So, crack sealants for foundations . . . do they work or what? Worth it or not? When you’ve got some cracks in your slab foundation, you might wonder if sealing the cracks is something for you to seriously consider or skip. Good questions.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we’ve been helping homeowners think through foundation repair solutions for 35+ years. We’re foundation repair people and can certainly give you the rundown on foundation sealants and our opinion on the matter.
This article will discuss slab-on-grade foundation cracks: how they happen and which cracks to be concerned about and explore the pros and cons (along with our thoughts) on foundation crack sealants. By the end of this article, you can decide for yourself if they sound right for your home.
*Disclaimer Alert* This article is geared towards slab foundation homes in the Central Texas area. We are not talking about basement foundation cracks or anything in areas where prolonged freezing temperatures are the norm.
Why Do Foundations Crack and Which Cracks Are Concerning?
Home foundations and other flat concrete surfaces crack for a few basic reasons. None of the reasons are easy or possible for one homeowner to control so it’s kind of a fact of life. Here are the top 3 reasons your foundation or concrete flatwork might crack:
- Expansive clay soil behavior in fluctuating moisture conditions, or
- Insufficient/poor construction, or
- Because it just happens during the curing process or at other times.
We’ve got a whole article on what kind of foundation cracks to be concerned about but in a nutshell, wider displaced cracks are the kind to worry about. These bigger *scary looking* cracks usually mean some type of foundation settlement is occurring.
Any hairline cracks are typically due to expected and somewhat normal concrete behavior. Even cracks or flaws in concrete due to improper cure time or imperfect conditions or concrete mix during pour time are not usually structural concerns.
Cracks of any kind often make homeowners feel like *something needs to be done* and sealants come up as a possible remedy. In the next section, we’ll explore the idea of sealants and their advantages and disadvantages.
Foundation Crack Sealant Pros and Cons
Crack sealants come in many forms from waterproof epoxies to paintables, caulks, and injectable polyurethane foams. There’s a dizzying array of products available online or at your local hardware store. Rather than talking about the pros and cons of each individual type of sealant material, we’re going to address the advantages and disadvantages as a whole.
Pros of Using a Foundation Crack Sealant
Right off the bat, think of sealants as a temporary fix that doesn’t make the original source of your problem go away. Sealants are more of a personal preference for homeowners who feel more comfortable doing something to possibly prevent more problems from developing.
PRO: Provides a sense of comfort in knowing that the crack is “sealed”
PRO: Can prevent some water/moisture from getting inside the crack
PRO: Could diminish further erosion or crumbling of a developing crack *maybe*
PRO: Might keep small bugs from getting inside the crack
PRO: Could protect exposed rebar from water and subsequent visible rusting
Cons of Using a Foundation Crack Sealant
In general, all sealants are simply a band-aid and a cosmetic veneer. Sealants don’t magically mend or cure any cracks permanently. The cracks just get covered up. Hopefully this is not a big shocker to you, but underneath the sealant, there is still a crack there that was caused by something. That’s the biggest con, but there are others.
CON: The source cause of the crack is not addressed, only a cosmetic cover
CON: It’s impossible to seal a crack thoroughly that goes under the soil
CON: Might have to reapply sealant annually or more often
CON: Water always wins and you simply can’t keep it all out
CON: Often places more visual attention to the cracks with the obvious cover-up
There are also methods that masonry and concrete contractors can use to sort of *add another layer* of mortar or concrete to cover your cracks, but the pros and cons mostly still apply. Though one advantage to using these specialty contractors is that they may be better at doing something that blends in visually – maybe.
Do Foundation Sealants Work?
The underlying question behind most people asking about foundation crack sealants is really, “Do sealants even work?”
To answer this question, the best way to think about it is to evaluate what you were trying to accomplish in the first place. Did you want to feel better? Did you want to prevent problems? Did you want to keep water out forever? Did you want to keep bugs out? Did you want to handle the issue for good? Did you just want a cosmetic cover-up?
Putting it into a *your original goal with sealants* framework will tell you if it will work or not.
- If you wanted to feel better about the crack situation, then yes the sealant will likely work for you and make you feel better.
- If you wanted to prevent problems, then sealants prevent some problems but not very well since the source issue was not addressed and the crack could progress.
- If you wanted to keep water out forever, sealants probably won’t work 100% and reapplications and/or other remedies will likely be needed.
- If you wanted to keep little bugs out of the crack, sealants might work for that but bugs can’t get very far into your home through one small crack anyway.
- If you wanted to handle the issue for good, sealants won’t work for you because, again, the source of the problem is not being handled.
- If you wanted a cosmetic cover-up, sealants can work for that. Just be wary of whether it will bother you to call more visual attention to the area rather than less depending on your choice of sealants. In other words, choose carefully if looks matter.
Are Foundation Crack Sealants Worth It?
The next underlying question behind the question of *do sealants work* is, “Are sealants worth it?” Particularly, “Are sealants worth it for slab foundations in this area of Central Texas?”
*Opinion Alert* Since you asked, this is where we will break from the unbiased approach and tell you what we really think about foundation crack sealants in our professional opinion.
In general, we think crack sealants have little return on investment. They don’t address underlying causes and only offer temporary or flawed preventions and cosmetic cover-ups.
Most sealant options end up being unsightly and draw way more attention to the issue. People would normally glance over the cracks and not even notice them (if you hadn’t just painted a big red flag on the area with unattractive sealant material).
Sealants only seem worth it if it makes you feel better and that’s a personal preference, but don’t expect much else from the effort.
We don’t offer foundation crack sealants as part of our services because we don’t think they offer any real value to the homeowners we serve. There are probably some other foundation repair contractors out there that will gladly *take your money* and do foundation crack sealants for you, but we’re not going to be one of them.
What Would Anchor Do To Handle Foundation Cracks?
Now that you know what to consider in deciding if sealants are right for you, maybe you’re wondering what we *would do* to handle foundation cracks if it’s not a sealant. We prefer to focus on the likely source behind foundation cracks, and that’s the signs of foundation settlement.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we don’t fix things that don’t need fixin’, and we don’t try to sell you stuff you don’t need. After 35+ years in business, that’s what’s best for our Brazos Valley community and for exceptional homeowners like you. We’re here to help guide you through your foundation problems, but you’re the one in charge.
If you’ve got big enough cracks in your slab foundation, sealants are not going to cut it anyway because you likely have foundation issues. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Foundation Problems (Real + Misleading Signs) to see if your home has more concerning symptoms.