It is important to properly seal grout on a regular basis to protect it from becoming dirty, stained and damaged.
By Troy Cantini
Grout is an extremely porous material that can harbor dirt, mold, mildew and bacteria. Sealing your grout will protect it from these contaminates and keep it from becoming dirty and stained over time. You should seal your grout 72 hours after it has been installed and you should also re-seal your grout at least once a year especially in showers and high traffic areas like tile floors.
Most porous stone tile surfaces like travertine, limestone, marble and granite should be sealed on a regular basis as well. You can seal these porous stone surfaces at the same time as you are sealing the grout. Sealing non porous ceramic and porcelain tiles is not necessary but the grout between the tiles definitely needs to be sealed.
You should only seal cement based grout. Epoxy, urethane and other types of synthetic grouts do not need to be sealed. Sealing these types of synthetic grouts can do more harm than good for protecting them. Additionally you should not seal your grout if it has been re-colored, dyed or sealed with an epoxy based grout colorant. Grout colorants will put a topical layer of the grout colorant product on top of the grout that also serves to seal the grout. Sealing grout that has had a grout colorant sealer applied to it can also do more harm then good for protecting the grout.
Deep cleaning grout with strong alkaline and acidic cleaners can break down the sealers in grout You should always reseal your grout it has been deep cleaned. Grout sealers will also break down over time so you should seal your grout at least every 3-5 years even in out of the way areas. You should always thoroughly clean your grout before sealing it. You do not want to seal in any dirt and contaminates causing permanent hard to remove stains in the grout.
Shower grout gets a lot of abuse so you should seal your shower grout at least once a year. The wet grout in showers is a perfect place for dangerous toxic mold to live and breed. You do not want the mold to grow in your grout and get into the walls of your home. Mold in your homes walls can release dangerous mold spores that can be harmful to your health. This makes cleaning, maintaining and sealing shower grout on a regular basis extremely important.
There are two main types of applicators that can be used to seal your grout. The brush tipped applicator is convenient for sealing small grout joints and vertical grout surfaces. The roller wheel type applicator works better for sealing the grout on large horizontal surfaces like tile floors.
You should seal your grout when it is not too hot and you do not want to seal the grout in direct sunlight. It is important that the sealer does not dry on the tile surface. If it is a hot summer day try to seal the grout in the morning or evening when it is the coolest. You also do not want to seal grout in freezing cold temperatures. You should read the grout sealer manufactures instructions for the proper conditions and temperatures recommended for using their grout sealer.
It is important to only use a high quality professional grade sealer like Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold. Low grade sealers from local home improvement stores will not provide much protection for your grout and they will allow your grout to easily become stained. Also these low grade sealers will not last long and they will break down easily with normal everyday cleaning products. Aqua Mix sealers choice gold performed as the best grout sealer in our grout sealer review. The one quart container of grout sealer will seal approximately 200 sq/ft of grout with 12 inch tiles and 1/8 inch grout lines.
Apply a liberal amount of sealer to the grout joints and ensure that the grout is thoroughly saturated with sealer. Do not worry if some of the sealer gets on the surface of the tiles. The excess sealer on the tiles surface will be wiped away later. Work only in small sections at a time and keep the grout joints saturated with grout sealer for 5-10 minutes. If you see that the sealer is getting absorbed by the grout and starting to dry then apply more sealer to the grout lines to keep them thoroughly saturated with grout sealer. Remember to no let the sealer dry on the surface of the tiles. If an area of sealer begins to dry on the tile surface then add more sealer to keep that area saturated with the grout sealer.
You should first seal the vertical tile surfaces like backsplashes and shower walls. Trying to keep these vertical grout joints saturated with sealer for 5-10 minutes can be a challenge and is not always achievable. Still try to get as much sealer into the vertical grout joints as possible without allowing the sealer to dry on the surface of the tiles. Continually applying sealer to the vertical tiles while continually wiping up the excess sealer off the tile surfaces is the best method for sealing vertical tile surfaces.
After sealing the vertical tile surfaces then you can use the roller wheel applicator to seal the grout on the horizontal tile surfaces. It is much easier to keep the grout saturated with sealer on the horizontal tile surfaces like tile countertops and tile floors. These horizontal surfaces will also get dirty more quickly so it is more important to thoroughly seal these surfaces to protect the grout from becoming dirty and stained.
After the grout has been saturated with sealer for 5-10 minutes then you need to wipe off the excess sealer from the tile and grout surfaces. The easiest way to wipe off the excess grout sealer is to just use ordinary paper towels. Roll up about 10 sheets of paper towels and wipe down the tile and grout surfaces. When your sheets of paper towels get saturated with sealer then simply throw them in the garbage and get a new wad of paper towels and continue cleaning up the excess grout sealer. Remove all of the sealer off of the tile and grout surfaces and ensure that there are no puddles of sealer left in the grout lines. Continue wiping the tile until all traces of the grout sealer are gone and there is no grout sealer haze left on the tile surfaces. It is important to not leave any traces of sealer residue on the tile surfaces. Look at the tiles from different angles to ensure that there is no sealer residue or sealer haze left on the tile surfaces.
If you see that some sealer haze has formed on the tile surface then you can remove this grout sealer haze by adding more sealer to the area where there is a sealer haze. Applying some more sealer to the areas of sealer haze will reactivate the grout sealer so that the grout sealer haze can be removed. After the grout sealer haze has been reactivated you can wipe up the grout sealer haze with the paper towels.
After you are done sealing the entire area then do a final inspection to ensure that there is no grout sealer haze or sealer residue left on the tile surfaces. You should let the sealer dry for about 3 hours before walking on the tile floor or using any of the tile surfaces. Also try to prevent spilling any liquids or getting any dirt or contaminates on the grout lines for a full 24 hours after sealing them.
Sealing grout can be laborious task if there is a large are to be sealed. 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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