Concrete sealer problems can be a source of frustration for concrete contractors. When a concrete sealer does not look or perform as expected, the cause can usually be traced back to over-application, application in non-ideal conditions or a buildup of multiple coats. Following are five common sealer issues that contractors may face, why they happen, and how to avoid them.

Problem #1: Sealer Bubbled

The presence of bubbles the sealer is usually caused by a heavy application. Outgassing from the concrete surface during sealer application should be free to quickly move through a thin, wet sealer film. What is thin? At a typical coverage rate of 7 square metres per litre, one coat of an acrylic concrete sealer should be about 125 microns thick when wet. When dry, the sealer is only about 50 microns thick. When the sealer is applied too heavily, the air displaced through the surface can’t escape, and it forms a bubble in the sealer surface.

Bubbling of a sealer can also occur if application is done in hot weather, or if the concrete is in direct sun. In these conditions, the sealer will “skin over” and dry on the surface before all the solvent has evaporated. The pressure of the solvent trying to evaporate will form a bubble in the sealer surface. It’s best to apply sealers during the coolest part of the day when concrete is not in direct sun.


Problem #2: Solvent Based Sealer Turned White, Is Peeling Or Is Flaking Off

There are two key contributors to “blushing”, or whitening of a solvent based concrete sealer. The first is application to a concrete surface that is wet, or to fresh concrete that still contains bleed water. When this occurs, the sealer will not bond to the concrete surface but will instead float on a trapped film of water. The second cause of sealer blushing is applying it too thick. Heavy coats of sealer, or a buildup of sealer applied numerous times over the years, will cause moisture to become entrapped under the sealer and, in time, the sealer loses adhesion from the concrete. When this occurs, the trapped moisture and air under the de-bonded sealer has a refractive index such that the sealer appears white to the human eye. In time, the sealer will peel or flake off the surface. To avoid this problem, carefully follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding coverage rate and number of recommended coats.

Problem #3: Water-Based Sealer Is White Or Powdery

The drying process of water based sealers is quite complicated and significantly affected by the temperature and humidity of the environment during application. Water based acrylic sealers dry by a process called coalescence in which the water and then the coalescing solvent evaporate and fuse together the acrylic particles to form the sealer film. If the temperature during application is too low or humidity is too high, the coalescing solvent will evaporate before the water does and the sealer will dry white or powdery because the latex particles did not fuse together before drying. Always find out what temperature and humidity conditions are required for successful application of a water based sealer.

Problem #4: Sealer Is Stained From Oil, Leaves, Tires, Fertiliser, Etc.

The most common concrete sealers are manufactured with acrylic polymers that do not provide exceptional chemical or stain resistance to the concrete. For more durability and resistance to chemicals and staining, consider an epoxy or urethane coating system, and ensure that the coating is appropriate for exterior use before applying to outdoor concrete.

Problem #5: Concrete Is Dark And/Or Blotchy After Sealer Is Applied

Most acrylic sealers will darken concrete and leave a glossy shine to some extent, giving the concrete a “wet look”. Because every slab is unique in its colour and texture, the colour of the concrete after sealer application is difficult to predict. The mix design, use of chemical admixtures, finishing techniques and porosity are just a few factors that will affect the concrete surface colour. A sealer will deepen the true colour of concrete and will highlight all the differences in the surface texture that result from floating and finishing. Sealers also bring out the “grain” in concrete just like a varnish does on wood. If changing the concrete colour after sealing is a concern, use a penetrating water repellent sealer or do a small test application of a film-forming sealer to make sure the colour change will be acceptable.

Article contributed by Jennifer Crisman, Director of Marketing Services at Euclid Chemical.

Euclid Chemical

Euclid Chemical Silo

Concrete Specialist

For over a century, The Euclid Chemical Company has served the global building market as a worldwide quality supplier of specialty products for the concrete and masonry construction industry. Tremco CPG is proud to supply Euclid Chemical’s wide range of specialty products for new construction or restoration projects across the Asia Pacific region.

Our expert team are on hand to provide you with complete solutions for your next concrete project, do get in touch with the team.

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