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  • Writer's pictureJustin Myers

What's the difference between sealing concrete and polishing concrete?

Sealing concrete and polishing concrete are two different processes with distinct purposes and outcomes. Here’s an explanation of each and their differences:

  1. Sealing Concrete:

  • Purpose: Sealing concrete involves applying a protective layer or coating to the surface of the concrete to enhance its durability and resistance to moisture, stains, chemicals, and other elements. It acts as a barrier to prevent water penetration and helps in maintaining the appearance of the concrete.

  • Materials Used: Concrete sealers can be water-based or solvent-based and are available in various formulations such as acrylic, epoxy, polyurethane, or silicate-based sealers.

  • Application: Sealer is typically applied after the concrete has cured and is clean and dry. It can be sprayed, rolled, or brushed onto the surface.

  • Benefits: Sealing concrete helps in extending its lifespan by protecting it from damage caused by water, oils, salts, and other contaminants. It also enhances the color and appearance of the concrete by adding a glossy or matte finish depending on the sealer used.

  1. Polishing Concrete:

  • Purpose: Polishing concrete involves mechanically grinding and smoothing the surface of the concrete to achieve a desired level of gloss or sheen. It transforms the dull, rough surface of concrete into a smooth, glossy finish.

  • Process: The concrete surface is ground using progressively finer diamond grinding tools until the desired level of smoothness and gloss is achieved. After grinding, a densifier and sealer are often applied to the concrete to strengthen the surface and enhance its appearance.

  • Appearance: Polished concrete can have a high-gloss finish resembling polished stone or a satin finish depending on the level of polishing and sealing applied.

  • Benefits: Polished concrete not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also improves the durability of the concrete surface. It is easier to clean and maintain compared to unpolished concrete.

Key Differences:

  • Purpose: Sealing is primarily done to protect the concrete, while polishing is more about enhancing its appearance and durability.

  • Outcome: Sealing leaves a protective layer on the concrete surface, whereas polishing transforms the surface into a smooth and glossy finish.

  • Materials Used: Sealers are typically liquid coatings, while polishing involves mechanical grinding using diamond tools.

  • Appearance: Sealing can add a glossy or matte finish, whereas polishing specifically aims to achieve a polished, glossy surface.

In summary, sealing is a protective measure applied to concrete surfaces to prevent damage, while polishing is a process used to enhance the appearance and durability of concrete by creating a smooth, glossy finish. These processes can be complementary, with sealing often being applied after polishing to protect and maintain the polished concrete surface.

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