What are the Different Types of Sealants?

Autumn Rivers

Different materials often require different sealants, so it should come as no surprise that there are several types available. Most vary based on the materials they are best at sealing, which usually includes materials found around a typical household. Some of the most common types of sealants on the market include those for decks, concrete, tile grout, and walls.

Certain types of sealant can be used to adhere two building materials or to fill in gaps between them.
Certain types of sealant can be used to adhere two building materials or to fill in gaps between them.

A deck sealant typically is best for exterior wood. Its specialty is improving the durability of wood while combating decay over time. It usually is clear so that the natural beauty of the wood can shine through. Not only do deck sealants typically protect the wood from water damage such as mildew, but they should also guard it from sun damage. A penetrating deck sealant is absorbed into the material, while a film-forming sealant creates a barrier around the wood.

A caulk gun may be used to apply polyurethane sealant.
A caulk gun may be used to apply polyurethane sealant.

Concrete sealants work similarly to those intended for decks, but they work best on concrete. Though concrete usually lasts a long time, a sealant meant just for this material can lengthen its lifespan even more. One of the main points of a concrete sealant is to protect it from extreme weather, such as the expanding and cracking that melted ice and rain often cause. It can also guard concrete from salt, chemicals, and stains. Such sealants can be clear or colored, and often are either petroleum-based or water-based.

Deck sealants can be used to protect exterior wood installations like decking.
Deck sealants can be used to protect exterior wood installations like decking.

Some homeowners choose to put in their own tile, or at least perform maintenance on it by themselves. Those who choose to do this are typically advised to seal the grout between the tiles. There are sealants specifically for this purpose, and they usually are known for keeping the grout looking new and attractive. Some grout sealers perform the basic task of protecting the area from stains and mildew, and can be sprayed on the surface. On the other hand, some heavy-duty, costlier types can protect grout from serious stains, like grease.

Tiny cracks in a wall often are able to be fixed with a polyurethane sealant. This type of sealant usually has the consistency of putty, and is known for expanding quickly after application. Fortunately, it is also both flexible and elastic, and can protect walls from water damage.

Nearly every sealant requires users to ensure that the surface is clean and dry before applying the product. Also, the majority of sealant manufacturers advise that sealants be applied in an inconspicuous test spot first to avoid accidental staining of the area. In fact, reading the instructions on the tube or bottle typically is a good first step to most home improvement projects involving sealants.

Recently tiled floors should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours before applying grout and sealants.
Recently tiled floors should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours before applying grout and sealants.

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Discussion Comments


We have both a front deck and a back deck on our house. The front deck is covered so it doesn't have as much exposure to the elements as our back deck does.

I have found that by applying a sealant to the back deck, this keeps the wood in much better shape over time.

The snow, ice, sun and rain all have an effect on how fast the wood weathers. If I don't keep a sealant on there, I have to do a lot more maintenance on a regular basis.

Before I started using a sealant, we would have to power wash the deck and start over again on fresh wood. When I keep a sealant on there, I don't have to spend so much time keeping it looking nice.


We moved into a home that had tile installed for the basement floor. This is a better option than carpet since we are known to get a lot of rain. Should our basement ever flood, the tile will be easier to take care of than carpet.

I have been somewhat frustrated though because I don't think they used a floor sealant on this tile. The grout is very discolored and seems to absorb anything that spills on it.

Our family room is down in the basement, so there is always a lot of food and drink around. I hope I can find some kind of cleaner that will make the grout look new and then apply a sealant to prevent this from happening again.


Several years ago we bought a house in the country. While I enjoyed living outside of the city, I didn't like driving on a gravel road.

Our cars were always dirty and you always had to go slower - especially when it was raining and the gravel would get soft.

A few years after we moved they began putting asphalt down on our road. Once the asphalt was laid, they covered it with an asphalt sealant.

During this time we had to take an alternate route and it really smelled bad, but it has been worth it.

It is so much nicer having a hard surface to drive on. Every year they come and spray more sealant on the asphalt to keep it smooth and protected.


My husband is in the bridge building business and has poured a lot of concrete in his life. When we built our house, he insisted we use a driveway sealant.

There is a long lane leading to our house which is gravel, but we have a large concrete space just outside of our garage.

We also live in a climate that has extreme weather, so this takes a lot of abuse from temperature changes and weather related issues.

Sprinkling salt down on the driveway in the winter also adds to the breakdown of concrete over time. He said using a driveway sealant goes a long ways towards protecting the concrete and keeping it looking nice.

I never gave much thought to keeping concrete looking pretty, but he is kind of fanatical about it.


I'm into making pottery, and I often use a sealant even after I have glazed and fired a piece. A sealant will add extra shine, and if you put it on the bottom of a piece, it will keep it from scratching your furniture.

Sometimes, pieces are not totally waterproof. A sealant can take care of this. I use one made for use on concrete.

My ceramics used to scratch the wooden shelf that I placed them on, but after I applied sealant to them, I have had no more scratches. I like the added luster that it gives to my pottery, because it makes it look more professional and attractive.


I got a beautiful wooden dining room table from my sister, and I wanted to seal it to protect it from major stains. I tend to spill food and drinks a lot, and this wood was way too beautiful to be covered in stains.

Let me tell you, sealing furniture takes work. It's not a one-step process. You have to apply one coat of polyurethane first, but after it dries, you have to sand it down.

Then, you do another coat and sand it down. Finally, you get to put on the final coat without having to do any sanding.

Since polyurethane takes time to dry, this whole process had to be spread out over several days. I think it took me a week to finish, because I had to do it whenever I had spare time.


@OeKc05 – Acrylic sealants are called “varnishes,” and they come in either gloss, semi-gloss, or satin finishes. I do a lot of acrylic paintings, and I always seal my work with a gloss varnish.

It is mostly clear but a little cloudy looking, and you have to mix it with water before using it. Since it is likely to drip off your painting, you should lay your work flat on top of something, and put newspaper down underneath it.

You can use a big brush and do single strokes in one direction. Do one coat, let it dry for three hours, and do another. Since I use the gloss varnish, it makes the painting super shiny, so if you want a more matte look, go with the satin varnish.


Does anyone know what I can use to seal my acrylic painting? I have worked very hard on it, and I want to make sure that nothing scratches it or mars it in any way.

This is the first painting I have ever done, so I am unfamiliar with how people go about sealing their artwork. I know that acrylic paint is water-based, so there is a danger of the paint running or smudging if it ever gets wet. I have young children in my house, and there is no telling what all could happen to this painting, so it is especially important for me to protect it.

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