Natural stone and tile are durable, hard-wearing products, but if they're not treated with a suitable sealer they can be easily stained. That is why you should always protect stone or tiles with a sealant, which helps to protect their appearance and prolong the life of the product.
But how do you go about choosing the right sealer? A wide range of sealing solutions are available to suit a range of materials and choosing the wrong one can cause irreparable damage. So in this article, we are going to look at the different types of sealing solutions Australian tradesmen and handymen can use to protect their stone, tile and concrete.
The different types of sealers
Generally speaking, sealers fall into two categories: topical and penetrating. Both types are available as water or solvent-based products and are suitable for protecting a range of stone and tile surfaces including cement, grout, concrete, slate, travertine, sandstone, limestone granite and more.
Topical sealers sit on top of the surface, helping to protect it from dirt and water damage. This type of sealer is sometimes known as a sacrificial coating because eventually it will wear off and require re-sealing. Topical sealers also change the appearance of the finished product with both low-sheen and high-gloss finishes available.
As their name suggests, penetrating sealers penetrate the surface rather than forming a protective coating. This makes penetrating sealers more durable than topical sealers and they do not change the colour of the final product. Although colour enhancing penetrating sealers are also available.
Another advantage of penetrating sealers is that they do not change the coefficient of friction (CoF) of the surface. This makes them suitable for protecting public footpaths, play areas and driveways which need to be kept safe in all weather conditions.
Penetrating sealers are available in both standard and high-performance variants. Standard sealers are suitable for most interior applications and protect against coffee and wine spills, along with dirt and soil ingress. While high-performance products such as Rodaux Ultra Paving Sealer provides enhanced protection against oil-based products and are generally used to protect public areas and industrial buildings.
When to use solvent sealer vs water-based sealer
Because solvent-based sealers have a smaller molecular structure than water-based sealers, they are the preferred choice for sealing dense surfaces such as polished granite, porcelain and marble, while water-based sealers are better suited to porous materials such as tile grout.
This isn’t a hard or fast rule, however. Recent improvements in technology mean that water-based sealers can now provide the same level of protection as solvent-based sealers. There are some differences in how the finished product will look, however, especially on more porous materials such as concrete.
Because solvent-based sealers penetrate deeper into the concrete they result in a glossier finish than could be achieved using a water-based product, while water-based sealants will provide the same level of protection but with a more matte finish. So ultimately the choice comes down to personal preference.
When should you re-seal?
No sealing product lasts forever, so it will be necessary to re-seal any surface regardless of what product has been used or where it has been installed. The frequency of application will depend on the amount of foot traffic the area receives, how exposed it is to the elements and what product was used for protection.
For more information about choosing the right stone and tile sealer products, sign-up to the Rodaux Surface Care newsletter.