How Do Water and Solvent-based Acrylic Sealers Work?

Valued for its durability, structural capabilities and aesthetic possibilities, concrete is a popular material for a wide range of interior and exterior commercial, industrial, residential and infrastructure applications. But whether it is used on a patio or a parking deck, proper curing and sealing are essential steps to ensuring the longest life possible for functional and decorative concrete materials.

Acrylic sealers, applied to fully cured concrete (after 28 days), typically provide higher levels of protection and color enhancement to concrete surfaces over a longer period of time. Acrylic-based sealers work via a film-forming process, during which they form a coating (3 -10 mils thick) on top of the concrete surface to help prevent water penetration and efflorescence and provide good stain resistance Sealers based on acrylic polymer fill in the pores in concrete. Besides improving the appearance of, and providing excellent satin resistance for, concrete applications, acrylic based film forming sealers greatly reduce water penetration and efflorescence when compared to unsealed concrete.

diagrm of how solvent-based sealers work

In water based acrylic sealers, polymer particles are dispersed in water. During application, these particles move closer together as the water evaporates. As evaporation continues, the particles deform and fuse to eventually form a continuous coating. In solvent based acrylic sealers, the polymer chains and the solvent form a continuous solution. During application, the polymer chains are drawn together and entangle as the solvent continues to evaporate, creating a continuous coating.

diagrm of how water-based sealers work

While water and solvent based acrylic sealers have some differentiating characteristics, once applied and cured, they function in a similar way. Both types of sealers have these key attributes in common -

Toughness and durability: Providing resistance to stains, abrasion, water, chemical resistance, water and solvent based acrylic sealers enable effective protection of concrete surfaces that can last fro two to three years.

Application ease: Both water- and solvent-based acrylic sealers can either be sprayed or rolled on and will easily adhere with minimal surface preparation. Acrlic sealers can be applied to new or old concrete, unlike silane- and siloxane-based penetrating sealers that can be applied to new concrete.

UV resistance: 100 percent acrylic sealers are fully transparent to UV light and will not undergo the photochemical breakdown experienced by more UV-absorbent polymers such as aromatic polyurethanes and most epoxies. UV resistance enahnces a sealer's durability and protective qualities.

Typically water based sealers appear milky white, and they typically cure to a lower gloss, matte finish, Solvent based sealers generally have a more glossy finish that enhances the color of underlying concrete.

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