An Unbiased Comparison between Water-based and Solvent-Based Sealers


Anyone working with concrete has at least ones found themselves in a dilemma whether to use water-based or solvent-based sealers. When their primary function is concerned, you practically cannot go wrong, however, there are significant differences in their composition and finesse in application that could be important for your current work and determining your choice. On the other hand, your next job might require using the other type of sealer. Therefore, here is an unbiased comparison between the two types that will serve as a guide whenever you find yourself in a dilemma which one to use.

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Common Features

Both sealers are strong and long lasting, which is their most important characteristic and primary function. Therefore, opting for any of them will ensure that the concrete will be protected from stains such as car stains, food or drink ones, as well as chemicals, that is they allow all these stains to be removed without damaging the concrete underneath. Next, both sealers can be applied easily and can be obtained in ready-made mixtures, either to be sprayed or rolled on concrete. Which application method to use depends on several criteria. Another important mutual feature is resistance to Ultraviolet light, which gives them advantage over polymers and various types of epoxies, resulting in better and longer protection.

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Solvent-Based Sealers

These sealers require a completely dry surface before application, which could take a couple of days. Therefore, avoid using them in rainy areas since it could prolong your deadlines significantly. When the appearance is concerned, using solvent-based sealers enables you to achieve high gloss surfaces due to chemical reactions and deeper penetrating of the concrete, enhancing its color as a result. However, do not put too many layers of sealer, that will not increase the gloss further and in time, the sealer will peel or flake off the surface. One other important application notion is that solvent based sealers tend to have long lingering smell, making them inappropriate for indoor use. When reapplying is concerned, you cannot put them over water-based ones, vice versa is allowed.

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Water-Based Sealers

They can be applied over moist surfaces, allowing you to complete the cleaning and applying process in one day period. Therefore, if you work in an area where it often rains, this should be taken into strong consideration. When it comes to appearance, water-based sealers provide matte finish of lower gloss resembling milky white color that less reflects light. They do not have a strong odor and are nonflammable, which is another attractive benefit.

In a recent conversation with highly-rated retailers of concrete sealers, it was brought to my attention that while several years ago water-based sealers were less durable than the solvent-based ones, this is not the case anymore. The technology behind production of water-based ones has significantly improved in the last couple of years that nowadays there is practically no difference in durability both sealers provide.

Environmental Protection Regulations

Depending on the area you are working in, these regulations can be the major factor that decides which sealer you will be using. The level of volatile organic compound (VOC) is significantly different with two types of sealers. Water-based sealers are typically lower VOC while solvent-based ones are normally high VOC. Therefore, before choosing a sealer you should study the regulations carefully since they are becoming increasingly restrictive and there are places where you will have to use solely low VOC sealers.

Hopefully, this resolves any dilemma you might have in the future when it comes to concrete sealers and will make your choice easier and work more successful.