Sealing concrete driveways have remained a hot debate topic in the world of home renovations and homebuilding. However, the truth remains that many of us don’t really know what sealers do, how it is used, pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway and how often it should be used. The reason for such ignorance is due to the fact that hundreds of marketing campaigns are run by sealing product companies to push their product out in the market. According to experts, sealing can increase the life of a concrete driveway, patio, and more if it is used periodically.

Concrete is a hard substance and can work well even if it is not sealed. However, sealing concrete driveways can improve its longevity and make sure it looks as great as the first time you laid the wet concrete. Many people use concrete sealers in areas where winter road salt is used more often. This is because winter road salts have the characteristics that can erode concrete, thus using sealers can help delay such effects.

You do not need to be an expert when it comes to applying concrete sealers. Any person with a DIY thumb can get to it and ensure that their drive through not only lasts long but also looks great. We’ll let you in on all the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway, so read on to find out more.

Different types of sealers

Before we go into the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway, let’s look at the different types of sealers commonly available in the market. Understanding the types of sealers will give you a rough idea of the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway using these particular sealers. Hence, let’s get into the three different types of sealers.

Acrylic resin-based

These are considered to be a better value to performance sealers. It lays down an acrylic resin that can be blended with epoxy to further strengthen and increase the longevity of the product. Be sure to understand the different types of acrylics before mixing them with other epoxies. Styrene acrylic is said to be the lowest quality acrylic as it stains upon direct sunlight. Virgin acrylic resin is a great product and of much higher quality than styrene. It lasts longer too and does not leave any yellow stains on the concrete upon heat.

Epoxy sealers

These sealers have been quite popular with epoxy making it viral over the internet. Many YouTubers or DIY-ers have been seen using epoxy to make cool coffee tables, designs, and more. Epoxy is expensive when compared to acrylics, however is not as good as acrylics in terms of performance. It leaves a white layer between the epoxy and concrete (which apparently has become a design trend with coffee tables). This is because epoxy does not allow the concrete to breathe, restricting moisture.

Penetrating sealers

Made from specialty resins, penetrating silicon is also a great substitute for acrylic as it prevents the concrete from staining. This is due to the chemical barrier produced by penetrating sealers that prevent contaminants to enter the concrete. It is a great choice for using it on a driveway or in a closed space like a garage.

We will discuss the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway just in a bit, so bear with us. It is important to note that if you’re buying concrete sealers, getting them from a professional retailer that specializes in concrete supply. They will provide you with a high-quality sealer that would work well with your concrete driveway. Having a cheap sealer can definitely be a bad value for money.

So, there are gloss levels for different types of concrete sealers. Let’s go over what gloss levels are before heading to the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway.

Gloss levels

There are different levels of gloss when it comes to concrete sealers. People can choose to get no-gloss to high-gloss options with their sealers. You can even get matte, satin, semi-gloss, and more. This is to add a bit of character to the concrete making it more lively rather than the usual dullness it exudes. Manufacturers are able to distinguish between gloss levels by having a 1 to 100 gloss scale. The highest level of gloss on the gloss scale is 100 with 1 being no-gloss.

If you’re looking to have a gloss to a high-gloss surface on your concrete driveway, get solvent-based sealers. These have a gloss level of 80 to 100. Water-based sealers are known to have gloss levels of 50 to 80 on the gloss scale. This can lead to a matte finish on the surface or even a semi-gloss surface depending on the level of gloss. If you’re looking for a no-gloss surface then get a sealer like penetrating sealers that are widely known to have a gloss rating of 0.

Before we head over to the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway and how to apply a sealer, It is important to know how gloss levels can impact the look of the concrete upon application. They are marketed accordingly. For example, if you want a wet look on your concrete driveway, then having a solvent-based sealer can help increase the darkness or bring a bit of a dark look to the concrete surface. This is much more prominent than water-based sealers.

Pros and Cons of sealing concrete driveway: Advantages

pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway

In this section of pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway, we will discuss some of the advantages of concrete sealers and why people prefer to use them.

Aesthetic improvement

Concrete is known to be very dull looking with its grey colors. This can be boring and not represent your personality the way you would want to display it. Have a very fine and elegant look by using concrete sealer to give it a bit of a gloss, or more depending on your liking.

Another reason to use concrete driveways would be to give it a new look. You may have your concrete driveway existing for 10 years without any repair or maintenance work on it. This would definitely give a very unappealing look to the front of your house. Applying concrete sealer to it can make the concrete look brand new.

Great DIY project

Yes, many of us believe that we are great DIY people. However, most of the time, that is not the case. Many times we find ourselves giving up on a DIY project that we started a few days back. Remember all the gardening supplies you bought before to renovate your garden but haven’t had the energy to see the project through? Well, applying a concrete sealer is the easiest DIY project you can embark upon.

You don’t require a professional but simply knowledge on how to apply. After going through the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway, we will guide you on how to apply a sealer.

Stain-resistance

This is a great advantage of using concrete sealers. Like mentioned before, concrete can leave stains when it has direct sunlight hitting it. Many concrete goes haze white or even discoloration to the extent of yellow. To prevent such discoloration, use concrete sealers.

Protection from the environment

A concrete driveway is exposed to sunlight, rain and moisture. This can definitely affect the driveway and in most cases damage it. Heat expands and contracts concrete which can lead to cracks while rain can erode through those cracks. It is always advised to protect your concrete and improve its durability by adding a layer of concrete sealer to it.

Increases longevity

As mentioned before, sealers are known to increase the longevity of concrete pavements or any other concrete layers. This is due to the sealer’s chemical properties that ensure the concrete is safe from all sorts of harsh environments. So, whether you’re in a cold country or hot, sealers will help improve the longevity of your concrete pavements.

Easy to maintain

If you have a concrete driveway and never maintained it before, cleaning it can take a lot of time. With concrete sealers, the cleaning time is slashed in half making it very easy to clean and maintain.

Pros and Cons of sealing concrete driveway: Disadvantages advantages

pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway

Let’s come to the disadvantages of the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway sections.

Slippery surface

Many home-owners might feel that the surface is too slippery upon applying a concrete sealer. Yes, this is a concern as the layer is an added shine to concrete and would definitely cause slippage. It is recommended that you get a sealer with polymer grit in it. These types of sealers are better for your driveway.

Chemicals

Like any other home improvement or renovation materials, concrete sealers also contain chemicals. These types of chemicals are harmful to humans and pets around upon inhaling or being exposed to them. Since there are a lot of concrete sealers, it is better to check the ingredients first and see which one is a safer option for you and your home.

Maintenance

Sadly, yes. With all the DIY projects, you need to maintain it. The same goes for your concrete sealer application. Driveways are always exposed to the harsh environment and therefore the seal can disappear quicker than anticipated. It is recommended that you apply the sealers once every 2 to 5 years depending on the wear and tear of the driveway.

Expensive

Concrete sealers are considered to be expensive. Don’t get us wrong though, there are many cheaper sealers on the market but the quality of those sealers is worth staying away from. Cheap sealers have harsh chemicals that are toxic to you and the environment and need to be avoided at all costs. However, investing in better quality concrete sealers will cost you good money.

Cannot be applied immediately

Well, this point has its clauses. You can apply concrete immediately to your driveway upon purchase but you cannot apply concrete sealers on fresh concrete. Fresh concrete takes a while to dry but even upon drying you need to give the concrete at least a month to settle before you can apply a concrete sealer.

DIY Concrete sealers

pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway

Now that we’ve discussed some of the pros and cons of sealing concrete driveway, let’s look at how to apply concrete sealers and how to perform maintenance work every now and then.

How to apply

The first thing to do before applying a concrete sealer is to check your driveway for any patch works. Since your driveway might be old, there might be some patch work required. Remember that we mentioned, you cannot apply sealer on fresh concrete for at least a month. So complete the patchwork if there is any and wait a month for the fresh concrete to settle before you can start applying the concrete sealer.

If there is no patchwork and you’re ready to go, the first step is to clean your driveway to remove any and all dirt, grit, and more. Use a bar of soap or get a degreaser agent to wash your driveway. Once cleaned, wait for the driveway to dry off.

Upon drying, take precautions now. Sealers have dangerous chemicals that can cause you harm. Hence cover your arms, legs, eyes, and any part that you feel is exposed. Read the sealer’s instructions if there are any additional precautions that need taking.

Depending on the type of sealer you have, you might either be needing a roller or a sprayer to apply the sealer. A roller is common with a water-based sealer while solvent-based requires spraying.

The concrete sealer would be good for 250 to 300 square feet per gallon. Make sure you have enough sealer to last you for a good two to three layers of coatings. Make sure that you give enough time for each coat to dry before applying another layer on top. Applying another coat on wet coatings can lead to uneven coverage.

See which coating method you prefer. Many people enjoy working in narrow strips, however, in our experience working with a 25 square feet area one at a time works best. Give around 2 hours of drying time before applying more coats. However, if you feel that the weather is quite humid then give it more time for drying, around 5 to 7 hours. The best way to know that the surface is dry is that upon touching it with your gloves on, your hand will not stick. If you feel that there is any stickiness, you need to give it more drying period before you can proceed with applying another layer of concrete sealer on it.

Maintenance of concrete driveway

Now that you’ve completed your DIY project, make sure to give it time every now and then. Any project taken up and left abandoned without any maintenance can increase the wear and tear on it. Hence, regular maintenance of the concrete driveway is required. Do a soap with water cleaning once every few months. During your maintenance routine, if you start to notice any areas on the concrete driveway showing sights of being worn out, you can always add a light re-application of the concrete sealer.

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