Bottom: Without Sealer
Using a high quality sealer is crucial to maintaining an attractive finish, which is especially true with any decorative concrete. A low quality product can all but ruin the surface by causing cloudiness and dicolorations. And believe me, stripping a sealcoat can be an exhausting and painful task.
The best sealer to use is a solvent based acrylic sealer. It prevents water penetration but allows water vapor to pass which is necessary for exterior concrete.
Due to increasing EPA restrictions, you may not be able to use solvent based products in your region. The good news is this has forced companies to develop better water based products to maintain quality.
You know that anything outside wears down over time. Once the sealcoat is gone, the surface of concrete itself starts wearing away. Sealer is a sacrificial coat and needs reapplied periodically as it gets worn away by the elements.
Depending on how much traffic a patio sees, a fresh coat every few years is usually sufficient. If water penetrates and darkens the patio instantly, then it's time for a new coat of sealer. For colored concrete, if you notice the patio looks much better wet, it's time.
*It's important not to go overboard. Too much sealer can "melt" or get sticky in the hot sun. Remember, a couple thin coats is better than one thick coat.*
If slipperiness is a concern, there are additives for non-slip coatings or you can broadcast dry silica sand on the wet sealer.
Besides protection, concrete patio sealer can also refresh and restore decorative finishes. The sun, weather, and foot traffic will dull a nice looking finish but a fresh coat of sealer can make it look like new again.
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