If you are going to apply a penetrating sealer to protect the garage floor, should you use a roller or a sprayer to apply it?
Spraying penetrating sealer onto a garage floor is faster and cheaper than rolling it. A sprayer puts a fine mist down that quickly absorbs and dries. The roller puts down a heavier, wetter load. Unused sprayer sealant can go back in the bottle, while unused roller sealant will get thrown away.
The Third Option is “Not Sealing the Floor”
I'm not joking when I add the third argument to this debate. Your floor has gone unsealed this long. Why seal it now?
I'll tell you about my garage floor because I think that will help you decide.
When we started this project (Reboot My Garage), the idea was to document fixing the garage in a blog. I pretty much thought I'd have a “This Old House” garage by now, but old age and lockdowns have changed things a bit.
My garage floor is still unsealed. Last winter we brought a ton of de-icer salt and snow in on our cars. The spalling and pitting on the concrete floor got worse.
Not to mention the 2011 Chevy Impala and the 2012 Chevy Cruze both sprung very expensive oil leaks onto the garage floor as well.
If I had gotten to the sealing and floor rolling and epoxying and …. but I digress.
The sooner you protect your garage floor, the less work you'll have when the oil and salt mess up and eat away at the concrete.
Before we dive into the debate of how to seal your garage floor, let's take a moment to discuss why it's important. Garages are notorious for being messy areas where spills and leaks occur regularly.
These spills can cause stains on your concrete that can be nearly impossible to remove. Additionally, harsh chemicals such as oil and gasoline can penetrate porous concrete and cause damage over time.
Protect the Concrete Garage Floor with a Densifying Sealer
Roll or Spray the Garage Floor Seal: The Great Debate
Now let's get into the crux of this article – should you roll or spray the sealer onto your garage floor? This is a question that many homeowners have debated over for years with no clear answer in sight.
Rolling sealer onto your garage floor offers greater control over application than spraying. That means that when you roll the sealant onto the concrete, you will get an even layer across all surface areas.
Plus, rolling produces less waste than spraying sealer. Spraying means there will be overspray that wastes the product and forces you to deal with the cleanup.
But sprayers are easier to use than rollers, so let's look at that. With a sprayer, you can get sealer onto a large area faster without having to stop and reload as you do with the roller.
While rollers are better at surface coverage, sprayers are better at hard-to-reach areas such as corners.
If you're thinking you might paint the floor someday, you need to get a penetrating sealer that allows a topcoat such as paint. I wrote about the one I like in my article Protect the Concrete Garage Floor with a Densifying Sealer
Combine Rolling with Spraying for Optimal Garage Floor Sealer Results
While there is no definitive answer to the rolling vs. spraying debate, combining both methods can offer optimal results.
When you're painting inside, you “cut in” the windows before painting the walls. You do the delicate areas first, and the large areas next.
You can do the same thing with garage floor sealant. Use a sprayer around the garage floor edges and corners. Then roll out the rest of the surface.
This approach combines the time-saving benefits of spraying with greater control over spreading out sealer evenly provided by rolling.
Unpacking Variables: Picking Your Perfect Garage Floor Sealant Method
Your needs concerning cost, time, and experience level will help you decide which method works best for you.
The Costs of Rolling vs. Spraying Sealant On a Garage Floor
Spraying sealant is cheaper than rolling it because spraying produces less wasted product. If you could ideally put down exactly the same amount of sealer with a sprayer and a roller, the costs would be equal. But the fact is that the roller soaks up sealant that will never make it to the floor.
The sprayer also puts down a thinner coat than the roller. It uses less sealer and therefore is cheaper in this way as well.
The Time it Takes to Roll vs. Spray Sealant on a Garage Floor
Spraying sealant on the garage floor is a faster method than rolling it on.
Compare the application processes of each method. With a sprayer, you wave the wand over the floor as you walk back to the door. With a roller, you load up the brush and push the sealer into the concrete. You slightly overlap on each pass, and it's difficult not to even out every single overlap.
The sprayer is quicker to get sealant into corners than the roller because you don't have to slow down as you do with the roller to reach tight spots.
The finer spray also dries faster than the thicker rolled-out sealer.
The sprayer's quicker sealant application goes out the window if you need to clean up significant overspray. Cleaning oversprayed sealant adds significant cleanup time to the job.
If you do have overspray, you have to act quickly to clean the unwanted sealant while it's still wet. If the sealer has already dried, the process can be more challenging but is still doable.
If the overspray is still wet, wipe it up with a cloth soaked in a solvent appropriate for the type of sealant you're using. Check the sealer's instructions for recommended solvents. If the cloth gets saturated, resume cleaning using a fresh cloth. Otherwise, you're just moving the sealer around rather than mopping it up.
If the sealant has dried, you might need a commercial-grade adhesive remover or paint stripper. Apply this to the overspray, wait for the sealant to soften, and then carefully scrape or scrub it away.
After removing the overspray, clean the area thoroughly with soapy water to remove any residue.
Compare the cleanup time to the time it takes to push the roller up and down the garage floor. Spraying is faster than a roller unless you have a significant overspray to clean up.
Spraying sealant onto the garage floor is faster than applying it with a roller, so long as you don't create significant overspray. Cover items that you don't want to be sealed with plastic or a tarp to help the job go as fast as possible.
This should help. Avoid these sealing mistakes.
- Sealing New Concrete | Bonus Video – Sealing Concrete by ToolboxDIY
- ChemMasters Avoid Common Mistakes When Sealing New Decorative Concrete by ChemMasters
- Sealing a Concrete Floor by finehomebuilding