If you’re like most homeowners with in-ground pools, you’re flummoxed by the endless flow of information for decorative concrete maintenance and concrete pool deck concrete sealants. Even your concrete—if it could talk—would admit it’s a lot to absorb. (FYI, if you’re ever doing an online search, concrete pool construction products are also called “construction liquids.”) Please note, this article refers only to concrete pool decks for inground pools, and not the wooden decks that tend to surround above-ground pools.
Fortunately, DECK-O-SEAL’s Division Manager Jim Dill is not one to mince words (DECK-O-SEAL is a subsidiary of W. R. MEADOWS). Jim found a shortcut way to teach which pool deck sealer is right to maintain your concrete pool deck or creative concrete deck.
You might say Jim is a “sealer veteran.” Jim has 35 years in the sealer industry, 18 years in pool concrete-specific sealers, and he was the chair for the APSP manufacturer’s council (Association of Pool and Spa Professionals). Here is Jim’s streamlined explainer brief on choosing your ideal pool deck sealer.
How You Want Your Concrete Pool Deck to Appear: Think High-Gloss, Matte, or Satin Finishes
According to Jim, whether you have stamped concrete, stained concrete, stone or plain concrete, selecting the right pool deck sealant boils down to this: think of these sealers like you would interior wall paint coverings. Some sealers appear like a high-gloss paint, some are more like a matte stain, and some are more like an eggshell or satin paint, where there’s just an ever-so-slight, barely-there sheen.
Option #1: Pool Deck Sealer with a Gloss Finish
Your acrylic concrete sealer products (like the DECK-O-GRIP product), will give your concrete a glossier, wetter look that will pop the color so it appears as saturated and vibrant as a stone that you’ve just run under water. But don’t let that wet, glass look deceive you. This also delivers a slip-resistant surface on a normally slippery area.
Option #2: Pool Deck Sealer with a Matte Finish
Let’s say you do not wish to alter your concrete’s appearance at all and you want a matte finish. That’s where a penetration type of sealer like the water-based DECK-O-SHIELD line comes in.
This type of penetrating sealer will achieve the natural look you’re seeking and retain the appearance it had before treating it, except that now it’s protected. Consider this as more of a matte-paint style that doesn’t really change the appearance.
Option #3: Pool Deck Sealer with a Satin or Eggshell Finish
When Jim demonstrates a satin-paint style of sealer finish (like the Decra-Seal Natural), he does so by wiping a dampened cloth across the concrete’s surface. This subtly darkens and enhances the color, which is the closest visual example he can give to show you how a penetrating sealer will appear on your concrete. It will make the reds or greens pop, but it’s more of an eggshell finish with no real glossy appearance to it.
Which Pool Deck Sealer Gives Me a No-Slip Concrete Texture?
Depending on the look you want to achieve, you can use either a water-based sealer or a solvent-based sealer, but ensure you’re buying the no-slip version of either sealer. That should be clearly marked on the label.
Beyond the look of the sealer, you want to consider where you’re applying it. An interior pool deck should always be sealed with a water-based sealer. An exterior pool deck can be sealed with either a water-based sealer or a solvent-based sealer, but you will need to check for your area’s Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) regulations.
How Will I Know If or When I Need to Re-apply Pool Deck Sealer?
For most pool owners, there’s a three-foot-wide walk zone that endures most of the foot traffic abuse. You can test the integrity of your sealer in the walk zone with a bottle of water. As you walk along, just let it drip, drip, drip along the way, like a hose on a low spray. Where the water hits, if it tends to spread, then you know that is where you need to reapply your sealer. If the water beads up on the concrete surface, your pool deck is still sealed.
When considering a reapplication, you have to factor in the weather conditions where you live, how thorough was your last application job and the product you used. Jim said reapplication can range from every three years to every 15 years. It just depends on your traffic flow and the integrity of your concrete or stone.
How Do I Apply Concrete Pool Deck Sealer?
Think of sealing your deck as you would painting a floor in your home – perhaps a basement floor–except you’re using clear paint instead. Whether you’re using water-based or solvent-based pool deck sealer, to apply either type, you just need to use a sprayer and a long paint roller (unless you’re a fan of crouching down, that is!). Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure a safe, accurate application.
What is the Drying Time for Pool Deck Sealer?
The drying time for water-based pool deck sealers is about 4 hours. For solvent-based pool deck sealers, you can expect a drying time of about 1 hour.
Note: We always give you these estimates with the caveat of “your results may vary,” because it will depend on the quality of your concrete or stone, your temperature and the relative humidity level.
What If I Reapply Pool Deck Sealer Where It’s Not Needed?
If you are applying the concrete pool deck sealer product and it starts beading up (creating droplets) upon itself, you should move it in the other direction. Once it reaches its optimum level for sealer absorption, it will reject whatever you’re putting down by beading up. At that point, if you try to reapply more sealer, it will just create a sticky mess.
Do Any of My Pool Chemicals Impact the Lifespan of the Pool Deck Sealer?
Jim advised that chlorine does not hurt your pool deck sealer lifespan, but muriatic acid will affect it “somewhat.” Pool technicians use muriatic acid in pools to lower the pH balance and deep clean the residue found in pool filters. Jim has seen occasions where technicians weren’t as meticulous as the homeowner might like, and muriatic acid splatter occurred on the pool deck sealer.
Which Pool Deck Sealer is Right for You? A Handy Checklist:
__I want a wet, glossy look that really pops the color.
(Answer: Acrylic Concrete Sealer Products)
__I want a natural-looking concrete pool deck.
(Answer: Penetrating Water-Based Sealer)
__I want a no-slip surface on my concrete pool deck.
(Answer: Water-Based or Solvent-Based Sealers)
__I want a fast-drying concrete sealer.
(Answer: Solvent-Based Sealer Dries in 1 Hour)
__I want a sealer that complies with my local Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) requirements.
(Answer: Always review your state’s EPA regulations, check the labeling on your product, and check your Material Safety Data Sheet, Product Data Sheet and the manufacturer’s website for compliance information.)
If you have any questions about pool deck maintenance, sealers, or applications that we haven’t covered in this article, please feel free to reach out. If you’d like to check out our product line, DECK-O-SEAL, and you need to find a distributor in your area, please click here.
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