Thread: Sealers
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Old 04-15-2003, 05:23 PM   #2
John Bridge
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
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Restoration Specialist

Registered: Nov 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 264
Water-based technology has absolutely taken off in the past few years. Current solvent-based technology has been in use for many years now, excluding solvent-based fluoropolymers. We can thank the EPA and the Democrats (another subject) for forcing us into “accelerating” the development of lower VOC products. I am not saying solvent-based is better…it WAS better. Yes, in the past, solvent-based products would penetrate denser stones with ease compared to water-based technologies. This is partially due to their make-up from the get go. Every resin, except silicates, dissolves in a solvent. These same resins can be mixed with water, but they then become an emulsion. Another words, just small particles of the resin floating around in water. Polymer size does matter here, but again, not molecular size.

Fast forward a few years.

We now have fluorochemicals. Still the same basics here. The majority of the fluorinated materials being used are acrylic. Acrylics dissolve in a solvent, but can become an emulsion in water when washed with a surfactant to “soften” it up. Now, for acrylic coatings, this washing weakens the polymer. Think about the difference in strength between a solvent-based acrylic coating and a water-based acrylic coating. Water-based acrylic COATINGS are weaker. This does not matter when it come to impregnators. Impregnators are sub-surface protectants, we don’t care about their scratch and scuff resistance. So water-based technologies work fine here. But we still had a problem. The fluoropolymers were performing, but not as well as they do in the textile industry. Remember, we are hard surface folks here, not no stinkin carpet dudesJ Kidding JC!!! We need heat!! Textiles are submerged into a fluoropolymer bath, then heated to activate the polymer “tails”. Think sperm here folks, looks about the same. They plant their little heads into a surface and its their tails that are providing the protection. No shit! So once again, solvent-based wins. Solvents provided the flash cure we needed to activate those tails. As good as the heat treatment used at carpet and textile plants? Nope, and we are yet to be there even today, but good enough.

Fast forward another year or two.

We are really onto something here! We have the solvent-based technology kicking conventional impregnator ass now. But that damn VOC regulation everybody has to meet, and its only going to get worse. Water-based is where its at. So we start barking up the ketones tree. MEK and Acetone. Worked a bit, but our polymers were just not meshing with it very well, plus we had one hell of a flammable product (which by the way is what started this thread…correct?). Then I get a call from a defected Dupont fluoro chemist. He says IPA. Friggin rubbing alcohol. He formulates both a fluorosurfactant and a fluorpolymer based on fluorinated acrylic and IPA. We now have a water-based product that act like a solvent-based. Flash? Yup! As good as heptane, toluene and such? Nope! But again, good enough. Remember, this is sub-surface folks, we don’t need a bullet-proof coating, its not our bag. Plus, its up to the surface you are applying this to, to take the brunt end of mechanical abuse. You can always coat the surface to protect it from this stuff, but then what the hell I am doing banging my head on the wall over this??

So…we have the great fluoro technology adapted to water-based formulation, but surface tension is still an issue. We have here this great stain resistant product, but cant get it to penetrate some surfaces as well as we know they can. We add a basic surfactant to the mix. You know, make water wetter. Bingo. But you remember that Lone Ranger Chemist I mentioned? Yup, not good enough for him. We now venture into fluorosurfactants. He makes up some craziness that brings down the surface tension of our water-based products to less than 10 dynes/cm3. Great! Cost? Not so great! Remember that $1000 a gallon jug stuff I mentioned earlier? Yup. Plus I could not keep the shit in a bottle for the life of me, it just evaporated through the side of my jug. And these jugs are fluorinated themselves, class 4 even! There is another story behind jug fluorinating and pieces of granite and marble blowing up. For those reading this far, if you ask, I will tell. Well, enough for now.J


1. You have to read between the lines to figure a ballpark for this. Stone Tech Pro (hi Karen) actually advertised their surface tension on the label. Old solvent-based technology with heptane in it is a low surface tension product. Think all the expensive impregnators here. Water-based fluoro products will run with the best of them.
2. There is a relation between density and surface tension. Old rule of thumb was solvent on anything polished. Not only because of surface tension (energy) but it was more applicator friendly. Easier to buff off, and when in a jam, dip your rag into more impregnator and buff haze right off. But we are not dealing with the same kind of resins. Some fluoropolymers require a good washing with water, not only to remove the haze, but also to activate it. The lemon test is great! It is not feasible to know the true density of every stone, not to mention this density changes depending on finishing techniques, such as polishing. Remember our conversation of deflection and natural stone, this is even worse.
3. Impregnators can benefit dense stones, such as absolute black. But we have to be reasonable too. If we have an impregnator with a surface tension of less than 20, and the stone does not want to take it in, well then there is not a hell of a lot out there that will stain that stone. I have formulations that will go right into these stones with no problem, but again, why?
4. I don’t know. Polished, honed, flamed, brush hammered or what? What is the actual density of that particular absolute black you are looking at? What are the environmental conditions during application? Deflection and stone again Through testing, I have had great success in the neighborhood of 15 dynes/cm3. But again, what is the point? Not much is going to stain that granite to begin with.

I don’t want this technology to sound like a cure all though. Marbles will still etch like a SOB. So as far as acid etching goes…well…still at the drawing board
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