Pros and Cons: Sealing Your Concrete Driveway
January 4, 2023
In the last few decades, concrete has overtaken black asphalt as the most common material used in driveways, and most homeowners opt to seal their concrete driveways to protect them from water damage and stains. When you learn more about the pros and cons associated with sealing your concrete driveway, you can make better decisions for your individual needs.
What is Concrete Sealer?
Concrete sealer is a substance that protects concrete by filling in its natural pores. Without sealant, water can seep into a concrete driveway and lead to considerable damage over time, especially in areas known to fall below freezing during the winter months. Water seeps into the pores, then freezes and expands, which can lead to significant cracks. Concrete sealers are made from a wide range of materials, but the most common ones include acrylic, epoxy, and polyurethane. Sealers can create a high-gloss finish, a matte finish, or an in-between satin finish depending on your preferences.
Advantages of a Sealed Driveway
The main advantages associated with sealing your concrete driveway include:
- Protection from stains. Vehicles can often leak fluids like oil, which can easily stain unsealed concrete in just seconds. These stains are difficult to remove, even with high-powered pressure washers.
- Crack resistance. When you fill in the pores of your concrete driveway with an acrylic or polyurethane sealant, water can no longer enter those pores and wreak havoc. This is especially helpful during the winter months.
- Wear-and-tear reduction. Concrete is incredibly durable, but if it isn’t sealed properly, it can chip or show wear in certain situations. A quality, professionally installed sealant reduces wear and tear, thereby extending the life of your concrete driveway.
- UV protection. UVA radiation can damage concrete over time in much the same way it can cause sunburn. Over time, the radiation weakens the bonds between the polymers in concrete, which can cause it to deteriorate. A UV-blocking sealant reapplied every few years can extend the life of your driveway by decades.
Disadvantages of a Sealed Driveway
While the advantages outweigh the negatives, there are some disadvantages that you should keep in mind before sealing your concrete driveway.
- Sealant can make the surface slippery. Sealants tend to dry down with a glossy or semi-glossy sheen that can be quite slick, especially when wet. Some sealants have abrasive additives designed to counteract this.
- It must be reapplied. Sealants don’t last forever, so they will need to be reapplied every three to five years. You can hire a professional to re-seal your driveway, or if you’re confident, you can do it yourself.
- Sealant is an added expense. Not sealing your driveway is free; sealing it every three to five years is an additional expense. The average 20-foot by 24-foot driveway costs somewhere between $150 and $200 to reseal.
- Not all sealants are eco-friendly. Many sealants out there contain solvents that can harm people, animals, and the environment. You can look for zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) and other eco-friendly sealants but be prepared to pay more for them.
Most homeowners inevitably find that the added UV protection, crack resistance, wear resistance, and protection against stains is well worth the added expense every few years. If you are concerned about the environment or the slick nature of sealed concrete, look for sealants that have added abrasives for traction and zero-VOC formulations. With our connection in the industry, United Companies can provide some valuable insight into all major forms of sealant and their use. Give us a call today and we’d be happy to speak with you.