvement websites, social media, and contractor websites to get a well-rounded perspective.
Pay attention to the overall rating of the product. A product’s overall rating can give you a good idea of how well other homeowners consider it. While the positive reviews are fun to read, review the negative reviews to understand the pros and cons of the product.
The reviews should come from homeowners who live in similar climates and have similar driveways to yours for them to be relevant. Pay attention to the specific feedback that homeowners provide. Look at what they liked and disliked about the product, how easy it was to apply, and how long it lasted to make an informed decision.
Factor in Longevity and Maintenance
Longevity is the amount of time that something lasts. When applied to concrete sealers, longevity refers to the amount of time that the sealer will protect the concrete from the elements and wear and tear. It determines the duration a sealer can go without needing you to reapply or replace it.
On the other hand, maintenance is the work required to keep something in good condition. When applied to concrete sealers, it refers to the steps needed to keep the sealer effective, such as cleaning and resealing. Choose a concrete sealer with maintenance requirements that you can meet.
Different types of sealers have different lifespans and maintenance requirements. Some sealers need you to reapply them yearly, while others may last several years. Choosing a sealer with a longer lifespan can save you time and money in the long run.
Sealers have different maintenance levels that you should consider when choosing them. For instance, you may have to clean some sealers regularly to prevent dirt and grime from building up. Others may need resealing every few years to maintain their effectiveness.
Need Decorative Concrete and Professional Floor Coatings?
Concrete driveway sealants have their unique benefits and drawbacks. Choose the best concrete driveway sealer based on the climate, driveway traffic, budget, and customer reviews. If you are unsure which type of sealer to choose, consult a professional contractor.
To make your concrete surface stand out, count on EZ Concrete Supply Chicago. Our decorative concrete and professional floor coatings can turn your concrete surfaces into beautiful works of art. You can fill out our online form or give us a call at 815-977-9555 to learn more about our products and services or to place an order.