Best Concrete Driveway Sealers

What is the best concrete driveway sealer? Well, there is more than one answer to that question and the answer will depend on a few factors, including:

  • What you want your driveway to look like once sealed
  • Where in the country your driveway is located
  • Your reason for sealing
  • The current condition of your concrete driveway
  • Whether or not the driveway is currently sealed

Has your driveway ever been sealed, or is it currently sealed?

First, let’s touch on whether or not your driveway is currently sealed because that will determine which sealer you can use. If your driveway has never been sealed, you have the freedom to use any sealer you choose – a concrete densifier and surface hardener, a water repellent sealer, or an acrylic sealer. If your driveway has been sealed, or is currently sealed, that will determine which sealer you can use moving forward. If the sealer you want isn’t compatible with the sealer you currently have down, you will have to make sure the old sealer is completely removed – from the surface and in the pores – before applying the new sealer. These are the sealers you can used based on what is currently on your driveway:

  • Silicate Densifier – If your concrete has been sealed with a densifier you can put down a water repellent sealer or an acrylic sealer. If an acrylic sealer is used, it is important to apply it to a test area first to make sure there is enough available pore space for the acrylic to bond.
  • Water Repellent Sealer – This depends on the type of water repellent sealer, and the manufacturer, so it is best to contact them first. Typically, if you have a Silane, Siloxane, or Silane-Siloxane down you can apply a solvent based acrylic sealer to the surface. This can also be the case with Siliconates, but not always. If a water repellent sealer was used you can’t apply a water based product to the surface because the water repellent will prevent it from bonding.
  • Water Based Acrylic Sealer – If a water based acrylic sealer was used to seal a concrete driveway then it needs to be screen sanded and re-coated with a water based acrylic sealer. You can’t apply a penetrating sealer over an acrylic sealer because it won’t be able to penetrate through the acrylic coating, and you can’t apply a solvent based acrylic sealer over a water based because the solvents will “attack” the water based product and result in coating failure.
  • Solvent Based Acrylic Sealer – If a solvent based acrylic sealer was used to seal a concrete driveway then it needs to be re-coated with a solvent based acrylic sealer. Solvent based acrylic sealers don’t typically require a lot of prep work to re-coat other than making sure the surface is clean and dry. You can’t apply a penetrating sealer over an acrylic sealer because it won’t be able to penetrate through the acrylic coating, and you can’t apply a water based acrylic sealer over a solvent based because the solvents will “attack” the water based product and result in coating failure.

What do you want your driveway to look like once sealed?

This is very important because some driveway sealers will change the look of the driveway, and other driveway sealers will leave your driveway looking natural. These are the sealers you can use based on what you want your driveway to look like once sealed:

  • Natural, unsealed – If you want your driveway to look natural and unsealed, or exactly as it looks now without a sealer on it, then you want a sodium or lithium silicate densifier, or a Silane-Siloxane or Siliconate water repellent sealer. These types of sealers work entirely below the surface and won’t change the look or color of the driveway. They also won’t leave behind a visible surface film or coating.
  • Wet look, high gloss, or color – If you want a wet look, high gloss, or color, then you want an acrylic sealer. Acrylic sealers will change the look of the concrete driveway and leave behind a visible surface film. Solvent based acrylic sealers are known for providing the best wet look and color finishes.

Why do you want to seal your driveway?

Each type of driveway sealer offers its own set of benefits, and no two driveway sealers are alike. While most sealers can be chosen based off of what you want your driveway to look like once sealed, it is important to understand how sealers work.

  • Sodium and Lithium Silicate Sealers: Sodium and lithium silicate densifiers penetrate into the surface of the concrete where they chemically react to form a crystalline barrier within the pores. The primary purpose of a silicate is to increase the surface strength and density of the concrete. If your concrete is showing signs of weakness or deterioration, or if you feel your concrete needs a boost in strength, a sodium or lithium silicate sealer is a great place to start. Once the silicate has been down on the concrete for at least 7 days, you should consider also applying a water repellent sealer to reduce deterioration caused by water absorption and snow and ice. Water repellent sealers will also help to reduce the formation of mold, mildew, and efflorescence.
  • Water Repellent Sealers: Water repellent sealers penetrate into the surface of the concrete where they chemically react to form a hydrophobic barrier within the pores that cause water and other liquids to bead off the surface. The most common types of water repellent sealers are Silane Siloxane sealers and Siliconate sealers. Water repellent sealers help to reduce staining, deterioration caused by water absorption, and the formation of mold, mildew, and efflorescence. They do not change the look or color of the concrete, and they don’t leave behind a visible surface film or coating.
  • Acrylic Sealers: Acrylic sealers enhance the concrete driveway with a wet look, low gloss, high gloss, or colored finish. They also leave behind a protective surface film that keeps the concrete safe from deterioration caused by water absorption and surface abrasion.

What is the current condition of your driveway?

If you have a new concrete driveway, or if your driveway is showing normal signs of wear, you can choose a sealer based on what you want the concrete driveway to look like once sealed, or on what you want the sealer to do for you. If you have weak or deteriorating concrete, or concrete that is showing years of abuse and deterioration from water, snow and ice, and salt, then you need very specific products. If your concrete has suffered abuse from snow and ice, and surface abrasion, then you should consider using a concrete densifier to increase the strength and density of the concrete. Consider using a concentrated densifier and talk to the manufacturer about choosing the best dilution ratio for your current situation. If the concrete has deteriorated beyond what a sealer or crack repair kit can fix, you may need to consider resurfacing your concrete.

Where in the country is your driveway located?

If you can’t choose a sealer based on the above questions, then think about where you are located what your driveway will be exposed to. Snow and ice storms? Heavy rain? Lots of foot or vehicle traffic?

Think about this:

  • Silicates repair
  • Water repellents reduce
  • Acrylics stop

What exactly does that mean? Silicates increase the strength and density of the concrete. They turn weak concrete into strong concrete, and strong concrete into stronger concrete. Water repellents reduce water absorption and deterioration caused by it. Water repellents still leave concrete exposed which is why they help to reduce damage, but not eliminate it. Acrylics stop damage because they leave a protective film over the surface that takes the abuse so concrete doesn’t have to.

Best Concrete Sealers based on Reviews:

Best Sodium Silicate Concrete Driveway Sealer Reviews

Best Lithium Silicate Concrete Driveway Sealer Reviews

Best Water Repellent Concrete Driveway Sealer Reviews

Best Acrylic Driveway Sealers