The drying time of a concrete sealer can vary depending on the type of product and the conditions.
Generally, most sealers will dry within one to four hours, but the exact amount of time may be impacted by factors such as air temperature, humidity levels, wind speed, sunlight exposure, and the thickness of the applied layer.
Additional factors like the type of concrete sealer applied and the amount of surface preparation before the application can also affect the drying time.
Time Required for Concrete Sealer to Dry Based on Sealer Type
As mentioned earlier, the time it will take for a concrete sealer to dry depends on the type of product that was used.
Generally, water-based concrete sealers have shorter drying times than solvent-based sealers and generally dry within two to four hours, whereas solvent-based sealers can take up to 24 hours or more before they are completely cured.
Listed below are some of the most common types of sealers and their approximate drying times:
Acrylic Concrete Sealer
Acrylic sealers are mostly used mainly on interior concrete surfaces, such as floors and walls.
Although they’re pretty and provide a good amount of protection, they usually take a moderate amount of time to cure and harden, with a range between 4-12 hours before it’s safe to walk on.
However, for the sealer to reach its optimum level of protection, it is recommended that you wait a further 36-48 hours before driving or wetting the coated surface.
During this period, the acrylic sealer will continue to dry and harden until reaching its full strength.
When applying multiple coats or top coats of acrylic sealer, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying another one.
This could take several hours or even an entire day depending on the temperature, humidity levels, and coat thickness. Most of the time, two coats are enough for optimal protection.
Epoxy Concrete Sealer / Coating
Epoxy sealers, whether water-based or solvent-based, typically dry a lot faster than acrylic sealers. Generally, it can take anywhere between 10-12 hours before it’s completely safe to walk on the surface.
Allot another 48 hours for the curing process. Waiting for the surface to be completely cured and hardened is essential to get the most out of your epoxy sealer.
With that being said, it’s crucial to ensure that the concrete remains dry and won’t be driven on while the epoxy coating cures. This 2-day waiting period allows for maximum protection and longevity of the epoxy coating.
Polyurethane Concrete Sealer
Due to their excellent durability, polyurethane sealers are usually the go-to choice for high-traffic areas on both interior and exterior surfaces.
Polyurethane sealers work best when applied in thin layers, as thicker layers can take a long time to dry and harden completely.
When it comes to the drying time of polyurethane sealers, the most common range is between 8-10 hours before it’s safe for light traffic, and 24 hours before allowing heavier traffic like cars or cartwheels.
When applying multiple coats, always count the last coat as the one that will determine the final curing time.
Silicate Concrete Sealer
Silicate concrete sealers are usually used to penetrate and densify concrete surfaces.
Considering that silicate sealers won’t change the overall look and appearance of the concrete, they are most commonly used on driveways, patios, and garage floors.
Compared to other sealer types on this list, silicate concrete sealer dries up as quickly as 30 minutes. However, it continues to work for up to 90 days, working beneath the surface to harden and strengthen the concrete.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that one should wait for 90 days before walking on the said surface.
Typically, it only takes a couple of hours before it’s safe to be walked on, while the sealer continues to harden and do its job for the succeeding 90 days.
Siliconate Concrete Sealer (Water Repellent)
Siliconate concrete sealers are known for their ability to protect surfaces from water damage while also making the surface easier to clean. It’s mostly used on exterior and decorative concrete surfaces, such as driveways and patios as they’re popular for their water and dirt-repellent properties.
Similar to silicate sealers, siliconate sealers may dry up in as fast as 30 minutes.
After being sealed, walking on the surface is practically safe and the sealer will continue to work for the next 24 hours. It’s important to note, however, that the sealer should remain dry for the next 36 hours. This is to ensure that the sealer can penetrate the concrete for it to be fully effective.
Additional Tips When Applying Concrete Sealers
Now that you know how long it takes for concrete sealers to dry and cure, here are a few additional tips that can help you achieve the best results when applying them:
- Cleaning the surface is a common practice and should always be done before applying any sealer. This helps minimize imperfections and results in a smoother finish.
- When applying multiple layers, make sure to wait for the recommended time frame between coats to maximize the protection you get from your sealer.
- Allow the necessary amount of curing time before walking or driving on the surface to prevent denting and other damages that your sealer may not be able to protect against. Refer to the instructions above and check the label’s instructions for further information.
Concrete Sealer Drying Time: Final Thoughts
While one type of sealer may only require half an hour for it to dry and cure, another may take 24 hours or more.
Therefore, for DIYers and home projects, it is important to familiarize yourself with the type of sealer you are using and its drying time, as these will highly affect the results.
Take note that the drying and curing time may be different, depending on the type of sealer and the number of coats used.
One of the most common problems when applying sealers is the overlapping of coats, which can lead to unevenness and other complications.
Taking note of curing and drying times should help you avoid these issues and be successful in your projects.