my 5 best methods for removing concrete sealers

how to remove concrete sealerThis is acrylic solvent based concrete sealer that needs to be removed and re-sealed

Is your concrete sealer turning white? Or, is your sealer peeling & flaking off?

Over time most concrete sealers start to degrade, either from the sun or from water getting under the sealer and turning it white.

I've had to strip off and remove a lot of concrete sealers from patios, walkways, floors and stamped concrete for these reasons and a few more.

I've found some methods that work better than others. Below, I'll show you the five ways I think are the best ways to remove sealers from concrete.

What type of sealer do you have? water or solvent based

How to check what kind of concrete sealer you have using Xylene.

It's good to know if you have an acrylic water based sealer or an acrylic solvent based sealer on your concrete.

Why? Because that may determine which method you choose to remove it.

The way to check is to pour a little bit of Xylene on the surface and let it sit there for about 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, rub the area with a rag and see if it's sticky or not. 

If the area feels sticky or tacky, then you have a solvent based sealer, if it doesn't then you have a water based sealer.

will xylene remove concrete sealer

Xylene is a strong solvent and will re-emulsify concrete sealer. Wear the proper protection if you've never used it before.

How to check for solvent based sealer

I pour a little on the concrete like this and let it sit there for 30 seconds. Then I'll rub it around a bit. 

how to strip concrete sealer

If your sealer is an acrylic solvent base sealer, you'll feel it being kind of sticky. If it's water based then it may just look kind of clear like in the picture but not sticky.

1. does power washing remove concrete sealer (yes)

Pressure washing to remove concrete sealer

Power washing with a surface cleaner attachment is a good way to remove old, white concrete sealer.

Pressure washing works really good for removing water based concrete sealers like in the picture above.

You can see a distinct difference where I've started to power wash the concrete and where I haven't.

How much and how fast you'll remove the sealer will depend on how much water pressure you have and how well the sealer is adhered to the concrete.

On this job, I went over the surface twice with this cleaner, then I used a fan tip on the pressure washer to rinse the concrete off. I let it dry for 48 hours and re-sealed, it looked like brand new concrete when I was done.

2. will xylene remove concrete sealer (yes)

Will Xylene remove concrete sealer

Xylene will work good for removing solvent based concrete sealers. It's a little messy, but Xylene will re-emulsify the concrete sealer and soften it to the point where you an pressure wash it off.

Will Xylene remove concrete sealer

You can pour or spray on the Xylene in a small section, don't let the xylene evaporate.

Brush it around to help loosen it from the surface. The surface will become quite slippery so be careful.

Spend about a minute or two scrubbing (depends on how thick your sealer is). Add more Xylene if it starts to dry up.

Power washing to remove concrete sealer

Immediately after scrubbing, use your pressure washer and surface cleaner to remove the concrete sealer. 

You might remove all of it in one application or you might not. Again, it depends on how much is on there. Just go over it again a second time if you notice more sealer on there. 

You'll be able to tell once the concrete is dry by seeing shiny patches left on the surface.

how to strip and remove concrete sealer

This is what the sealer looks like after you remove it. It's kind of a mess but there's no real good way to catch it. Protect any plants or grass as the sealer will probably kill them.

After you remove the sealer, let the concrete dry for a couple days before you re-seal again.

3. remove concrete sealer by sand-blasting

Sand blasting to remove concrete sealer

Lightly sand blasting will remove the thin layer of concrete sealer and prepare the concrete for the new coating of sealer.

You'll have to hire someone to do this as it's not really a diy project. If it's not done right you could damage the concrete. But an experienced person can remove all the sealer quite quickly.

Sand blasting is a little dusty and messy but it removes virtually all the old, peeling sealer.

It may also remove some of the original color so re-coloring the surface before sealing is another step you may have to do. 

Nowadays re-coloring is pretty easy, I'll show you down below what to use.

4. soda-blasting to remove concrete sealer

Soda blasting to remove concrete sealer

Soda-blasting is similar to sand blasting, they just use a different blasting media to blast the surface.

Instead of sand or quartz, sodium bicarbonate is used. It's basically baking soda but a little coarser.

Soda blasting is gentler on the concrete and less likely to damage the concrete. It's also water soluble and much better for the environment. 

Soda blasting is highly effective for removing concrete sealer. Although it's still dusty, the dust isn't quite as harmful as sand blasting dust.

This will also be a method you'll have to hire someone to do as there's some equipment involved most people don't have.

It'll be much faster than pressure washing or using Xylene and do a better job.

You'll probably have to re-color the surface before you re-seal, but the concrete will look like brand new when you're done.

5. Dustless wet media blasting

Wet media blasting to remove concrete sealer

Wet media blasting is like sand and soda blasting except water is added making the process dustless.

Wet blasting is an excellent way to remove concrete sealer. An experienced operator can remove virtually 100% of the concrete sealer without damaging the concrete.

There's still some mess to clean up but it's less than soda and sand blasting. Sometimes the media blasted with the water is crushed glass or walnut shells. 

Again, you're going to hire someone to do this for fast and completer removal of the concrete sealer.

bonus! 6. an environmentally safe way to remove concrete sealer

How to remove concrete sealer

If you can't remove your concrete sealer by power washing and you don't want to use a strong solvent like Xylene, then NOCK-OFF concrete coating stripper will remove the sealer.

You roll it on using a 1/2" nap paint roller at about 100 sq. ft. per gallon. Let it dwell for 30 minutes or so and scrape off the loosened up concrete sealer.

It might take more than one application but it's safer to use than Xylene and more diy friendly than sand, soda, or wet blasting.

Rinse the concrete with a pressure washer afterwards to remove any residue and your concrete is stripped of sealer and ready to be re-sealed. (of course let it dry for 48 hrs. before sealing)

how to re-color stamped concrete after removing the sealer

How to re-color stamped concrete

After removing the concrete sealer you might want to re-color your stamped concrete. This is especially true if you had some type of blasting done to strip it off.

Re-coloring stamped concrete is actually quite easy if you use a product called Texture Enhancer from Deco-Crete Supply.

Texture Enhancer is a colored powder you mix with water. It comes in 20 colors so there's lots of choices.

You basically brush it on and let it dry. It dries fairly quickly, but wait at least 24 hours before you re-seal using Deco-Crete's D-1 concrete sealer.

Watch the guys from Deco-Crete supply re-color the concrete after stripping off the old concrete sealer.

how to re-seal your concrete

How to seal stamped concrete

I like to re-seal the concrete using D-1 concrete sealer from Deco-Crete Supply. 

This is a color enhancing, film forming, and penetrating concrete sealer that's excellent for stamped concrete, garage floors, patios, pool decks, and walkways. 

It won't peel, fade, or turn white like the sealer you just removed. 

After 2 - 3 light coats of D-1 sealer, the concrete will closely match the "wet look" of when you're brushing on the coloring agent.

Watch the guys from Deco-Crete Supply as they show you how to seal your stamped concrete after removing the old sealer.

For more information about how to re-seal stamped concrete, go HERE!

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