Concrete seal is a product most distributors sell, but are sometimes unsure about when selecting the right product or process for applying seal. It is important to ask a few simple questions to help reduce confusion for yourself and your customer.

First, ask your customer if there is an existing coating on the floor. If so, ask what it is. It’s likely that you will not be familiar with every product, so ask your chemical supplier or use the Internet to determine what it is.

If a polyurethane seal is currently used, sell them a polyurethane seal, or if they use an acrylic, provide the appropriate acrylic seal.

However, the end user usually will not have a clue what seal is on their floor. This calls for a few more questions.

Ask if it is a clear coating or colored. If the coating is colored, odds are it is some type of urethane coating or possibly just paint. In either case, most jan/san distributors do not sell an in-depth line of these products so just refer the customer to a dealer who does.

If your company markets high-end urethane seals, you probably have a staff member who understands them. Ask for their help. High-end seals are expensive and require exacting floor prep so let the professionals handle these jobs. However, the vast majority of customers will not want to pay for high-end seals, so you can still help them.

When a customer says they have a clear coating, ask if it is chipping or peeling. If so, it needs to be removed before another coating can be applied. Applying a new coating over one that is in bad shape is a waste of time and money because it will not adhere. This principle applies in every case so always ask if the current seal is in good shape before recoating.

A clear coating in good shape can be recoated with a number of different products. Most distributors will carry a polyurethane seal, an acrylic seal or a basic water-based urethane seal. These products are all easy to apply using a mop, wool applicator, roller or sprayer. Refer to your product’s directions for use for specifics.

Normally, it is sufficient to prep the floor by scrubbing with a water-based alkaline degreaser, rinsing, and applying the seal as soon as the floor is dry. At least two coats are needed. Additional coats will create more gloss and provide greater protection.

This same process should be followed on a floor that has not been previously sealed.

On a new floor, wait about a month before applying seal. New concrete must cure by releasing moisture from the substrate into the atmosphere. A seal applied too soon can retard this process.

Lastly, to remove old seal that is peeling, one must use a mechanical device. The best machine for this process is a shotblaster. A shotblaster shoots small steel shot onto the floor removing old seal and recycles the shot back into the machine. They can be adjusted for desired aggressiveness. Shotblasters are very effective but relatively expensive. It also takes time to learn how to use them.

Many rental companies have scarifying machines that work well and are less expensive. My local rental company charges about $110 a day.

When you go to the doctor she does not prescribe medicine or treatment before asking a number of questions to arrive at a proper diagnosis. Use the same technique by asking just a few key questions to determine how to handle each concrete seal opportunity. It cuts down on confusion and makes it easy to find concrete solutions.

Louie Davis Jr. is a 25-year veteran of the jan/san business, having worked on the manufacturing and distribution sides. He is currently a sales representative for Central Paper Co., in Birmingham, Ala.--