The Best Concrete Sealers for Outdoor Surfaces

Halt moisture and chemical damage while highlighting the beauty of decorative concrete surfaces with a protective coat of concrete sealer.

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The Best Concrete Sealer

Photo: amazon.com

Concrete sealers provide a vital layer of protection from the possibility of unsightly staining and scuffing on concrete surfaces like countertops and patio pavers. Even in utilitarian locations such as driveways and garage floors, applying concrete sealer can help protect your investment by eliminating long-term damage from moisture and chemical intrusion. Indoors or out, concrete lasts longer and performs better with some protection. So which concrete sealer is the best? It depends.

The best concrete sealer is one that is designed for where you need it and creates the finish that you prefer. You can choose either a penetrating concrete sealer that provides nearly invisible protection and same-as-original surface texture or a film-forming concrete sealer for a smooth, durable finish. Keep reading to find out more about choosing and using the best concrete sealers.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Foundation Armor AR350 Wet Look Concrete Sealer
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Rainguard Micro-Seal Penetrating Concrete Sealer
  3. BEST PENETRATING: MasonryDefender Penetrating Concrete Sealer
  4. BEST ACRYLIC: EnduraSeal 100% Acrylic Semi Gloss Concrete Sealer
  5. BEST EPOXY: TotalBoat Epoxy Resin & Hardener Kit
  6. BEST POLYURETHANE: SEAL-ONCE SO7910 Nano+Poly Concrete & Masonry Sealer
  7. BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: EcoProCote Eco-Tuff Clearcoat Concrete Sealer
  8. BEST INDUSTRIAL-GRADE: Foundation Armor SX5000 Water Based Concrete Sealer
The Best Concrete Sealer

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Concrete Sealer

When choosing concrete sealers, it’s helpful to know the range of available options. Each type of sealer has qualities that help it excel in different applications, so the following breaks down some of the most important characteristics of concrete sealers.

Penetrating 

Penetrating sealers seal the pores of concrete below the surface. They form a chemical barrier that shields against intrusion by moisture and chemicals such as ice melt products. Most of these sealers provide invisible protection without changing the appearance of the surface. Most are breathable, allowing moisture vapor to escape. Because they provide excellent protection against harsh weather, penetrating sealers are a great choice for driveways, sidewalks, patios, and other outdoor locations.

A penetrating sealer protects exterior concrete surfaces against freeze-thaw damage and corrosion. It cures in less than 24 hours to provide a natural-looking finish, providing excellent weather protection without making the surface slippery, changing the surface appearance, or leaving a sheen. It is easy to apply with a pressurized garden sprayer, a paint roller, or a high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) sprayer.

Acrylic 

Acrylic concrete sealers are either solvent-based or water-based formulations. These products are a good choice where simple application and low cost are important. They form a thin, protective film that provides good protection from moisture and chloride penetration while still allowing water vapor to escape from the slab. Available in different sheen levels, acrylic can be used to enhance colored, stamped, or exposed aggregate concrete in either indoor or outdoor applications. Outdoors, it is ultraviolet (UV) resistant, and it does not yellow.

Acrylic sealers can dry within an hour and take between 36 and 48 hours to fully cure, making them a good choice for projects that need to be done quickly. They can protect the surface and enhance the color of interior floors or protect against moisture and salt damage outdoors. Acrylic is usually thinner than epoxy or polyurethane, so it wears out faster and must be reapplied more often, about every three years. Solvent-based acrylics are a better choice than water-based for outdoor projects. Apply very thin layers with a pump sprayer or roller.

Epoxy 

Epoxy concrete sealers add a thick protective surface over the concrete for extended wear and abrasion resistance. This type of sealer is highly water repellent and adds a glossy finish and is available in clear or color tinted. It is significantly harder than acrylic, but it does not allow trapped moisture to escape from the concrete slab.

These durable sealers are often used for floors in high-traffic areas, such as garages and basements, or for concrete countertops. Epoxy sealers are subject to yellowing when exposed to UV light, so they are limited to interior use. Most are two-part products that must be mixed before application. After mixing, the sealer must be applied immediately before it hardens. An effective application method is to pour the mixture onto the surface, spread it evenly using a squeegee, then smooth it with a lint-free roller.

Polyurethane 

Polyurethane concrete sealers provide a protective film that is twice as thick as acrylic but not as thick as epoxy. Available in either water- or solvent-based formulations and a range of sheen levels, polyurethane provides excellent abrasion and chemical resistance. It is suitable for both interior and exterior applications, where it provides a non-yellowing, transparent, and durable finish.

Polyurethane sealers are used for floors in high-traffic areas, on concrete countertops, or to protect and enhance colored, stamped, or exposed aggregate concrete. Apply with a high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) airless sprayer or a microfiber mop to lay down a thin, even coat.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Concrete Sealer

Beyond just the type, there are other factors involved in making a decision about the best concrete sealer. To choose the best sealer for your project, consider the following.

Surface Type 

Concrete sealers perform differently depending on the type of surface. A penetrating sealer is usually the best choice for high-traffic outdoor areas like driveways, sidewalks, and patios. In cold climates, silane or silane/siloxane blends are used because they hold up best against the abrasive effects of scraping and plowing. In warm climates, either silane/siloxane blend or acrylic will work well. Acrylic is best for decorative, high-gloss, or color-enhancing applications.

Concrete floors in basements, garages, and shops take a lot of abuse over time. Either water-based or solvent-based acrylic will provide a high degree of protection, but solvent-based usually lasts longer.

Concrete countertops must be sealed to avoid staining. This is an ideal location to use either an epoxy or polyurethane concrete sealer.

Climate

Moisture and salt are two of concrete’s biggest enemies. Concrete’s porous texture allows moisture intrusion that causes cracks during freeze-thaw cycles. Salt from ice melt, lawn chemicals, sea spray, and other sources corrodes and weakens concrete. The best way to keep these elements from damaging your driveway, sidewalk, or patio is to apply a sealer that will keep them out.

For most outdoor surfaces, a penetrating concrete sealer is the go-to type to block out moisture and chemicals. Penetrating sealers are safer in icy or wet environments because they do not change the concrete’s surface texture. They are nearly invisible, so the concrete retains its original appearance.

Environmental Impact

Solvent-based sealers, including solvent-based acrylic, produce fumes called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be irritating and harmful to skin and eyes. Long-term exposure to VOCs can lead to a litany of chronic health problems. Water-based sealers emit few or no VOCs, so they are generally safer during application. For the best results, choose water-based sealers with the longest intervals between maintenance applications so that you don’t have to handle the product as often.

Finish

Exterior concrete sealer finishes must be UV resistant, waterproof, and durable. It also is important that they allow moisture to escape and that they do not become slippery in cold or wet weather. A penetrating sealer is used for a nearly invisible finish, or acrylic is used for a range of sheen options.

Interior sealers are more likely to be used in ways that enhance decor. While UV resistance is not required indoors, interior sealers must still be waterproof, although slab floors benefit from breathability. Choose acrylic for floors and either epoxy or polyurethane for countertops.

Aesthetic

Acrylic concrete sealers offer a high degree of both durability and flexibility in terms of aesthetic appeal. This type of sealer is applied with a smooth, clear finish and offers a range of sheens from matte to glossy.

Epoxy concrete sealers are the most versatile product for protecting concrete countertops. Epoxy provides a thick, extremely durable, glossy finish with either a clear coat or a variety of color options.

Application

Most concrete sealers can be sprayed on with either a garden-style pump sprayer or a high-pressure, low-volume (HPLV) sprayer, or they can be rolled on with a lint-free paint-and-stain roller. Epoxy requires mixing resin and hardener thoroughly before applying it. Then it is spread with a notched squeegee and finally finished smooth with a lint-free roller.

Our Top Picks

If you’re ready to seal your concrete driveway, floors, or countertops, check out the following recommendations of the best concrete sealers for your project.

Best Overall

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: Foundation Armor AR350 Wet Look Concrete Sealer
Photo: amazon.com

Foundation Armor AR350 Solvent-Based Acrylic Concrete Sealer is a breathable, non-yellowing, solvent-based acrylic. It darkens concrete and pavers to give them a wet look with a durable, low-gloss finish that brightens dull or faded surfaces. It can be applied to either unsealed concrete surfaces or those previously sealed with a solvent-based acrylic sealer.

Acrylic concrete sealer helps reduce damage and deterioration caused by surface abrasion, freeze-thaw cycles, and chemical exposure. It resists peeling, flaking, cracking, and pitting. This product is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications, lasting up to three years outdoors and up to seven years indoors before a recoat is needed.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: Rainguard Micro-Seal Penetrating Concrete Sealer
Photo: amazon.com

Rainguard Micro-Seal Penetrating Concrete Sealer is a water-based silane/siloxane penetrating concrete sealer. It protects both horizontal and vertical masonry and wood surfaces with a high-performance hydrophobic coating. Choose from 6-ounce, 32-ounce, 1-gallon, or 5-gallon sizes to get the right amount for your project.

The coating goes on clear. It does not change the surface appearance, leave a surface film, create a sheen, or turn yellow. It can be used as a primer before painting to prohibit moisture transfer and to protect against petroleum and mildew stains. It provides excellent resistance to water, salt spray, ice removal chemicals, and wind-driven rain. One application lasts up to 10 years.

Best Penetrating

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: MasonryDefender Penetrating Concrete Sealer
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MasonryDefender Penetrating Concrete Sealer is a water-based silane/siloxane blend that provides long-lasting breathable, waterproof protection. This is a good choice for driveways, patios, and other outdoor applications where you do not want to alter the surface appearance. Choose from either the 1-gallon or 2.5-gallon size. The eco-friendly silane/siloxane blend bonds with the minerals in concrete to create a long-lasting, invisible barrier against water penetration, staining, and chemical damage. Treated surfaces resist pitting and cracking. This product is easy to apply on clean concrete with a pump-up garden sprayer, and an application lasts up to five years.

Best Acrylic

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: EnduraSeal 100% Acrylic Semi Gloss Concrete Sealer
Photo: amazon.com

EnduraSeal 100% Acrylic Semi-Gloss Concrete Sealer is a professional-grade, high solids, pure acrylic concrete sealer in a lower-odor solvent base. It is designed to protect and beautify concrete with a semi-gloss, wet look, durable coating that is UV resistant and non-yellowing. It is used on interior and exterior concrete, including colored, stamped, and exposed aggregate. It resists oil, grease, salts, chemicals, abrasions, and other wear and tear in high-traffic areas. It also protects pavers, terrazzo, stones, and stained concrete. Apply with a sprayer or roller; two thin coats are recommended.

Best Epoxy

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: TotalBoat Epoxy Resin & Hardener Kit
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TotalBoat Epoxy Resin & Hardener Kit is a two-part epoxy resin and hardener system that provides a crystal-clear, durable, smooth film with a high-gloss finish. This epoxy is BPA-free, contains no VOCs, and is food safe when cured, making it an excellent choice for use on concrete countertops. It is pourable, self-leveling, and cures as smooth as glass. It is waterproof and resists scratching, yellowing, and staining. It does not blush like other epoxy products, and it has good heat resistance. In addition to concrete, it can be applied on wood, stone, metal, and ceramic surfaces. It’s available in 2-quart, 1-gallon, and 2-gallon kits.

Best Polyurethane

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: SEAL-ONCE SO7910 Nano+Poly Concrete & Masonry Sealer
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SEAL-ONCE SO7910 Nano+Poly Concrete & Masonry Sealer combines proprietary penetrating nanotechnology with polyurethane to provide durable, long-lasting protection. Choose from either a 1-gallon or 5-gallon size. It penetrates concrete pores to protect against water damage with a long-lasting water-resistant shield inside the concrete surface. It prevents efflorescence, cracking, spalling, mold and mildew growth, lime bloom, and freeze-thaw damage.

In addition to penetrating the concrete to coat its internal pores, Nano+Poly creates a durable surface coating that protects against UV fading, wear and tear, and water damage. This product is a water-based, low-VOC, nontoxic, eco-safe sealer that will not harm pets, plants, or people. When applied, it goes on milky white and dries clear. Protects up to 10 years on vertical surfaces and six years on horizontal surfaces.

Best Eco-Friendly

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: EcoProCote Eco-Tuff Clearcoat Concrete Sealer
Photo: amazon.com

Eco-Tuff Clearcoat Concrete Sealer is made with bio-polyurethane that provides excellent surface resistance to water, UV rays, chemicals, scratches, abrasion, and heat. This sustainable, nontoxic sealer is plant-based, virtually odorless, VOC free, and contains no Red List Chemicals. The Red List is a collection of harmful-to-humans chemicals and building materials assembled by the International Living Future Institute in order to create awareness and promote healthy alternatives in building construction.

It is available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon sizes, with gloss, matte, and satin finish options. It can be used for indoor or outdoor applications on concrete, wood, primed metal, and other natural surfaces to provide a long-lasting, durable, protective coat. It applies easily with a mechanical HVLP sprayer, trim pad, roller, or high-quality brush. It can be used over water-based paint on a number of surfaces and may be used with decorative chips, mica flakes, or nonskid powders for improved traction. An application lasts between five and 10 years depending on the location, traffic, and exposure.

Best Industrial-Grade

The Best Concrete Sealer Option: Foundation Armor SX5000 Water Based Concrete Sealer
Photo: amazon.com

Foundation Armor’s SX5000 Water-Based Penetrating Concrete Sealer is a silane/siloxane blend with up to 10 times more active ingredients than the competition. It is a breathable sealer that allows moisture to escape from the concrete while reducing the absorption of moisture through the surface by 95 percent. It works below the surface, without changing the look or color of the surface.

This water-based, low-VOC, high-solids sealer can be applied to unsealed interior or exterior surfaces of vertical and horizontal concrete, brick, pavers, flagstone, and slate. The product is approved and used by the Department of Transportation in several states to protect roadways and bridges against water absorption and freeze-thaw damage. It applies quickly and easily with either a pump-up garden sprayer or roller. Protection lasts for up to 10 years before it needs to be reapplied.

The Advantages of Owning Concrete Sealer

Whether it’s new construction, a renovation, or after a weekend deep cleaning, consider applying a coat of concrete sealer to finish the job. Combined with general wear and tear, unsealed concrete can be subject to damage due to freezing, thawing, and salt exposure. Plus, it easily becomes host to moss and mold which can further weaken it. Cracks, delamination, and other structural problems develop much more easily in unsealed concrete. Concrete sealer repels moisture that otherwise would lead to long-term damage. A sealed concrete driveway can last up to 30 percent longer than an unsealed driveway.

Another benefit of applying concrete sealer is that it protects the colors and ornamental details of stamped, tinted, and exposed aggregate concrete. It resists the staining from chemicals, rust, petroleum products, and hard water that can affect unsealed concrete. It also is faster and easier to clean sealed concrete.

  • Concrete sealer prolongs the life of any concrete surface.
  • Sealed concrete resists dirt and stays cleaner than unsealed concrete.
  • Sealer can enhance the color and beauty of stained, stamped, exposed aggregate, and other ornamental concrete treatments.

FAQs About Concrete Sealers

If you’re planning a concrete sealing project, you may still have a few questions about buying and using these products. Keep reading to view the answers to several frequently asked questions about choosing and applying concrete sealer.

Q. What concrete sealer should I use?

There are several variables to consider when choosing the right concrete sealer for a project. As a general rule, seal driveways with penetrating sealer, indoor floors with acrylic sealer, and concrete countertops with either epoxy sealer or polyurethane sealer. Note the differences among these types listed earlier in this article.

Q. Is it better to roll or spray concrete sealer?

In most cases the best way to apply concrete sealer is with a high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) or airless sprayer. They can handle virtually any sealer and provide optimal control. They also allow the user to cover large areas quickly and efficiently.

Rolling with a ¼- to ⅜-inch nap roller is doable with many water-based and solvent-based sealers. It becomes less effective on rough or textured surfaces and with sealers that have a solids content above 35 percent.

Q. Can you apply concrete sealer over an old sealer? 

No, you should not apply concrete sealer over old sealer. The old sealer should be worn or stripped away and the surface thoroughly cleaned before applying a new coat.

Q. What is the best way to apply concrete sealer?

The best way to apply most concrete sealers is with a HVLP or airless sprayer.

Q. Does concrete sealer wear off? 

Yes, concrete sealer does wear off over time. When water no longer beads up on a penetrating sealed surface, typically after about 10 years, it is time to reseal. When acrylic, polyurethane, or epoxy begins looking worn and dingy, which is usually after about three to five years, it is time to reseal.