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Water And Solvent Based Concrete Sealers Compared

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A concrete sealer is one of the best ways to ensure that you get the maximum lifespan from a concrete surface. Not only that, but applying a concrete sealer will also help to maintain your concrete's appearance as time goes on. Yet many people struggle when it comes to deciding between a water or a solvent based sealer. This article will help you overcome such confusion, by discussing some similarities and differences between the two.


The good news here is that both water and solvent based sealers offer excellent durability in the long run. That's because they act to form a water tight barrier that sits on top of the concrete surface. This barrier not only protects the concrete from physical abrasion and cracking, but it also keeps it free from soaking up stain-causing substances--whether oil, juice, chemicals, or virtually anything else you can think of. Of course, the lifespan will vary depending on the make-up of a particular sealer, so you should always research this warranty information before proceeding.

UV Resistance

This is a key consideration when selecting a concrete sealer for exterior use. However, the difference here is not between water and solvent based sealers, however; both are equally capable of providing decent resistance to the destructive effects of sunlight. Instead, the key consideration is whether the sealer has an acrylic or a polymer base. Acrylics provide much more resistance against UV rays.


Here is where the real differences between water and solvent based sealers start to crop up. Generally speaking, solvent based sealers cure to a much glossier appearance. Water based sealers, on the other hand, often yield a matte and even somewhat milky look. This greater opacity is due to the fact that the sealer's polymer particles disperse in a much different way.

VOC Content

Volatile organic compounds are the substances that give sealers--as well as paints, varnishes, and a whole host of other chemical substances--their strong odor. Unfortunately, they also tend to be quite toxic and harmful. For this reason, the federal government closely regulates the levels of VOCs in concrete sealers.

Water based sealers typically have much lower VOC levels than do solvent based sealers. Thus those with particular health or environmental concerns often opt to use a water based sealer. Regardless of which type you ultimately decide on, it is important to check for any regulations in your area before selecting a sealer. That's because many municipalities choose to impose even stricter regulations than the federal government, meaning you could end up being fined if you choose a sealer with too great a VOC level.

For more information, talk to a professional like Mershon Concrete.