Until you have applied a layer of sealer, your concrete driveway won’t be complete. This protective layer is worth the time and effort since it will help your concrete last longer as well as preserve and enhance its appearance. Here are a few tips on what to look for in the best concrete driveway sealer and a few reviews to help you start your search.
Best Concrete Driveway Sealer January, 2020
|PRODUCT NAME||TYPE||SIZE||SQ FT PER GALLON*||BASED ON||WET LOOK|
|Armor SX5000 |
|Armor SX5000 WB |
|DryWay Water-Repellent||Penetrating||5 Gallon||80-200||Water||NO|
|Armor AR350||Surface||5 Gallon||175-325||Solvent||YES|
1. Armor SX5000 Concrete Sealer – Best Penetrating Concrete Driveway Sealer
Creating an invisible hydrophobic barrier, the Armor SX5000 is a high solid formula that is also a water repellent approved by the Department of Transportation. With a low-VOC, this is a solvent based silane/siloxane that works well on concrete driveways. Water and other liquids will instantly bead on surfaces with the SX5000 coating.
With incredible efflorescence and strong resistance to alkali, Armor SX5000 will stop concrete dusting. It also resists fungus, mildew, and mold. Lasting up to ten years, the Armor SX5000 doesn’t change how your concrete looks.
2. Armor SX5000 WB Concrete Sealer – Best Water Based Sealer
Penetrating deep surfaces, the Armor SX5000 WB is a Silane-Siloxane sealer that is water-based and has a low VOC. Approved in many states by the Department of Transportation, this is a sealer that is water repellent forming a chemical barrier lessening the surface’s absorption of water within its pores. This product doesn’t change how the concrete surfaces look or it’s color, plus it doesn’t leave a surface film that is visible.
It can be easily applied with a roller or pump sprayer, and coverage will vary depending on surface porosity and the applicator. Containing up to five times more active ingredients than other products available, Armor SX5000 lessens deterioration that is caused by staining, pitting, spalling, and cracking while also reducing dusting that is caused by surface abrasion and the movement of moisture through the pores of your concrete.
Armor SX5000 will maintain the unsealed, natural feel and look of the substrate it is covering. This is a breathable product that can give you up to ten years of long-lasting performance. Plus, it is perfect for warehouse floors, walkways, garage floors, and unsealed basement walls.
3. DryWay Water-Repellent Concrete Sealer – Best Sealer for Stamped Concrete Driveway
Unlike common driveway sealers that need to be reapplied each year, the DryWay Water-Repellent Concrete Sealer will penetrate and seal for long-lasting protection. This is a great product for sidewalks and driveways that protect against deterioration, molds, spills, and water. When you treat masonry and concrete with DryWay, water will shed and bead helping to reduce algae, molds, corrosion, rebar, efflorescence, spalling, pitting, and cracking.
DryWay is heat and UV ray resistant, and it will not yellow or leave a gloss finish or film that needs to peel or will wear off. Your treated sidewalk or driveway will have up to ten years of protection.
4. ToughCrete Concrete Sealer – Best Water-Repelling Sealer
Protecting both the concrete’s surface but also under the surface as well, the ToughCrete Concrete Sealer is a great product for long-term protection. This is a great siloxane concrete sealant that will protect your garage floor, sidewalk, and driveway. Cheap Acrylic concrete sealers don’t give you a full seal and only last about a year but ToughCrete ‘s deep penetration will give your concrete surface up to ten years of protection from salt and water damage as well as deterioration.
5. Armor AR350 Sealer – Best Driveway Sealer for a Wet Look
If you like the “wet look” on your concrete, check out the Armor AR350. Darkening your surface so it gives the appearance to being wet, this sealer will give faded and dull surfaces and instant refresher. You can apply AR350 to either exterior or interior as well as natural stone, concrete bricks, aggregate, and pavers.
The AR350 is also a great choice for coating the floors of warehouses and garages and works great on pool decks and driveways. It is easy to apply with a roller or pump sprayer and is available in several colors or a clear option. The coating is resistant to efflorescence, mildew and mold, dusting, hot tire pickup, exposure to either fresh or salt water pool systems, and UV rays.
Lasting up to two to five years, AR350 is breathable and penetrating with unmatched bonding characteristics. It is resistant to salt damage, chemicals, stains, and water, plus it can be used on acid stained and integrally colored concrete, stamped concrete, and poured concrete.
6. MasonryDefender Concrete Sealer – Best Non-Film Forming Sealer
Providing lasting water repellency, the MasonryDefender Concrete Sealer is a blended product of siloxane and silane. An architectural grade product, it bonds with minerals found in concrete and is a great choice to use on concrete where you need the most chloride ion or slat de-icing protection. This is a non-film forming product that is breathable and won’t change the appearance or color of your concrete.
7. EnduraSeal Concrete Sealer Solvent Base – Best Solvent Base Sealer
Created to beautify and protect any concrete surface, EnduraSeal is a 100% acrylic solvent. This professional concrete sealer is pure acrylic in a solvent base and will give you concrete surface a durable coating of semi-gloss for a “wet look”. Designed to be non-yellowing, EnduraSeal will enhance and protects any type of concrete including exposed, stamped, colored, and stained aggregate.
EnduraSeal is also able to protect stained concrete, stones, terrazzo, and pavers.
Concrete Driveway Sealer – Buyer’s Guide
Benefits of Applying a Concrete Sealer
- Enhances concrete’s color intensity whether it is a dye or stain, integral, or received from an antiquing release or dry-shake hardener
- Adds shine to the concrete’s surface that ranges from a high gloss to a satin
- Blocks stains, chemicals, grease, oil, and dirt from penetrating the concrete making it easier to maintain and clean
- Stops dusting on the surface.
- Prevents chlorides and water from intruding minimizing the damage from freezes and thaws
- Protects concrete from wear and abrasion
You need to find the correct sealer for the concrete that you have. There are tons of sealers available that will work for pretty much any kind of concrete project, but there isn’t just one sealer that is great for every project. And, if you choose the wrong type of sealer or apply it incorrectly, you can ruin the concrete.
It is important to make sure the product is compatible with the surface you are using it on by checking with the manufacturer of the sealer. It is possible to have an interaction with a sealer and certain coloring agents or overlays creating unappealing side effects like color bleeding, bubbling, and blistering.
When applying sealer to a topping or overlay, check with the manufacturer of the overlay to see if there are recommendations for the right sealer to choose. There may also be an overlay product that the sealer manufacturer sells that will specifically work its products.
Solvent-based sealers will have a VOC, volatile organic compound, that will need to be checked ensure it won’t exceed that levels that are acceptable where you live. Both local and state agencies, as well as the federal government, have mandates for certain maximum allowable levels of volatile VOCs that a concrete sealer is allowed to contain. Federal mandates are often defaulted to by some states while others along with air management districts and local county governments setting their own.
You won’t find the same amounts of VOC in all solvent-based sealers. One example, a common concrete sealer solvent called xylene will produce VOCs while another called acetone produces no VOCs and is deemed an exempt solvent. The solids content is another important factor with a higher solids content meaning a lower VOC and liquid content. This important information can be found on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or product’s specification sheet.
After you apply your sealer, you will want to have minimal maintenance so make sure you choose a sealer that protects the surface of your concrete from the elements and traffic conditions. If you have a stamped concrete driveway, you will want to find a sealer that deters grease and oil stains while resisting abrasion and preventing deicing chemicals or water penetration.
Exterior concrete needs water or solvent based acrylic as its primary sealer. If you want a natural look and aren’t interested in have a shine on your surface, a good alternative is a penetrating sealer that will give you great protection from exposure outdoors. Decorative interior floors will need a sealer with a high-build featuring great resistance to staining and scuffs like epoxy or polyurethane that will be easy to maintain and give you the best protection. Indoor surfaces need a soft acrylic sealer that will need regular maintenance as well as a few coats of a wax or floor finish to stop black shoe marks and wear.
If you have a project that needs to be finished quickly, you will need a sealer that can be opened to traffic or recoated in a short amount of time. Drying the fastest, acrylic sealers, depending on humidity levels and air temperature, will ready for light traffic about twelve hours after you apply the last coat. Epoxies and polyurethanes have a longer curing time that takes a minimum of 24 hours.
Water-based sealers are usually safer to use indoors than a solvent-based product, particularly if you can’t ventilate the area. Solvent-based sealers have fumes that are dangerous to breathe in and are very flammable. Acrylic sealers are used pretty commonly for outside projects due to their good water repellency that allows moisture vapor in the concrete to escape as well as it is safe to breathe in just like the majority of penetrating sealers.
Offering great water repellency, epoxies can be impermeable and trap moisture inside concrete. If there is too much moisture in a slab, outdoors or indoors, choose a permeable sealer that doesn’t stop the concrete from releasing moisture vapor when it needs to.
You may be surprised to only get a short-term result from a very expensive sealer when, in reality, its performance will depend on the sealer’s penetration abilities. The farther down into the surface the sealer goes, the better it will protect against day to day wear and tear from temperature extremes and protect against water.
With a professional-grade concrete sealer, you will have the penetration that goes down deep into the pores of the concrete. It is always a good idea to check ratings and reviews to make sure that the sealer is going to work its way down into the surface that you want to seal.
While some sealants only need one application, many others will need several coats to get down deep into your concrete surface. A good sealer will chemically bond while going down deep into a surface and not just settle on top of it.
The thickness or viscosity of a sealer will depend a lot on how well it penetrates. Depending on the environment where you live, you may not want a sealer that completely locks moisture to protect the surface. Breathable sealers work well to protect a surface while not allowing slickness or rot issues to develop.
If you only have temporary results, the money you spent on the sealer and the time you spent applying it will be wasted. Make sure to find a sealer that is meant for the specific surface you are sealing so you can get long-term results and not have to worry about frequent reapplication.
Although many sealers will advertise that they are water and dirt repellent and protect against UV radiation and scuff, they don’t always mention how well they can withstand the effect of household chemicals or car traffic. Obviously, a sealer designed to protect your countertops and kitchen sink will not work as well on your driveway. Make sure to follow the instructions when applying the sealer as this process also has a big effect on how durable your results will be.
Many sealers today claim to be non-slip but their results tend to vary. Sealers are intended to penetrate deep down into natural stone or concrete surfaces smoothing out the texture of the surface. Some products will only settle onto the top of the stone or concrete creating a slippery surface. You can mix in an additive before or with the sealer but this will cost you more. Instead, find a concrete sealer that includes a non-slip additive.
For those users that want the wet look, you need a sealer that features a medium to high gloss shine. You will find that the majority of acrylic sealers come in a range of shine levels. A solvent-based acrylic will usually enhance a color than a water-based product. If you are interested in an added boost of color, you are able to develop a color wash with a few acrylic sealers when you mix in liquid or powdered tints.
If you aren’t interested in a wet or shiny look, there are also film-forming sealers that have low-gloss or matte finishes. You can even find a “flattening agent” that you can combine with a few sealers to manipulate the gloss level of your sealer. Or, you can use a sealer that penetrates but doesn’t leave surface films.
Depending on how well you maintain the sealer as well as its exposure condition, the life expectancy can last years. Urethanes and epoxies generally have the longest lasting performance before they will need to be reapplied. You can even get a warranty from some manufacturers that will back their product’s performance, but it will be voided if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to apply the sealer.
Always comparison shop sealers that are similar to make sure you are getting the best deal, but this isn’t an area where you can afford to be cheap. The overall longevity and appearance of the sealer are way too important, plus you don’t want to end up with a finish that just wears away in a few years. Remember the old adage; you get what you pay for.
After finding the right type of sealer for your project, you then need to decide how much sealer you will need. Typically, you figure out a sealer’s coverage rate by calculating the square footage. So if you have a sealer that will cover 500 square feet per gallon and your overall project’s square footage is 900, you will need two buckets that equal 1,000 square feet per gallon to cover it.
Keep in mind it is often cheaper to buy a 5-gallon bucket than smaller 1-gallon units. Plus, have a little extra can’t hurt in case you have an issue with your project.
Make sure to do your research before purchasing a sealer for your concrete driveway. Depending on your needs, you need to find a sealer that will penetrate well, resist water, and prevent your driveway from cracking. Once you know what you need from your sealer, you should have any problems finding the right product for the job.
Types of Concrete Sealer
Now, I’m going to go through all the different types of concrete sealers available to help you choose the one that’s right for you. There’s a lot out there, enough to make your head spin. I’m not going to lie to you. This topic can be a little bit boring and dry.
Calm down. No pun intended. But yes, concrete sealers help keep concrete dry. They prevent water absorption. See, water takes with it dirt and other particles, and they get into the pores of the concrete. Not only does it make it harder to clean, but it shortens the lifetime of the concrete, and that’s why sealing it is so important, and that’s why choosing the right sealer is very important. Let’s get started with the concrete sealers.
There are four common types of concrete sealers.
Today, I’m going to focus most of the discussion on the penetrating sealers because they’re the most confusing, but I will touch on the other three as well. Another reason I’m focusing on penetrating sealers is because most of us have some sort of exterior concrete around our home, and these sealers are good at protecting that concrete without altering its appearance.
Here are some general characteristics of penetrating sealers.
First of all, penetrating sealers are not a coating. They react within the capillaries or the voids of the concrete, so they soak in underneath the surface, and they’re pretty much undetectable once they’re dry. They also provide excellent outdoor exposure protection. They’ll protect against water; however, they are breathable, allowing moisture vapor to escape, which is very important with concrete. The finish on penetrating sealers can range from a matte sheen to virtually invisible. After it’s dry, you may not notice much of a difference at all. As far as lifetime goes, these will last pretty much a lifetime; however, if you need to reapply, one of the benefits of these is you can apply a second coat later on without removing the first application.
Lastly, penetrating sealers could be either water-based or solvent-based. Solvent-based sealers have a higher content of volatile organic compounds or VOCs. I’m sure you’ve heard of these. In addition to the VOCs, they also tend to have more of a sheen than the water-based.
Here’s where things get complicated with penetrating sealers. There are four types of sealers, and they all have names that sound like you need a degree in chemistry to understand them.
These sealers are great for dense or high PSI concrete because they’re made up of very small molecules, and so they can get into those smaller pores, and they can penetrate deeper than a larger molecule sealer. Silanes have excellent water and oil repellent properties. Now, the downside to silanes is sometimes they can darken on the surface, and they can definitely bond with any oils that might be in the concrete and cause dark staining, so you really have to be sure that your concrete is thoroughly clean.
These are derivatives of silanes. They have a larger molecule than the silanes, so they have a more shallow penetration, but they have very excellent topical benefits. These are very good for porous materials because of those larger molecules.
These are interesting because they actually have a chemical reaction with the concrete. After they’re applied and they dry, they form a permanent non-soluble chemical bond with some of the chemicals inside concrete. There are two types. There’s sodium and lithium. Sodium is older, and it’s also cheaper. Lithium, which is, I wouldn’t say a new product. It’s still been around for a while. It is the newer of the two. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews on those. Both sodium and lithium are good for very smooth concrete or machine-trowel surfaces kind of like basements and garages.
Another interesting thing about these sealers is they offer radon protection, so if you have a, let’s say a basement, and you have a radon gas issue, if you were to seal it with this, it could help mitigate the transfer of radon gasses from underneath the slab through the concrete. One note about silicates, they also have a polished appearance, which may not be something that you like.
These also have a chemical reaction with concrete, but they do have larger molecules than silicates. They have a shallower penetration, but it’s still deep enough that this does give you more coverage. These are best used for reducing moisture intrusion, basically blocking water, and this also helps combat freeze-thaw cycles. When water goes into the concrete and it doesn’t evaporate, and then it freezes, that expansion of the water into ice is pretty bad on your concrete. That’s what causes most of the wear and tear, so this is a good sealer for preventing that. This sealer also resists deep stains.
Another interesting thing about siliconates, you can apply it just about at any time. If you have new concrete that’s still curing, you can apply these sealers, or if you have old concrete that you’ve cleaned up, you can apply the sealer then as well. It’s a very multi-purpose sealer.
My recommendation for most home owners is to use a water-based siliconate penetrating sealer. They’re very easy to apply, they’re very effective, and they won’t alter the look of the concrete.
Now, this may not work for your needs, so now let me cover the other types of sealers that are not penetrating. These are film-forming sealers that they’re basically a coating that sits on top of the concrete.
Acrylics are a very thin film coating. They dry quickly. Acrylics can be used interior, exterior. They have good protection against water and chlorine, so they can be used around pools; however, they do wear fairly fast. There’s really no chemical reaction. Think of it kind of like a paint for concrete. They do require quite a bit of maintenance. You may need to put floor finish or wax on these. A clear acrylic can enhance color, stamped, or exposed aggregate concrete. You can get acrylics in a range of sheen levels. You can get it from a matte all the way up to a high gloss. They don’t last very long though. Typical lifetime is only about one to three years, and as they age, they can become brittle and start to crack. You can find acrylics both water and solvent-based.
This is a thick film coating. Very good for high traffic areas. It can also be used interior or exterior. A clear polyurethane can also enhance colored concrete or stamped or exposed aggregate. It also comes in a range of sheen levels. The lifetimes on these vary wildly. There are so many different types of polyurethanes that you really just have to do some reason to figure out which of the polyurethanes is going to last the longest for you and still giving what you want.
I’m sure all of you are familiar with some sort of epoxy. This is also a thick film coating. Very good for high traffic areas. A lot of times, it’s used outdoors, but you’ll see them indoors sometimes. This is typically the type of coating you’ll find in a garage. You might go to an auto dealer, and in their pull-up lane, you’ll see a nice coating over their concrete. A lot oftentimes, that’s epoxy. It does have a glossy finish, and it can alter the traction of the concrete. It can become slippery when wet, so sometimes, particles are added. In fact, these little chips are added to help provide some traction. Now, the lifetime of epoxies is on a range of five to seven years.