October 22, 2020
A widely used term tossed around in the concrete industry is “sealed concrete”. Concrete in its raw natural state is actually a very porous surface (think kitchen sponge) that allows dirt and debris to migrate down inside. In this stage heavy staining and dusty floors are prevalent and difficult to keep clean. As the elements begin to enter the concrete a very slow decaying process starts. This results in premature concrete damage and difficulty in daily cleaning and maintenance. Sealing the surface to stop or slow down these elements gives your investment a fighting chance.
“Hello, can you please seal my concrete?”. Simple enough request right? WRONG. Although the thought process behind “sealing concrete” is simple, there are multiple means and methods of doing so that tend to cause widespread confusion on what process you need for your specific situation. To add to that confusion, each of those methods are priced at different price points across the spectrum of cost. This often leads to a “sealed concrete” that can cost ($) and a sealed concrete that can cost ($$$) with no clear definition on why you need a more expensive option vs. the economical route.
*These three methods are based on a scale of $-$$$.
Pros: Quick, easy and fast solution to place a thin film on the concrete surface. Often resulting in a water repellency. Cost effective. Slightly easier to clean. Breathable (Will not trap moisture)
Cons: Slightly alters appearance, Maintenance item resulting in need for additional applications yearly/quarterly based on use. Does not seal the concrete 100% allowing liquids to slowly penetrate if left uncleaned.
Pros: Hardens and densifies (think filling the pores in the sponge) 1 application necessary for the life of concrete. *further hardens the concrete after every wash cycle. Cost effective solution for big floors. Breathable (Will not trap moisture). Quick turnaround time to continue full use. Can be used in conjunction with full processed polished concrete refinement.
*When used with correct cleaning methods and cleaner
Cons: Looks best on brand new or freshly ground concrete. Does not seal the concrete 100% allowing liquids to slowly penetrate if left uncleaned.
Pros: Seals concrete for 100% protection. Can be placed as a clear coat on ground concrete for a beautiful aesthetic surface (Grind and Seal). Can be placed as a colored epoxy to meet desired color or theme. Allows for patching of surface defects, crack, and joints. Allows for a seamless antimicrobial surface. Traction additives can be added to the epoxy for additional grip and wear abilities.
Cons: Maintenance item requiring touch ups based on traffic use (3 to 5 years – Heavy duty traffic/ 5 to 15+ years for light foot traffic) *Traps moisture below leaves potential for delamination in the event of high moisture transfer.
*Unless installed with a Moisture vapor barrier after moisture tests are taken
Here are a few quick guidelines of common places that seek a sealed concrete solution:
Warehouses: Heavy forklift traffic prone to scuffs and pallet gouges (Densified Concrete)
Office space: Foot traffic only – aesthetic and function (Clear Coat epoxy)
Restaurant: Front End- High foot traffic, potential for food and bev spills (Clear coat epoxy/ Densified Concrete w/ polishing process) Back End- Hot and cold temperature swings, heavy chemical cleaning, heavy foot traffic. (Epoxy)
Wet storage areas: Wet areas resulting in slippery surfaces (Clear coat epoxy with traction additive)
Manufacturing areas: Heavy traction oil and lubrication (Densified Concrete – Light mfg. / Epoxy with chemical resistant topcoat – heavy mfg.)
Whitebox Projects: Clean up and seal for next tennant, quick restoration for building sale (Acrylic Sealer)
Forklift Charging areas: Prone to acid spills, heavy traffic (Epoxy with special acid resistant topcoat)
Each situation requires special considerations and we are here to help you determine which method of sealed concrete is right for you.
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