This page contains frequently asked questions about Omega Concrete Countertop SealerTM.
Q: How is Omega Concrete Countertop SealerTM different?
A: Omega is a revolutionary new high performance urethane sealer that is also fast and easy to apply. Omega allows you to do in 2 hours what used to take 2 days with other urethanes. You’re done in a matter of hours, and never have to worry about callbacks again.
This is a unique two-component, water-borne aliphatic-polyurethane that is highly reactive and not dependent on humidity to cure. It rolls on quickly and easily without worrying about streaks or bubbles in the final finish. The finish is ready for light use as fast as one day after application.
Omega: Fast. Easy. Done. Your sealer woes are finally over.
Why Jeff developed Omega:
Q: Where can I buy Omega Concrete Countertop SealerTM?
A: Click here to purchase in our online store.
Omega is available for purchase in Canada from Exclusive Concrete in London, ON. Please visit www.exclusiveconcrete.com or call 519-282-6495.
Omega is marketed in Australia as Mega Concrete Benchtop SealerTM, and sold through POP Concrete in Brisbane. Please visit www.popconcretesnt.com.au or call 0466 334 630.
Omega is available for purchase in the United Kingdom from Cheshire Concrete Designs. Please visit www.cheshireconcretedesigns.co.uk or call 07807 040783.
Q: What is the coverage and cost per square foot?
A: A small kit of 16 oz A, 8 oz B (24 oz) covers approximately 133 sq ft using 1 primer coat and 4 finish coats, and up to 267 sq ft if using 1 primer coat and 1 finish coat.
Cost is $108 per 24 oz, or $0.40 per sq ft at maximum coverage to $0.81 per sq ft at minimum coverage.
The larger kit is 4 times this size (96 oz), so 532-1068 sq ft coverage at a cost of $0.39 to $0.77 per sq ft.
Q: Where can I find the instructions?
A: The full instruction videos and documentation are available online after purchase. Search your inbox and spam folder for an email with subject line “Important instructions for Omega Concrete Countertop Sealer”. It is essential to watch and read the full documentation before applying the sealer.
Q: What test data do you have?
A: Extensive testing for stain and acid resistance has been performed following the procedure explained here. Field testing and lab testing for UV stability, wet use, and freeze/thaw have been performed. Additional standardized tests for abrasion, impact resistance, adhesion and flexibility have also been performed. Here are the results.
Q: How many total coats and how long did you wait for it to cure before the testing?
A: Testing was done on 4 finish coats, when the finish was 2 weeks old. This represents typical long-term performance. Early performance was very good too, but hard to characterize, as the finish is still curing when it’s only a couple days old.
Q: Will Omega work on all concrete?
A: Yes and no. While Omega’s performance is not related to the kind of concrete it’s applied to, the appearance can be. Omega is primarily used by professional concrete countertop makers, who generally use concrete that is dense and relatively non-porous (like GFRC). Different concrete mix designs, casting techniques, curing regimens, surface processing techniques, environmental conditions, etc. will influence how well Omega is applied and how it looks.
In particular, very porous concrete can present challenges, showing dark lines that are sometimes interpreted as roller marks. Please see below for details on dealing with porous concrete.
Keep in mind also that Omega was developed specifically for professional concrete countertops and elements. It has not been tested on floors, which could range from conventional ready-mix concrete to highly polymer modified overlays to epoxy systems.
It’s strongly recommended to test Omega on a trial sample before sealing a real project for the first time. Practice in timing and application method is essential, because the outcome is often directly related to the skill and care of the one applying the sealer.
Q: Does it stand up to mustard?
A: Mustard is an extreme staining agent due to the coloring (often turmeric) and acidity. Mustard and Tabasco Sauce (a brand of hot pepper sauce) are the only substances that made a slight stain (a little color, not etching) after 24 hours, but that stain bleached out. Only the surface of the sealer stained – the concrete did not stain – and again, it was fixed easily with bleach. Please see the test results report above, and about halfway through the stain test performance video.
Q: Is it grease/oil resistant?
A: Yes, completely.
Q. Will it prevent water marks?
A: Definitely, absolutely no problems with water marks. Omega can be used in wet areas including sinks, tubs and showers.
Q: Is it food safe?
A: Yes. Once Omega is cured it is completely food safe and inert.
Q: What is the shelf life?
A: Omega is highly reactive, which is what makes it so fast to apply. The shelf life is 3-6 months in unopened containers, and 1 month or 3 applications (whichever comes first) in opened containers, stored properly and dry gas blanket (Smooth-On XTEND-IT) applied.
Here is how to tell whether Omega has expired:
Q: How do I know whether Omega has expired?
A: As Omega nears the end of its shelf life, Part A will become gel-like in consistency. If you can mix Part A to liquefy it, you can still use it.
Q: How long does it take for Omega to cure completely and gain its full performance?
A: Just like concrete, sealers need to cure. You wouldn’t expect your concrete to have full strength after only 24 hours – although it may be strong enough to handle, it will gain strength over time. Typically you should expect full cure of Omega within 4-7 days, depending on temperature. (Omega is not dependent on moisture to cure.) Most urethane coatings require similar timeframes.
Q: It’s been 24 hours, but my sealer still feels tacky/gummy.
A: While Omega does not depend on humidity to cure, it is affected by temperature, just like your concrete, or any chemical reaction. In order for Omega to cure quickly, it needs to cure under warm conditions continuously, so ideally leave the heat on in your shop. At recommended temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius),
When brand new Omega feels oily, then it feels tacky, then it’s a bit soft and rubbery, then it continues to harden. If you lightly sand with 320 sandpaper and the paper doesn’t gum up and you get white dust, Omega is hard enough to sand out any dust spots.
Q: What sheens are available?
A: Matte only. Please note also that Omega is color enhancing, meaning that it “wets out” the color of the concrete. Color enhancing versus non color enhancing is a different property than the sheen of the finish.
Q: Is there going to be a gloss version of Omega?
A: We do not have a gloss version planned at this time, however Omega can be buffed to increase the sheen without affecting its performance. Simply use standard automotive clearcoat buffing equipment and techniques.
Q: How often does it need to be reapplied or resealed?
A: Never, unless you subject it to extreme abuse (like using your countertop as a cutting board).
Q: Do you recommend it for outdoor projects?
A: Absolutely. It is UV stable and fine for outdoors in all wet/dry and freeze/thaw conditions. It has been extensively tested on both lab samples and installed client projects for several months in challenging wet and freezing outdoor conditions. An alumnus in British Columbia, Canada, reports: “I use it for all my outdoor kitchens. It’s been raining, snowing, and freeze/thawing since and they are all perfect.” Lab tests over 6 months have shown zero effects from soaking, then freezing, then thawing many dozens of times.
Q: Can I put hot pots on it?
A: Yes, up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius). It’s still a good idea to use trivets, because the underlying concrete may be affected by the heat even if the sealer is not.
Q: Can I cut on it?
A: No. There is no coating you should cut on, because unless a coating is made of diamonds, it will scratch.
Q: How do I clean surfaces sealed with Omega?
Maintenance and cleaning couldn’t be easier. Damp cloths, mild detergents and other water-based cleansers with neutral pH are all that are needed. Examples are 409, Fantastik, Windex, and Simple Green. Vinegar, bleach and bleach-based cleansers are acceptable.
Avoid harsh, acidic cleaners and solvents. Abrasive cleansers or scrubbers should be never be used. These include Ajax, Comet, Brillo pads and 3M scrubbing pads, and all similar products. Abrasive cleaning products will scratch and damage the surface, compromising the sealer’s ability to protect the concrete.
Q: How does it perform with respect to scratches?
A: Omega has good scratch resistance. It will not scratch under normal use of simply placing objects on the counter. It will scratch if cut on with a knife, but unlike brittle finishes that fracture when scratched (that’s why scratches look white), Omega doesn’t show light cuts and scratches as a spiderweb of white lines.
Q: Can scratches be repaired?
A: Yes, Omega is easy for the homeowner to repair if scratches do occur. This means that you won’t have callbacks due to scratches.
For any sealer, you should provide your clients with a care and maintenance guide that specifies that they should not cut on the countertops, as well as what to do if scratches do occur, and your contract should include this information. This is part of setting expectations, which is important no matter what sealer you use.
Detailed instructions for scratch repair, as well as a care and maintenance guide, are available for download after purchasing Omega. You can provide these documents to your client.
Note that with any coating, it is important to repair scratches before they become a problem. If scratches occur and are left unrepaired, staining agents, acids or oil could get through to the underlying concrete and discolor or damage it.
Q: How does it compare to [other popular high performance urethane sealer] when it comes to abrasion resistance?
A: The abrasion resistance of Omega is very good, with a low Taber abrasor score (lower is better) – see the test results above. We don’t have comparable data for other sealers, and therefore cannot comment on which is better.
Q: Why would I want to use a coating that might scratch if there are penetrating treatments out there that claim to provide stain and acid resistance?
A: In our experience over the past 2 decades, no penetrating treatment has ever provided consistently satisfactory performance with respect to stain resistance, acid resistance and even water resistance. Only coatings completely prevent substances from ever touching the concrete, giving total protection.
It is important to test any sealer yourself (including Omega) to verify the manufacturer’s claims as well as to familiarize yourself with the details of its performance. We strongly recommend that you follow the rigorous stain and acid testing procedure specified here before you put any new (to you) sealer on a client project – especially any treatment, because treatments allow substances to touch the concrete.
The debate between coatings and treatments has been raging in the concrete countertop industry for decades. Stay tuned for a detailed article about this topic.
Q: I’m considering priming the concrete with [popular reactive treatment] followed by Omega top coats. The reasoning is that the [popular reactive treatment] will make the concrete itself stain/acid resistant, and Omega will provide an additional physical barrier that is also stain/acid resistant.
A: Be careful about applying treatments to concrete followed by any coating. Most coatings require clean, dry, bare concrete with enough microtexture (max 200 or 400 grit depending on the coating) to bond to. Omega, and likely most urethanes, almost certainly should not go over [popular reactive treatment] or any other penetrating treatment (densifier) with a lithium/potassium/sodium silicate or silicanate or siloxane chemistry. We have not tested Omega in these circumstances.
What you are trying to achieve is a completely impervious system that even if it scratches and staining agent/acid/oil gets through the scratches, the concrete underneath will not stain. But what you’re creating is a bonding problem.
The unfortunate truth is that there is no perfect sealer. You can choose stain/acid resistance, or you can choose scratch resistance. You can’t have both. As stated above, “In our experience over the past 2 decades, no penetrating treatment has ever provided consistently satisfactory performance with respect to stain resistance, acid resistance and even water resistance.”
We believe that stain/acid resistance is far more important. Stay tuned for a detailed article about this topic.
Q: Can Omega be applied over a densifier?
A: Not without a lot of work, and even then it’s risky. See the answer to the previous question, and then read this article about resealing with Omega.
If you’re not resealing but making a new countertop, think about what you are trying to achieve by using a densifier, and whether it’s really necessary. Densifiers are typically used to decrease permeability and to make concrete harder for polishing. You don’t need to decrease permeability when you’re going to apply a completely impermeable coating. And you’re not going to polish concrete before applying Omega, because you’re going to stop at 200 or 400 grit. So densifiers make no sense with Omega or with any other coating.
Q: Can Omega be applied over acid stains?
A: Yes, but only with very thorough surface prep. This is the case for all coatings. The acid stain must first be completely neutralized, and all residue scrubbed off. A “white towel” test will determine whether all of the residue has been removed or not. The concrete must then be well rinsed with water. The concrete should dry for 24 hours, since all the cleaning pumps a lot of moisture into the concrete.
Q: Will Omega adhere to glass and metal?
A: Glass and metal are popular decorative embedments in concrete countertops. Omega will adhere to properly prepared glass and metal. Glass should be diamond-honed to a grit no finer than 200 to ensure good adhesion. Metal needs to be thoroughly cleaned and scuffed to ensure good adhesion. I recommend hand-sanding bare metal with a non-diamond abrasive such as silicon-carbide sandpaper to a grit no finer than 220. The metal should then be cleaned with acetone to remove residue, grease or other contaminants.
Q: How does it compare to [other popular high performance urethane sealer]?
A: That, as well as other company’s brands, are popular urethane based concrete countertop sealers with excellent performance. The advantage of Omega over the current urethanes is that it’s faster and easier to apply and get it to look good, and it still has the excellent performance. With concrete countertop sealers, both performance and appearance are essential – and it’s really nice if achieving both is quick and easy.
Q: I am not happy with the performance of [other sealer], and would like to reseal. Can Omega be applied right over our current sealer?
A: If the other sealer is a coating, likely yes. Most coatings just need to be scuff sanded (not sanded completely off), and then Omega applied. It has excellent adherence over a few other popular coatings we’ve tested. Please see this article for details.
Please note that Omega should NOT be applied over penetrating or reactive treatments.
Q: I moved away from [other popular high performance urethane sealer] because of the excess rolling to get the finish to layout nicely in the lower to no dilution application steps. Does Omega have the same issue?
A: The main issue with all the other urethanes that Omega solves is exactly the excess rolling. Omega lays out on its own without streaks or bubbles. The key is not to *over* back roll it.
Q: How’s the flash dry time compared to other similar sealers? With [other popular high performance urethane sealer], I find it hard to get it to lay out flawless on the less diluted coats on larger pieces without a third hand.
A: Feedback from folks who have used that, and similar finishes, report that Omega lays out better and is less fussy. One main reason is that it requires less backrolling, so you’re not spending a lot of time trying to make a fast-drying finish look perfect. Omega lays out very nicely on its own, so you don’t need (or ever want to) over back roll it. In fact, it is best to leave any little bubbles because they pop on their own and become invisible.
Q: What is the preparation protocol for surface to seal? I’m not a big fan of muratic acid washing the surface – I wet polish 100/200 then dry 200 and Spinflex with a 200.
A: Surface prep is important with any sealer. The wet polishing you do is fine. With Omega we recommend *not* dry polishing or Spinflexing it because it burnishes the surface and makes it too smooth. Not having to do that saves time. You would need to use muriatic acid if you did not wet polish 100/200 because you had a cream finish you wanted to preserve. The acid gives the surface a little bit of tooth, just like polishing at 200 grit does. Of course the surface needs to be clean, dry, and as dust free as possible, for any coating.
Q: I applied the primer, and there are dark lines/blotches everywhere. I thought this sealer was supposed to lay out easily with no roller marks. What should I do?
A: Your concrete is likely porous and absorbing a lot of moisture that is taking time to dry. It’s important to differentiate these marks left by moisture in the concrete from those created from primer that has prematurely dried before backrolling.
- Areas that are absorbing more moisture will appear darker, and this appearance is temporary and will disappear when the concrete dries.
- In contrast, areas in which primer dried prematurely before backrolling will appear lighter than areas that stayed wet before being backrolled, and those differences are usually permanent.
Here’s what’s going on if you have the former (absorbing more moisture) situation:
It is not uncommon for the concrete to appear blotchy and uneven during and even soon after the sealing process has been completed. Dark marks in the concrete (roller lines, puddle marks, drips, etc.) are due to excess moisture in the concrete enhancing those areas that are moister. And concrete that has very recently been wet before sealing can also exhibit uneven dark areas during and after sealing.
Dark roller lines and dark spots can remain in the concrete even after the sealing process is finished, and it usually takes at least 12 hours or more for them to fade and for the appearance to even out after the last coat of sealer is applied. (This of course assumes that the primer and finish coats were applied according to the directions, and didn’t dry before being backrolled.)
The process of priming involves soaking the concrete with primer until the concrete can no longer absorb any more. During priming, large amounts of moisture are pumped into the concrete, and how much moisture gets into the concrete depends upon its age, composition and porosity, as well as how long the primer is left on the concrete before backrolling. Areas where more moisture sat for longer times will appear darker, as water is an excellent but temporary color enhancer. The darker moisture spots/marks/lines usually don’t disappear during the 10 to 30 minutes needed for the surface moisture to flash off between coats.
The fresh primer coat (or coats, if more than one is used) holds the moisture in the concrete, and subsequent primer/finish coats help retain that moisture, resulting in a blotchy or streaky appearance. This is almost always temporary, as the moisture in the concrete evaporates over time.
Q: What happens if I accidentally spill water on the sealer in the middle of the sealing process, for example after I’ve just finished the second of four finish coats?
A: No worries, in the case of water spilled during the sealer process simply proceed with the next coat. However, if you spill water on the surface just after you have completed the sealing process, before the sealer has cured, you should blot up the water, because it will leave a dull or dark mark on the sealer. After the sealer has cured completely (usually after 4 days depending on temperature), it is completely impervious to water.
Q: What if I get dust in the sealer? And if I don’t notice dust in the finish until the next day, and the surface is bumpy?
A: Dust is an issue in any shop, but Omega is very forgiving. If you notice dust, particles, hair, or fibers in the surface while sealing, they can simply be brushed off with your finger or a paper towel. The mark left by doing this will disappear on its own.
If you feel any roughness the next day after sealing, say if dust settled in there, simply go over it with 320 or 400 or 600 grit sandpaper very lightly and quickly by hand. There’s no machine sanding or buffing.
Q: There are chunks in Part A, and they’re getting stuck in the roller and on the surface. What should I do?
A: Because of the highly reactive nature of Omega’s chemistry, sometimes small amounts of material can cure with the tiny amount of air in the container and dry on the lid, causing bits of dried material to fall into the liquid. This is similar to what happens with paint cans when using ordinary household paint. It does not indicate any problem with the sealer and simply requires straining. Straining is recommended as a standard procedure, just like automotive finishes are always strained before applying.
Simply proceed with mixing Part A, Part B and water according to the instructions, then strain the mixture with a paint strainer before using it. The instructional videos contain detailed information about this procedure. [I’ll add red text to the instruction page now, and then we can post the video when you’re done with it.]
If you don’t notice the chunks before mixing and applying, no worries, pick them out and keep going, just like if you got dust or fibers in the sealer.
Q: When I opened Part A, there was a thick film on top. What should I do?
A: This is the same issue that can cause chunks. Simply remove and discard the thick film and proceed. The Part A container has a little extra material in excess of the 2:1 ratio to account for possible losses due to a film or chunks.
Q: What happens if Omega freezes?
A: You will know it! Part B shows no signs, but Part A becomes a hard, rubbery puck when frozen. When fully re-thawed, it has the consistency of gummy yogurt. During the winter, we ship Omega only next-day or two-day, and we put heating packs in the boxes.