Your Finish Is Only As Good As Your Care.
Part 1.

In colder climates we have issues with maintaining our hardscape surfaces. With freeze thaw cycles and different ice melting products available how do we know what is best for our concrete hardscapes?

The goal is to offer you, the client, tips for the best looking and longest lasting finish for your concrete hardscape installation.

Sealing with Solvent Based Sealers

Solvent Based sealers contain acrylic particles mixed with solvents that COAT the surface. Because of the nature of Acrylic, it has the effect of leaving a WET LOOK on the surface and enhancing the existing colour on the concrete. Acrylic sealers are sometimes available in different levels of gloss from matte to high gloss.

Due to the nature of topical acrylic sealers it is NOT RECOMMENDED to apply them to uncured concrete. The length of time required to cure concrete will vary based on the weather and the concrete mix but is generally 28 days. After 7 days, concrete has usually reached about 65% of its full hardness. After 14 days it typically reaches about 90%, and the final 10% is around the 28-day mark.

The government regulates the amount of solids in these Solvent Based Sealers in order to control the VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). A LOW VOC Sealer must have less than 350 g/l or 35% solid content. The better sealers available will be between 18% and 24% solid content. CCI-1000 Driveway Sealer is approximately 20% solids which when applied with 1 coat provides excellent protection with minimal slip factor. Depending on the amount of traffic, sun exposure etc. reapplication is required typically every 2 to 4 years.

Acrylic Sealer should always be applied in thin coats. It is recommended that the thickness of the Acrylic does not exceed 2mm (as Per ConcreteNetwork.com). Signs of over application range from cloudiness of the finish too bubbles that may eventually cause the sealer to flake off and also an increase in the SLIP FACTOR of the concrete when applied too thick.

Anti-slip additives can be used to increase the Slip Resistance. A caveat of these Anti-Slip additives is they can decrease the life of the sealer and increase the chance of separation of the Acrylic from the concrete surface depending on which product you choose. Try to avoid any additives made from PVC particles, as they have proven to be problematic. It is safe to stick with fine silica sand, which is available at Concreation Canada.

It is important to be aware that acrylic sealers will not protect against exposure to some de-icing agents. Advise your clients not to use these the first winter and after if ever used, to rinse off the concrete surface after they’ve done their job to avoid damage to the sealer and eventually the concrete surface.

See our next article on Water Base Penetrating Sealers for some tips on prevention of this sort of damage and future articles on De-Icing Agents on Decorative Concrete.