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How do you determine if you should use a coating or an impregnator for your floor? Both have advantages and disadvantages, so how do you know which one to use? Well, let’s identify the terms first. Coatings are a sealer that applies a protective coating or layer on top of a limestone surface. Impregnators are designed to penetrate below the surface and deposit solid particles in the pores of the limestone which will prevent water, oil and soils from entering the limestone itself. Generally, sealers are not recommended for outdoor projects. So, the real question is what result are you looking for?
Coatings are very economical. If you are concerned about cost, coatings are the initial way to go. They are easy to apply and some even add a slip resistance. Coatings will prevent wear on your limestone. Coatings can be applied below ground level.
Surfaces that have coatings generally need to be buffed frequently as the surface will show wear from continued traffic patterns. Poor quality coatings can cause a yellow buildup especially if the limestone surface is naturally exposed to the rays from UV light. Coatings require frequent stripping and re-applications. So, in the long run coatings may cost you more in the end.
Most impregnators will not require frequent applications. Most impregnators will keep the natural appearance of your original limestone. Most impregnators will not be affected by UV lighting and can be used on outdoor surfaces. An impregnator will cost you more money initially than a coating; however, it will cost you less in the long run because it will usually not require reapplications.
Impregnators can produce a strong vapor during application. Solvent based impregnators produce high levels of volatile organic compounds that are harmful for the environment. In some states these impregnators are even restricted. You must have some knowledge to apply these impregnators. The cost is higher than a sealer. Impregnators can not be applied below grade.
There are two types of coatings and also two main types of impregnators. First let’s discuss the coatings. Strippable coatings are designed to be removed easily. They are usually water based. Most are designed for resilient tile floors and not for limestone. Permanent coatings are much harder to remove. These are not recommended for limestone. Now for the impregnators. Hydrophobic impregnators are designed to repel water or liquids. Oilophobic impregnators will repel water and oil based liquids such as cooking oils and grease.
Be sure to consult a professional or distributer before making your choice. Let them know where your limestone project is and how it will be used. They should be able to help you make the proper choice; Coating or Impregnator?