Concrete driveways are susceptible to water damage, particularly if you live in an area with freezing winters. Concrete contains many tiny holes, which makes it porous. Water that's absorbed by the concrete can erode it and cause it to deteriorate. If the water freezes inside of the concrete when outside temperatures drop, it can crack the concrete as it expands and turns into ice. Thankfully, it's easy to protect your concrete from water damage by applying a concrete sealer to it. When you're shopping for concrete sealers, you'll notice that you can choose between a film-forming sealer and a penetrating sealer. To learn more about the difference and find out which type is best for protecting your driveway, read on.
Film-Forming Concrete Sealers
Film-forming concrete sealers work by creating an impervious layer on top of your concrete driveway, which prevents water from soaking into the concrete and damaging it. There are a few types of film-forming sealers available, such as acrylic, urethane, and epoxy, but acrylic is the one that's most suitable for driveway use — sunlight will cause urethane and epoxy sealers to deteriorate and become brittle.
The major advantage of using an acrylic sealer on your driveway is the cost. Acrylic sealers are very inexpensive, so it won't cost you much to seal your driveway even if it's very large. In addition, acrylic sealers can enhance the appearance of your concrete driveway. The layer of acrylic on top of the driveway gives it a slight shine, and it also darkens the color of the concrete.
Unfortunately, acrylic sealers don't last very long when they're applied to a driveway. Driving on the acrylic surface will rapidly scrape it off, which means that you'll need to periodically reapply acrylic sealer in order to keep your concrete driveway protected from the elements. Acrylic can also make a driveway slippery, so it's a good idea to mix the sealer with a traction additive like sand when you apply it in order to prevent your driveway from becoming excessively slippery.
Penetrating Concrete Sealers
Penetrating sealers are absorbed by the concrete rather than forming a layer on top of it. These sealers typically contain siloxane, which reacts chemically with the lime in the concrete and expands. The expanding sealer fills all of the tiny holes in the concrete, which prevents water from being absorbed into it.
Penetrating sealers are considerably more expensive than film-forming sealers, but they can actually end up costing you less money over time. Due to the fact that the solids in the sealer bond chemically with the concrete, there's no need to reapply a penetrating sealer periodically — it lasts for the lifetime of your concrete driveway. Penetrating sealers don't make your driveway more slippery, and they don't change its appearance like an acrylic sealer. The only effect that they have is to give your concrete driveway life-long protection against water intrusion.
Overall, it's usually best to go with a penetrating sealer unless you're on a very tight budget or you desire the darkening, glossy effect that acrylic sealers have on a concrete driveway. Both types of sealers will protect your concrete driveway against water damage, but a penetrating sealer will last for much longer than an acrylic sealer will. You don't have to worry about the acrylic layer being scraped off by your tires, which will expose your driveway to water damage. Whichever sealer you choose, it's best to have your driveway professionally cleaned and sealed by a concrete driveway sealing service, as this ensures that you'll receive the maximum amount of water protection for your driveway.
Reach out to a local concrete driveway sealing service to learn more.