Concrete is renowned for its strength and has been used in one form or another since ancient times. However, like every other building material, concrete is subject to the pressures and degradation caused by environmental conditions and human usage. To survive and ensure structural integrity for as long as possible, concrete needs to be protected with a sealer.
Protection of concrete takes on an additional purpose when a structure is built for aesthetics as well as function. Architectural design can lose much of its appeal when damaged, regardless of the style of the building, as clean lines are broken by decay and smooth surfaces become pitted or corroded. In many cases, this can even lead to complaints about the building, and people may assume a structure is unsafe because of how it looks. Of course, this is often true, since visible damage to concrete can be a sign of worse deterioration within.
The best solution is to use a penetrating concrete sealer to preserve both appearance and strength. This article will explain the best concrete sealer, how it works, and when it is needed.
Why Is It Necessary to Seal Concrete?
Concrete Spalling & Cracking
Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and cement that will chemically react with each other, such as in the alkali-silica reaction (ASR) commonly known as "concrete cancer." In this reaction, the amorphous silica used in some concrete mixtures reacts with the cement paste which is alkali in pH, causing swelling and cracking. Spalling occurs and the structural integrity eventually becomes so compromised that the structure will need to be demolished.
Concrete Weather Damage & Decay
Another natural issue with concrete is that while appearing solid to the naked eye, it's a very porous material, meaning it's filled with microscopic air pockets. Air collects moisture, expands and contracts with temperature, and puts continuous pressure on the structure especially in colder climates. As moisture in the air freezes and thaws repeatedly over time, it creates stress on the concrete which contributes to cracking and decay. Concrete in warmer climates is also subject to weather damage even though it doesn't undergo the same level of the freeze-thaw cycle.
Rusting Rebar on the Inside of Structural Walls
The presence of air itself will also cause problems since oxygen reacts with metal, producing rust. Reinforced concrete will become damaged internally by the corrosion of rebar or other embedded metals since rust has a higher volume than steel and will expand and put pressure on the surrounding concrete. This, too, leads to cracking and weakening, and can also produce ugly rust smears visible on the surface.
There are several other potential causes for concrete deterioration, which can vary depending on the aggregates used, local climate, exposure to saltwater, and more. Even bacteria can occasionally attack concrete in certain conditions.
A penetrating concrete sealer preserves concrete by protecting it from these natural hazards.
How does Penetrating Concrete Sealer Work?
StableCrete Concrete Sealer Waterproofs Deep Under The Surface
Lasts up to 7 Years
Since so much of the stress that causes concrete deterioration is internal, simply applying a coating to the surface will not treat much of the problem. The non-polymer sealer wears off quickly within as little as 6 months to 3 years. Penetrating concrete sealer sinks deeply into the concrete to form a seal that lasts for more than 7 years. StableCrete resists the elements and prevents the natural chemical reactions that contribute to substrate decay. The application of a penetrating sealer essentially freezes the aggregate particles in place and fills the porous spaces between them so they will not chemically react. This also removes space for air, which is subject to contraction and expansion and could carry moisture.
Stronger, More Stable Concrete
Penetrating concrete sealer also increases the density and tensile strength of the substrate when it solidifies, which helps strengthen it permanently. Since an infiltrating sealer like this sinks within the matrix of the concrete, it doesn't affect the outward appearance and cannot be rubbed off with time like a regular concrete surface treatment. It does result in an abrasion-resistant surface, making it essential for areas with heavy foot traffic.
StableCrete is an eco-friendly concrete sealer with a deep-penetrating formula that sinks 4 inches within the concrete surface. As an inert, non-toxic, odorless, and non-flammable product, it requires no special equipment to apply and can be safely used both indoors and out. While it's an ideal concrete sealer for new structures, it can also be used on old unpainted or uncoated surfaces to increase their lifespan and prevent future deterioration.
Where to Use Penetrating Concrete Sealer
Penetrating concrete sealer is useful for new buildings and architecture as well as existing structures. In the former case, the application will help prevent decay before it occurs, while in the latter case, it will help slow existing deterioration.
Apply After Concrete Has Fully Cured
Since concrete takes time to cure and relies on the presence of moisture for the necessary chemical processes, you should only apply the sealer to concrete that has fully cured. For existing concrete, thoroughly clean the surface to remove all foreign matter including oil, grease, and other types of dirt. Wet-vacuuming is recommended for indoor surfaces. The substrate must be completely dry before application and must be at a temperature of above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. A clean, dry substrate at appropriate temperatures will ensure full protection.
Simply clean the surface first and allow 24-48 hours before subjecting the area to foot traffic (if horizontal) after applying.
Seal Interior and Exterior Concrete Surfaces
Exterior and interior concrete will both benefit from penetrating concrete sealers, including both horizontal and vertical surfaces. All walls, especially load-bearing walls, should be treated as well as concrete floors such as garage floors, access floors, driveways, and walkways. Access floors should not be neglected even if they are fully indoors. Before applying the concrete sealer, surfaces should be cleaned with quality cleaners and stain removers so dirt doesn't ruin the design.
Works on All Masonry Surfaces
Penetrating concrete sealer strengthens most masonry surfaces. Many natural types of stone like limestone are also extremely porous and can become weakened by moisture intrusion. StableCrete sealer will extend the lifespans of brick, plaster, stucco, mortar, and terrazzo. Precast concrete and pavers are good candidates as well.
Sealing your concrete or another porous masonry will preserve its integrity and appearance, providing waterproofing and resistance to acid, saline environments, grease, oil, and abrasion. This ensures a longer life for the structure as a whole by preventing chemical reactions inherent to the substrate as well as other problems related to the presence of oxygen and water. It also prevents staining, including that caused by corroding rebar.
Build Your Next Architectural Work of Art with StableCrete Concrete Sealer
Don't let your building designs crumble. Spec StableCrete into your next building design plans to seal concrete and other porous masonry surfaces for years to come. It penetrates up to 4 inches deep, is eco-friendly, and safe to use in any location. Structures will be preserved and protected for years to come. Sold in one gallon and five-gallon containers. Call for orders over 30 gallons!