How To Apply Water Based Concrete Sealer?

How To Apply Water Based Concrete Sealer?
  • Author: Amanda Arnold
  • Posted On: January 12, 2022
  • Updated On: August 21, 2023

Concrete sealers protect against weather exposure and oil stains, abrasion, and de-icing salts, among other things. They also help bring out the natural beauty of your concrete and make it easier to clean.

On the other hand, a sealer must be applied appropriately to operate well. Each step will have an impact on the outcome. Here are some pointers on how to apply concrete sealer correctly.

The compositions of water-based acrylic cure & seals and sealers are fascinatingly complex.

Water-based acrylic sealers are delicate emulsions of microscopic polymer beads suspended in water with additives called coalescing solvents that assist the sealer to form a film upon drying, unlike solvent-based acrylic sealers, which are simply dissolved polymer in a petroleum solvent such as xylene.

A Few Considerations Before Applying The Water Based Concrete Sealer

Water-based sealers and solvent-based sealers have quite distinct drying processes. When the solvent carrier evaporates, the sealer dries, leaving a solid coating on the concrete surface.

After drying, the solvent-based sealer layer is still re-dissolvable, which is why solvent-based acrylic sealers can be damaged by gasoline or other chemical spills, and why many solvent-based sealer concerns can be resolved stripping or scrubbing the sealer with xylene.

Coalescence is a more sophisticated technique used to dry water-based sealers. Water-based curing and sealing chemicals should be applied shortly after the bleed water has evaporated, but while the concrete is still moist if used as an initial cure.

Before applying a water-based sealant on cured/hardened concrete, the surface should be gently wet – but not puddled or standing water.

When originally applied, water-based cure & seals or sealers appear white, occasionally with a bluish cast. The product, however, will dry clear if applied at the prescribed coverage rate under optimal conditions.

Steps To Apply The Sealer

  1. The concrete surface is sealed with a water-based sealant. Polymer beads are close together, but the aqueous phase keeps them apart.
  2. The coalescing solvent migrates into the polymer beads as the water evaporates, causing them to expand and begin to fuse.
  3. Following that, the coalescing solvent evaporates, merging the polymer beads even more into a continuous film.

The drying method of a water-based sealer is irreversible; the dried sealer cannot be re-dissolved in water and is resistant to other solvents. Furthermore, suppose the water and coalescing solvent do not evaporate in the correct order due to environmental conditions or improper application.

In that case, the coalescence and drying of a water-based sealer will be faulty, resulting in sealer appearance and performance issues that are difficult, if not impossible, to correct.

Use a fan-tip nozzle on the clean pump-up spray apparatus. After using the sprayer, clean it as soon as possible. In the same sprayer, do not mix solvent-based and water-based compounds. Water-based curing and sealing chemicals can develop stringily and clog sprayer nozzles even if only a small amount of contamination from previously used solvent-based products is present.

Apply The Sealer According To Coverage Ratio

During the spring and fall, when warm days are often followed by cold nights, daily temperature changes can be particularly dramatic. Check weather forecasts to guarantee that the air and concrete surface temperatures are warm enough for the application and stay above 45°F for at least 24 hours after the sealer is applied.

Applying sealer at the coverage rate specified on the technical data sheet is also crucial if you want a good film. Water might become trapped within the sealer due to a heavy or uneven application, compromising coalescence and film formation. The final result can look milky white when using much sealer or applying too many coats.

How To Deal With Water-Based Sealer Drying Issues?

If a water-based sealer has dried to a chalky or powdery state, sweeping and scouring or utilizing a power washer are the only options for removing the sealer and its residue. Depending on the task site and the amount of residue, the optimal procedure for removal will be determined.

If the concrete was pressure washed, it should be left to dry for one day before applying the sealer again under the proper environmental conditions and coverage rate.

The sealer may be salvageable if treated within the first 24 to 48 hours after application if the film appears milky white or hazy but is completely attached to the concrete with no peeling or powdering. A solvent wash is used to fix this problem, similar to what is done when a solvent-based sealer is bubbling or turning white.

Always Apply The Water-Based Sealer In A Thin Layer

According to the suggested coverage rates, water-based curing and sealing chemicals and sealers should be sprayed and applied thinly and uniformly. Please don’t puddle! A heavy application will result in a mottled appearance or a permanently white appearance.

Stop the application, clean the nozzle, and restart if the product comes out as a stream of droplets rather than a fan-shaped mist during the application. The surface will get discolored and smeared if this care is not taken.

Water-based cure and seal products can cause a little darkening of the concrete surface. The project’s owner must be aware that this darkening is possible. A little test application is recommended to ensure that the finished product meets the owner’s expectations.


Many people try to seal their concrete, but it’s more difficult than you may imagine. Hire a concrete contractor in your area to make sure it’s done right. If you know who installed your concrete, they may be able to provide you with a maintenance package that includes sealing every few years.

During storage, keep water-based curing and sealing chemicals from freezing. The product will become unusable and unrecoverable if it is frozen.

When trying to fix a water-based sealer problem, always start with a tiny test area to ensure that the technique will work.

Not all problems with water-based sealers can be resolved. If the solvent wash does not yield satisfactory results, the sealer must be removed completely from the surface. Alternatively, you can simply let the sealer wear away gradually over time.

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Author: Amanda Arnold

Amanda has been working with ConstructionHow since 2021. Her experience spans over 5 years in the creative niche such as home decor and trends, landscaping, renovations, and custom architectural values. As a home designer expert, she has a keen eye for the latest home improvement trends with accurate facts that readers find impossible to ignore. Being invested in home-building trends is how she has gained her lucrative expertise exploring more to bring a positive ambiance for all homeowners (and even tenants!). Currently, she lives in a beautiful beach home, a source of fascination for her.