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Driveway Sealers for Concrete and Pavers

Protect and Preserve Your Concrete Driveway with Penetrating Driveway Sealers

Guide to Concrete Driveway Sealers

How do you choose the best concrete sealer for your driveway? Seems like a simple question, but with the endless options the answer is not always easy to find. In this article we will discuss the benefits of sealing your concrete driveway, review the common types of concrete driveway sealers, and provide our picks for the best driveway sealers to protect your outdoor concrete.

Concrete is a very durable material. Under ideal conditions, you should expect 30-50 years of life out of a properly installed exterior concrete slab. Unfortunately, conditions are very rarely “ideal”, and most concrete driveways experience deterioration far earlier than they should. 

The good news is that there is a simple and affordable way to defend your concrete driveway against premature deterioration, extend its life, and maintain visual appeal: sealing your concrete driveway with a high-quality concrete driveway sealer. 

If you have a new concrete driveway, be proactive. Protect your concrete driveway now, so that you do not have to replace it or make extensive repairs later! If you have an older concrete, it’s not too late! You can stop further damage and put years of life back into your concrete with the correct sealer. 

Benefits to Sealing Your Concrete Driveway

Whether your concrete is new or old, applying a concrete sealer on your driveway is a worthy investment of time and energy. Concrete driveway sealers work by creating a barrier that protects the concrete from water, stains, salts, and other damage. This can help to extend the life of your concrete by many years and keep it looking its best.

Here are just a few additional benefits of sealing your concrete driveway:

  • Increased Water Resistance: Water is the number one enemy of concrete. Unsealed concrete allows water to be absorbed deep into the pores. This can carry stains below the surface and dissolve soluble salts, causing efflorescence and a possible weakening of the substrate. Water causes even more damage when it starts corroding reinforcing steel inside the concrete. Rebar can expand 4 times it’s diameter when it rusts, cracking the concrete from the inside out.  A concrete driveway sealer will help to keep water out of the concrete, safeguarding it from damage.
  • Freeze Thaw Cycles: If you live in an area where it gets cold enough outside for water to freeze, your concrete driveway is at high risk for damage. When water soaks into to pores of the concrete and freezes, it expands (about 9% by volume). This expansion leads to spalling and delamination of the top later of the concrete. Sealing a concrete driveway will prevent the insternal expansion of water and freeze thaw damaged.
  • Salt Damage: Salt can cause severe damage to concrete. In fact, you are supposed to wait at least two years before using salts and deicers on new poured concrete. The calcium chloride found in salt reacts with calcium hydroxide naturally found in concrete. This reaction creates calcium oxychloride, which expands inside the pores causing internal damage. Additionally, chemical deicers significantly increase the number of freeze/thaw cycles, amplifying their destructive effects. By reducing the freeze point of water, the salt allows water to penetrate much deeper into the concrete. As more water is absorbed into the concrete the salt concentration drops and the water freezes and expands. If you live close to the ocean, seal your outdoor concrete against saltwater and salts carried by the wind.
  • Stain Resistance: Tree sap, leaf & grass stains, and efflorescence are commons problems for almost all outdoor concrete surfaces. Concrete driveways, aprons, and parking areas are also susceptible to tire marks, oil stains, and engine fluids. While it’s true that leaves will still fall, engines will still leak oil, and car tires will still leave marks on sealed concrete, stains on sealed concrete are much easier to remove because they are not able to penetrate the pores.
  • Prevent Mold & Algae Growth: Mold, moss, and algae will often develop in shady, damp areas causing discoloration and staining. When properly applied, sealers prevent water from soaking into the concrete. This means that sealed concrete dries very quickly. Because mold and algae need water to propagate, a sealed concrete driveway is much less likely to support mold growth.
  • Stronger & Harder Concrete: In addition to providing protection against water, salts and stains a select few premium sealers can measurably harden and strengthen your concrete. Harder surfaces are less prone to cracks, dusting, spalling, and chipping. If strengthening your concrete is important to you, look for a sealer with a built-in densifier or a penetrating sealer that hardens when it cures.
  • Reduce Maintenance & Repair Frequency: Put your pressure washer back in the garage. Sealed concrete does not require cleaning as often as unsealed concrete. Stains and mold growth are restricted to the surface only, making them less difficult to remove.

More: How to Remove Tire Marks from Concrete / How to Efflorescence from Concrete

Read Customers’ feedback and tips on Sealing Outdoor Concrete

Types of Concrete Driveway Sealers

Choosing the best concrete sealer for your driveway is critical. As you might expect, the better the sealer, the better the protection.  Which type of sealer to use, however, is not always such a clear-cut decision. Let’s take a closer look at the most common types of concrete sealers and how well they can protect your driveway and outdoor concrete.

  • Acrylic Concrete Driveway Sealers: Commonly marketed as “wet look” sealers, or “high-gloss” concrete driveway sealers. Acrylic concrete sealers work by depositing a thin shell on the surface of your driveway. They are inexpensive and easy to find in stores. However, acrylic sealers are the least durable type of driveway sealer. While the shiny and glossy appearance may look great for a week or two, it will begin to get dull and fade very quickly. You can expect the coating to wear away unevenly, especially on driveways and surfaces that see vehicle traffic. Be prepared to re-apply every year! As a rule, we do not use acrylic sealers on driveways, as they are very slippery when wet.
  • Silane & Siloxane Sealers. These are a great option for concrete driveways. This type of sealer penetrates and absorbs just below the surface of concrete to form a hydrophobic barrier that repels water and salt. Silane & siloxane sealers are relatively inexpensive. Because they are penetrators, they last much longer than topical coatings. You should expect to pay roughly $0.14 per sq.ft for good quality, entry level versions, and up to $0.20 per sq.ft. for premium varieties. Keep an eye out for silane & siloxane sealers that are DOT approved. This means they have been through rigorous testing and are approved for use in the most severe situations. **These sealers do not protect against negative-side water pressure and are not appropriate for waterproofing in basements or concrete slabs experiencing moisture transfer from below.
  • Polyurethane & Polyester Penetrating Sealers.  A rather large step above silane & siloxane. These sealers penetrate deeper, last longer, and provide better overall protection. Beyond water and salt protection, these sealers also harden deep inside the pores when they cure. The hard curing binds the concrete, eliminates dusting, and improves wear/abrasion resistance. Polyurethane/polyester sealers can be used on all porous building materials. These sealers are used to protect everything from historical properties, statues & national monuments, to preserving dinosaur footprints.
  • Reactive Silicate Sealers: The ultimate sealer to waterproof, strengthen, and prevent deterioration in concrete. Silicates provide a significantly harden and stronger concrete – it’s like injecting the pores with cement. Silicates sealers are absorbed into the concrete where they search out and react with free lime (calcium hydroxide) to form calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) paste deep below the surface. This reaction is permanent. The newly formed CSH paste becomes a part of the structure of the concrete – impossible to wear off, peel, or fade away. Sodium silicate sealers is used on damns, subway tunnels, airport runways, and other surfaces that need the highest level of protection against cracking, spalling, and wear & tear. A high-quality silicate sealer can resist extremely high negative side water pressure. These sealers, however, are not water repellents. The seal is deep inside the concrete, and leaves the surface of the concrete open and ready for paint, flooring, adhesives, etc., so don’t expect beading!

Be careful when an “expert” recommends using an epoxy coating or on your concrete driveway or outdoor concrete. While they do provide excellent protection from abrasion and chemical spills, but they are susceptible to UV rays, yellowing, and most importantly, they trap all moisture moving through the concrete. Moisture below an epoxy sealer will cause bubbling, delamination, and floor failure. Plus, they can be slippery when wet.

Learn more about the types of Concrete Sealers.

Not All Concrete Driveways are Created Equal

It’s no secret that water, salt, and freeze thaw cycles can damage concrete surfaces. However, there are other less obvious things that can lead to premature concrete driveway deterioration, and/or make your concrete more susceptible to damage. Specifically, mistakes made during the mixing, pouring, and initial curing process can lead to significant problems down the road.

The water to cement ratio (w/c) in the concrete mix has the single largest influence on overall quality and life span of the cured concrete. Concrete composition is largely out of the control of homeowners and relies on the installer/contractor in charge of concrete.

Too much water in the mix, results in wider the spacing between the cement particles. This means lower tensile and compressive strength, and an increase in overall porosity. For example, concrete with a 0.4 w/c results in concrete with a compressive strength of 5,600 psi. Increasing the water cement ratio to 0.8 results in concrete compressive strength of 2,000 psi. A 64% reduction in strength!

Excessive water in the concrete mix can also result in fine sand particles “floating” to the surface of the concrete as it cures. This leaves a weak, dusty layer on the surface, otherwise known as laitance. Laitance can also be caused by over-wetting the concrete during the curing phase or from heavy rains after the concrete has been poured. 

Allowing concrete to dry too quickly is another common mistake that can lead to problems. Keeping concrete moist during the initial curing process is critical. Concrete cures through a process called hydration. Hydration occurs when the concrete is wet, not when it dries (a common misconception). If fact, when concrete dries, the hydration process slows down and can even stop.

The longer the concrete remains wet during the initial cure, the stronger the concrete will be. For example, moist curing for 20 days results in concrete that is twice as strong as concrete that was moist cured for 4 days (considered the minimum). You may notice some newly poured outdoor concrete slabs covered in wet burlap. This helps to keep the surface moist and the hydration process going.

Concrete that dries too quickly on the surface is likely to develop shrinkage cracks or crazing (a network of fine cracks on the surface). These cracks occur because the surface of the concrete dries and contracts earlier than the moist concrete deeper below the surface. 

Additional flaws can result from over-working the surface, troweling the surface too early, or control/contraction joints being too shallow or too far apart. 

If you suspect that your concrete driveway, patio, or car port is flawed, then sealing your concrete is of critical importance. 

How Much Does a New Concrete Driveway Cost? 

Installing a concrete driveway can be quite pricey. The average cost for concrete alone is about $9.00 per square foot (a basic 650 sq.ft., two car driveway will cost roughly $5,800). However, there are other associated costs to consider including the gravel base ($1.00 per sq. ft./$650), labor (around $1,000), materials (around $500), and removal of the old concrete driveway (anywhere from $1000 to $5,000). As you can see, costs can add up quickly.

After investing significant money into your driveway, it makes sense to protect it. We always recommend protecting and strengthening concrete with RadonSeal Concrete Sealer to greatly reduce the chance of cracking, pitting, and spalling. Concrete treated with RadonSeal is suitable for gloss sealers, water repellents, or stains. At a cost of roughly $0.19 per square foot, this is an excellent way to protect your investment.

If you are looking for a simple and affordable way to protect your concrete driveway and extend its life, then sealing it with a high-quality concrete driveway sealer is the best option for you.

What to Expect From a Concrete Driveway Sealer

When it comes to outdoor concrete sealers, there are a few basic requirements that any sealer should provide:

Breathability: Concrete is very porous and allows moisture to pass through. Concrete pulls liquid water up from the ground by capillary suction and lets water vapor ooze through its pores. The problem with surface coatings, (epoxies, urethanes) is that they do not allow the concrete to “breathe” or dry out. As a result, the water that passes through the concrete gets trapped underneath the sealer.

The trapped water accumulates and accelerates the deterioration of the concrete. It causes efflorescence that appears as white spots or a “blush” on the surface, below the sealer. As the problem gets worse, the trapped moisture, efflorescence, and vapor pressure will make the sealer bubble or peel from the surface. The number one cause of sealer delamination/failure is trapper water!

Non-Slip: Outdoor concrete patios and driveways are almost always broom-finished. This finishing technique ensures sure that the surface is safe – rough and not slippery. Film-forming sealers, or topical sealers make the concrete slippery, particularly when wet. This can create a dangerous situation, especially around pools, stairs, and sloped driveways. Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, deposit themselves inside the concrete and are inherently slip resistant.

Durability: Perhaps the most important characteristic of any good concrete driveway sealer is durability. Driveways take a beating – vehicle traffic, engine fluids, salts, shoveling, and freeze/thaw just to name a few. Above all, the sealer you choose to apply to your driveway, needs to be able to handle these routine exposures without failing.

Choosing The Best Concrete Sealer for your Driveway

RadonSeal manufactures only the highest-quality concrete sealers. Our business plan is simple – make affordable products that outperform the competition. For maximum protection and performance, all our sealers are penetrating concrete sealers and seal concrete internally. All our driveway sealers meet these basic criteria:

  • Durable – permanent or multi-year.
  • Breathable – allowing the concrete to dry out, expand/contract.
  • Non-Slippery – leave no film on the surface.
  • Safe – water-based, and environment-friendly.
  • Minimal VOCs – zero or ultra-low VOC content makes our sealers environmentally compliant, safe, and easy to use. No vapors or noxious odors. People, plant, and set safe formulas.
  • Easy Application – spray-on application with a hand-pump garden sprayer, roller, or brush.

We provide the widest selection of the best penetrating concrete sealers for your driveway, patio, or sidewalks. Designed to suit the most demanding commercial or residential applications:

Silane/siloxane concrete sealer that penetrates below the surface, into the pores of concrete and paver driveways. Also available as DryWay PLUS, which carries the US DOT-Approval for water and salt protection.

Key Features

Versatile – Use on driveways, garage floors, pool decks, pavers, patios, stucco, colored concrete

Beads Water – Shed’s rainwater, oil, and fluid spills.

Protects Concrete Surfaces – Superior protection against freeze-thaw, road salts, and de-icers. 

Saves Money – Lessens bond of ice and snow, saves on labor and use of snow-melting chemicals.

Low Maintenance – Spills clean-up more easily. 

Reduces – Efflorescence, mold, and algae growth.

Long Lasting – Estimated service life of 10 years

Safe – Zero VOCs, Non-corrosive, Plant-Safe, Slip Resistant.

Buy RadonSeal on Amazon

Permanently strengthens and seals concrete driveways. This silicate sealant protects outdoor concrete against damage from rainwater, groundwater, ice, spills, road salts, rebar corrosion, and chemicals. 

Key Features

Seals All Concrete – Driveways, garage floors, basements, slabs, walls, concrete blocks, cinder block

Prevents – Efflorescence

Reduces – Spalling, pitting, flaking, concrete dusting

Preserves – Extends the life of the concrete by strengthening and bonding it

Permanent – No reapplication required

Safe – Zero VOCs, no noxious fumes

Strong – Seals against hydrostatic pressure, and acts as a great primer for paints, coatings, levelers

No Surface Film – Does not change the appearance or profile of the concrete

State-of-the-art penetrating sealer that waterproofs and strengthens concrete, brick, pavers, and porous stone. Unmatched performance and durability. A unique blend of polyester and polyurethane polymers.

Key Features

Long Lasting – Unsurpassed protection and service life. Last 2 x longer than silane/siloxane sealers & 10 x longer than acrylic sealers.

All-Purpose – Use for sealing concrete, brick, pavers, porous stone, limestone, porous tiles, mortar, concrete blocks, and grout. 

Protects – Protects rebar from corrosion and concrete against salts, and deicing chemicals. 

Bond Surfaces – Hardens surfaces to prevent dusting and minimize cracking, and spalling 

Penetrating – Slip resistant, seals below the surface, clear

Safe – Ultra-low VOCs, no noxious fumes

Reduces – Efflorescence

Buy Penetrating Paver Sealer on Amazon

Premium-grade penetrating paver sealer designed specifically for porous clay, brick, and concrete pavers. A water-based blend of silane and siloxane polymers, designed to keep your pavers looking their best.

Key Features

Water-Repellency – Repels surface water. Stain-resistant. Keeps your pavers looking their best.

Freeze & Salt Guard – Protect pavers against damage caused by deicing chemicals, freeze/thaw, and salts.

10-Year Service Life – Frequent reapplications are a thing of the past. Save time and money.

Eco-Friendly – For both indoor/outdoor use. Safe for plants and pets.

LOW VOCs – Water-based, non-flammable, non-toxic, no strong odors or harmful vapors.

Invisible Finish – Non-film forming sealer. No gloss or sheen. Treated surfaces are not slippery.

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