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Home Improvement

Best Sealer

A wood sealant/finisher is a coating that's used on wood to seal it. They're used to provide a level of protection from scratches, minor dents, water, etc. In my experience, sealants are most popular for outdoor application on decks, fences, playground equipment and the like. However, some sealers are also used on woods found indoors, like floors or furniture. For the purposes of this article, I will include some of both. As mentioned above, sealants are designed to offer protection. So, every sealant I have included below offers protection against at least water (most offer protection against other things as well), which can be quite damaging to wood. Additionally, over application of finisher is not good for wood. It can absorb too much and mess up the wood you're working on. To help combat this problem, each of the sealants below are applied in very few coats (most take two). This makes your job a lot easier. Finally, every one of the sealants I put on this list are in liquid form, as opposed to those that come in an aerosol can. That's not because aerosol sealants are necessarily bad (I have used them on occasion), but to keep uniformity among the sealants listed below.

Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish

The Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish (an indoor finisher) is the top sealant because it can be used on bare wood that has had oil or water based stains applied to it. This makes this sealant more valuable because it can be used with most stains sold. Additionally, it's water based. That means it doesn't emit a lot of odors whilst using it and it can be cleaned up with soap and water. It's also safer to use indoors. I also like that it's not only water resistant, but also scuff, chip, alcohol and chemical resistant. This is good if your have children, where abuse of your wood would be more common.

Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane

The Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane (an indoor finisher) is one of the best sealants because it dries very quickly in comparison to other multi coat finishers (in as little as four hours). It's also more durable than the average sealant, which is great if you want as strong a finish on your wood as possible. Additionally, it comes in three different sheens, which will help better suit it to different types of wood in your home. My final favorite thing about this product is that it can be used on both finished and unfinished wood. This makes it a more valuable purchase because odds are, it will work with any kind of wood you want a protective coating on in your home.

Olympic Wood Protector Stain And Sealant In One

Olympic Wood Protector Stain And Sealant In One

The Olympic Wood Protector Stain + Sealant In One (an outdoor sealant) is another great sealant to buy because in addition to being waterproof it protects whatever wood you apply it to from harmful UV rays and mildew. This is good if you want a finisher that will protect whatever you apply it to as best as possible. Furthermore, I love that this finisher is self-priming. That saves you both time and hassle because it eliminates a step for you. The final best thing about this sealant is that it comes with a 5-year warranty on decks and a 15-year warranty on fences and siding. This makes the purchase easier because you don't have to worry about something bad happening.

Behr Transparent Waterproofing Wood Finish

Behr Transparent Waterproofing Wood Finish

The Behr Transparent Waterproofing Wood Finish (an outdoor sealant) is a really good sealant to consider buying. I have used it personally on my grandmother's deck and can testify to how strong of a finish it provides. Like the Olympic sealant, it's both UV and mildew resistant, in addition to being waterproof. I also like the fact that like the top finisher on this list, it can be cleaned up with soap and water. This makes things a bit safer, as I mentioned above. It's also available three different transparent colors that accent whatever wood grain you happen to be working with. This is good because it increases the chance that the sealant will look great with the wood you want to work on. Finally, this sealant also comes with a warranty (two years for horizontal surfaces and four years for vertical surfaces).

Watco Lacquer Clear Wood Finish

The Watco Lacquer Clear Wood Finish (an indoor finisher) is the final sealant on this list because it is designed to fill in the pores on most every wood type. This eliminates the need to use wood filler, which saves you time if you're working with a type of wood that has large, visible pores (such as mahogany, Spanish cedar, koa, walnut, rosewood, teak, oak or ash). Additionally, this sealant is formulated to dry super quickly, only 30 minutes. This saves you a lot of time. Furthermore, even more time is saved because it does not require sanding in between coats. That makes this a great sealant to use if you need one for quick jobs.

Miracle Sealants 511 Anti-Slip Formula

Miracle Sealants 511 Anti-Slip Formula

If you’re dealing with a polished stone floor you understand how dangerously slippery it can be and how important even a small amount of extra grip can be. This combination sealer will protect the stone as well as increase the friction co-efficient significantly without altering the appearance of the stone work. I have found this to be indispensable in high traffic areas in both home and public settings. The price is actually more reasonable than I originally thought it would be when you consider the strength of the seal and the price of the other 511 products.

Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold

The price is a bit more reasonable than some of the other options on this list and becomes more reasonable with the anticipated 15 year lifespan. It absorbs well and penetrates to a moderate depth, so expect to apply two coats as directed and possibly a third if the stone is very thirsty. Happily, the odor of this sealer is very reasonable and light thanks to the water based formula. I have not been around long enough to see if this will indeed last for 15 years, but it shows no signs of quitting after three years.

Miracle Sealants 511 Porous Plus Penetrating Sealer

Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to this sealer. The list of appropriate materials is long and varied with everything from polished granite to terra cotta making an appearance. This product is a penetrative, solvent based sealer and should always be used with gloves and in a well-ventilated area whether you are using it indoors or outside. The appearance of the surface should remain unchanged as this is not a surface sealer and that makes it perfect for countertops or other decorative applications. The only major drawback is the high price, but it’s proven its worth over the years.

Dupont StoneTech BPSS12-32 BulletProof Stone Sealer

Formulated for interior use on countertops and other surfaces that will regularly come into contact with water and grease, this sealer does a great job on many different kinds of stone. It is durable enough to work outdoors, but the life is reduced from about 5 years to 3 in that case. The only real problem is the price and coverage. It’s definitely expensive and I have found that many stone surfaces are thirstier than the manufacturers anticipated, which means you need to coat the surface, let it soak in, recoat and keep repeating this process until it stops drinking.

Rock Doctor Granite Sealer

It is kind of pricey when you consider the volume, but this sealer is easy to apply evenly and seals pretty nicely when applied heavily. I do suggest allowing the sealer to sit for longer than the manufacturers recommend for achieving a good seal. The price and volume lead me to prefer this as a touchup or repair sealer rather than the main player when sealing an entire countertop. The sealer needs to be reapplied once a year, which makes it less cost efficient over a long period of time when compared to much longer lasting products.

LastiSeal Concrete Stain and Waterproofing Sealer

I was very excited to find this product because almost all of the concrete sealers on the market are designed to avoid changing the appearance of the surface to which it is applied. This sealer comes in 37 colors and cuts your time in half if you want to get creative with the appearance of your driveway, walls, monuments or patios. The colors look great and can even be mixed, layered or diluted for further customization. Beyond that the seal is truly amazing and penetrates quite deeply into the surface to actually strengthen the exterior of the concrete a bit. The only drawback is the price. It is expensive.

Seal Krete SS-10 Clear Silane-Siloxane Waterproofer

Seal Krete SS-10 Clear Silane-Siloxane Waterproofer

The combination of both silane and siloxane means that this sealer offers good water resistance both on the surface and deeper into the actual concrete. The Siloxane is a larger molecule that will essentially plug up some of the pores without changing the visual appearance of the material. Silane is smaller and narrows gets below the surface to narrow rather than plug pores. It has been formulated to resist the UV damage to which silane and siloxane are susceptible, which makes this a long lasting product with good durability.

Eagle Natural Seal

Eagle Natural Seal

The price is what first attracted me to this sealer and I was happy to be met with a quality product that performs as advertised. This is another silane/siloxane sealer with the addition of a healthy dose of silicone that does a great job on porous surfaces. When using this sealer on horizontal surfaces you need to make sure that it doesn’t pool or you’ll be left with white spots. If you avoid puddles or brush them out before they dry you’ll be left with an invisible coating.

RadonSeal Deep-Penetrating Concrete Sealer

It’s more expensive than I would like, but RadonSeal is great for treating concrete in a basement that is showing water seepage. Because this product penetrates and seals almost completely it stands up to a hefty amount of hydrostatic pressure and will never chip or flake off. If you are having trouble with high humidity in your basement, which can easily lead to mold and rot, this sealer will help stop the exchange of even water vapor through the walls. Outside of the basement this is a strong sealer that I would be happy to use, but there are cheaper options for surfaces that don’t need to be so impermeable.

Quikrete Acrylic Concrete Cure & Seal

Where most sealers are designed to be applied to concrete that has been dried and cured completely this is actually made to act on freshly poured slabs. Applying this sealer to fresh concrete acts as a regulator for the speed of drying and improves the final strength of the slab while sealing the outer surface and helping to prevent wear and tear over the next few years. It works well enough on completely dried concrete, but it’s not the most durable surface sealer and will require reapplication in about three years.

Custom Building Products Tilelab Grout And Tile Sealer

Most products like this are known for smelling fairly foul, but this one is not half bad. The coverage is good and the seal is solid without the need for a second application. Skip the spray bottle and apply it with a sponge for the best coverage and save your fingers some stress or you’ll be pumping all day. I was pleased to see that this product dried without leaving a hazy film on the surrounding tile, which I’ve dealt with in the past when using other sealers. The best selling point for this sealer is definitely the price as it is very economical and worth every penny.

Miracle Sealants 511 Porous Plus Penetrating Sealer

Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to this sealer. The list of appropriate materials is long and varied with everything from polished granite to terra cotta making an appearance. This product is a penetrative, solvent based sealer and should always be used with gloves and in a well-ventilated area whether you are using it indoors or outside. The appearance of the surface should remain unchanged as this is not a surface sealer and that makes it perfect for countertops or other decorative applications. The only major drawback is the high price, but it’s proven its worth over the years.

DuPont StoneTech Professional Heavy Duty Grout Sealer for Ceramic Tile

I was concerned with how thin this sealer was until I applied the second coat. The first was absorbed in almost no time at all and didn’t seem to do much of anything. When allowed to dry for 10 minutes, wiped down and given a second coating the results were much more obvious. The seal is solid, durable and lasts for a very long time. The only drawback is that is slightly darkens very light grout. It’s not a huge change, but it is notable if you want the grout to stay perfectly white.

Scotchgard Tile & Grout Multi-Surface Sealer

The price is more reasonable than is first apparent when you realize that this is a single coat sealant. You can cover twice the area that another sealer will cover and with half the working time. That being said, the seal is not quite as perfect as a two coat, penetrative sealer and I would choose something else if the area will be under constant exposure to water. Occasional splashes and spills will be easily repelled, but an optional second coat will seal it up even further.

Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold

The price is a bit more reasonable than some of the other options on this list and becomes more reasonable with the anticipated 15 year lifespan. It absorbs well and penetrates to a moderate depth, so expect to apply two coats as directed and possibly a third if the stone is very thirsty. Happily, the odor of this sealer is very reasonable and light thanks to the water based formula. I have not been around long enough to see if this will indeed last for 15 years, but it shows no signs of quitting after three years.

Paul Joseph Morin
I grew up breathing sawdust and dirt. Now I'm back in the shop after an overly long break. This time I remembered my respirator. I have my father to thank for setting me on the path of the DIY guru and he didn't waste a day that could be spent with a trowel or hammer in hand. Now I use these skills to grow my own vegetables and fruit, craft wooden toys and tools, and keep my home running smoothly.
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