Sealers are the unsung heroes of the decorative concrete world. You and your clients will fret over choosing just the right textures, patterns, and colors. But how much time do you spend considering the sealer? Do your clients even know about this step?
The Importance of Sealer
Sealer protects concrete. Of course, different types of sealers protect in different ways, but all sealers are designed with protection in mind. Think of it this way: You spent dozens of hours installing and your client spent thousands of dollars. It is worth the effort to protect the integrity and appearance of the concrete or overlay.
Some sealers, notably those designed for decorative applications, serve to enhance the concrete. Sealer is used to enhance color, for a richer and more attractive appearance. Glossy sealers add an attractive sheen, as well. Finally, sealer additives such as traction enhances or dye packs are used to improve safety or correct problems.
If you decline to seal your decorative concrete or overlay, you risk unwanted staining or soiling, mildew, washed out color, and earlier deterioration of the concrete’s structure. This leads to unsatisfied customers and potential call-backs. Improperly sealing risks those factors, as well as damaging delamination and ugly discoloration. For the (minimal) time and expense it takes to properly seal the surface, you’ll greatly enhance the quality of your work and reputation.
Choosing the Right Sealer
Using the correct sealer for the application is just as important as deciding to seal in the first place. Every sealer has its own list of features that makes it ideally suited for certain applications. Conversely, every sealer has limitations that make it a poor choice in certain circumstances. Here are a few things to consider when selecting your sealer:
Water- or solvent-base: In general, solvent-based sealers have a higher gloss finish compared to water-based sealers. Solvent-based sealers also tend to have stronger odors, making them less attractive for enclosed areas.
Time of application: Use Cure & Seals for freshly placed concrete. Best practices dictate that regular sealers should not be applied to a slab less than 28 days old. After that point, you can use regular sealers.
Location of application: Where the sealer is to be applied is of vital importance. For example, some sealers are not UV-stable and should only be used indoors. Similarly, other sealers pose a slip-and-fall hazard if used near a pool. Make sure you use the sealer that best suits the application.
Involve the Client
As always, take the time to educate your clients. Let them know why you need to seal the concrete. Stress the importance of maintaining the sealer. This has two effects that benefit you. First, it keeps your work looking good. This keeps your clients happy with the quality of the work, making them more likely to recommend you to their friends and neighbors. Second, this opens the door for repeat business. If your clients accept the importance of maintenance and sealing, you have a business opportunity coming back to reseal and maintain their concrete. While this may not be the highest paying work, it is relatively easy, reliable, and requires little sales and marketing effort on your part.
Make sure your clients know what to do on their own to maintain the integrity of their sealer. While you shouldn’t recommend they reseal on their own, property owners can do a few simple things to maintain their sealer. Most importantly, they should regularly clean the surface using mild detergents and immediately wipe up any spills (such as beverages, oil, or other material). When the sealer begins deteriorating, they should call you!