To generalise, there are two main types of sealers:
Film Forming and Penetrating!
Image 1 illustrates the altering of appearance by using a film forming sealer.
Image 2 illustrates the natural look non-slip protection of a penetrating sealer!
Each is unique and has its place!
Film Forming Sealer.
Film forming sealers create a protective film on your surface to protect it from moisture as well as regular wear and tear. They are also known as topical or surface sealers. Here are some of the benefits of a film forming concrete sealer:
1. They bring out the beauty of your surface by enhancing and darkening its colour with a semi-gloss or gloss finish.
2. They prevent contaminants such as dirt, oil, grease and chemicals from penetrating the surface, protecting it from damage as well as making it easier to clean and maintain.
3. They are repellents preventing contaminant damage.
4. Protects your surface from wear and tear and exposure to the elements.
5. Fast-drying, especially water based with some being touch dry in as little as 20 mins.
There are three types of film forming concrete sealers:
1. Acrylic sealers. These are the most cost effective film-forming sealers and also the easiest to apply. They are available in water-based and solvent-based varieties.
2. Urethanes. These are slightly thicker than regular acrylic sealers and offer good protection against chemicals and abrasive substances, as well as protection against scuffs and stains.
3. Epoxies. These can be used for both interior and exterior installations. Some are specifically manufactured for internal applications since they might turn yellow if exposed to UV rays. CSW Coatings supplies UV stable, non-yellowing external epoxies in addition to internal. They are available in clear or pigmented variants. Epoxies consist of two components that must be mixed together before being painted on.
Film Forming Suitable Substrates are not limited to: Concrete, Brick, Pavers, Decorative Stencil and Stamped Concrete.
Penetrating Sealers Offer Non-slip Protection!
Most hard surfaces are prone to foreign particles and pollutants. Like our skin, concrete and natural stone also have pores where dust particles and foreign spillage can seep through. These particles can be detrimental to your hard surfaces structure as time moves on. This can result in staining, cracks and breaks. For most homeowners, replacement can be a financial burden.
One way to enhance the life of your surface is with the help of penetrating sealers. A penetrating or impregnating sealer can prevent chemical damage and permanent staining by holding spills close to ones surface.
Penetrating sealers can make concrete floors to granite countertops more resistant to organic materials while still allowing surface to breath.
Here are some of the benefits of a penetrating natural stone or concrete sealer:
1. Suitable For Natural Stone Surfaces as retains a natural look.
2. Non-Slip – best for trafficable areas where slip resistance is a concern.
Penetrating suitable substrates are not limited to: Concrete, Brick, Pavers, Grout, Sandstone, Limestone, Granite, Travertine, Porcelain, Slate and Terracotta.
For additional reading please view How Does A Penetrating Sealer Work?
Keep in mind though that even after finding out the differences between a film forming and penetrating sealer, it is still important to choose the right brand available on the market. Look for a product that is safe to use, easy to apply, while still maintaining all the protective qualities one would expect from a sealer.
For the Do-It-Yourself market, applying a water based sealer will be substantially easier than a solvent!