Jul 2018 FAQ’s: TO SEAL OR NOT TO SEAL CONCRETE FLOORING?
In aid of helping you make your final decision, Sephaku Cement discusses the Pros and Cons of sealing your concrete floors. Where some homeowners are often in two minds as to whether or not to seal concrete flooring, it’s worth understanding a little more about the benefits and drawbacks of concrete sealants.
The Benefits of Concrete Sealants
Concrete is porous and as a result of this, it has the propensity to absorb and hold onto liquid and other material almost like a sponge. However, unlike sponges, it’s difficult to extract liquid and other stain creating substances from concrete once it has been absorbed. Through the absorption of moisture, unsealed floors are not only left with unsightly stains and marks that cannot be removed, but prolonged exposure to consistently wet conditions can have a negative impact on the durability and strength of the concrete flooring leading to cracks where steel are too close to the surface of the concrete and discolouration due to the leaching of calcium hydroxide.
In essence concrete sealants form a protective barrier on the surface of concrete inhibiting the absorption/ingress of water, oil, grease and grime, by changing the porous and permeable qualities of the surface of the concrete floors, much like water off a ducks back, sealants simply see water molecules and oil droplets roll over the surface of concrete floors until it has been wiped clean or evaporated. Sealants are also effective in preventing the occurrence of mildew and the black stains caused by the build of this in warm damp areas such bathroom showers and around basins.
Another benefit to sealing concrete floors is that it adds to the aesthetics of what typically has a drab and dull appearance, by using different types of concrete stains, a variety of finishes can be created, enhancing the appearance of concrete flooring. Epoxy and polyaspartic sealants result in a seamless and high sheen surface while clear sealants deepen the original colour of the concrete floor while protecting designs and etched patterns for a longer period of time.
Drawbacks to Sealing Concrete Flooring
While the pros seem to outweigh the cons there are a few drawbacks to sealing concrete floors that may make you think twice before going ahead. The biggest deterrent is that concrete sealants can cause flooring to become slippery underfoot and even more so when the flooring becomes wet. While there are ways to avoid unnecessary falls due to slipping this involves adding fine abrasives to the coating creating a non-skid surface, however in doing so this will also affect the finish of the flooring which may be unappealing to some.
Applying sealants can also be a hazardous task where some solvent-based sealants contain harsh chemicals, are harmful to pets, plants and even to humans when coming into contact with the skin. When applying a concrete sealant, protective gear is an essential and pets and children should be kept clear from the area until the sealant has been allowed to set for an adequate period of time.
Sealed concrete flooring will also require ongoing maintenance and care to ensure that the finish does not fade peel or erode in high traffic zones. It’s recommended that sealants are re-applied every 2 years or when necessary depending on the area and the conditions that the concrete flooring is exposed to.
Whether you are for or against sealing concrete flooring there is no denying that doing so will prolong the life of this installation while maintaining a consistent appearance and aesthetic appeal.