How To Seal Stamped Concrete
The final step in the installation or the ongoing maintenance of stamped concrete is to apply a sealant. The sealer must be suitable for the outdoor environmental conditions of your region. When properly applied, the stamped concrete will be resistant to stains or chemicals, have protection against abrasion, and enrich the color of the concrete itself. It will also make the concrete easier to clean on a regular basis. Choosing the right sealant is often more complicated than applying it if you want to know how to seal stamped concrete. You'll have several questions that you must ask yourself to make sure you're getting the sealer that will do the best job possible.
What Conditions Will The Sealant Need To Resist?
If you live in the Pacific Northwest of the US, you'd want to have a sealant that was moisture-resistant. If you live in the US Midwest, you'd want something that could withstand large temperature changes, prolonged sunlight, but still have a certain level of weather-resistance. Don't look at your average weather cycle to answer this. Look to see what the worst weather could be and then plan for that for the best results.
What Is The Coverage Rate Of The Sealant?
A sealer must be applied in a certain way for it to be effective. This means you'll need to apply it over the specific square feet or meters for the container you decide to purchase. Measure out your stamped concrete and then compare that measurement to what your preferred sealant can provide.
What Will The Drying Time Be?
Some sealants can dry in 30-60 minutes. Others may take 24-72 hours to dry and then another 24-72 hours for the curing process to finish. Since your stamped concrete is likely outside, you'll need to have a product that can work with the upcoming weather forecast. If it's going to rain in a couple days, look for a fast-drying sealant.
Is The Sealer Able To Breathe?
Some sealants penetrate into the porous concrete to create a very solid, shiny surface. Others provide a more natural look that lets your concrete move and shift slightly as the outdoor elements allow. If your stamped concrete is going to be exposed to sunlight consistently, you'll also want a product that is UV resistant so you're not left with a yellowing effect like one would see with an old newspaper.
How Long Will The Sealant Last?
Many sealants will last for about 1 year without much difficulty. Some premium options may extend this timing to 3-5 years. It's important to know how long your preferred sealant will last because you'll need to reapply the sealant before the expiration date for best results. Once you've answered this questions and have selected your preferred sealant, then you're ready to get to work. You'll need to clean off the concrete so that there is no dirt, dust, or debris that can interfere with your work. Check the lowest spots of your stamped pattern to make sure there isn't any moisture that has accumulated there. Then you're ready to follow these additional steps.
Step #1: Apply Your Sealant In a Thin Layer.
Using a paint roller or similar device, apply your preferred sealant as thinly as possible. If you apply the sealer with too much thickness, then it will just puddle on your concrete and potentially cause it to turn a different color that can be difficult to buff out without further sealant.
Step #2: Don't Mix Your Sealants.
You can choose a water-based sealer or a solvent-based sealer, but you shouldn't try to use both. Solvents will eat through the other sealant and just waste your money.
Step #3: Allow The Concrete To Absorb The Sealant.
This may take 10 minutes or it may take a couple of hours. This depends on the manufacturer's instructions. Once you've allowed the concrete to absorb the sealant, wipe away any excess that may be puddling. Give it another hour or two to dry and then apply a second coat of sealant.
Step #4: Check For a Blotchy Appearance.
Concrete can have may peaks and dips to it, especially with a stamping pattern. A sealant will level out the surface, but if there isn't enough sealant used, it will create a blotchy effect to the glossy look you may be trying to obtain. Continue to apply thin layers of sealant until you receive a uniform appearance.
Step #5: Be Careful About Secondary Pigments.
If you've used a heavy secondary color on your stamped concrete, then your sealant may choose to apply to the color and not to the concrete itself. If this is the case, you'll need to strip away the secondary color and any sealant you may have applied. At best, only light tinting will generally work with a concrete sealer.
Knowing how to seal stamped concrete means finding the right sealer and applying it thinly in coat after coat until you receive a uniform surface. Don't use the concrete until the manufacturer's instructions recommend. In doing so, you'll have a surface that looks great at any time of year.
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