There is a Difference Between Floor Sealers and Floor Finishes

This may seem like common sense, but….

We were recently hired to apply a water based penetrating floor sealer to a thirsty 1-year old concrete floor. Despite our explanations of different product options and strong recommendation that an epoxy coating would work best in this instance (after a penetrating floor sealer was applied and the floor was re-etched), we were hired nonetheless to apply a water based penetrating floor sealer on the new concrete floor. Afterward, the customer was disappointed when water wouldn’t bead up and dance up top of the penetrating sealer. Hence, this article….

Floor Sealers Penetrate and Form a Bonding Substrate for Floor Finishes to Adhere To

Using sealers is similar to using a primer product prior to painting a surface. Floor sealers will not produce a waterproof high gloss floor finish on their own. That is why “floor finishes” are necessary. Floor sealers penetrate porous materials and form a film that floor finishes can bond or adhere to.

Topical Versus Penetrating Floor Sealers

Most floor sealers will naturally penetrate to some degree, but there are topical sealers and penetrating sealers. Topical floor sealers are fast-drying and usually dry hard, making it difficult to work with down the road. Topical floor sealers are also more likely to chip, flake and crack.

Porous Materials Need Penetrating Floor Sealers

Concrete, stone, brick, wood, VCT, LVT, commercial vinyl tile, rubber, etc., need a penetrating floor sealer to protect the material at a deeper level. We recommend the use of water based floor sealers in most cases (other than wood) as oily solvent-based products may actually break down the integrity of the material.

Floor Sealers are a MUST on New and Stripped Floors

When you hear the term “Strip & Wax”, there are actually a few more steps involved. The floor must be neutralized after stripping to bring the pH back down. Then, the floor must be rinsed (mopped) with clean water. Once dry, apply at least 1 coat of sealer (new floors will need 2 coats of sealer). Then apply 2-3 coats of “wax” (which is actually floor finish – NOT A WAX).

There are No Shortcuts If You Want it Done Right

Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Undoubtedly, there are products that claim to be an all-in-one floor sealer and floor finish, but read the label and use common sense. You want the sealer (low solids products) to penetrate and provide a good bonding surface for a high-quality commercial floor finish (mid-high solids).

PS – If you use cheap, store bought products, your results will reflect that.

In Summary

Again, floor sealers penetrate and create a bottom layer of protection as well as a bonding film for floor finishes to adhere to. Floor finish is a sacrificial protective film that is applied after floor sealer is used. There is no substitute for commercial grade floor sealers and commercial grade floor coatings.

Contact us to discuss your situation. We can help!

10 Helpful Resources About Floor Sealers and Floor Finishes

  1. What is a Floor Sealer?
  2. What is floor finish?
  3. What is in a Floor Finish Product?
  4. What Ingredients are in Floor Finish?
  5. Should I use a urethane-fortified floor finish or a cheaper acrylic?
  6. What is a Water Based Urethane Floor Finish?
  7. Is Floor Finish Fully Cured as Soon as it is Dry?
  8. What’s the Difference Between Floor Finish “Build” and “Build Up”?
  9. Do high solids floor finishes perform better than standard solids finishes?
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