About Acrylic Sealers
A good sealer is absolutely necessary to keep exterior decorative concrete looking its best. A quality acrylic sealer achieves two things. First, it protects the concrete from staining and moisture-related wear. Second, an acrylic sealer can improve the appearance of the concrete. Colors are made more vibrant and richer with sealer application and, with the right sealer, gloss and sheen can be increased to varying levels. A quality acrylic sealer will make decorative concrete look better and it will keep it looking better.
Brickform acrylic sealers are generally designed for use on fully cured, exterior concrete. The best mode of application, with one exception, is through a standard pump up sprayer in 2-3 thin coats. Brickform acrylic sealers are not recommended for very dense surfaces or applications where hydrostatic pressure is possible. All Brickform acrylic sealers are made from high quality, non-yellowing, UV-resistant acrylics designed to withstand medium duty residential or light duty commercial traffic. Though the level of gloss varies between sealers, Brickform acrylic sealers generally enhance any color present.
Gem-Seal is a high gloss, “wet look” sealer that enhances color, prevents liquid penetration, and protects against UV damage. The Gem-Seal line is Brickform’s highest quality acrylic sealer. Gem-Seal is best used for exterior decorative concrete. Its water resistant nature means it presents a slipping hazard in the presence of water, so it may be necessary to augment Gem-Seal with Traction Grip in such applications. Gem-Seal comes in 1 and 5 gallon containers with 100 VOC (19% solids), 400 VOC (19% solids), and 700 VOC (27% solids) varieties. Due to the higher solids content, Gem-Seal 700 VOC is best rolled on, rather than spray applied. Availability is dependent on local regulations.
Safety Seal maintains the same characteristics of Gem-Seal with a couple exceptions. First, Safety Seal has Traction Grip pre-added, to reduce slipping hazard. Second, Safety Seal has a matte finish, rather than Gem-Seal’s high gloss finish. Finally, Safety Seal is limited to 100 and 400 VOC (19% solids) varieties in 5 gallon pails. It is best used around pool decks and other applications where water may collect.
Poly-Seal is a budget conscious alternative to Gem-Seal. Like Gem-Seal, it is a high gloss, wet look sealer that enhances color, protects against UV damage, and prevents water penetration. While still a high quality sealer, Poly Seal’s acrylics are not as robust as those in Gem-Seal. Poly-Seal is available in 1 and 5 gallon containers with 100, 400, and 650 VOC varieties, all at 19% solids. Poly-Seal has limited availability. It cannot be used or purchased in California. Make sure to check your local regulations to see if Poly-Seal is available.
Satin Seal differs from the other acrylic sealers because it is water-based rather than solvent-based. This means Satin Seal will have lower odor and different penetration characteristics. Satin Seal is a low gloss, “natural look,” satin finish sealer. Satin Seal prevents scuffing and helps prevent staining. It can be rolled on or spray applied. Some notable limitations are present when using Satin Seal. Most notably, Satin Seal is best used on non-decorative concrete or Brickform overlays. The reduced penetration of Satin Seal, compared to solvent-based sealers, means it is not compatible with stamped or dyed concrete. Additionally, it is not compatible with Brickform Matte Magic or Tinta’ Seal. It is, however, compatible with Traction Grip. Satin Seal is available in 1 and 5 gallon containers in 100 VOC (26% solids) formula.
Cure & Seals
Brickform offers two lines of acrylic Cure & Seals: Gem Cure & Seal and Satin Cure & Seal. Cure & Seals are applied to freshly placed concrete when it is fist ready to be walked on. They protect the fresh concrete until it has cured and is ready for a traditional sealer. They also aid curing by minimizing moisture loss, giving more time for the cement reaction to occur and creating stronger, denser, and more durable concrete that has higher compressive strength and more resistance to freeze-thaw cycles and cracking.
Satin Cure & Seal has similar properties to Satin Seal and should be used in the same applications. Once the concrete has fully cured (usually 28 days, but this varies based on thickness, mix design, and conditions), Satin Seal can be applied over Satin Cure & Seal. Satin Cure & Seal comes in two varieties. Satin Cure & Seal 1315 is a 26% solids 100 VOC product with non-yellowing acrylic that is compliant with ASTM 1315. Satin Cure & Seal 309 is an ASTM 309 compliant product with 18% solids and 100 VOC. While ASTM 309 does not require this, it is also a non-yellowing acrylic.
Gem Cure & Seal also comes in ASTM 1315 and 309 compliant varieties with 26% and 18% solids respectively. As with Satin Cure & Seal, the acrylics in both Gem Cure & Seal varieties are non-yellowing. Both designations of Gem Cure & Seal come in 100 VOC, 350 VOC, and 650 VOC varieties. Gem Cure & Seal is compatible with Gem-Seal, Poly-Seal, and Safety Seal. It is important, however, to match like VOC contents. A 100 VOC Cure & Seal will require a 100 VOC sealer, for example (the only caveat to this is Gem-Seal 700 VOC which is compatible with 650 VOC Gem Cure & Seal).
There are 3 additives in the Brickform product line for Brickform acrylic sealers. These additives can be used to alter or augment the performance of acrylic sealers, making them more versatile.
Matte Magic is a powdered additive that easily mixes with Gem Seal, Poly Seal, or Gem Cure and Seal to reduce gloss without affecting the viscosity or protection properties of the sealer. Mixing up to one unit of Matte Magic into 5 gallons of sealer has the effect of reducing reflectance and making the color more distinguishable.
Traction Grip is a micronized powder that adds slight texture to Poly Seal, Gem Seal, and Satin Seal, improving slip resistance. The small, spherical particles achieve this without adding any sharp edges to the surface or affecting color and appearance. Mixing one unit of Traction Grip with 5 gallons of sealer yields a slip-resistant effect similar to Safety Seal while maintaining the high gloss appearance.
Tinta’ Seal is a pigmented additive for Gem Seal and Poly Seal. The proprietary blend of pigments creates an opaque color when added to the sealer and applied to a properly prepared surface. Tinta’ Seal is available in all 40 Brickform Standard Colors. One can of Tinta’ Seal is added to 5 gallons of sealer and fully blended. Surface preparation, application, and maintenance are the same as the base sealer. Tinta’ Seal is useful for correcting coloring mistakes and adding color to concrete after the fact.
When choosing any sealer or additive, carefully plan your project ahead of time. Read all available literature and use test slabs whenever possible. Follow surface preparation and applications instructions found in the product TIS for your chosen products. Attend Brickform training seminars can be beneficial to new and experienced contractors interested in a greater understanding of decorative concrete products and techniques.