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You are here : Stone Home > Info Center > Stone Knowledge > Topical Sealers vs. Impregnators (Advantages and Disadvantages)

Topical Sealers vs. Impregnators (Advantages and Disadvantages)

Updated:2007-11-13 15:21:25

(Continuing to: Sealing Natural Stone From The Marble Institute of America)

 

 

How do you decide whether to use a coating or an impregnator to protect the stone? Both have advantages and disadvantages. The following summary should be studied carefully to help you choose the right product.

 

·  Topical Sealers – Advantages

 

1. Topical sealers are generally economical. The initial application cost is relatively small.

2. They’re usually easy to apply. Unskilled laborers can learn to apply them with a reasonable amount of training and practice.

3. Topical sealers typically provide a sacrificial layer on the stone. This layer will take most of the wear on the stone.

4. Certain topical sealers may provide added slip resistance.

5. Some topical sealers can be applied below grade.

6. These products provide various degrees of luster.

 

·  Topical Sealers – Disadvantages

 

1. Since most topical sealers are typically softer than the stone itself, they will usually scratch, mar and scuff very easily, showing traffic patterns soon after application. This will require frequent buffing, burnishing, or reapplication.

2. Topical sealers can build up and cause an unsightly appearance, giving an unnatural, wavy, plastic look to the stone.

3. Poor quality topical sealers can turn yellow. This is especially true if the stone is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.

4. Some topical sealers require frequent stripping and reapplication. The chemicals and abrasives used in the stripping process may cause damage to the stone. Typically, certain stripping pads and brushes can scratch softer stones. Some wax strippers can harm agglomerate stones by eating through the polyester resin binders they contain. Certain topical sealers may block the “breathing” capability of a stone. Moisture can become trapped below the surface and may lead to spalling.

 

·  Impregnators – Advantages

 

1. Most impregnators won’t change the appearance of the stone.

2. Impregnators typically don’t require frequent applications. Since the impregnator is below the surface, it will generally last several years before reapplication is necessary.

3. Most impregnators aren’t affected by UV light because they’re absorbed below the surface where light can’t penetrate.

4. Impregnators are typically hydrophobic, and some of them are oliophobic as well.

 

·  Impregnators – Disadvantages

 

1. Impregnators that are solvent-based produce vapors during application. In some cases these vapors can be noxious and flammable.

2. Some varieties of solvent-based impregnators are harmful to the environment, releasing large amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). For this reason, the use of these impregnators is restricted in certain states. Also, some water-based impregnators may also contain harmful or toxic chemicals. Always check the material safety data sheet (MSDS) of the product before deciding whether to use it.

3. Proper application of impregnators is generally more difficult than that of coatings. In many cases, training or professional consultation is recommended.

4. The initial cost of most impregnators can relatively high.

5. Generally, impregnators cannot be used below grade to resist hydrostatic pressure. Because the stone is still capable of breathing, water can be forced through the stone by pressure.

 

 

source: Marble Institute of America

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