When considering your concrete floor, you have the option of sealing it as is or applying a stain prior to sealing. Concrete stains are available in many colors, so it may be worth taking a few minutes to browse the options that are out there. Deciding whether or not you want to go this route is important before you apply a sealant.
Preparing a Concrete Floor to Receive Stain or Sealant
Nothing will adhere properly to a dirty floor. Clean your concrete floor thoroughly before you begin the sealing process. You will need to sweep or vacuum well and then scrub with a strong detergent. Safety is first, so wear proper eye and hand protection. Rinse the floor completely of any detergent residue and allow the floor to dry.
If your concrete floor is relatively new, repairs should not be necessary. On older concrete floors, carefully check for cracks, hollows, and holes. Any of these defects must be filled with a repair compound. Prepare the compound according to the manufacturer’s instructions, apply, and allow it to dry. Once it has hardened, go over the area with a sander or sandpaper to smooth and rough areas and be sure to clean the dust away from the floor.
Applying the Stain to Your Concrete Floor
If you opt to stain your concrete floor, you will need to apply a primer first. One coat of primer is enough, but be sure to use one that is made specifically for concrete. After allowing the primer to dry completely, use a paint roller to apply the stain as you would paint a wall. Edges come first, and then fill in the middle, taking care to make a smooth, thin, even application. You may apply several coats until you achieve the desired color, but remember to allow each coat to dry before attempting another.
Applying the Sealant to Your Concrete Floor
There are two main types of concrete sealants: those that penetrate and those that form a film. Penetrative sealants are best for use outdoors for sidewalks and driveways because they provide the most protection from the elements. Indoor areas such as basements and utility areas, however, will benefit more from film-forming sealants as they tend to give off a decorative sheen.
Remember to always use safety gear and ventilate well when working with chemicals. Apply the sealant in the same fashion as you did the stain; use thin, even coats as opposed to one heavy coat. Two coats should be enough to protect your concrete floor for many years, provided you were diligent in taking all necessary steps and following the manufacturer’s directions.
When to Seal a Concrete Floor
Ideally, sealing should follow almost immediately after your concrete floor has been poured, allowing for approximately 28 days of setting time. Sealing when the floor is still new eliminates the steps of making repairs and allows you to get the most years from your concrete floor. Sometimes, however, you may find yourself faced with a floor that was not sealed either because a previous owner failed to or it just simply was not thought of. It is never too late, however, and always a good idea, even if you have to apply a fresh, thin layer of concrete to get a good surface for sealing.
Staining and sealing a concrete floor can add both beauty and durability to areas that receive a lot of traffic. Even if you choose not to use a stain, the added life that comes from this protection is worth the time it takes to apply a sealant.