We understand how difficult it is to find the right sealer for your concrete paver patios or other concrete applications. There are so many options that you’ll probably go crazy if you don’t have anybody to guide you.
Sealing your pavers can become unnecessarily difficult when you have to determine not only whether you want a wet look or not, but also whether to use water-based or solvent-based sealers.
This choice will affect how long the sealant layer lasts, how wet your sealers seem, how powerful the chemical scent is in the first few days, and, ultimately, the environment.
Fortunately, we’re here for you; we have been where you are and we’re there every week as we help our clients make the best decision. Let us help you do the same!
Water-Based vs. Solvent-Based Sealers: What’s the Difference?
The first step in making an informed decision is to understand what each sealer product can provide, as well as one’s expectations, and ensure that both are well matched for each other.
They are similar in that they both try to create a chemical coating on top of your concrete pavers that will prevent them from absorbing liquids, acids, and stains in general.
Both contribute to the aesthetics by offering some form of color enhancement while also protecting against UV rays, which can cause discoloration.
The distinction lies in how they created this film, which is formed of acrylic polymers.
How do water-based sealants work?
Water-based sealers distribute polymer particles in water, generating an emulsion. This means that the polymer particles do not adhere to the water particles.
After applying the sealer to the pavers, the water will naturally evaporate and the polymer particles will begin to migrate closer together, eventually fusing and producing a transparent layer.
How do solvent-based sealers function?
Polymer particles do not disperse in solvent-based sealers; instead, they create a transparent solution.
When the solvent evaporates after application, the previously existing polymer chains are pulled closer together, creating a transparent covering.
Differences Between Water-Based vs Solvent-Based Sealers?
Previously, because the polymers in solvent-based sealers were already close together in the solution, they were usually capable of forming stronger layers, leaving water-based sealers as an undesirable alternative.
The chemicals required to dissolve polymers are very powerful and emit a high level of VOCs, and they have been subjected to stringent environmental regulations.
This resulted in two outcomes: increased investment in high-performance water-based sealers (low VOC), and solvent-based sealers that were compelled to be less powerful (still high VOC).
All of this implies that the variations in performance between water-based and solvent-based sealers are no longer discernible. However, certain distinctions persist. Let’s get started.
- Very low (Sometimes nothing)
- HighColor Transformation (Wet Look)
- Will not considerably darken the surfaceWill greatly darken the surface
- Emulsification resistance
- Once cured, it will not re-emulsify in water or oil. However, it will re-emulsify in oils and other solvents.
- Thickness of the Film
- The coating is thin but resilient.
- Thick coating
Nota Bene: Appearance
This is the primary distinction – solvent-based sealers are capable of producing a glossier surface and achieving the very wet effect that many homeowners desire, while water-based sealers will provide a reduced gloss or even a natural surface if desired.
2nd Special Note: Durability
Water-based sealers are now more resistant to chemicals and physical damage, but keep in mind that this is a feature that is always evolving and will differ drastically from one manufacturer to the next.
Getting guidance from experienced contractors who work with sealers on a daily basis is a good way to determine which brand has been doing the best.
3rd Special Note: Handling
This is the primary use for water-based sealers. They are non-flammable, have no unpleasant odors, and allow for faster and simpler installation and cleanup.