Concrete patios are exposed to the elements, and they need to be protected from the rain. While concrete is very durable, rain can seep through the concrete and very slowly weaken it. This makes it more susceptible to developing cracks, which will mar the appearance of your patio.
When protecting a patio from water, homeowners commonly choose between applying an epoxy floor coating or staining and sealing it. In addition to protecting your patio from water, both of these methods make it easy to clean up spills and can change the color of your patio to improve its appearance. To learn more about these methods and how to find out which one is the best fit for you, read on.
Staining and Sealing Your Concrete Patio
When you stain and seal concrete, you first apply a stain to its surface. The stain seeps slightly into the concrete and dyes it, which gives your patio color. However, the stain doesn't provide any liquid protection to your concrete, and some spills (including acids like soft drinks) can permanently discolor the stain.
In order to protect the stain, you need to seal the concrete. Applying sealant to the concrete's surface creates a thin protective layer that's waterproof. Spills won't discolor the stain underneath, and any spills can be easily wiped up.
Applying an Epoxy Floor Coating to Your Patio
While staining and sealing require two products in order to color and protect your concrete, an epoxy floor coating combines color and water protection. An epoxy coating is a plastic epoxy resin combined with a solvent that turns it into a liquid. It's applied to the surface of the concrete in a thick layer. As the solvent evaporates, the epoxy cures and binds tightly to the surface of the concrete. Epoxy floor coatings are available in numerous colors, and some even have stone aggregate added that can provide your patio with a textured surface.
Which Is the Best Option for Your Patio?
Epoxy floor coatings are more expensive, but they're also more durable and require less maintenance. Concrete sealant needs to be reapplied periodically, since it will be slowly scraped off your patio as people walk on it. With the sealant gone, the stain underneath is susceptible to staining again. Epoxy binds tightly to the underlying concrete, so it resists foot traffic much more readily.
Ultimately, the best option for your patio depends on how much foot traffic it receives. If you and your guests spend a lot of time on your patio, the increased durability of epoxy flooring often makes it the best choice despite the added expense. On the other hand, if your patio doesn't see much use and you're fine with moving all of your patio furniture in order to periodically reapply sealant, then you'll save money by staining and sealing your concrete instead.