Grout sealer is a clear liquid that plugs tiny pores, eliminates future stains and makes cleaning easier. Sealing your grout regularly will prevent it from fading and creating a dull appearance.
Do you have your grout sealed?
Tile and grout manufacturers recommend applying grout sealer to increase durability and longevity. Grout is porous, which means it absorbs water. To remove grout water and stains, you must add a sealant.
How often should I apply grout sealer?
Apply grout sealer after installation and at least once a year. Many grout sealers claim to last a year, but harsh cleaning agents (such as vinegar) will erode the sealer and you’ll need to reapply it more frequently.
Materials you need to seal the grout
Before you seal your grout, you need a sealer and application brush. There are two grout sealer formulas, here are the differences between them:
- Penetrating sealer – Best for bathrooms, high humidity and high humidity areas. These sealers penetrate the grout, filling gaps with small latex or silicone particles.
- Membrane structure sealer – Best for areas that do not experience high humidity or constant water exposure – Do not use in the shower. These products form a membrane over the grout. They repel water and stains but do not allow the grout to breathe or allow trapped water to escape, which can cause mold or cracks in the bathroom.
You need to find a sealer that works with your tile. Product packaging will indicate compatible tile types – this is especially important when sealing natural stone. Most grout sealers come in a jug, but you can also find spray-on versions.
The applicator depends on your tile type and grout line. For thin grout lines, try a sponge or foam brush. For glossy tiles that won’t accept sealer, use a small paintbrush to paint the sealer only on the grout lines.
How to Apply Grout Sealer: Step by Step
Step 1: Repair the grout and allow it to cure
Clean the tile surface and inspect it for damage. Repair broken grout lines before sealing. When installing new tiles or making repairs, allow 48 hours for the grout to cure.
Step 2: Apply sealer and wipe off excess
Apply the first coat of sealer to your grout lines. Wait five minutes and then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.
Step 3: Apply a second coat of sealer
Apply a second coat of sealer. Wait five minutes and wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.
Step 4: Allow the sealer to cure
It takes 24 to 48 hours for the grout sealer to cure – check the product package for specifics. You need to let the sealer cure naturally. If you use a heater to speed up the process, cracking may occur.
Step 5: Do a water bead test
Once the sealer has cured, test the surface by applying a few drops of water to the grout. If the water beads and puddles, your job is done. If water is absorbed, apply a third coat of grout sealer.
How to Apply Spray-On Grout Sealer
Step 1: Start with clean and dry grout
Using a spray-on grout sealer is similar to using a liquid sealer. Clean your tile and grout and make any necessary grout repairs. For new grout lines and repairs, wait 48 hours or until the grout has cured before sealing.
Step 2: Apply the first coat
Shake the can well before use. Hold the can at least 6-10 inches away from the grout line and spray. Remove excess sealer before it has a chance to dry.
Step 3: Do a water bead test
Wait two hours for the first coat to dry and check for a water bead. Apply a few drops of water to the grout. If the water beads, you are good to go. If water absorbs into the grout, you will need to apply a second coat.
Step 4: Apply a second coat if needed
If your grout doesn’t pass the test, apply a second coat to remove excess before drying. Wait two hours and do another moisture test.
Step 5: Wait 72 hours before soaking the grout
Most spray-on sealers are foot-traffic ready within a few hours, but you’ll need to wait 72 hours before cleaning tile or soaking your grout.
Grout sealer safety
When working with grout sealers, safety is a priority. Grout sealers contain hazardous chemicals such as propane, polymers, butyl acetate and hydrocarbons. To protect against harmful vapor exposure, the area where you are working requires proper ventilation.
Groat seal reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) is characterized by sudden attacks of asthma complications or other respiratory problems. RADS is caused by exposure to corrosive gases, vapors or fumes in grout sealers.
Grout sealer pulmonary toxicity is a medical condition when the lungs are affected after using a toxic substance such as grout sealer. Again, wear a mask and make sure there is proper ventilation where you are working.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Can grout be sealed permanently?
There are several one-time application options that will permanently seal the grout. The application process is similar to that described in this article and is a great alternative to new grout, not yet stained or discolored.
When exactly do I seal the grout?
Ideally, you want to seal the grout when it’s freshly cured. This prevents stains and dirt from penetrating your pristine grout, allowing you to keep the grout’s original color.
Does epoxy grout need to be sealed?
Since epoxy-based grout is non-porous grout, it does not need to be sealed. It is highly resistant to the problems common cement-based grouts face, such as corrosion, cracking and discoloration from chemicals.
How do I know if my grout is already sealed?
You can try the water drop test described in the application process above. Another easy way to tell is by looking at it. If you can tell it’s lighter in some areas and darker in high traffic areas, it’s probably never been sealed.