Sealing the Grout
Sealing the grout is an extremely helpful addition to a tile and cement grout installation. Sealing will greatly improve the resistance of the grout to staining and discoloration and it reduces the overall maintenance. Many times questions are asked about the cure time required before sealing the grout and the type of sealer that should be used on the grout. Many different answers are given from the tile distributors, grout manufacturers, sealer manufactures and tile contractors which causes confusion and problems for the property owners.
Basic Categories Of Sealers
Top Coat Sealer
Top coat sealers are types of sealer that adds a protective coating on top of the tile and grout, It,s simular to how a varnish works with wood and other materials. Top coat sealers are most commonly used with tumbled natural stones, such as with rough marble and travertine. It can also be used on polished stones such as granite to protect the polished surface of the stone itself.
The membrane forming sealers remain mostly on the surface of the tile and/or the grout and form a nonporous membrane which produces a glossy finish. Membrane sealers are only recommended on unglazed tiles since they do not adhere well to glazed tiles. They are usually used on very porous tile to protect the tile from stains and to enhance the beauty of the tile.
Penetrating sealers are absorbed into the pores of the tile and grout. They are usually composed of silicone or latex solids suspended in a mineral spirits or water carrier. After application, the carrier evaporates and leaves the solid material within the tile and grout which fills up the pores and close capillaries to the surface thereby reducing absorption of potentially staining materials. Non-pigmented penetrating sealers may slightly darken the tile and grout but do not produce a luster on the surface.
The most expensive types of sealer on the market is the impregnating sealers which are similar to penetrating sealers except they work by going deep within the grout and stone to bond with the molecules. This helps to protect it against all forms of stains and moisture. Many specialty sealers also come with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to give your tile and grout extra protection.
Natural Oil Sealers
For the eco-friendly homeowners, the natural oil sealers present the best option, although they offer the least amount of protection in terms of long-term coverage. Linseed oil is one of the most common types used today and has been in use for many years as a natural organic sealer, but it wears off quickly and needs to be reapplied to the grout once every few months compared to the once a year that most commercial sealers require.
Tips For Grout Sealer
You can find many different brands of grout sealers at any of the home improvement stores near you. You can buy the best grout sealer on the market, but it can be useless unless you are aware of a few precautionary measures that need to be kept in mind to correctly achieve the desiered results.
Make sure to apply your sealer on water-based grouts. The epoxy based grouts do not need to be sealed.
Always clean the area thoroughly before applying the grout sealer.
Keep the area well-ventilated while applying the sealer, because most sealers have strong fumes which can make you dizzy.
Avoid sealing immediately after grouting and after sealing, let the sealer dry completely before starting to use that part of the house.
C-Cure Recommends These Procedures
Allow the grout to cure a minimum of 14 days. This allows the grout to achieve the correct color, full hardness and strength without the interference of sealers or coatings. Sealing the grout earlier (before 14 days) may cause the grout to become soft or discolor due to conditions at the jobsite or the composition of the sealer. All grout sealers, regardless of composition, can be safely used after the 14 days of curing.
Primary consideration should be given to the type of sealer required to protect the tile and provide the appearance desired. If a tile is glazed or it is pre-sealed with a membrane sealer from the supplier, no further sealing is required for the tile. During application of a penetrating sealer for the grout, the excess sealer may simply be wiped off the surface of the tile. However, if the tile is unglazed and unsealed, the sealer recommended by the manufacturer for the protection and beauty of the tile should be applied prior to any maintenance procedures or application of any other sealers. This is simply because penetrating sealers and ingredients in some maintenance materials will inhibit the bonding of membrane sealers. Remember that the sealers can be easily applied to the surface later but if the sealer is applied incorrectly or on an improper surface the consequences can be a costly error. Carefully follow the grout sealer’s directions. Apply the sealer in the appropriate manner. Excessive amounts of sealer (puddles or ponding) on the grout should be avoided.
Never seal a grout that is not satisfactory in color and hardness. Normal sealers are designed to protect a “good” grout job. They are not designed to correct a “problem” grout job. Application of normal sealers over a “problem” grout will only tend to enhance the grout problem and prevent usage of simple correction measures. Many times this may result in the removal of the grout or even the entire installation for correction of the problem due to the presence of a sealer.
Grout sealers are available from numerous manufacturers in many types and compositions (i.e. water-based, solvent-based, oil-based, silicones, latex, etc.) Reference the sealer’s service and application requirements when determining which product is best for the grout. Choosing a sealer is basically done by job owner’s preference. There are two types of sealer finishes available: a gloss finish, “wet-look” and non-gloss, matte, “natural” finish for the grout. A majority of all gloss, “wet-look” grout sealers will darken the grout color as if the joint was wet with water.
Apply the sealer in an inconspicuous test area several days before proceeding with the entire job. This will insure that all unforeseen problems are addressed and allow an opportunity to view and approve the desired finish or effect before the entire job is completely sealed.
Different Manufacturers Of The Grout, Recommend Different Procedures For Sealer Application. I Personally Would Not Recommend Sealing Any Grout Before 7 Days Of Cure Time.