Whether you're having a beautiful new concrete driveway poured or you already have one, it's important that you protect and maintain your investment. A good sealer will keep your driveway looking great for many years, or rejuvenate an existing surface. Sealing a concrete driveway can be compared to waxing your car, wearing sunscreen or spraying Scotchgard™ on your favorite shirt. A sealer will improve your driveway's appearance, keep UV rays from causing it to fade and protect it from stains.
Whether your driveway is gray concrete, colored concrete or has a stamped pattern, sealing after the concrete has cured and every few years after is recommended as part of the maintenance routine. A sealed concrete driveway will have a rich color and glossy sheen if desired. Sealers are available in many different gloss levels, ranging from no-gloss to high-gloss. A tinted sealer can even be used that will further enhance the color of your driveway. For colored concrete driveways, a sealer will help prevent efflorescence, which is a white powdery residue that can form on the surface. Slip resistant sealers are also available.
Stain protection is another benefit of sealing a concrete driveway. Your driveway will be subjected to many things in the great outdoors that can leave unsightly stains on the surface – leaves, dirt, fertilizer, pet urine, oil, tire tracks and much more. The right sealer will keep all of the above from penetrating the surface of the concrete and leaving an unsightly stain.
A third reason why you should seal your driveway is that it will reduce the chance of freeze thaw damage. Freeze thaw damage can cause cracks or surface flaking and is caused by water penetrating the surface of the concrete and then expanding as it freezes. A sealer will keep water from sinking into the driveway. Water will bead on the surface if your sealer is doing its job. When this no longer happens it is time to reseal your driveway. High traffic areas will likely need resealing on a frequent basis.
In short, a sealer will enhance and protect your new or existing driveway. When properly sealed and/or resealed the service life of concrete is greatly extended. Make sure that the contractor you hire seals your driveway with the appropriate product and at the appropriate time. Experts recommend using a penetrating sealer outdoors because it sinks down into the concrete and has a more natural, matte finish. It is very important that sealers used on exterior concrete allow both air and moisture to pass through. A driveway sealer should be applied after the freshly poured concrete has cured. Most contractors find success waiting 7 to 14 days, but the official time for curing is 28 days.
If you are having a patio poured at the same time, it should also be sealed. On the other hand, if you're resealing your existing driveway it can be more cost effective to seal your patio too. Learn more about sealing concrete patios.