Considering getting concrete worktops but have no clue about the maintenance? This can all depend on the type of sealer you use. The type of sealer should be chosen to suit the finish of the concrete – polished, stamped, trowelled etc.
Some sealers do not adhere properly to a highly polished concrete worktops, and some sealers won’t do the job adequately if there is too much texture. Also, some require you to have them resealed every year or few years, whilst some last the life of the concrete – but most are somewhere in between this.
But that’s not all, your choice of sealer should also depend on how you would like the finish of the surface, as there are options such as colour enhancing, matt, glossy, and satin.
What Is Sealer?
Why does all this matter? If you have a basic understanding of what sealer is, and how it works, you can easily get to grips with the differences in the types of sealer, and how they can affect the maintenance.
At the very least, sealer is made up of two parts – the plastic component called a resin, and a carrier. Most sealers are water-based, meaning the carrier is water, or solvent based. The cool part – the carrier ‘carries’ the resin onto or into the concrete, and then will evaporate and just leave the resin to protect the concrete!
Types Of Sealers And Its Properties
When looking at types of sealers, it’s more so looking at the different types of resin in them, that will be used to protect the concrete.
Acrylics are usually the thinnest of sealers, so they generally wear faster than others, and require re-sealing more often. Typically, you would need to re-apply this sealer every year or every couple of years. It is crucial that this is applied as a thin coating so that it doesn’t fill any pin holes or texture.
Most of the time, acrylic sealers are also what we call penetrating sealers. They work by soaking into the concrete worktop and saturating the pores. This blocks any liquids from getting into the concrete. If the concrete is too porous or textured, this sealer might not saturate the pores fully – so is best used on polished or tightly trowelled concrete.
Acrylic sealers usually have a more matte, natural finish, and you can get ones which are colour enhancing.
This type of sealer is very hard and is incredibly scratch resistant and chemical resistant. Like other sealers, there are some options available for polyurethanes. It can be water based or solvent based, it can be used either for indoors or outdoors, can have a matt or polished look, and can have a colour enhancing finish.
Polyurethane is a type of ‘topical sealer’ so is usually a film forming sealer, but it is relatively thin and, in most cases, are not meant to be built up. If you have a texture or high porosity concrete, and desire a smooth, slick surface without polishing, you might want to consider an epoxy instead.
Polyurethane sealers should last around 5-10 years depending on the amount of wear on the concrete.
Epoxy sealers can be water based, solvent based, or 100% solids – meaning they have no carrier that has to evaporate. They also have the choice to be colour enhancing.
A great thing about epoxy resin is that its film forming, but is thicker than all the other types of sealers. If you have any unwanted texture or porosity, the epoxy will fill this in and make it smooth to touch.
Due to the thickness of the epoxy coating, it is usually good to last the life of the concrete, and it has a heat resistance of just over 200 Celsius. However, all epoxy does yellow from UV exposure over time.
Epoxy is not as hard as polyurethane sealer, so you may decide to recoat this as time passes to cover any scratches or scuffs on the surface. This would be done by sanding the worktop, and applying another coat.
With 100% solids epoxy, you have many different options. It can be built very thick to provide a glossy surface, or you can add pigments or metallic powders to make colours and faux stone effects. You can also use this sealer if you want a dull finish that is less likely to show any scratches – by wet sanding it.
To conclude, the amount of maintenance on your concrete worktops are nearly always going to depend on the type of sealer you’re using. However, there are some general rules which will help the lifespan and upkeep of your sealer.
Even though most sealers have a high heat resistance, it’s never a good idea to take a pan directly off the heat and onto the worktop, always use something like a heat resistant mat. Also, even though some sealers are more scratch resistant, you shouldn’t use a knife directly on the surface, as it’s not a chopping board.
With most sealers, a mild kitchen cleaner is alright to use, but it’s best to stay away from anything particularly abrasive like brillo pads.