There are a variety of different sealer or cure & seal chemistries on the market today, and no one product is the “best” in all situations. Understanding the pros and cons of the different chemical technologies can go a long way to determining which ChemMasters chemistry, and product, is “best” for your application. One of the basic ways in which sealers or cure & seals can be compared is whether itis a water-based or solvent-based chemistry.
The general idea of water-based and solvent-based products is the same; to deposit a thin plastic coating on your concrete for protection and/or beautification. The difference is the means by which that plastic is kept liquid in the pail, and deposited upon the concrete. In the case of water-based products, water is the “carrier” in which the plastic resides, and a variety of solvent packages may be used in the solvent-based products. The two technologies function very differently from one another, resulting in differing storage requirements, application techniques, and performance characteristics.
Pros of Water-Based Technology
- Water-based products are often less expensive than their solvent-based counterparts, as water is less expensive than solvent.
- Water-based products are generally more “green” since water does not impact the environment in ways that solvents can.
- Water-based products are not generally flammable or combustible, or have the pungent odor associated with solvent-based products, and are more often chosen for indoor applications.
- Water-based products do not substantially darken concrete, and are often more suitable for use on very light or white colored concrete.
- Water-based products are easier to use in hot weather and less prone to bubbling.
- Generally speaking, water-based products are harder and more chemically resistant.
Cons of Water-Based Technology
- Water is affected by lower temperatures and must be kept from freezing. Once frozen, water-based products are unusable, even after thawing.
- Water-based products do not develop the “high gloss” required for most stamped and decorative concrete applications.
- Water-based products are more susceptible to slight environmental changes, and may be affected by high humidity and low dew point during application.
- Water-based products require “energy” during their film formation process, and must be applied at higher temperatures – minimum requirements are 50° ambient air temperature, and 50° slab temperature.
- Water-Based Cure and Seals can show tire tracking and are also prone to lifting, hot tire pickup, on smooth concrete.
Pros of Solvent-Based Technology
- Solvent-based products develop a deeper, richer gloss which is often desired for use on stamped, decorative concrete.
- Solvent-based products will “wet out” and darken the antiquing release used on stamped concrete.
- Solvent-based products will darken and enrich the integral color often used in stamped or decorative concrete.
- Solvent-based products can be used in lower temperatures, and are unaffected by humidity or dew point.
- Solvent-based products can be stored and transported in unheated conditions.
- Solvent-based products are lacquers, and generally have better re-coatability.
Cons of Solvent-Based Technology
- Solvent-based products are generally more expensive.
- Solvent-based products can evaporate more quickly, making them difficult to use on very hot days
- Solvent-based products will darken concrete, making them less desirable for use on very light or white colored concrete.
Choose a product based upon your own personal expectations for your concrete, its appearance and protection. ChemMasters' Technical Service Department or your local ChemMasters Distributor can help identify some good choices based upon those expectations. But in the end, only you will know what makes you happy.