Cement floor sealer can help create a longer lasting, more attractive and safer cement floor, staircase or driveway.
The Purpose of Cement Sealers
Cement is a very common material used in floors, stairs and driveways. It is relatively easy to maintain and is strong and long lasting. One potential problem with concrete in floors is that it is porous. Porosity allows liquids and staining agents, like grease, to travel into the concrete itself, making it very hard to remove stains or keep moisture in or out. Cement floor sealers are applied to concrete to create a protective barrier. Sometimes they are also used to make concrete floors more attractive.
Varieties of Cement Floor Sealers
There are basically two types of cement floor sealers. Although there can be cosmetic variations, like added dyes, a floor sealer will either sit on the surface of the concrete or penetrate the surface a certain distance.
Surface Film Sealers
Surface limited sealers are also called film formers. Think of them as a thin, water resistant envelope riding on the surface of the floor. One thing that distinguishes film style concrete sealers is that they are lustrous and sometimes slippery. The high sheen can be an attractive finish, particularly in an interior room. It reflects light too, making dark rooms, like laundry or mudrooms more welcoming. One of the problems with these film style sealers is that they can be slick, some formulations can scuff or scratch easily, and they can be hard to remove.
As the name suggests, penetrating sealers don't just sit on the surface of cement flooring, they travel into the porous surface of the aggregate itself. The depth of penetration will vary from brand to brand and be dependent, in part, on the type of cement flooring, but typically penetrating sealers will saturate concrete to a depth of one to four millimeters. The resulting seal is very water repellent and won't wear like a surface sealer. Penetrating sealers aren't slippery either, and don't create a glossy sheen on the sealed floor.
A number of products are now available that can stain cement as well as seal it. Decorative cement stains can work with floor patterning to create an appearance like stone or tile at a much lower cost than the real thing. Tinted floor sealers can also help conceal stains in existing flooring, as with ground in dirt or grease in a garage or near an entry. Sometimes stains are included in the sealer as a one step solution. Other manufacturers will sell stains and sealers as companion products designed to be installed in two, or possibly even three steps.
Tips for Using Cement Floor Sealer
When preparing to seal your floor:
- Make sure to get the area very clean. The presence of grease, dirt and dust will keep the sealer from binding properly and result in a mess, so take the time to prep your concrete floor with a degreaser and concrete floor cleaner.
- Stubborn stains may require the application of detergent and scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush. To prepare the floor, tape off interior walls with painter's tape.
- Always provide proper ventilation. If you don't have cross ventilation in the area, use fans.
- You will also need safety gear, including gloves and protective eye gear.
- You can apply sealer with a paint roller, bristle or foam brush.
Follow the Sealer's Directions Carefully
When choosing a sealer, be sure to read the cleaning, safety, and application instructions carefully. This will help you avoid health risks and achieve the best finish on your cement floor.