Concrete sealer manufacturers often advise DIYers to wait until the sealer is dry before using, cleaning, or even applying a second coat. So, how long does it take to dry?
On average, it takes the concrete sealer 4 hours to dry to enough for a recoat, 24 hours to dry enough to be walked on and 3 days to fully dry. Oil-based concrete sealers usually take longer to dry.
Its dry time ultimately depends on the type of concrete sealer, the number of coats, and the drying conditions. To know for sure how long it takes it to dry, check the manufacturer’s instructions, it’s usually indicated there.
Dry Time Between Coats
On average, it takes concrete sealer 2 hours to dry enough between coats. But, in less than optimal drying conditions, it can take up to 24 hours to dry enough for a recoat, especially if the room temperature is below 50 degrees F.
Concrete sealers don’t have the same recoat rule as paints. For paints, you should recoat when the first coat is completely dry. But, for concrete sealers, you should recoat before the first coat gets completely dry.
If you allow the first coat to dry completely, it will become hard and seal the surface making it impossible for the second coat to stick. So, its dry time means how long it takes for the first coat to be less tacky and hard enough for a second coat.
The dry time between coats is mainly determined by the type of concrete sealer. For instance, concrete sealers made from Silane compounds can be recoated in 90 minutes or less. That’s because the sealer stays underneath the top layer of the surface so you can re-coat it sooner.
On the other hand, concrete sealers made from epoxy coatings take up to 6 hours to dry enough for another coat because they contain a large volume of oils and solvents.
Concrete Sealer Cure Time
On average, it takes concrete sealer 3 days to fully dry (cure). The cure time refers to two things; the first is how long it takes for the particles to fully harden and solidify and the second is how long it takes for the sealer to react and become waterproof.
Both of these occur through the oxidization of the sealer particles. The process takes between 48 hours and 90 days to be completed depending on the type.
For a concrete sealer to dry, its solvent has to be evaporated so the coating is no longer wet. But, for the sealer to cure, the particles have to be oxidized. This happens through oxidization or air current. As the sealer is exposed to air current, the oxygen in the air causes the sealer particles to bond together and harden.
The air current also causes it to react and solidify with the surface. This then prevents water from reaching the concrete and this is why concrete sealers only become fully waterproof when it has cured.
Most sealers cure fully in less than a week, usually about 3 days. However, some types especially those made from Silicate compounds can take several weeks to dry.
These sealers penetrate through the surface and dry inside. Since it is tough for air current (oxygen) to flow inside the concrete, the sealer will take longer to become oxidized (or cure) and can continue to react for up to 90 days.
How To Speed Up Concrete Sealer Dry Time?
There are a few ways to get your concrete sealer to dry faster. But, before we move on, you should know that these methods are not to be used to dry it completely. If you use any of these methods to dry your concrete sealer completely, the sealer will develop cracks.
1. Use a Hairdryer
Since concrete sealers dry based on evaporation and heat levels, increasing the heat levels around its coating will make it evaporate and dry faster. This method should be used within the first 2 hours of applying it.
Here is a guide for this method:
- Plug in and turn on the hairdryer.
- Set the hairdryer between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Move the hairdryer around the coating for 5 minutes – do this every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours after applying it.
- Turn off the hairdryer and leave the coating to dry itself.
Tip: You can also use a heater in the absence of a hairdryer.
2. Use Fans
The idea here is to increase the air current around the coating. More air means that the solvent will evaporate faster and also causes the particles to harden faster. This improves the dry time.
The downside to this method is that the increased air current will also carry dust nibs and debris. If these contaminants fall on the coating, the finish will turn messy. So, you need to protect the coating by cleaning the surroundings first.
Here is a guide for this method:
- Vacuum the work area.
- Direct the fans at the finish.
- Turn on the fans and leave them on for as long as possible.
- After a few hours, inspect the coating if it has dried, and turn off the fans.
Tip: In addition to using the fans, you should also open all the doors, windows, and air vents in the room.
3. Add a Catalyst or Drying Agent
Catalysts and drying agents are often powdery substances that contain metalized dryers and absorbent substances. The dryers and absorbents dry up the moisture in the coating causing it to dry faster.
There are different catalysts and drying agents out there but you need to be sure that the one you purchase is compatible with the concrete sealer you have.
To use the catalyst or drying agent, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, you’ll need to sprinkle some of the catalyst or drying agent directly on the coating after application.
Different Types of Concrete Sealers
Let’s find out the drying time for different types:
Stamped Concrete Sealer
It takes 4 hours for the Stamped concrete sealer to dry. You should recoat it before it dries (within 4 hours) because once it cures, a second coat will not stick. You should also know that it takes up to 3 days for it to fully cure, and become waterproof.
Eagle Concrete Sealer
Eagle concrete sealer takes about 24 hours to fully dry. This is because the sealer is a penetrating sealer meaning that it absorbs into the surface and as such will take longer to dry and cure.
Its manufacturers claim to only apply the sealer on porous concrete so it can penetrate it. If you use it on a patched or sealed surface, it will not dry properly because it can’t penetrate it.
Behr Concrete Sealer
According to the manufacturers of Behr concrete sealer, it takes it 4 hours to dry between coats and 48 hours to fully dry.
Diamond Clear Concrete Sealer
Diamond clear concrete sealer is a transparent sealer coat that takes 1 hour to dry for touch and 4 hours to dry between coats. Its manufacturers advise waiting 10-12 hours before the finish is exposed to wheel traffic which means that it cures in less than 24 hours.
Driveaway Concrete Sealer
It takes Driveway concrete sealer 10-12 hours to dry and 48 hours to cure. But, you can re-coat it in less than 6 hours after it was applied.
It is designed for high-traffic surfaces like driveways so it would automatically take longer for it to cure. As an expert tip, leave it to cure for 3 days before exposing it to traffic.