Grout Sealers have many sealer formulations. Many manufactures do not list their sealer formulation and will only tell you that this is a trade secret.
There are water based and solvent based grout sealers.
There are Low VOC and high VOC grout sealers.
There are grout sealers that are also made for sealing stone tiles as well as for sealing grout.
There are various warranties, claims and marketing materials associated with grout sealers and grout additives. These claims, warranties and guarantees typically mean nothing in the real world usage of grout sealers. You will have little luck in trying to enforce any of the warranties or guarantees associated with grout sealers.
There are currently no industry standards for testing grout sealers so we devised our own test to try to determine which grout sealer works best for sealing and protecting grout. We first sealed some grout samples with sealers from various brands of sealer. We then applied some common food and oil based contaminates to the grout samples and allowed these contaminates to dry on the grout samples. We then cleaned the grout samples to see which sealer performed best to seal and protect the grout from becomming stained.
We found that the stonetech bulletproof sealer and the drytreat stainproof sealers worked best for sealing grout. The stonetech bulletproof is relatively low VOC based sealer while the Drytreat Stainproof is a much more expensive higher VOC based sealer. Generally if it is not necessary to use a high VOC based sealer then there is no reason to use this type of expensive sealer when sealing grout. High VOC sealers are better suited for sealing dense stone tiles as can be see in our stone sealer review.
Grout sealers come in two basic forms; water based and solvent based. The water and solvents in grout sealers are just the carriers for the sealant material. After the sealer dries the water or solvents that carried the sealant material will evaporate and only the sealant will be left in the grout to protect it. Solvent based sealers are able to penetrate deeper into the grout because the solvents can carry a smaller sealant molecule deeper into the grout than water based sealers. The sealant technology today has improved so that water based sealers are able to penetrate almost as far into the grout as solvent based sealers.
VOC stands for Volatile organic compounds. VOC is a broad based term used to analyze a wide range of industrial and consumer compounds. Generally speaking the VOC's are the human and environmental toxic byproducts that go into the environment from using certain products. Solvent based sealers will always have much higher VOC's then water based sealers due to the inherent nature of the solvent products. When the water based and solvent based sealers dry all the VOC's will leave the grout or tile and only sealant material will remain. There is no lingering effect from VOC's after the sealer has dried (typically 4-6 hours).
There are many different grout sealer formulations used. Some grout sealant manufacturers will tell you the formulations and some just state that their sealant formulation is a trade secret. Grout sealant manufacturers are generally not required to list the sealant formulation on the MSDS due to the fact that the actual sealant material is a non toxic compound.
It takes a higher quality type of sealer to seal stone tiles then it does to seal grout. Many stone tiles are extremely dense and it takes a small sealant molecule to penetrate deep into the stone tiles to seal them. A sealer that that is made specifically for sealing stone will not automatically work better than a sealer that is made for just sealing grout. Grout sealers have larger sealant particles that make them better suited for sealing grout.
Properly sealing grout requires carefully following the manufactures instructions. Improperly sealing grout can ruin a perfectly good tile installation. You can read more information about how to properly seal grout here. You may want to consider hiring a professional tile cleaning and restoration contractor to seal your grout for you. You can read more about how to hire a tile cleaning and restoration contractor HERE.
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