It’s a hard-knock life—for outdoor concrete. Just consider the year-round punishment outdoor concrete surfaces take in the Western states:
Spring – April showers might bring May flowers, but what do they do to concrete patios, walkways and driveways? They bring the water that can create holes and swell the ground material under a slab, ultimately leading to sinking and cracking of unsealed concrete structures.
Summer – Extreme heat can worsen concrete cracks. And the sun’s ultraviolet rays can weaken unsealed concrete from the inside out.
Fall – Who doesn’t love the changing leaves? Concrete. That’s who. Along with the water-related damage that can come from autumn showers, fallen leaves can stain unsealed concrete.
Winter – The doozy of all seasons. Unsealed concrete suffers a slow and painful demise during the winter months. Freeze-thaw cycles are mostly to blame. Water enters concrete pores, then expands as the temperature plunges to freezing—creating cracks.
So what’s the solution to these yearlong outdoor concrete challenges? A quality exterior concrete sealer.
Exterior sealers can help protect outdoor concrete from water penetration, stains and corrosion. However, the wrong sealer can make concrete slippery. And some sealers even yellow with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Outdoor concrete is best protected with penetrating sealers. These, as the name implies, penetrate the pores of the concrete and form a chemical barrier that helps to protect it against ice, moisture, deicers, excess wear and more. Penetrating sealers won’t yellow or make the surface slippery. In fact, most won’t even change the surface appearance.
Film-forming sealers, on the other hand, create a protective barrier on the surface of the concrete. This is ideal for waterproofing and protecting concrete countertops, sinks and floors inside the home. However, this protective layer can be slippery when wet. Worse yet, epoxy, one type of film-forming sealer, can yellow in the sun.
So, for protecting exterior concrete, turn to penetrating sealers. There are two main categories of penetrating sealer, water- and solvent-based. Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Read the manufacturers’ recommendations or speak with an expert to choose the best exterior concrete sealer for your given application. But, whether it’s water- or solvent-based, selecting a quality product within either category will help ensure your hard work is protected for the long haul, given that the sealer is properly maintained (more on that below).
Solvent-Based Penetrating Sealers
Solvent-based penetrating concrete sealers can provide long-lasting protection. Like water-based sealers, they often come premixed and can be applied to both fresh and existing concrete. However, because of the typically higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in solvent-based products than water-based concrete sealers, they are slowly being replaced by more environmentally friendly versions.
Water-Based Penetrating Sealers
W.R. Meadows INTRAGUARD, Creto DPS and MasterProtect H 400 are examples of easy-to-apply and maintain water-based penetrating sealers. They each use a blend of silane or calcium silicate crystals that form a hydrophobic barrier in concrete capillary pores. In simple terms, they form an environmentally-friendly, microscopic protective barrier to fend off water and harmful chemicals. Plus, unlike film-formers, penetrating sealers allow the concrete to breathe, which is vital in reducing substrate damage.
Applying concrete sealers to new or old concrete alike can help protect it from corrosion and premature wear. But, like most things, concrete sealer requires regular maintenance. Even light to moderate traffic areas should be resealed every three to five years. And frequent cleaning keeps outdoor concrete surfaces looking their best.
Choosing the right sealer for your application will help keep your concrete in the best condition possible, so you can enjoy it for years to come. Visit your local Intermountain Concrete Specialties location for any concrete help you need. With seven locations, from St. George to Idaho Falls, help is never far away.
There was a time when interior concrete just meant the hard material buried under layers of basement carpet. Now, concrete is being celebrated as the durable, affordable, practical and, even, beautiful product it is. Indeed, concrete has made its way to the center stage of interior design. Just do a quick Internet search and you’ll find concrete floors, countertops, sinks, shelves and even furniture.
But here’s the thing: Concrete is porous. And that’s not necessarily a good trait for interior surfaces that are frequently exposed to stain-causing liquids and high traffic. Untreated concrete floors are prone to scuffs, stains and damage. And nasty bugs like Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other bacteria can find a comfy home in the minute holes in concrete countertops, sinks and other kitchen surfaces.
Sealing interior concrete is critical for a long-lasting and hygienic surface. It keeps liquid and dirt out and protects the surface from normal wear and tear. But what types of sealers are best for indoor applications?
Three basic types of concrete sealers are recommended for interior use: acrylics, polyurethanes and epoxies. Rather than penetrating sealers, which are commonly used on exterior surfaces that may be exposed to freeze-thaw cycles (the topic of a different blog), interior concrete benefits most from these products that form a thin protective coat on its surface. The three most common types of “film formers” are listed below.
A disclaimer: This is far from an exhaustive list of all the available indoor concrete sealers. Manufacturers offer a wide variety of products—some are even hybrids of the three most common types included here. This guide is meant to get you on the path to choosing the product that’s right for your individual needs and intended application.
Softer than polyurethanes and epoxies, acrylic sealers tend to wear down faster. However, their fast-drying nature means they may be best for those projects that need to be completed quickly. In fact, most acrylics will dry to the touch within an hour. And, even though they lack the durability of the harder sealers, they still provide adequate protection against liquid and dirt. Both water- and solvent-based acrylics are available, but note that solvent-based products will generally enhance color. Acrylics are commonly available in a variety of sheens. Pro tip: A “sacrificial” floor wax is recommended over acrylic sealers to prevent premature wear, scuffs and scratches.
These are nearly twice as thick as acrylics—making them much more durable. Polyurethanes provide a chemical- and abrasion-resistant finish. They’re common in high-traffic areas to help prevent scuffs and staining. But these film formers aren’t only used on floors; they’re commonly found protecting and enhancing the appearance of concrete countertops and sinks. Like acrylics, polyurethanes are available in a range of sheens and may “edit” the hues in colored concrete. Be sure to choose the sheen accordingly to achieve your intended finish.
If this list was in descending order of “soft” to “hard” sealers (which it is), we’ve arrived at the hardest of them all. Epoxies form a strong, durable, abrasion- and water-resistant finish. However, some of these products can yellow when exposed to UV light, so they may not be good for those areas bathed in afternoon sunlight shining through the windows. However, if you’re looking to “kill two birds with one stone,” many epoxies come tinted in an array of colors. (As an aside, there are additives available to color other types of sealers as well, but you’ll need to check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure compatibility.) Epoxies are best used for those high-traffic areas or, most notably, garage floors. Some polyurethanes can also be used on garage floors, but epoxies are generally recommended for their superior durability, quality and stain-fighting powers. And again, just remember that epoxies don’t love the sunlight as much as the others and will have a tendency to yellow over time.
Choosing the appropriate sealer for the specific application will help keep your concrete in tip-top shape for years to come. If you need help, Intermountain Concrete Specialties is here with seven locations from St. George to Idaho Falls. We have the expertise and knowledge to help with any concrete undertaking—large or small. Contact one of our helpful and friendly associates today.
Concrete sealers provide more than just protection from the elements. They can also improve the appearance of your concrete. Knowing which product to choose for your particular project is essential for getting the finish you want and concrete that will last.
Choosing a concrete sealer isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. There are a wide variety of sealers to choose from. Some work well on exterior applications, while others are designed for indoor use. Sealers may be chemical-based or water-based. The final appearance, such as a natural or high-gloss finish, should be factored in. The type of concrete project also dictates whether a surface sealer or a penetrating sealer is the best option.
High-traffic commercial areas, for example, will require a different finish than a decorative patio or a concrete countertop. Indoor concrete flooring will have different requirements for durability and appearance than an industrial floor or a stamped concrete walkway.
Surface sealers can form a protective layer on the concrete surface or block the pores to prevent water absorption. Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, absorb into the concrete and are a great option for exterior surfaces that can be affected by the elements. Two of the most commonly requested sealers in Utah are W.R. Meadows for commercial and industrial application and ICS High Gloss Sealer for decorative concrete applications.
Once your concrete is prepped and dry, you’re ready to get started. Follow manufacturer’s instructions closely. Depending on the type of sealer, you may be applying it with a roller or pump sprayer. If required, apply a second coat.
Applying concrete sealer varies by type. A solvent-based sealer might be sprayed on an indoor microtopping or decorative concrete floor and requires good ventilation. Outdoor sealers may be rolled on and should be UV-stable and durable enough to stand the test of time.
Applying a concrete sealer to old or new concrete is always a good idea. When you create beautiful concrete, the last thing you want is the product to start degrading over time. Even light to moderate traffic areas should be resealed every three to five years. Frequent cleaning keeps outdoor concrete surfaces looking their best. Practicing basic maintenance, such as cleaning concrete surfaces immediately of spills and debris, can help minimize damage.
Do your homework and choose the appropriate sealer for that specific application. This will help keep your concrete in the best condition possible, so you can enjoy it for years to come. Visit your local Intermountain Concrete Specialties location in Utah or Idaho so we can help you choose the best concrete sealer for your specific needs.
Outdoor concrete is an investment – and one that is often at the mercy of the elements. Protecting this valuable investment is essential to preventing trouble down the road. With proper curing, sealing and maintenance, concrete is an asset that can last for years to come. We’re sharing 7 tips to help you maintain your outdoor concrete.
1. Know your environment
Here in Utah, we have extreme temperature variables throughout the year. Outdoor concrete surfaces can take a beating, especially in summer and winter. Snow run-off and spring rains can cause damage if it sits on the surface too long. Be sure to slope concrete away from the home to prevent water damage to the surface and the foundation. Rain, snow, ice and heat can affect concrete curing times.
2. Pouring and curing
The ideal temperature for pouring and curing concrete is between 50 and 90 degrees. Extremes in either direction may compromise the final product. Too cold and the freeze-thaw cycle can cause concrete to expand and contract, creating cracking and spalling. Too hot and the concrete will set faster but may compromise strength. In other words, concrete must be cured properly to achieve maximum durability.
3. Sealing concrete
Choosing the right sealer for your concrete project is an integral part of finishing the job right. This final layer of protection can enhance the appearance of decorative concrete; block against moisture, dirt, oil and stains; and protect against excess wear. The type of concrete sealer used will depend on the type of project. Two of our most commonly requested sealers are W.R. Meadows for commercial and industrial application, and ICS High Gloss Sealer for decorative concrete applications. Find the right sealer for your project here.
4. Keep it clean – basic maintenance
Practice basic maintenance by cleaning concrete surfaces immediately of spills and debris to minimize staining or other damage. This includes weeds and grass, oil, tire marks and more. Frequent cleaning keeps outdoor concrete surfaces looking their best. Once your patio is clean and repaired, protect it from future stains and damage with a concrete sealer.
5. Apply a fresh finish
A clean surface is key to properly staining or painting concrete. Before applying a top coat, stain or other decorative concrete, sweep and pressure wash the concrete surface. Recoat concrete every three to five years to protect the surface, especially in high-traffic areas like driveways, walkways and patios.
6. Check for cracks
Check concrete foundation walls, floors and slabs for cracking, heaving or deterioration as part of routine maintenance. Some cracks are minor and can be repaired. If the crack is the width of a nickel, it’s time to call a professional.
7. Consult an expert
Intermountain Concrete Specialties has locations in Utah and Idaho where our concrete experts can help you make the most of your investment by providing maintenance and protection solutions for your specific concrete needs.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep these 7 tips in mind when pouring, curing, cleaning and sealing concrete for a concrete investment that lasts.
Spring has sprung in Utah and the arrival of warm weather makes us want to head outdoors. It’s the perfect time to clear out the clutter and start fresh, but save the closet organizing for rainy days. Instead, tackle these outdoor spring cleaning and home maintenance projects to get your home ready for spring.
√ Decks, Patios and Porches
The first step to deck, patio and porch maintenance is a good spring cleaning. Sweep and power wash, clear weeds and debris, and check for loose steps or railings. If you notice cracks in concrete patios, follow the same steps we recommend below for sidewalks. Once your patio is clean and repaired, protect it from future stains and damage with a concrete sealer. Consider beautifying with decorative stamped concrete to enhance home value and appearance.
√ Concrete Sidewalks and Walkways
Concrete sidewalks can take a beating in winter. The first step to spring concrete maintenance is a good cleaning. Sweep away any debris so you can get a good look at the current condition. Next, carefully inspect concrete, checking for cracked or crumbling areas. Visit one of Intermountain Concrete Specialties six locations in Utah and Idaho the products, tools and tips you need to repair concrete cracks before damage progresses.
Check concrete foundation walls, floors and slabs for cracking, heaving or deterioration. Some cracks are minor and can be repaired. If the crack is the width of a nickel, it’s time to call a professional.
Winter can take a toll on your roof so perform a close inspection each spring. Check flashings, and look for punctured, cracked, curled or missing shingles. Some are visible from the ground, but it’s a good idea to get a closer look to see if roof maintenance is required.
Gutters and downspouts need to be clear of obstructions to properly manage rain water and to prevent moisture damage to your home. Clear leaves and other winter debris from gutters, reattach loose ones, and make sure water runoff is directed away from the house. If there are leaks, dry the area and use caulk or epoxy to seal.
Check for loose siding panels and ensure the flashing is in place. Clean siding with a pressure washer to remove winter’s dirt and debris. Take care of any necessary exterior siding repairs or painting.
Routine maintenance on your central HVAC unit can improve airflow, which in turn can lower heating and cooling costs. If you have an outdoor unit, remove dust, leaves, grass clipping and any other debris that may be blocking airflow. Be sure to shut power to the unit before performing any maintenance. HVAC spring maintenance is definitely something you want to tackle before Utah’s summer heat kicks in.
√ General landscaping
This is a given when it comes to spring home maintenance. Clear dead leaves, branches and other debris; clean out garden and flower beds; prune and trim trees and shrubs; and reseed thin or damaged areas of the lawn.
Check for leaky valves and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Clean or replace poorly performing sprinklers, check operating pressure, and adjust sprinkler heads as necessary. Open the main water valve slowly to allow pipes to fill gradually and avoid bursting a pipe.
√ Windows and doors
Check screens for punctures or holes, and inspect windowsills and doorways for cracks and potential leaks. To protect from spring rains, remove eroded caulk and fill cracks with fresh exterior caulking. Repaint and seal for a beautiful home enhancement.
Your Utah home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Take care of it with spring cleaning and home maintenance so you can enjoy a safe and beautiful home for years to come. Don’t forget to check out our list of 7 Outdoor Concrete Projects for Spring and the 10 concrete products you need to make them happen!
Confused about new and changing VOC laws? Learn which VOC compliant concrete sealer products you can use as stricter VOC laws are put into practice.
What exactly are VOCs?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are carbon-based compounds that release into the air from certain solvents, plastics and rubber. When these compounds react with the atmosphere, they can have an adverse affect on the ozone and the environment.
Why do we need VOC regulations?
The goal of improved VOC laws is to protect the ozone and improve air quality. Architectural coatings, including concrete sealers, are addressed under Section 183(e) of the 1999 Clean Air Act. The rule limits the amount of VOCs that manufacturers can put into their products, and includes labeling requirements. Most concrete sealers, coatings, cures and waterproofing fall within these regulations.
What are the VOC guidelines?
New federal VOC laws took effect in 2015, requiring manufacturers to change their solvents to a quicker flashing solvent at a lower VOC. Local laws vary from state to state. In Utah, concrete suppliers have three years to deplete any remaining stock manufactured through 2014. That means, current supply can be sold through 2017.
It’s not all black and white. Concrete Network reports that there are 61 subcategories of concrete sealers and coating, each with its own VOC limit that varies according to state or even county. The bottom line? State regulations trump federal regulations when it comes to VOC limits.
Where can I find out VOC limits?
VOC content specs are listed on all Manufacturer Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for individual products. For example, our best-selling CS-309-25 Non-Yellowing Acrylic Curing and Sealing Compound from W.R. Meadows currently complies with U.S. EPA maximum allowable VOC requirements.
For more information on VOC compliant concrete sealers, talk to the experts at your local Intermountain Concrete Specialties.
Mixing, curing, and sealing concrete properly is especially important when it comes to winter concrete projects. Concrete may be safely placed in cold weather, as long as necessary precautions and best practices are used. Here are some of Intermountain Concrete Specialties’ top product recommendations to help avoid surprises in your winter concrete projects.
1. Anti-Hydro® Admixture for Cold Weather
Anti-Hydro Admixture provides increased workability with lower water requirements, enhances internal curing time, and produces high strength concrete early in the curing process. This helps prevent damage due to frost and other cold weather hindrances. When added into concrete, Anti-Hydro Admixture produces dense, durable, water and damp-proofed concrete, while improving workability and reducing shrinkage and cracking. Fortify your concrete with Anti-Hydro® Admixture for cold weather. Learn more!
2. Concrete Curing Blankets
Even mildly cold temperatures can affect concrete curing time. Concrete blankets provide warmth when Mother Nature can’t. Temperature is actually the number two cause of concrete sealing problems, second only to moisture, so cold weather protection is critical to winter concrete projects. Concrete blankets offer the R-factor necessary to prevent winter concrete projects from freezing, which can strengthen finished concrete. Click to learn more about protecting exposed concrete with concrete curing blankets.
3. FLOOR-TOP STG Concrete Floor Topping
If you’re moving indoors to work on winter concrete projects, here’s another ICS favorite from W.R. Meadows. FLOOR-TOP STG is a single-component, self-leveling floor topping and underlayment designed to smooth out uneven or rough interior concrete floors. FLOOR-TOP STG cures to a hard surface suitable for standard foot traffic and light rubber-wheeled traffic, and can be enhanced with integral colors, dyes, stains, and sealers.
4. CS309-25 Non-Yellowing Curing and Sealing Compound
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, W.R. Meadows CS309-25 is one of our all-time favorite exterior concrete sealers. This industrial-quality workhorse sealer is specially formulated with acrylic polymers that cure and seal freshly placed concrete for a durable, long-lasting finish.
Visit your local Intermountain Concrete Specialties location in Utah or Idaho for the best tips and product recommendations for your winter concrete projects!
As fall turns to winter, temperature plays a critical role in sealing concrete. In fact, temperature is the number two cause of concrete sealing problems, second only to moisture. That means taking extra precautions to make sure concrete sealing is done right in cold weather.
When it comes to properly concrete sealing, both air and surface temperature play a role in proper sealing. Why? Once applied, sealers create a chemical reaction and the outside temperature decides how fast that reaction occurs—or if it happens at all. Most manufacturers recommend 50 to 90 degrees as the ideal temperature range for applying concrete sealer.
So what happens if you apply concrete sealer outside of that 40-degree range? Extreme temperatures will cause the sealer to apply too fast or too slow. Sealer reaction can also be affected by humidity, wind chill factor, and even time of day sealer is applied.
High temperatures cause sealer reactivity to increase. That means the hotter it is, the faster you’ll have to work to get the concrete sealer applied. High temperatures can result in “spider webs” when the solvent flashes before the sealer can form a film, or bubbles when the solvent flashes too fast and traps air.
Alternately, if the temperature is below 50 degrees, the chemical reaction slows and the time needed to properly seal concrete increases. Every concrete sealer has a minimum film-forming temperature (MFFT). This is the minimum temperature needed for the sealer to form a film, cure, and harden. If too much time passes, due to a too-cold surface temperature, you’ll end up with a weak sealer. If the temperature is significantly below the MFFT, curing stops completely, and a white residue will be left behind on the concrete surface. This is why it’s important to seal concrete properly before cold weather sets in.
As we transition from fall to winter and temperatures continue to drop, consider using concrete curing blankets to make sure concrete is properly cured and sealed. Remember, the colder the temperature, the longer it takes to cure and seal concrete. Proper curing and sealing of any concrete surface is critical to the projects long-term durability.
Click here to learn about different concrete sealers, or visit Intermountain Concrete Specialties for expert tips and the best concrete sealers in the industry.
It’s time to seal the deal and get started on that concrete project you’ve been putting off—and Intermountain Concrete Specialties has a great incentive for you to put your concrete plan in action! For a limited time, we’re offering a free pail of CS309-25 Non-Yellowing Acrylic Curing and Sealing Compound with the purchase of any 10 bags of FLOOR-TOP STG and/or SPECTRUM RE-KOTE TF from concrete manufacturer W.R. Meadows.
Why is CS309-25 one of our all-time favorite exterior concrete sealers? This industrial-quality sealer is a true workhorse, designed to improve resistance to chemicals, oil, grease, deicing salts and more. It applies easily and dries quickly with a clear, non-yellowing, acrylic finish. CS309-25 concrete sealer is specially formulated with acrylic polymers that effectively cure and seal freshly placed concrete, to provide a durable, long-lasting finish.
As more states implement stricter air quality regulations, VOC laws are changing. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound—which basically translates to how solvents react with the atmosphere. The goal of improved VOC laws is less harm to the ozone layers, which ultimately affects air quality.
Fortunately, CS-309-25 Non-Yellowing Acrylic Curing and Sealing Compound is VOC-compliant to date, and Intermountain Concrete Specialties locations have it readily available in large quantities. It’s the perfect opportunity to seal the deal on your next concrete project.
CS309-25 concrete sealer is the ideal concrete sealer when paired with W.R. Meadows FLOOR-TOP STG Concrete Floor Topping or SPECTRUM RE-KOTE TF Concrete Repair Mortar and Resurfacer.
FLOOR-TOP STG is a single-component, self-leveling floor topping and underlayment. Ideal for smoothing out rough, uneven, or slightly deteriorated interior concrete floors, FLOOR-TOP STG cures to a hard surface suitable for standard foot traffic and light rubber-wheeled traffic, and can be enhanced with integral colors, dyes, stains, and sealers.
SPECTRUM RE-KOTE TF is an ideal choice for smoothing rough surfaces and repairing or resurfacing deteriorated concrete surfaces. This easy-to-use, versatile concrete repair mortar produces a concrete surface suitable for rubber-wheeled traffic. Because of its excellent bond strength, breathable properties, and freeze-thaw resistance, SPECTRUM RE-KOTE TF may be used for interior and/or exterior surfaces
Please note: This deal has expired:
For a limited time, purchase 10 bags of FLOOR-TOP STG and/or SPECTRUM RE-KOTE TF and we’ll give you a free 5-gallon pail of CS309-25 concrete sealer! For every 10 bags you purchase, you’ll get one free 5-gallon pail — so purchase 20, get two! This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on CS-309-25. Intermountain Concrete Specialties and W. R. MEADOWS have you covered for all your concrete flooring needs.
Concrete resurfacing brings new life to old concrete. Are you tired of looking at a drab concrete patio, cracked driveway, or discolored garage floor? You may be able to restore and resurface existing concrete, without having to replace it with the best concrete supplies.
The answer is usually yes if your concrete is in fairly good condition but needs minor repairs and an updated finish. Concrete can usually be resurfaced with some of our concrete supplies if it has minor cracks or discoloration, but not any major damage such as sinking, missing pieces or major cracks.
A properly prepared surface makes all the difference in the final result when it comes to concrete resurfacing. Start out by completely cleaning the concrete surface using an appropriate solution (Intermountain Concrete Specialties can guide you on choosing the best product). Next, repair any cracks. Priming isn’t typically necessary if you’re staining concrete, but other finishes may require profiling. The best advice is to follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Photo by NewLook International
Just about any concrete surface can be given a makeover, including concrete driveways, patios, walkways, and pool decks. Concrete resurfacing options include:
Proper curing and sealing of any concrete surface is critical to the long-term success. Most concrete surfaces are resistant to stains when properly coated with a protective sealer. The type of concrete sealer you choose is largely dependent on your project. Learn about different concrete sealers here, or visit an Intermountain Concrete Specialties location near you for tips and advice.