Unless you (or someone you know) work closely within the coatings, adhesives, polymers, agricultural sprays, or a number of other select industries, it is unlikely you’ve come across the term ‘Xylene’ before.
It’s possible that you heard it in passing as a part of new bulletins or perhaps read as part of the chemical ingredients in a certain product, but it’s not exactly a term or substance that is a household name.
Regardless of this lack of popularity, xylene can be found in a multitude of products, has an interesting background, and is best known as a solvent for its paint-removing properties.
Here in this detailed guide, we will be looking at whether you can use xylene to remove the concrete sealer, if yes how to go about it?
How to Remove Concrete Sealer Using Xylene?
Let’s face it…
Though there is a streamlined process that anyone can learn without much hassle, the process is incredibly tedious and even makes experts cringe at the thought of stripping concrete sealer with xylene.
The first step starts with determining whether it is water-based or solvent-based.
This can quickly be ascertained by pouring a bit of xylene over the concrete sealer, letting it work for 20 seconds, removing the excess, and then feeling the sealer.
If it is sticky and somewhat damp, its solvent-based; if not, its water-based.
From here, removing a solvent-based sealer is simple:
Apply xylene or another solvent-based stripper to remove the previous sealer.
Power wash until completely clean.
Be careful though as dyes around the area will be damaged by the xylene if touched.
In some cases, the old sealer won’t have to be removed and can instead be touched up with a solvent-based acrylic sealer.
This is left to the user, but it can help simplify the process.
Water-based concrete sealers
Water-based sealers are a bit different, although they are by no means difficult.
Instead of using xylene, products like Aqua Mix’s Sealer and Coating Remover can be used.
The concrete can be then etched by acid and neutralized, or it can be mechanically scratched to remove the old sealer.
If you’re looking to replace the current sealer with the opposite base (replacing solvent-based with water-based for example or vice versa), the previous sealer will need to be removed no matter what.
The same goes for replacing an acrylic sealer with either water-/solvent- based as well.
Possible Risks of Using Xylene for Removing Concrete Sealer
Wearing goggles, gloves, and respirator mask, are essential when working with xylene.
Although technically not a carcinogen, xylene can still pose some health risks that you should be mindful of while working.
It is officially classified as a nervous system depressant and affects anything related to this system.
Nausea, fainting, headaches, dizziness, visual impairment, vomiting, and various eye/skin irritations are all possible side effects of coming into contact with or inhaling xylene.
This is thought to occur because xylene has high fat-solubility qualities, which means it could affect neuronal proteins, though this is still being researched.
The Bottom Line
Xylene is a powerful chemical that can be used for a variety of different purposes.
Removing old paints, stains, and concrete sealer from the driveway, pathway, garage or basement is one such task that can be made super easy by using this product.
All you need is the right technique and strategies to use this product, failing which it can prove fatal.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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