Finishing your patio requires a couple of final steps to consider the job done and one of them is using a sealer. If you’re wondering when to seal a concrete patio and what you should use, it depends on multiple factors.
A newly-poured concrete slab needs at least 28 days to cure before you can safely seal it. As for an old concrete patio, you can use a sealer after pressure-washing it with soap and water and letting it dry thoroughly.
With that in mind, here are the answers to all your burning questions about sealing concrete patios!
While modern concrete mixes aren’t as visibly pitted as they once were, concrete is still a porous substance.
It’s hard to believe, but the smooth surface you see on a new pour of concrete doesn’t mean it’s impermeable. Concrete still absorbs water and gets eroded by the elements if left unsealed.
A concrete patio, unlike a driveway, doesn’t get much heavy traffic from vehicles and isn’t subjected to de-icing salts. That said, it can still suffer from spalling and dusting if your area sees many freeze-thaw cycles.
Water gets absorbed by concrete like a sponge. If it freezes inside the pores, the ice crystals expand and compromise the structural integrity of the concrete, and that’s why you should consider sealing your concrete patio.
If you have a stamped or colored concrete design on the patio, sealing can preserve the beautiful detailing. It also prevents staining from food spills or fire pits, you know, the fun things you do outside!
When it comes to types of concrete sealers, you have multiple options that range from completely matte finishes to high-gloss finishes. Sealers are also classified according to how penetrative they are, with some being absorbed by the slab, and some sitting on the surface.
The most important factor in choosing what sealer to use is its compatibility with the concrete patio’s decorative treatment. Some overlays or stains might interact unfavorably with sealers, making them blister, bubble, or cause color bleeding.
Most penetrating sealers are made of water-based acrylic. These are economical, UV-resistant, breathable, and come in natural satin or matte finishes. That means that they don’t yellow with sun exposure and can help moisture within the concrete slab escape through their pores.
Water-based acrylic sealers are compatible with most types of concrete patio finishes, from smooth slabs to stamped and colored concrete. But if you have an exposed aggregate concrete section, you might want to check the other type of sealers.
Exposed aggregate patios are both beautiful and durable, so it’s only logical to want to preserve their appearance and protect the surface from stains. Solvent-based acrylic sealers provide you with an extra-shiny, color-deepening effect for those concrete surfaces.
Their high-gloss finish looks gorgeous when added to the heterogeneous aggregate surface. It also doesn’t carry the same risk of slipping as smooth concrete thanks to the grippy nature of exposed aggregate.
So what else can be used to coat a concrete patio? What about epoxy?
Yes, you can!
Epoxy can be an excellent sealant for concrete patios. Aside from the super hard surface, it can also be quite beautiful, with many colors and textures to choose from.
The most important aspect of applying epoxy coatings for outdoor areas, like patios, is to make sure it cures completely undisturbed. Dirt and debris can get trapped in fresh epoxy, causing it to look bubbled and unattractive.
Installing epoxy flooring is also pretty technique-sensitive. So, unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to leave it to professionals.
Knowing when to seal a concrete patio can save you the frustration of having a blistered surface that needs to be redone. All you need is a completely clean, dry surface before you can apply the concrete sealer, so that means waiting at least 28 days until a new concrete pour cures.
Concrete sealers come in many forms and offer different advantages based on the type of patio you have. While natural finishes work great for smooth concrete, exposed aggregates require a high-gloss, solvent-based sealer.
An epoxy resin is also an option for concrete patio sealing. Just make sure you’re applying it correctly, or better yet, hire a pro to do the job!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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