Pool Design article by Paolo Benedetti, SWD Master
There are three basic types of sealers - surface, color enhancing and penetrating. The active ingredients of each type of sealer are delivered in a carrier solution. These carriers can be water or solvent based. Due to the air quality regulation in some parts of the country, solvent based sealers may be difficult to come by. Many professionals prefer solvent based sealers due to their deeper penetration and quick drying times. Indoors solvent based sealers need to be used with caution.
As the name implies, surface sealers seal the stone be creating a layer or film on the surface. These sealers are usually result in a glossy or glassy look. As surface sealers wear, they may peel or degrade from UV exposure and foot traffic. Because they are a film, they can also trap moisture underneath, causing cloudy areas or shadowing. They are rarely used around swimming pools, as these sealers get slippery when wet. These offer the best resistance to vandalism and graffiti.
Color Enhancing Sealers
This class of sealer is also known as a semi-penetrating sealer or semi-surface sealer. They are a hybrid between surface sealers and penetrating sealers. They leave a slight film on the surface, which deepens and enhances the color and veining of natural stone or concrete. These sealers can cause a surface to become slippery when wet, the degree to which varies by manufacturer.
These sealers actually penetrate the surface of the material to provide resistance to stains and water from entering. Think of them as gortex for your surface. Deeper levels of penetration and protection are provided to more porous surfaces. Denser materials are naturally resistant to staining (think polished granite countertops).
The active ingredients in the most popular sealers are fluorocarbon or silicone based. Most manufacturer’s websites can guide you toward the correct sealer for your project, based upon the material, stain resistance and water repellency desired.
All sealers will break down over time from UV and environmental exposure. Check with your stone vendor as to what sealers they recommend. And as always, do a mock up for client approval before you seal the entire project!
When doing mock-up samples, I write the product names on the various samples and then have the client initial the one that they approve. There is no need to retain the sample, just take a quality picture of it for your files.
Paolo Benedetti, SWD Master
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
PO Box 130
Morgan Hill, CA 95023
T (408) 776-8220