What are the best decorative concrete sealers?
Concrete primarily tends to be functional: strong, gray material that is dull while getting the job done. This is rarely a problem because we don’t really tend to care about what our foundations look like. Concrete doesn’t have to be this way, however, which leads people desiring something more visually appealing to turn to decorative concrete.
The current trend is for homeowners and contractors to try to liven up their otherwise drab concrete surfaces. Many people turn to pavers to get the tropical look they want, even in the frigid Northeast. Others try out concrete dyes, mixing and matching colors to create a vibrant visual atmosphere. Ultimately, though, it is important to protect this decorative concrete as you would (and should) with your regular concrete surfaces.
The materials you should use to protect decorative concrete will differ from those you would use when you don’t care about the surface color. Decorative concrete is typically more delicate than non-decorative – the material is NOT weaker, but you care more about the color and physical appearance of your surfaces, which means you need to go to greater lengths to protect that visual exterior.
Acrylic-based sealers tend to be a good idea when sealing decorative concrete. These sealers do not penetrate past the surface of the concrete, instead hardening over the surface to prevent water leakage and spills from marring the face of the material. Because they are not penetrative, they do not have the tangible benefits of a traditional penetrating sealer (such as locking out mold and mildew, as well as resisting efflorescence). However, the places in your home or business where you would use decorative concrete typically aren’t as threatened by these calamities as, say, a basement.
The acrylic-based sealer will not penetrate beneath the surface, but it will still provide excellent protection without damaging the physical appearance of your concrete. Penetrating sealers delve deep within the concrete to react chemically below the surface, which would ruin any sort of dye or intentional coloring already within the material. The large particles of acrylic-based sealers will ensure the substance remains atop the surface.
It is important, however, to purchase a high-quality sealing product when protecting your decorative concrete. A lesser-quality product could ruin the color quality you just spent so much time and effort perfecting.
Our Take: For a readily available, water based decorative acrylic sealer we like this one found at HomeDepot.com