How to Seal Concrete and Why it is Important
When thinking about exterior home maintenance and curb appeal most homeowners are missing an important large area of their home; their concrete. You concrete driveway and walkways are extremely expensive to replace and because they are such large surfaces they dramatically affect the curb appeal of your property. Applying a concrete sealant periodically to your concrete not only will keep the concrete looking great but it will significantly extend its life. In this article, I will explain not only why it is so important but also how to go about doing it yourself if you choose to do so. At the end I will also share how much we charge to seal concrete driveways and walkways in case you want to hire a professional.
Why Seal Concrete?
You have seen driveways and walkways that were not sealed because they look awful. The surface is pitted and uneven and often black or dirty. In these photos you can see a concrete driveway and walkway that desperately need to be sealed.
You may not realize it but there are very tiny pores in the concrete that allow small amounts of water to penetrate in to the concrete. This is fairly harmless but the problem occurs when winter arrives. That water freezes and thaws as the temperature changes. That freeze-thaw cycle makes the water expand and contract and it is that pressure that will damage your concrete (cracking, pitting, etc) and shorten it’s lifespan.
A concrete sealant prevents water from penetrating the concrete. It is that simple. Just like a sealant on a deck prevents water from penetrating the wood, a concrete sealant does the same thing. A good quality sealant will penetrate in to the concrete forming a barrier against water. After it is applied you will see water actually bead up on the concrete surface just like you would on a freshly sealed deck.
Another reason to seal your concrete driveway and walkways is simply because it looks great. Even though the sealant is clear it does provide a slightly glossy appearance. (It really looks great because it has just been washed!) More importantly the sealant helps to prevent mildew, dirt, etc from making the concrete look bad. Concrete that is sealed not only is easier to clean it is also easier for rain water to clean as it runs off the concrete.
How To Seal Concrete
The first step is washing the surface and removing dirt and grease. At Textbook Painting, we use pressure washers with a specific surface cleaner attachment. This attachment does two things: 1. It helps to speed up the washing process and 2. It helps make sure the surface is cleaned evenly. Someone power washing without the surface cleaner attachment will only be washing strips about 3″ wide at a time. This can leave unsightly lines in the concrete that will not got away after the sealant is applied. Using a stiff bristle brush with a regular power washer can help to prevent these lines as well.
After washing give the concrete some time to dry. Typically overnight is ideal but you may be able to wait only a few hours if the conditions are right (sunlight, humidity, etc).
There are many different sealant products available and it is important to do some research. I am not going to provide a breakdown of different options in this article but I will tell you that we have had good results with Sherwin Williams Loxon 7% Siloxane sealant. This is our go-to product as it provides a high quality with a relatively lower price point. One gallon will cover approximately 100-150 square feet and it is sold in five gallon buckets.
Applying the sealant is relatively easy. You will need a clean five gallon bucket, a five-gallon bucket grid, a 1/2″ nap roller cover, a roller frame with an extension pole or broomhandle attached and an inexpensive paint brush. You will fill the five-gallon bucket up about 1/3 of the way.
Because the sealant is clear you do not have to be incredibly careful with applying it evenly but you do want to make sure you fully saturate all of the concrete surface. You should avoid going in straight lines. Think about the pattern of application more like vaccuuming than cutting the grass. Be careful not to get it on your house or other areas but you do not have to be excessively careful with the grass. Using the paint brush around the house and other detail areas will help.
How Often to Apply Sealant
The longevity can vary but the product I recommended above will last for about 1-3 years. It is fairly similar to how long a deck stain will last except it is less noticeable when it needs to be redone. You can simply pour some water on the driveway to watch if it beads up or soaks in. If not, it is probably time to re-seal. It is a great idea to simply record when you sealed the concrete or even set a reminder on your calendar because it can be easy to forget.
Hiring Textbook Painting to Seal Your Concrete
This is a service that Textbook Painting provides. After power washing, most concrete sealant projects can be completed in one day. Often times the price is between $500 and $1000 but it depends on the total square footage of concrete. An approximate price per square foot is $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot total price for labor and materials.
If you have any questions, please post a comment below or give us a call. If you would like a quote you can fill out a quick form and we’ll contact you.