Protecting Your Driveway Against Freeze Thaw and Salt Damage

Best Concrete Sealers for Driveways

The best way to protect your concrete driveway against freeze thaw and salt damage is to seal it using a penetrating concrete sealer or an acrylic sealer.

Penetrating concrete sealers penetrate into the concrete where they chemically react below the surface without changing the look or color of the concrete. They help to REDUCE damage and deterioration caused by the absorption of water, snow and ice, and salt. Acrylic sealers leave behind a protective surface film that takes the abuse for the concrete, STOPPING damage and deterioration caused by the absorption of water, snow and ice, and salt. While sealers do a fantastic job at reducing damage and deterioration, damage and deterioration can still occur because the surface of the concrete is still exposed.

Silicate Concrete Sealers Water Repellent Concrete Sealers Acrylic Concrete Sealers
Won’t change the look of the concrete Won’t change the look of the concrete Enhances with a wet look or gloss
Works entirely below the surface Works entirely below the surface Leaves a visible surface film
Apply only once Recoat every 5-7 years Recoat every 1-3 years
Increase strength of concrete Repels surface water Protects surface against staining
Reduces dusting and spalling Reduces staining and deterioration Stops dusting, staining, deterioration
Can only be used on cured concrete Can be used on cured and uncured concrete Can be used on cured and uncured concrete

The two main types of penetrating sealers are silicate densifiers and water repellent sealers. Silicate densifiers only need to be applied once, and they are designed to increase the strength and density of the concrete by forming a permanent calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) barrier within the pores. The reduce dusting and deterioration caused by surface abrasion, salt abrasion, and week concrete. They do NOT repel water and other liquids off the surface, and for that reason offer little to no protection against freeze-thaw damage because water will still be absorbed into the pores where it can freeze. Under the category of silicate densifiers there are lithium silicate concrete sealers and sodium silicate concrete sealers. Both spark the same chemical reaction and form the same CSH structure within the pores, lithium silicate concrete sealers are just commonly used on dense concrete because of their small molecule size, and sodium silicate concrete sealers are commonly used on porous concrete because of their large molecule size.

Best Sodium Silicate Concrete Sealers:

Best Lithium Silicate Concrete Sealers:

Water repellent sealers chemically react to form a water repellent barrier in the pores that causes water and other liquids to bead off the surface. They can’t stop damage and deterioration caused by surface abrasion or salt abrasion, but they reduce damage caused by freeze-thaw cycles because they prevent water from freezing within the pores. Under the category of water repellent sealers there are Silane-Siloxane hybrid sealers and Siliconate sealers. Siliconate water repellent sealers can leave behind a semi-permanent white residue when applied to dark concrete, brick, or pavers and should only be used on light or white concrete. Silane-Siloxane hybrid sealers can be applied to virtually all concrete, brick, and paver surfaces without issue.

Best Silane-Siloxane Water Repellent Sealers:

Best Siliconate Water Repellent Sealers:

If you want complete protection, you want a coating. The best type of concrete driveway coating is an acrylic sealer. Acrylic sealers are very easy to apply, and leave behind a durable, UV resistant surface coating. The two best acrylic sealers to use are acrylic lacquers and acrylic co-polymers. Both types of acrylic sealers are available in water and solvent based solutions. One type isn’t necessarily better than the other, but there are several differences when it comes to application, life, and maintenance.

Water Based Acrylic Sealers Solvent Based Acrylic  Sealers
Won’t darken the concrete Will darken the concrete
Repaired by removal Repaired with Xylene
Requires screen sanding before recoat No prep required for recoat
Can’t add a non slip additive Can add a non slip additive

Best Solvent Based Acrylic Concrete Sealers:

Best Water Based Acrylic Concrete Sealers:


Author: admin