Driveways are often victims of concrete cracks and deterioration. A less-than-smooth driveway will lead to accidents, and this is why concrete sealers have been invented. Such sealers come in different formulas but the main idea is to protect the concrete below the surface from thoroughly breaking down due to harsh weather and water filling up the cracks.
So, which driveway concrete sealer is the best for your needs? I’ve reviewed a couple of worthy products below for you to choose from – each with its features, pros, and cons.
If you are looking for a concrete sealer for a driveway that’s solvent-based, I think the Foundation Armor SX5000 is the best out there. Solvent-based products like these have better durability than water-based ones, so it’s a good pick for heavily-used driveways and it also adds a sheen to the finished texture.
Even though it is solvent-based, it has low VOC and is DOT-approved. This silane siloxane penetrating sealer is used for various kinds of driveway surfaces other than concrete, such as slate and flagstone. It will cover up to 175 square feet per gallon (porous surfaces) and from 200 to 225 square feet per gallon (smooth surfaces) in a single coat.
Despite being solvent-based, it doesn’t leave behind a slippery surface film and it will retain the natural color of your concrete. All you need is about two coats from back to back using a pump sprayer to apply this concrete sealer.
Moreover, it has a formula that will reduce the water absorption up to 95%, so it’s ideal for homes and neighborhoods where it rains a lot. Aside from that, this concrete sealer is not just breathable – it is also UV-resistant for sunny weather.
Things I Like About This Product: Despite being solvent-based, it doesn’t leave a shiny look and it will not change your current concrete’s appearance. It has a lifespan of 7 to 10 years.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The concrete sealer has a strong odor as it is solvent-based.
For those who prefer a water-based concrete driveway sealer, I chose the Foundation Armor SX5000WB as my recommended pick for you. It will cover up to 175 square feet per gallon in a single coat and it leaves a flat or matte finish. This makes it ideal for folks who don’t want their driveway to have a shiny look to it.
Aside from concrete driveways, it will also work on slate and flagstone. Since it is water-based, it is low on VOC and is DOT-approved for roadway use. Like most driveway sealers, it is easy to apply coats from back to back using a pump sprayer. Moreover, if the sealant is stored properly, it will last up to two years.
This driveway sealer has up to 95% water absorption so it’s ideal for withstanding rain showers. Since it works below the surface in the pores, it won’t leave any slippery film. Moreover, this below-surface formulation makes it less likely to deteriorate due to UV damage. It has an expected life of 7 to 10 years.
Things I Like About This Product: It has low VOCs, so it doesn’t smell that bad because it is water-based. Since it has a matte finish, it won’t leave a shiny or slippery look on the surface.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: If your driveway is positioned in a more shady area, there’s a likelihood of darkening issues when the mixture dries, although this is a case-to-case basis.
If it often rains in your neighborhood, the RadonSeal DryWay Water-Repellent Concrete Sealer is a great concrete sealer to consider. This penetrating silane/siloxane driveway sealer has a flat finish that won’t be slippery or glossy once dried. It also doesn’t form any film and has a clear finish.
Like many driveway sealers, it lasts up to seven years and has good water repellency. If your common problem in your driveway is the damage caused by deicing chemicals and salt, this concrete driveway sealer will prevent such from happening.
This 5-gallon formula is UV-resistant, has a freeze guard formula, and has very low VOC so it won’t smell bad. It will cover up to 200 square feet per gallon on a single coating. Like many driveway sealers, it is usually applied with a pump spray. The typical drying time for this sealer is around two to four hours.
Aside from that, it has a breathable finish such that moisture in the substrate isn’t trapped. This also results in less likelihood of organic (moss and lichen) growth on the surface.
Things I Like About This Product: Since it is water-based, it won’t give off a lot of VOC odor. The drying time is also quick and it has a good amount of coverage per gallon.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It has a semi-gloss appearance so it will not appeal to folks who prefer a matte finish.
For those who want a budget pick but with a big coverage per gallon, the Peerless Protection Driveway And Walkway Concrete Sealer is for you, which will cover up to 600 square feet (depending on the surface). It doesn’t have a glossy appearance or any color change so it’s ideal for most driveways, walkways, and sidewalks.
It not only seals cracks and prevents water using concentrated silane and siloxane, but it also keeps away salts from the surface. As it is a water-based formula, it won’t give off bad odors from VOCs, making the application and curing process less of a hassle. The lifespan of this driveway sealer is up to 10 years, depending on the amount of water and the coverage area.
The drying time for this sealer will be 4 hours (foot traffic) and 12 to 24 hours (driving). Along with its ability to seal against water, it will also withstand pet urine, so it’s a good driveway sealer if you have dogs (or even cats) in the house. Like most driveway sealers out there, the formula is easy to apply using a simple yard or garden sprayer.
Things I Like About This Product: The driveway sealer has a good coverage area, has a fair drying time, and is low on VOC due to being water-based.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: You might have slight issues with stamped concrete since it will have varied shine and finish in other parts of the surface.
For those who want a high gloss finish for their driveway, the Foundation Armor AR500 is an acrylic solvent-based sealer. With 5 gallons, this will be a great surface enhancer for driveways that look dull. Aside from poured concrete, it is also applicable for stamped concrete, aggregate, concrete pavers, and the like.
At the same time, it provides resistance against peeling, flaking, freeze-thaw, salt damage, spalling, pitting, and of course, cracking. It also presents a UV-resistant finish that’s non-yellowing, so it will retain a similar color to your present driveway. Since it is breathable, it won’t trap moisture in the substrate of your driveway.
Even if your driveway has been already sealed with a solvent-based acrylic before, you can safely apply this mixture to it. Moreover, it is suitable for both hot and cold temperatures and will also handle hot tire pick-up.
This high-gloss finish will last from 2 to 5 years with two coats, depending on the application, the surface of the driveway, and the coverage area. This concrete sealer can be applied using either a garden sprayer or a roller.
Things I Like About This Product: This high-gloss formula will bring life back to dull or faded concrete, as it also enriches their color. It has a self-priming formula that makes application easy.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: As it is a high-gloss product, you’ll need to recoat the surface much more often than when using a matte finish driveway sealer.
If you’re looking for a concrete driveway sealer that’s meant for radon mitigation, the RadonSeal Standard Deep Penetrating Concrete Sealer is for you. This penetrating sealer contains 5 gallons and is made with a non-toxic formulation that isn’t flammable nor does it contain VOCs.
It will seal off the water, seepage, soil gas, water vapor, and it also protects against dusting, freeze-thaw, road salts, cracking, and efflorescence. The surface doesn’t give off a slippery surface so it will less likely create accidents in the long run. Moreover, since it is breathable, there’s less likelihood of organic growth due to having no moisture in the substrate.
This waterproofing driveway sealer will work for any outdoor poured concrete that’s less than two years old. The coverage area on outdoor poured concrete will be around 175 to 200 square feet per gallon. It is also paintable in case you’re up for a DIY job on your driveway.
The drying time for this driveway sealer is 1 to 4 hours, which is quicker than with most formulas out there. If you ever want to put paint, adhesives, coatings, and the like, it only takes 10 days or more before you can do so.
Things I Like About This Product: This concrete sealer allows you to paint over it, which is ideal for DIY projects. It also doesn’t contain harmful VOCs and will restrict radon and other soil gases.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Some slight dusting might occur once it dries up.
The Ghostfield Lithi-Tek 9500 Ultra Concentrate is the driveway sealer for you if efflorescence (salt buildup) is your common problem. It creates a hydrophobic seal and it dries clear, so you’ll see the driveway surface without much change in appearance.
This 1-gallon concentrate makes 5 gallons and will treat up to 1,000 square feet per coat. Once dry, it will make your driveway surface resistant to moisture, vapor, and abrasion. It also protects against ASR, moisture intrusion, hydrostatic pressure, and the transmission of water vapor. As with most driveway sealers, the application is done through either roller or garden sprayer.
Aside from that, it has good penetration depth into any concrete substrate while it contains no VOCs and therefore, no foul odor (it is water-based). The formula is also resistant to UV rays and will inhibit the growth of lichen, mold, and mildew. Likewise, it is breathable so it allows the escape of the moisture beneath.
Things I Like About This Product: The drying time is fast and it also has no VOCs, so it’s safe for your lungs. It also gives a flat finish and doesn’t change the appearance of the concrete, so it will appeal to those who don’t want a glossy or slippery driveway.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It is not recommended for use in colored concrete driveways. The sealer must be applied very quickly since it dries fast. The delay will sometimes cause less penetration in some areas.
The Foundation Armor Armor WL550 is a silicone water repellent that works on both concrete and masonry, as well as stone and pavers. It is a solvent-based formula but it is also VOC-compliant so it won’t send off harsh chemicals that are too harsh into the air.
This formula will last about 3 to 5 years upon application. It is also breathable so the substrate will not retain moisture. Likewise, the water repellent formula will work against freeze-thaw cycles, water absorption, spalling, pitting, cracking, salt damage, and other causes of deterioration in a concrete driveway.
When completely dried, it leaves no film or slippery surface so it’s safe to walk on (and to drive on). While it enhances the color of your driveway, it maintains a no-gloss finish. It will also inhibit the growth of moss and other weeds. As with most Foundation Armor sealers, it is UV-resistant as well and will reduce water damage up to 95%.
Things I Like About This Product: It will work on various kinds of driveways other than concrete, such as brick, stone, slate, and pavers, so it is a multi-use product. It is also low on VOC so it’s good for the environment.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The concrete sealer should only be applied using a pump sprayer rather than a roller due to being solvent-based.
If your common driveway problem is de-icing salt protection, the MasonryDefender Penetrating Concrete Sealer for Driveways is for you. This formula leaves a non-glossy coat on your concrete driveway, making it safe and non-slippery. It will also not change the color of your driveway due to its clear finish.
The lifespan of this driveway sealer is up to 5 years on most surfaces. Since it is made with water-based silane and siloxane, it is eco-friendly and won’t give off a bad smell. Moreover, this concrete sealer will protect against freeze-thaw damage, efflorescence, cracking, pitting, and salt damage.
The surface doesn’t form any filming so it’s safe to walk on and won’t mess up the original surface of your driveway. The drying time is 2 to 6 hours (foot traffic) and 24 hours (driving).
Application for this product only requires a regular pump garden sprayer (make sure it is at low pressure to avoid puddles). It will give about 9 to 150 square feet of coverage for 1 gallon of formula. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: This concrete sealer is water-based and is eco-friendly. It doesn’t create any gloss or slippery surface so it’s ideal for people who want a semi-matte finish.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: On less dense areas, you might see slight darkening, since it is water-based.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Concrete Driveway Sealers Featured Above
So, what should you consider when choosing the best concrete driveway sealer out there? I have a couple of pointers below to help you out:
Type of Sealer
A concrete sealer that’s a penetrating type, usually siloxane and silanes, is best for cold weather conditions since it works below the surface. It will also not be exposed to the sun so it won’t receive any UV damage.
Penetrating sealers also protect against damage from freeze-thaw, de-icing chemicals, stain formations, efflorescence, and the like. Since penetrating sealers work underneath the surface, they won’t easily deteriorate, unlike the film-forming sealers.
What’s more, since they are hidden below the surface, they usually won’t make any changes to your concrete driveway in terms of appearance. Most people prefer penetrating sealers if they often have long winter seasons or humid weather.
Siloxane concrete sealers are the best for most driveways because they have a low-VOC formula, can repel water, and don’t have a slippery surface when dried. Although siloxane is a little behind acrylic when it comes to drying time, siloxane is more preferred for water repellency.
Nowadays, siloxane is a popular choice due to having low VOCs for the driveway sealer formula yet being effective. The barrier that’s created by siloxane is good at absorbing water and other types of moisture. Since it often presents a clear and natural finish, you won’t worry much about the appearance of your concrete driveway.
Water-Based vs. Solvent-Based
Aside from their formulation, there’s also a difference between water-based and solvent-based concrete driveway sealers. Water-based sealants give off less sheen so they are ideal for achieving a matte finish. They also give off less odor due to being water-based. However, they are not that durable.
On the other hand, solvent-based sealers are more durable but they could smell quite bad due to the high VOC content. Fortunately, many sealers on the market today have a solvent-based mixture but don’t give off a slippery appearance.
If you need to use a solvent-based concrete driveway sealer, make sure that the area has a lot of ventilation to avoid inhaling too many VOCs. If you can find a brand that has low VOCs while still being solvent-based, that would be great. However, we still generally stick to water-based formulas when it comes to eco-friendliness.
Common concrete driveway sealers will cover 175 to 200 square feet per gallon in a single coat. The coverage area may change depending on how porous your concrete driveway is, as well as many other factors.
In some cases, a concrete driveway sealer brand only works on poured concrete and not so well on stamped. Read the manufacturer’s specification with regards to the coverage area and which surfaces it is more effective on.
Driveways are supposed to be safe havens for pedestrians, drivers, and vehicles. Having a no-film and no-gloss finish is crucial, especially in the winter, so that your driveway stays safe from accidents.
However, if you want to work on home improvement and want to give old and dull-looking tiles a new and fresh “wet look,” having a high-gloss finish is okay. Fortunately, while nearly all concrete driveway sealers on the market today have either a matte or semi-matte finish, there are a select few that do have high-gloss finishes just for your needs.
Another factor that’s worth mentioning is if you want to paint the driveway later on. Some concrete driveway sealers will allow you to paint over them while others won’t because of their type of finish. Some concrete driveway sealers also don’t work well with colored concrete so be wary of that.
The drying time of a concrete driveway sealer varies between 1 to 4 hours (foot traffic) but generally, manufacturers will only allow you to drive on the cured surface after 24 hours or so.
A faster drying time for your concrete driveway sealer means that you’ll get more work done. However, you also need to be careful – quicker drying times also mean that you have to work fast to not create uneven finishes. Manufacturers may also tell you to avoid “puddles” and “ponds” when you are spraying the product onto your chosen surface.
Retaining the Natural Look
Most concrete driveway sealers nowadays give off a clear finish so that you’ll still see your existing concrete underneath as if it were the same – only with added coating. It should drive away water and other moisture while not ruining the overall look of the driveway.
The waterproofing capability of a concrete driveway sealer means that it’s good at water absorption. Usually, you’ll see the water beads form on the surface of such sealers, especially the formulas that are made of siloxane.
If the concrete driveway sealer creates water beads properly, you’ll see that it works properly. Concrete that hasn’t been treated properly will retain the water and cause it to get drained into the surface. On the other hand, if you see water beads (droplets), that’s an indication that the sealer works.
When a driveway sealer is breathable, that means it doesn’t trap moisture in the substrate. This is important to help inhibit the growth of various moss and weeds. Aside from keeping away water and moisture, a concrete driveway sealer’s job also includes keeping away unwanted growth because moss causes slippage on a driveway.
Usually, a concrete driveway sealer will last up to 7 years or more – some brands will even have up to 10 years of lifespan. However, the sealer life will depend on various factors, such as the surface it has been used on, the amount of water or dilution of the mixture, external weather factors in your area, application, and the like.
As a whole, my top pick for solvent-based concrete driveway sealers is the Foundation Armor SX5000, which doesn’t give too much of a shiny look so it won’t change your driveway’s appearance. If you prefer a water-based formula with fewer chemical smells, I recommend the Foundation Armor SX5000WB, which has a matte finish.
On the other hand, if you prefer a low-VOC water-based formula with a slight gloss for its finish, the RadonSeal DryWay Water-Repellent Concrete Sealer is for you. For my budget pick, I chose the Peerless Protection Driveway And Walkway Concrete Sealer, which has a good coverage area and drying time.
If you prefer a high-gloss finish, the Foundation Armor AR500 is my top choice. For those with Radon and soil gas problems, you’ll find the RadonSeal Standard Deep Penetrating Concrete Sealer useful.
For a driveway sealer that gives a flat finish without the harsh VOCs, the Ghostfield Lithi-Tek 9500 Ultra Concentrate. A semi-matte finish, on the other hand, is given by the MasonryDefender Penetrating Concrete Sealer for Driveways, which is also low on VOC.
Do you have other types of surfaces that have cracks other than the driveway? The Foundation Armor Armor WL550 is a multi-use product that also works on brick, stone, and pavers.