Sealing concrete can help keep water out of your home, make the concrete easier to clean, and prevent discoloration. However, sealing a concrete surface takes it out of commission until the sealant is fully cured. It can be difficult to tell when it is safe to resume normal traffic on a sealed concrete floor and doing so too early can be a costly mistake.
Generally, you should wait 24 hours to walk on newly sealed concrete. This can be shorter depending on the type of sealer used. The different sealers available are acrylic, epoxy, silicate, siliconate, siloxane/silane, paint, and urethane. Siliconate and Silane/Siloxan sealers can be walked on within 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Does the Sealer You Use Change Wait Times?
While 24 hours is a safe bet for walking for most concrete sealers, the type of sealant you use does impact the waiting time. Your chosen sealant will have two numbers somewhere in the directions. These are the drying time, and the curing time. The drying time is how long the sealant will take to no longer be wet to the touch.
The curing time is when the sealant has reached maximum strength and will not be damaged by weight and other wear and tear. The curing time is usually longer, so you should always wait until the curing time has passed before walking on the sealed concrete.
Concrete Sealer Types and their Dry Times:
Now that we’ve covered general advice, lets talk about the most common sealants on the market. These are:
Each one has different drying times and curing times as well as other useful characteristics.
An acrylic sealer comes in water based and solvent based formulas. It also comes in a variety of finishes. Acrylic sits on top of the concrete in a thin film, making it very waterproof. However, it also tends to wear faster than other sealants.
How Long Does an Acrylic Concrete Sealer Take to Dry?
Generally, acrylic sealants take between 4-12 hours to dry. They can then be walked on. They take 24 to 48 hours to fully cure and should not have heavy furniture or cars on them before then.
Epoxy sealants form a thicker film than acrylic and are more heavy duty and durable. However, they tend to have strong odors, dangerous chemicals, and/or more difficult application processes. A two-component system is very common, where one liquid needs to be mixed with another in the correct ratio. Epoxy, like acrylic, sits on top of the concrete as a protective layer.
How Long Does an Epoxy Concrete Coating Take to Dry?
Epoxy dries sometime in a window of 10-12 hours. Then it can be walked on. To let the sealant fully cure, wait 48-72 hours before replacing furniture or other heavy objects.
Urethane sealants behave similarly to Epoxy with one exception. Epoxy sealants are prone to yellowing when exposed to UV, while Urethane is not. For this reason, Urethane is often favored for high traffic, outdoor areas.
How Long Does a Urethane Concrete Coating Take to Dry?
Urethane varies more widely than other types of sealants in drying time. The most common time frame is 10-12 hours to dry, and 48 hours to cure. However, some Urethane sealants can take double this to cure, so always looks at the product you are using.
Densifying Penetrative Sealants
These sealants are based on Silica chemistries. They absorb into the stone and bond with it to make the stone denser. Dense materials are less prone to staining and water damage because they will not absorb anything spilled on them. The most common type of Densifying Sealant is Silicate Sealant.
How Long Does a Silicate Concrete Sealer Take to Dry?
Silicate Sealers take a pretty short time to dry compared to film forming sealants. There are two types of Silicate Sealant – waterproof and regular. In both cases, the Sealant is sprayed on and dries in an hour. However, the concrete will continue to get denser for up to 90 days.
Water Repellant Penetrative Sealants
These sealants are all waterproof and focus on reducing the porosity of the concrete. This is different than increasing density, as it does not make the concrete more difficult to chip or damage. Siliconate and Siloxane Silane are examples of Water Repellant Penetrative Sealants.
How Long Does a Siliconate Concrete Sealer Take to Dry?
Siliconate Sealer can feel dry and be safe to walk on 30 minutes after application. However, the surface should continue to be kept dry for 24 hours after application, as the sealer is still chemically reacting below the surface.
How Long Does a Silane/Siloxane Concrete Sealer Take to Dry?
Silane Siloxane Concrete Sealer is dry to the touch and safe to walk on 30 minutes after application. However, the sealant will continue to react with the concrete for 72 hours after application and should be kept dry during this time for the best effect.
How Long Does Paint Take to Dry on Concrete?
Unlike sealants, most paints have a very straightforward drying time. You are not waiting for a chemical reaction, rather you are waiting for enough of the liquid to evaporate that the paint is no longer delicate to the touch. Oil paints are typically dry 6-8 hours after application. Acrylic based paints can be ready even faster – 1 to 2 hours after application.
Popular Sealants for Concrete and Their Characteristics:
Here, I’ve listed some popular concrete sealants with their finish, drying time, and curing time. Not only will this give you a better idea of how various types of sealant behave, but it can also give you suggestions if you are overwhelmed by all the choices on the market.
|Safe to Walk on
|Liquid Rubber Waterproof Sealant
|Semi-Gloss Finish (black or white)
|Seal Doc Concrete Sealer
|Satin Finish (clear)
|Rainguard Clear Seal Hi-Gloss
|Acrylic – Urethane Combo
|High Gloss Finish
|Pro Marine Tabletop Epoxy
|High Gloss Finish
|Black Diamond Stoneworks NEX-GEN Natural Stone Penetrating Sealer
|Rust-Oleum 250041H Ultimate Spar Urethane
|High Gloss Finish
|Foundation Armor S200 Sodium Silicate Concrete Sealer
|Eco Advance Concrete/Masonry Siloxane Water Repellent
|RAIN GUARD PRO – Micro-Seal
Will the Finish Affect the Dry Time?
The finish of the sealant does not usually effect cure time or dry time. However, higher gloss finishes show imperfections more. Therefore, waiting for the surface to be fully dry is even more important with a high gloss finish than a matte or satin finish.
How Long Should You Wait Before Sealing New Concrete?
A common mistake is attempting to seal a surface before it is ready. In the case of concrete, it needs to be fully cured before you attempt to seal it. As with sealants, concrete has a drying time (when you can walk on it) and a curing time, which is different and usually much longer. Concrete will dry in 24 to 48 hours, but it will not be cured for 28 days. Therefore, you should always wait a month before sealing new concrete.
What Should Be Done Before You Seal Your Concrete?
Before sealing concrete, you should always clean it thoroughly. Any dust or other debris will get caught in the sealant. In the case of penetrative sealants, this may cause holes in the protective layer that are invisible to the naked eye. For film forming sealants, this debris will be caught in the clear layer for the next several years. Never be afraid to be picky when prepping a surface for sealing.
Another step for sealing concrete may be a process called micro etching. This prepares the surface for paint or a film forming sealant. Etching is not necessary for penetrative sealants. The etching works by creating microscopic imperfections in the concrete for the sealant or paint to adhere to. This will help prevent peeling down the road.
When sealing concrete, it is important to read the manufacturer directions. The time it takes until you can walk on a surface can vary wildly – from 30 minutes to 72 hours.
Additionally, keep in mind that just because it is safe to walk on doesn’t mean the sealant is fully effective yet. Most sealants have a second longer time known as a curing time. Until this has elapsed, it is best to keep vehicles, furniture, and water far from your newly sealed concrete.
Read My Related Concrete Articles:
- How Long to Wait After Etching Concrete Before Painting?
- What Is Etching Concrete? (The Ultimate Guide)
- How Thick Should a Concrete Patio Be? (All You Need to Know)
- 9 Easy Ways to Remove Rust Stains from Concrete
- 10 Best Concrete Patio Coating Options in 2022
- Do You Need a Permit to Pour Concrete in Your Backyard?
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.