Once concrete has been installed and stamped the next and final step is to add a sealer, this is particularly important when the stamped concrete is outside and exposed to natural elements. There are multiple benefits for using a sealer on stamped concrete, including:
They protect against abrasion and wear.
They prevent stains, oils, chemicals, and other contaminants from penetrating the concrete.
They make it easier to maintain and clean stamped concrete.
They can create a shiny appearance to the concrete, from satin to high gloss.
The color intensity is increased by sealers, this happens regardless when using integral color or a dry-shake hardener and antiquing release.
So, how do you choose the right sealer for the job? Solvent-based or water-based acrylic sealers are the primary types of sealers used on exterior stamped concrete. Acrylic sealers are economical, easy to apply, and breathable, which is the most important because it allows any moisture in the concrete to escape. Solvent-based acrylics overall are better than water-based sealers for outdoor use because they penetrate the surface well and are not as likely to turn milky or white. (Learn more about acrylic sealers here.)
Check with the manufacturer before purchasing a sealer to ensure that the sealer is compatible with your project. Some important questions to ask are:
Is the sealer breathable?
What types of conditions will the sealer be exposed to?
How long does it take to dry?
What is the rate of coverage?
Is a warranty included?
What is the life expectancy of the sealer?
What type of appearance does it achieve? (What appearance do you want to achieve?)
How easy or difficult is it to apply?
(Click here for more FAQs)
Once you have chosen the sealer you then have to apply it. The concrete should have cured sufficiently prior to application, typically this happens several weeks after the concrete has been placed depending the the weather. Prior to applying it to stamped concrete you want to make sure that the concrete surface is clean and dry to make sure the sealers adheres well. It is also very important to ensure that the concrete surface is moisture free in low spots of the stamped pattern where water may accumulate.
Depending on what sealer you’re using there are typically many different tools that can be used to apply the product. The best tool for applying one-part solvent-based sealers with a solids content below 35% are pump-up or low-pressure sprayers. Airless, or low-pressure high-volume (LPHV), sprayers allow the largest areas to be sealed in the least amount of time, this is because these sprayers can handle both solvent-based and water-based sealers as well as permit very controlled application rates. A paint-type roller can also be used to apply solvent-based or water-based sealers. Use a roller with about a ⅜ inch thick nap to ensure that the sealer is worked into the stamped patterns and textured parts of the surface. One of the most used and recommended sealer application techniques is to use the spraying method followed by the rolling method to keep the product from settling into low areas of the stamped pattern and to ensure that the sealer is distributed evenly.
Here are a few final do’s and don’ts of sealing stamped concrete:
Do apply sealer in a couple thin coats rather than in one thick coat for more uniform coverage.
Don’t apply the sealer too thick or it will not penetrate the surface and will just puddle on the floor. Acrylic sealers should be applied in very thin layers of only one to two millimeters each.
Don’t apply a solvent-based sealer on top of a water-based sealer, the solvent-based sealer can damage the existing water-based sealer.
Do check the manufacturer's guidelines for specific details on surface preparation, application tools, and drying times between and after application.
There are so many creative and custom options for finishing concrete, but first and foremost important is the concrete itself. At Custom Concrete Creations we have state of the art equipment and a properly trained team with years of experience. Custom Concrete Creations is a premier contractor serving the Omaha area as well at the Midwest. Give us a call or send us an email for your custom concrete finishing needs today!