Slate Tile Sealing Tips
By Troy Cantini
Slate tiles are very porous types of tiles and they should definitely be sealed. Since slates tiles can naturally look kind of drab but there are various sealing solutions designed to enhance the color and apply a glossy finish to them. When sealing a slate tile floor there are various sealer options available for sealing the slate.
An impregnating clear sealer will protect the slate and grout from water based and oil based stains. You probably can see how porous natural slate is just by applying a drop of water to the slate surface and see how the slate absorbs the water. You can imagine how any type of water based stain will be absorbed by the slate tile surface and also the grout. Therefore an impregnating clear sealer will protect the slate surface from absorbing stains and makes it easier to clean the slate tiles and grout.
A solvent based clear sealer will absorb deeper into the slate and grout and is also much easier to apply then a water based clear sealer.
A water base clear sealer will typically have less of an odor when applying it but it is more prone to hazing on the tile surface.
Applying a water based clear sealer can be more difficult to apply and can cause major problems if applied incorrectly. You might choose a water based clear sealer if you are extremely sensitive to vapors but keep in mind that after a few hours all the solvent and water based sealer vapors will evaporate and only the sealer will remain.
To seal the slate tiles and grout just apply the sealer with a rag or towel and keep the surface saturated with sealer for about 10 minutes. Then simply wipe the excess sealer off the tiles and grout. Be sure not to allow any excess sealer to pool up on the tiles or grout when you are done. You should see the tile and grout darken up when the sealer is applied but after the sealer dries you will see the slate tiles and grout return to their original non sealed appearance.
There should be no color change or change in the glossiness of the slate tiles and grout after the tiles have been sealed. After the sealer has dried you should be able to apply some water drops to the tiles and grout and see that the water beads up a lot more now that the sealer has been applied. You can also repeat the sealing process above using the same sealer if you want to but generally one thorough application of the sealer is all that is necessary.
Another type of solvent based impregnating sealer is referred to an enhancing sealer. A solvent base enhancing sealer is almost the same as a solvent based impregnating sealer except that the enhancing type sealer will bring out the colors in the slate and generally enhance the appearance of the slate. Additionally an enhancing type impregnating clear sealer will also add glossiness to the slate tile surface.
If you want to further enhance the slate and add even more glossiness you can add a second coat of the enhancing sealer. It is not recommended to apply more then two coats of enhancing sealer to the slate. You apply the enhancing impregnating sealer exactly the same as the impregnating clear sealer. You should test the enhancing sealer on a spare tile to see if you like the look of the enhancing sealer before you apply the enhancing sealer to your slate tile and grout.
A topical glossy sealer will add the ultimate glossy finish to your slate surface. Topical glossy sealers come in solvent based and water based formulas. Solvent based sealers are more durable but can have harsh fumes when applying the sealer. Topical glossy sealers will take away all of the chalky appearance of the natural slate surface. This type of finish can add the marvelously beautiful luster to your slate surface that many people have come to love. Additionally the topical sealer will make it impossible for any types of contaminates and stains to enter the slate tile surface.
Topical glossy sealers do come with a price though. The glossy tile surface will over time scuff up and lose its glossy appearance. Additionally dirt, grit and grime can become embedded in the topical sealer surface. Therefore every couple of years or so depending on the frequency of use the slate tile and grout will have to be stripped and resealed. Water based topical sealers will be easier to strip and redo than solvent based topical sealers.
Applying a glossy sealer to slate tiles and grout can be a tricky procedure. Ensure that only a light coat of sealer is applied to the tile surface and there are no puddles of sealer left in the grout. After you apply the sealer to one area move on and do not attempt to go back and redo any areas that have already been done. It should only take about an hour total for the topical glossy sealer to dry on the slate surface. If done properly you should see a beautiful glossy finish on the slate surface.
If more glossiness is desired you can apply a second coat of sealer to increase the shine on the slate tiles. Make sure that the first coat of sealer is totally dry before applying a second coat of sealer. A professional tile restoration company may be able to apply a second coat of sealer immediately after the first coat of sealer. On the other hand most do it yourself homeowners should wait at least a few hours before applying a second coat of glossy sealer.
No matter what type of sealer you apply to your slat tile and grout you should maintain the finish by keeping the slate clean with a pH neutral tile and stone cleaner. The pH neutral formula will clean the slate tile and grout without breaking down or dulling the finish of the sealer. Frequent cleaning with clean mop water using the ph neutral cleaner will help to maintain the beautiful look of the slate tile surface. .
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