The skinny on sealers
Home or business owner, granite or marble aficionado, interior or exterior planner – if you're working with natural stone, chances are you've heard a fair share about sealers.
Your first question is most likely whether sealing your stone is necessary.
"In some cases it makes perfect sense to seal the stone," the Marble Institute of America (MIA) states.
"Once properly sealed, the stone will be protected against everyday dirt and spills. In other cases, it is best to leave the stone untreated. Topical sealers can alter the surface texture and finish, as well as build up on the surface creating a layer that is less durable than the stone."
The key word there is "topical". Because when it comes to sealers, you have two choices: topical and impregnating.
"Topical sealers are coatings (film formers) designed to protect the surface of stone against water, oil, and other contaminants," the MIA continues.
"They are formulated from natural wax, acrylic, and other plastic compounds. Coatings are classified into two general types: strippable and permanent."
As the names imply, strippable topical sealers are relatively easy to remove, while permanent are designed to be much harder to get rid of.
However, as the MIA points out, while topical sealers provide some benefits, they also come with unique disadvantages.
These include scratching or scuffing easily due to their softness, creating a waxy build-up that can mar the look of stone and trapping moisture below the surface, which can lead to spalling.
This is why Dry-Treat has focused on creating state-of-the-art impregnating sealers. This type of surface treatment does not change the appearance of stone. Additionally, impregnating sealers don't require the frequent reapplication that comes with most topical varieties.
Dry-Treat impregnating sealers, such as STAIN-PROOF Original™, penetrate much deeper than other products on the market, permanently bonding inside the pores of the treated material to create a substantial oil- and water-repellent barrier.
This way, your stone is not only receiving stain protection, but also a defense against common structural damage caused by liquids, such as efflorescence, freeze-thaw damage, spalling and picture framing.
However, you may still be wondering: Just how do Dry-Treat impregnating sealers work?
The chemistry of surface protection
Dry-Treat impregnating sealers use specially engineered molecules. Our modified silane and flourine polymers are able to penetrate deeper and bond permanently thanks to a chemical reaction.
The two primary molecules feature hydrophobic and/or oleophobic properties, meaning they're designed to repel water and oil, and hydrophilic properties, meaning they're attracted to water.
Once applied, the sealer immediately starts to interact with the moisture in the air. The part of the molecule that is attracted to water will break off, while the molecule left behind will react with the surface of the material.
The molecule left behind then breaks the bonds between the material and the attached oxygen and hydrogen atoms, bonding directly to the lattice. In this way, the molecules become a part of the material itself, not just a coating sitting on top of it.
And since impregnating sealers offer breathability, you don't have to worry about moisture becoming trapped and leading to structural damage.
However, it's essential to remember that stain resistance is not the same as stain-proof. If a liquid is left on the surface of your stone for long enough, it will eventually penetrate. Impregnating sealers are designed to give you enough time to clean up spills before staining occurs.
Also keep in mind that sealers are not engineered to prevent acid etching, so you must still be vigilant about the use of acidic materials around your natural stone.