Your new decorative concrete resurfacing project may look fantastic, but is it safe? Is it good for your health?
Before you start your project it’s important to understand that many concrete sealer products contain chemicals that can harm both the environment and your family and pets.
That’s why it’s important to do your homework before selecting a contractor and the materials they will use for the job you need done.
There are a few basic types of concrete sealers on the market so it’s necessary to help you to understand and explain why an eco-friendly product is the best decision.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
Generally speaking, when you’re considering choosing a concrete sealer for your project, you’ll have four main options:
- A penetrating sealer
- An acrylic sealer
- A polyurethane sealer
- Epoxy coatings
As their name implies, penetrating sealers penetrate deeper than topical sealers. A topical sealer sits on top of the surface and only seals the top surface of the concrete.
With a penetrating sealer, it gets into the concrete pores. The components may also react chemically with the concrete’s capillaries to offer a deep bond that shields against moisture.
Their invisible protection works best on exterior surfaces that are subject to corrosion or damage from exposure to the elements.
All Barefoot Concrete’s sealers are water-based penetrating sealers that penetrate the surface and form a self cross-linking matrix in the surface of the concrete that protects it.
Acrylic solvent sealers are topical, they create a thin, protective film on the surface of the concrete. However, water-based acrylic sealers are penetrating sealers that seal by forming a protective matrix in the top layer of the concrete.
Acrylic sealers are useful in both interior and exterior environments, they’re cost-effective and easy to apply. Solvent sealers can dry within minutes or within the hour, they’re also ideal for time-sensitive projects and can be used to add a great finish to all kinds of stamped, stencilled, or coloured concrete.
Therefore, you can find get both solvent-based and water-based types of acrylic concrete sealers, they work differently and depending on the associated conditions either can be used.
Like acrylic sealers, polyurethane sealers form a protective film on the surface of the concrete, they are also topical sealers.
However, this protective film is almost twice as thick, it’s meant to protect high-traffic areas that are susceptible to stains and scuffs.
The result is a transparent finish that is highly resistant to both chemicals and abrasion. You can also find these sealers in both solvent-based and water-based formulations.
Epoxy sealers are meant to form a high-build film on the concrete’s surface, they are long-wearing and abrasion-resistant.
Their finish is more on the glossy side and may turn yellow when exposed to UV. For that reason, they’re often used in interior environments such as concrete countertops or cement-based overlays.
Most epoxies consist of two or more components that are mixed together before application.
The question we want to answer today is if health is your priority, what sealer do you use?
Barefoot Concrete provides low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) products that are environmentally friendly. We are conscientious of the fact that people with respiratory problems such as asthma, young children, the elderly and people with heightened sensitivity to chemicals may be more susceptible to irritation and illness from VOCs.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals that are found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released into the indoor air we breathe. They may or may not have an odour, and odour is not necessarily a good indicator of health risk.
Common examples of VOCs that may be present in our daily lives are benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and butadiene.
Traditional solvent-based sealers that are commonly used to seal decorative concrete resurfacing overlays in the concrete coatings industry contain xylene. Xylene is a VOC and it’s not good for you, your children or your pets to be exposed to it.
The risk of health effects from inhaling Xylene or any chemical depends on how much is in the air, how long and how often a person breathes it in. Breathing in low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems.
Several studies suggest that exposure to VOCs may make symptoms worse for people with asthma or who are particularly sensitive to chemicals.
It is important to remember that VOCs refer to a group of chemicals. Each chemical has its own toxicity and potential for causing different health effects.
Common symptoms of exposure to high levels of VOCs include:
- Acute/short term exposures (hours to days) – Eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea/vomiting and dizziness, and worsening of asthma symptoms.
- Chronic exposures (years to a lifetime) – Cancer, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system damage.
Therefore, to protect your health and ours, it is best to limit our exposure to products and materials that contain VOCs.
As such, Barefoot Concrete prefers using low VOC water-based sealers. These water-based sealers typically outperform traditional solvent-based sealers.
Our sealers provide safe, cost-effective solutions, without compromising on quality, performance and durability.
Why we recommend using an eco-friendly water-based sealer
Unlike harmful solvent-based sealers, eco-friendly sealers are water-based. This means they have little to no VOC content, nor do they release as many chemicals into the air.
This makes water-based safer to handle and also reduces the number of harmful gases released into the environment.
Plus, no strong fumes mean you don’t have to worry about headaches, nausea or any of the other symptoms that accompany exposure to VOCs and other harmful chemicals.
However, this does not mean sacrificing quality when going this route. There are many eco-friendly concrete sealers available that are equally as durable, long-lasting and protective as their solvent-based counterparts.
Water-based products are easier to work with and healthier than solvent-based products. Also, all our water-based sealers are concentrated, they go 4x further! The sealers are also designed to be applied using a wet on wet application method, so you can clean and seal immediately without waiting for the concrete to be dry enough before applying a sealer.
The application process is also easy, just dilute 1:3 with water, spray on liberally, backroll or broom the product, and repeat to give it at least two coats. The first coat is like a primer and is good for penetration and adhesion, the second coat is to build up the integrity and resistance of the coating. You can also do up to four coats for maximum effect.
A water-based sealer can transform and improve both residential and commercial properties ranging from all the concrete areas, entire buildings, driveways, car parks, paths, house surrounds, patios, alfresco’s, pool surrounds, sidewalks and industrial and factory concrete areas.
In addition to being non-toxic, our water-based sealers are non-flammable and non-caustic. Featuring a very low VOC count, it’s safe to use in both interior and exterior environments and can be safely used on both old and newly laid concrete. In fact, our B883 Stain Resist Sealer is an excellent same day sealer for green concrete. It works as a concrete curing compound by helping to retain moisture and slowly relating it to help the concrete curing process. As soon as the concrete is hard enough to walk on, even if the concrete is damp or wet, seal it!
The water-based sealers have a natural finish, they dry naturally clear, are built to be durable, and have a very low sheen. Our cementitious polymers and water-based sealers are proof that you can still get a high-quality, water-based concrete sealer without risking your health and harming the environment with dangerous VOC, solvent-based sealers.
As you do your homework in your quest for the best products for your project, factoring in your health, be sure to read the associated conditions. Also, please read the product label, the Product Data Sheet, the Technical Data Sheet and the Material Safety Data Sheet to understand the ingredients, use, system and process of application so you know what you’re putting in and around you.
Shop our range of eco-friendly concrete sealer products
Whether you’re looking for a cementitious polymer, a concrete sealer, a cleaner or a concrete coating solution, you’ve come to the right place – visit our shop to find out more.
Barefoot Concrete offers a comprehensive range of water-based sealers and products designed to deliver maximum impact with minimal risk whether you are a DIY customer or a professional tradesperson.
We believe in delivering “simply good value.” This golden rule underpins our fundamental values of providing the best quality products, at the best price, and with the best friendly service, while also being environmentally conscientious and responsible with regards to the future sustainability of our planet.
We are committed to helping you to understand the water-based sealer options that are available on the market so that you can make a more informed decision for your next concrete sealing or decorative concrete coating project.
We do not tamper with chemical formulas, we publish our solids content and all relevant information about our products. We are always seeking to use only high-quality ingredients to distribute to our customers and we stand behind their effectiveness.
We are confident that our eco-friendly products are good enough for your home, strong enough for a commercial application, and are suitable for a range of uses. For example, our Y863 Primer can also be used as a smoke encapsulant, it can be sprayed onto burnt buildings to lock in the smell and toxic fumes – firefighters and fire stations are using and can use this versatile product!
You are welcome to contact us today to learn more about our entire range and what sets us apart from other trade supply stores or go directly to this page to visit the shop.