Breathable concrete and brick sealers

Thinking about sealing your bricks or concrete? It is important to make sure that the sealer you are using is breathable! If the sealer is not breathable then you may cause more harm then good. Typically it is best to leave bricks alone and simply ensure that water is diverted away from brickwork so that your bricks are not over exposed to water. However if you have some bricks where the faces are coming off, you can try a breathable sealer to try and keep the bricks from absorbing to much water and hopefully more faces from coming off!
If your in the greater Niagara/Hamilton areas feel free to call me for a home maintenance inspection. These type of inspection focus on preventative actions that you can take to keep your home at its best. As home inspectors we are a great resource because our opinions are unbiased.
Below is some great information on sealers taken from
Concrete Driveway Sealed with a Breathable Sealer

  • Silicate Sealers – Silicate sealers, also known as densifiers, are designed to increase the strength and density of the concrete. They chemically react to form a hardened crystalline barrier within the pores to reduce pore size and increase surface strength. Densifiers are common used to strengthen old, weak, or deteriorating concrete, as well as used as part of the polishing process.
  • Silane Siloxane Sealers – Silane Siloxane sealers, also known as water repellent sealers, are designed to reduce surface water absorption and reduce deterioration and staining caused by it. They chemically react below the surface to form a hydrophobic barrier that will cause water and other liquids to bead off the surface. Surfaces sealed with a Silane Siloxane sealer are more resistant to damage caused by water absorption such as cracking, spalling, freeze thaw and ice damage, mold and mildew growth, and efflorescence formation.
  • Acrylic Sealers – Acrylic sealers are called sealers, but they classify more as a coating because they leave behind a visible surface film. You can’t tell if a surface has been sealed with a silicate sealer or a silane siloxane sealer, but you can tell if a surface has been sealed with an acrylic sealer because it will have a visible gloss film. Acrylic sealers are considered to be breathable up to 25%, but anything over that level of solids should not be used on porous surfaces or surfaces constantly exposed to water. Acrylic sealers are the least breathable type of sealer, but they are very popular especially if you need to bring out dull or faded surfaces, or want to achieve a level of gloss. If you plan on applying an acrylic sealer to clay brick, you should contact the manufacturer to see if any changes in application should be made.

Breathable Sealer Comparison

Silicate SealerSilane Siloxane SealerAcrylic Sealer
Won’t change lookWon’t change lookLeaves a gloss coating
Penetrates into surfacePenetrates into surfaceBonds to surface
Won’t break downLasts 7-10 yearsLasts 1-4 years
Strengthens surfaceReduces deteriorationEnhances and protects surface
Used only on concreteUsed on concrete and masonryUsed on concrete and masonry

Best Breathable Sealer by Surface Type

SilicateSilane SiloxaneAcrylic
Natural StoneX

How To Choose the Best Breathable Sealer

Think about your reason for sealing because that is what will determine which sealer is best for your application. Here are a few examples:

  • Old and deteriorating concrete: If your concrete is showing signs of deterioration caused by surface abrasion, such as dusting, and the concrete is fairly dry, you may want to consider a densifier to increase the surface strength of the concrete.
  • Cracking, spalling, and pitting caused by water absorption: If you are having issues with cracking, spalling, pitting, mold and mildew, or efflorescence then you may want to consider a water repellent sealer to reduce the absorption of water through the surface.
  • Fading concrete or paver surfaces: If you want to enhance dull or faded concrete or pavers, or you want to change the look of the surface, then you may want to consider an acrylic sealer.