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Types of Stone Sealer and How They Work

By KleanSTONE | Dec 15th, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you have a natural stone floor, the chances are that you will have heard of the importance of sealing it. A stone sealer will help preserve the life of your stone floor as well as a whole host of other benefits. Read our Floor Sealing: The Most Important Thing You Are Not Doing article for more information about the benefits of sealing your stone floor.

If you are looking for the best stone sealer for your stone floor it can be difficult to get to grips with what stone sealers are and which one to choose.

There is a range of stone sealers available depending on the type of stone you have, level of cover you require and your budget.

Despite the huge range of stone sealers available, there are two different types of sealers on the market. These sealers are called coaters and impregnators.

Coaters will simply coat the top of the stone providing a temporary barrier to water and dirt. Impregnators will penetrate the surface of the stone and line the pores, preventing liquid from penetrating, making the whole stone more durable and allowing it to retain its natural beauty.

Penetrating Stone Sealers aka Impregnators

A penetrating stone sealer, also known as impregnators or penetrants, are just that – they penetrate the porous surface of the stone and activity ‘block’ contaminants in the form of liquids and debris from entering into it.

The best penetrating stone sealers maintain the stone’s porosity and allow it to expel any water vapour once it’s been sealed – in essence, they allow the stone to remain ‘breathable’.

Solvent-Based Sealers Vs Water-based Sealers

Penetrating stone sealers tend to be either solvent-based or water-based. This refers to the carrier which the active compounds are in solution in.

The solvent or water penetrates the surface of the stone before evaporating out, leaving the active chemicals in place to protect the stone.

Solvent-based stone sealers are, generally, more effective as they offer superior performance and typically last longer than water-based types. However, as these sealers are solvent-based it’s not always possible to use them (particularly in some commercial environments) and they can often have very strong smells which aren’t always ideal in the home.

 

Liquid on Stone Floor - Stone Sealing - Penetrating Impregnating Stone Sealer - KleanSTONE

 

Hydrophobic and Oleophobic Stone Sealers

When it comes to the properties of your penetrating stone sealer, the next consideration would be hydrophobic or oleophobic. Hydrophobic stone sealers repel only water-based liquids whereas oleophobic stone sealers repel both water and oil-based liquid contaminants. We would always recommend an oleophobic stone sealer as this ensures protection from any kind of potentially staining liquid contaminant.

Water repellent impregnators tend to last a lot longer than most sealers, high quality ones can last up to 15 years.

 

KleanSTONE Kara Floor Cleaning Machine - Quarry Tile Floor Cleaning - KleanSTONE

Picking which impregnator to use will depend largely on which room your floor is in and what substances it is most likely to come into contact with. Our advice would be to use an oil repellent sealer in the kitchen and a water-based sealer in other rooms.

If you are sealing exterior stone such as a patio or stone sculpture then a water-based impregnator would be ideal. Stagnant water such as puddles will eventually penetrate the surface of the stone but will be evaporated thanks to the stones ability to breathe.  Using an oil repellent outside may cause water to become trapped with could result in the moulding of the stone. 

Topical Stone Sealers aka Coaters

Topical stone sealers are sealers that sit on the surface of the stone. Topical stone sealers are sacrificial and can either stripped away or permanent. Most topical stone sealers are water-based that are manufactured from polymers so that they can be removed if needed with the use of a floor stripper. Topical stone sealers are much cheaper than penetrating stone sealers.

Which Stone Sealer is right for me?

Sealer Pros Cons
Coaters
  • Easy to apply
  • Will take most of the wear and tear from heavy traffic
  • You can buy non-slip coaters to increase safety.
  • Cheaper in price than an impregnator
  • Coaters are often softer than the stone itself, so can easily scratch or scuff which will lessen the effectiveness of the coater.
  • You will need regular re-application.
  • Tends to show up the traffic patterns on the floor when the coater starts to wear away.
  • Can sometimes provide a tacky, glossy and plastic finish.
  • Can block the stone ability to breathe, which cause moisture to be trapped leading to spalling.
Impregnators
  • Due to the fact it penetrates below surface level, it will not change the appearance of the stone. 
  • Will last for several years.
  • Can be used both inside and outside as it cannot be affected by light.
  • Cannot be scuffed or scratched.
  • The initial cost is higher than a coater.
  • Requires more skill to apply, so you may need to hire a professional. 
  • You need to ensure to buy from a reputable source as some solvent-based impregnators release vapours on an application that are harmful to the environment and banned in certain countries

Here at KleanSTONE, we only sell impregnators as we believe in quality and durability rather than a cheap quick fix. We are passionate about stone and ensuring that you get the best out of your stone floor and an impregnator will last a long time without affecting the feel or appearance of your floor.

Picked your sealer and want to try and seal it yourself?

Follow our step by step how-to guide here.

FAQ’s on Stone Sealers

Q – How Long Does Stone Sealer Last?

A – On average, a stone sealer will last between 3-5 years before it will need to be reapplied. The quality of the sealer used and the porosity of the stone will all have an effect on just how long your sealer will last.

Q – Should natural stone be sealed?

A – We would recommend that you seal all your natural stone floors to ensure they last a long time looking their best. With natural stone being very porous, liquids, bacteria and other nasty things can be absorbed into the stone and could end up staining the surface. By using a natural stone sealer, you will introduce an invisible protective barrier to the floor to protect it from these nasty things.

Q – Does sealer darken stone?

A – Some of the penetrating-type sealers we ran through above might change the complexion of your natural stone. Some of the sealers may darken the stone whilst others may lighten in. This is why it’s important to do your research before choosing a natural stone sealer for your floor.

Q – Should I seal natural stone before grouting?

A – Yes you should seal your natural stone before you start applying the grouting. If you don’t apply the sealer first, the grout could be absorbed into the floor and affect the overall finish of your floor.

Q – Can you grout and seal on the same day?

A – We would recommend waiting at least 24 hours after applying the natural stone sealer before you start the grouting process.

Stone Sealers From KleanSTONE…

Gleaming floors inspire confidence and style in any setting, whether domestic or commercial. Here at KleanSTONE, we supply advanced floor cleaning solutions including stone sealers, to help you achieve a spotlessly clean, perfectly finished floor without the elbow grease. Our stone floor cleaners tackle spills, stains and everyday grime with ease for a healthier, happier home or work environment.

Our products extend the lifespan of your flooring with powerful, effective cleaning that is gentle enough to use every day and perfect for floors in your home or business, inside and out.

Aside from offering a range of products for stone floor cleaning, we love to share our knowledge and experience from our years helping customers succeed at extending the lifespan of your floors. Read more on the KleanSTONE Blog, explore our Help & Guides or download our range of Cleaning Guides and learn more about how to care for your natural and engineered stone floors so that they last a lifetime!

Further Reading on the KleanSTONE Blog:

Care and Maintenance

How To Seal Stone Floors

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