Concrete By DesignConcrete By Design      

The decision to stain your concrete inherently involves a choice of what to use as a sealer. There is a persistent myth concerning concrete stain that acid stain, the most penetrating of all materials, cannot lose color or fade. If you could look, at surface level, at a section of unsealed concrete of 10-20 years of age, that is in a area of high foot-traffic, you would see a concave line from years of wear. Without sealer, concrete stain can lose color in high traffic areas. However, properly sealed and maintained, stained concrete will give the same beautiful appearance for years to come. It is extremely durable, requires very little maintenance, and will likely outlast the home or business which surrounds it. The materials used to seal stained concrete include water-based sealers, waxes, alternative greeen sealers and solvent based sealers. Lets take a minute to go through these.

  • Water-based sealers
    Water based sealers while having the advantage of not darkening color, can "blush" or discolor when exposed to water or other liquids. This discoloration will recede after several hours of drying but can be persistently unsightly around areas that are continually exposed to liquids. Additionally, these sealers offer virtually no protection from chemical spills. These are not among the most durable sealers available and would only be appropriate in areas that are to receive regular floor maintenance and application of floor finish products. Water based sealers are especially well suited where solvent fumes are not desired or permitted.

  • Wax
    Waxes have the advantage of yielding an attractive matte finish that looks more like natural stone than high-sheen products. Its limitations are the same as water-based sealers in terms of resistance to liquids, durability, and maintenance requirements. Waxed floors, in order to maintain their beauty and protection of color, must be periodically re-waxed. Good for a low volume business or office with no food or drinks.

  • Alternative Green Sealers
    I have been using a no VOC penetrating water based sealer that I really like. I use it to encapsulate the stained concrete to give more protection then just wax. We then buff on a Carnauba or petroleum wax to give the floor a nice livable satin sheen. If a floor is too shiny, like the solvent sealer, it will drive you crazy with all the scuffs and scratches. With this type of sealer, scuffs buff out with a rag, and there is no floor finish to strip off down the road. This is what I chose for my own house and it has worn great with two fifty pound dogs. I highly recommend it.

  • Solvent-based sealers
    Solvent-based sealers actually penetrate the surface to create a durable surface that will resist liquids and all but the most caustic chemicals. The only maintenance requirement is an occasional application of floor finish. The floor is cleaned and then the floor finish is simply mopped on with a string mop. These sealers are excellent for exterior applications (these sealers are very smelly however and contain xylene which is not good! If you are sensitive to smells and to the environment this may not be the sealer for you).