One of the most sought after concrete sealing products is a waterproofing sealer that is also able to repel deicing salts. Deicing salts and calcium chlorides are some of the most corrosive elements that concrete can be exposed to. They result in spalling, pitting, cracking and cause the concrete to erode all the way down to the rebar if left untreated. Because concrete has the appearance of being strong and indestructible, sealing it is not something that comes to mind – that is until you have active salt damage. Even if you do not salt your driveway, state and town roads are treated, you drive your car up the driveway into your garage and the salt drips off. Over time the concrete becomes damaged.
It is hard to fix existing salt damage with a sealer; however, it is entirely preventable if a penetrating water repellent with saltguard sealer is used. We review the Ghostshield 8500 product quite frequently on this site because it is one of the products we have used that has had the best, longest lasting results. Backed by a 100 year warranty, if reapplied every 10 years, concrete will remain looking new with out any spalls, pits or cracks. This is extremely important because the cost of replacing an existing concrete pad or driveway is about 14x the cost of the actual sealer itself!
Our Take: The 8500 product is a great option if you have a lot of square footage. The product is available in an ultra concentrated gallon; you take the 1 gallon you purchase and mix it with 4 additional gallons of water. When mixed you are left with a 5 gallon bucket which covers up to 625 sq. ft. (the 625 sq. ft. is for both recommended coats or 1250 sq. ft. for 1 coat). The ready to use version that does not require mixing and can be special ordered through Home Depot and Lowes. Whereas the ultra concentrated version can be ordered through Lowes and Concrete Sealer Solutions (Concrete Sealer Solutions sells the 8500 for $15 off Lowes pricing).
If you have watched HGTV lately you will realize that concrete countertops are trending. Not only do they look amazing when installed but they are so economical in comparison to your typical granite and marble options. What is also trending is feather finish countertops, which is essentially using Ardex or Henry’s Feather Finish concrete mixes and applying them right on top of existing laminate countertops. You can even add pigments to the concrete mixes to make the countertops a color other than gray; we’ve seen white versions, and black versions that look awesome!
Since concrete countertops are extremely porous it is very important to seal them 28 days after the countertops have been cured to prevent staining, scratches and heat damage.
StoneLok E3 2K complete countertop kit includes everything you need to seal 40 sq. ft of concrete countertops. The sealer is applied via a multi-step process, you first apply a surface conditioner, than an epoxy primer and finally a super heat resistant and abrasion resistant polyurethane top coat. One of the most durable products available for use on a concrete countertop if applied correctly. Available in an extra low gloss, low gloss or gloss finish. Does require precise, skilled application and is recommend for use only by trained professionals. The end result is an extremely durable sealer that can resist coffee, wine, citrus, vinegar and Clorox.
If you are looking for a product that doesn’t require such skilled application but will also give excellent abrasion and chemical resistance we recommend the Polyaspartic 745 kit for concrete countertops. Although it has a short pot life (once part A and part B are mixed you must apply it within 20 minutes) it has an extremely fast cure time (24 hours) in comparison to typical epoxy products that need up to a week of cure time. Sold as a countertop kit, you mix part A with part B (already pre-measured) and roll right onto the countertops. Once cured the surface will leave a high gloss finish, acceptable for use on Ardex or Henrys feather finish countertops or regular poured concrete countertops.
Silane/Siloxane sealers are commonly used as water repellents and waterproofers especially on extremely porous cement based substrates like cinderblocks, stucco, brick and concrete. Excellent sealers for protection from freeze-thaw damage and salt degradation and commonly used on municipality jobs, highways and bridges.
Most Important Features When Purchasing a Silane/Siloxane Sealer:
- Non-yellowing and water based
- Resistance to mold, mildew, salt degradation, freeze-thaw damage
- Resistance to ASR, chloride penetration and water
Most Popular Silane/Siloxane Sealer Brand Reviews:
Eagle Natural Seal: Low percentage solids silane/siloxane extremely economically priced. Wide variety of applications and covers a substantial amount of square footage per gallon. No warranty on the product.
Okon S-20: High percentage solids, also available in a 40% solids version. Good protection against water and we love the ease of application with a low pressure sprayer. Low square footage per gallon.
SureKlean Weather Seal: Ready to use silane/siloxane that is also water based designed to repel water from most masonry and stucco surfaces. Will help to reduce cracking, spalling and staining. Adequate performance over time, need to reapply every few years.
Siloxa-Tek 8500: Silane/siloxane designed for extremely porous concrete and masonry substrates. We have found this sealer to be extremely effective against salt degradation, spalling, cracking, freeze-thaw damage and water. We love that it is water based but performance is comparable and outperforms a solvent based silane/siloxane. 100% breathable with a 10 year warranty.
Blok-Lok: We don’t like that is was not specifically designed for concrete, multi-surface sealer with a five-year warranty. Low square footage per gallon, we do like that it can be applied within 48 hours of concrete being poured since this is not a normal benefit of silane/siloxanes.
One of the most popular concrete sealing product requests we field is for a color enhancing, wet look sealer. Everyone loves how their concrete looks after it rains and the way the water brings out the colors and textures of the substrate. This look is typically achieved by using an acrylic based sealing product of a solvent based chemistry. Solvent based acrylic sealers are fantastic products when it comes to decorative enhancement, the only downside is their longevity. With most products you need to reapply them on a yearly basis since they are very susceptible to breaking down from deicing salts, UV exposure and traffic. However, if you are committed to the wet look, high gloss finish and as long as you know it is something you will have to reapply on a yearly basis applying a solvent based acrylic is the way to go.
Use muriatic acid or another acid etching material such as Klean Strip Green Muriatic Acid, a safer muriatic acid or Hydro-Etch 1000 which is a modified phosphoric acid which is not as harmful as traditional muriatic acids. Muriactic acid is one of the most dangerous chemicals you can buy for home use and it can damage nearly everything it touches. We really like the Hydro-Etch 1000 product since in most cases it does just as good of a job as muriatic acid but with less danger. It is also an excellent choice when you are looking to remove efflorescence from concrete and masonry substrates.
Acid Etching Process:
Remove all furniture, equipment and objects from the concrete floor you are going to be etching, sweep up or shop vacuum any dust and dirt.
Remove all oils and greases prior to etching, this can be done by using a degreaser, laundry detergent or Dawn concentrated dish soap.
Hose down the entire area you are going to be etching. Spread the water and make sure it is not pooling or puddling, the concrete should remain this wet throughout the acid etching process.
The usual dilution ratio is 3 to 4 parts water to 1 part acid. Do not use a metal container to mix the acid and water. Important: Always pour acid into water, never pour water into acid since the acid can splash back into your face and lead to injury. During the mixing stage wear long sleeves, gloves, eye protection and a face mask to protect against fumes.
After the acid is mixed with water test in a small area to make sure the ratio is accurate, you will be able to tell since the concrete will begin to bubble and react. If you dont see bubbles when the acid first comes into contact with the concrete the mixture is not strong enough.
It is easiest to use a sprayer or watering can to apply the mixed acid to the floor. After spraying acid on the floor you can use a squeegee or floor machine to spread the acid mixture. Remember that the floor needs to stay wet throughout the entire acid etching process. Do not let the acid dry on the floor, if you notice that it is starting to dry you will need to hose down the areas.
After the acid has been applied wait about 2-15 minutes for the floor to stop bubbling. Throughout this process the acid is reacting with the floor, opening up the pores of the concrete preparing it to accept a sealer. If there are spots where the acid is not reacting with the concrete there could be residual oil or grease left on the floor and you may need to use a floor grinder to prepare the floor in these areas.
After the 2-15 minutes rinse off the acid from the floor. The next step is to neutralize the surface and reduce the pH of the concrete. You can neutralize the concrete using 1 cup baking soda dissolved in 1 cup water or 4 ounces of household ammonia mixed into 1 gallon of water. Let the neutralizing solution sit for a minimum of 10 minutes. You can then rinse off the neutralizing solution and drain it or shop vacuum it up.
The concrete should now have a cleaner, brighter appearance and it should have the texture of medium grit sandpaper. Rinse the concrete twice and suck up the excess with a shop vacuum. If the concrete is not rinsed enough a white powdery residue will be left on the floor when it dries. This can be removed by rinsing the concrete again.
- Wear protective clothing such as safety googles, gloves, long sleeves and close toe shoes.
- Do not breathe fumes, and use a face mask respirator
- ALWAYS POUR ACID INTO WATER, NOT water into acid.
- Effective pH levels prior to applying a sealer or coating are 6.0-9.0. If the range is below 6.0 there may still be acid residue in the pores of the concrete.
- Use a plastic drop cloth to protect anything you don’t want to get splashed.
- Don’t acid etch in weather below 50 degrees F.
- After etching make sure the floor has dried out before applying a concrete sealer or coating.
The post is based on a very informative article on wikiHow.com titled, How to Acid Etch Concrete.