Once you know how to seal grout you can keep your tiles in perfect condition. Read on to find out exactly how to seal grout on tiles and which product to use.
How to seal grout: Essential tile protection
You may be wondering, “Do I need to seal grout?” After all, it’s a stage that’s often skipped when tiles are first installed. Fresh grout needs time to dry before it’s sealed, so the process is easily overlooked.
However, keep in mind that most kinds of grout (with a few exceptions, such as epoxy) are porous. Over time, porous grout will absorb water. As a result, your tiles will start to look dirty and moldy, and may even start to smell.
To check whether it’s necessary to seal the grout in your kitchen or bathroom, simply pour a few drops of water over the grout. If the water is absorbed, it’s time for a quick DIY intervention.
Although it may require a little patience, sealing grout is an extremely simple process, and there’s no need for any specialist tools. However, for easy application and professional results, make sure you choose the right product for the job.
Here are a few tips on selecting grout sealer.
- Look for products that are specifically labeled “grout sealer” – not to be confused with “sealants,” which have a different use.
- Decide whether you need penetrating or membrane-forming sealer. These are the two main types of sealer. Penetrating sealers are ideal for bathrooms and areas exposed to water, such as shower tiles. Membrane-forming sealers can be used for most tiles, but aren’t suitable for very damp areas. Using this kind of sealer in a bathroom may result in mildew.
- Choose between liquid sealer and spray sealer. Spray sealer helps to speed up the process when working on large surface areas. However, it can be messy as it’s less precise.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Check that the sealer is compatible with the materials of your grout and tiles. Additionally, consider whether the sealer will be used in a food prep area, for example a kitchen countertop, or a damp area, like a shower. Each grout sealer has different properties, so find the one that meets your needs.
Next, we’ll show you exactly how to seal grout on tiles using any liquid sealer.
How to seal grout on tiles: Step by step
Once you’ve chosen a grout sealer it’s time to decide on a method of application. Assuming you’ve settled on a liquid sealer you’ll need a tool such as a sponge, foam brush, or roller. For precision and ease of application, we recommend using a roller.
Although sealing grout is a straightforward process it may take a little longer if you’re covering a large surface area (such as floor tiles in a big room), or if you need to seal lots of small tiles with thin grout lines.
When applying grout sealer, wear gloves. Also make sure the room is well-ventilated.
Now you’re ready to get started. Here’s how to seal grout on tiles.
- Wait for new grout to cure. If the grout is freshly applied, wait for it to dry and cure (48–72 hours).
- Clean the old grout. If you’re working on an old layer of grout, clean it thoroughly with a toothbrush and soapy water. Then wait about 1 hour until it’s dry.
- Protect the surrounding area. Apply tape to nearby baseboards or fixtures to prevent staining.
- Apply the grout sealer. Use the brush or roller to cover the grout joints. Work slowly and methodically, focusing on one small area at a time. The grout should be completely covered with an even coat.
- Remove the sealer from the tile within 5 minutes of application. Use a clean, dry cloth or towel to wipe off the sealer before it dries.
- Wait for the first coat of sealer to dry. Depending on the product, it may take up to 1 hour to dry fully.
- Apply a second coat of sealer. Use the same method as before.
- Wait for the sealer to cure. It usually takes 24-48 hours to cure fully.
Afterwards, check the effectiveness of the grout sealer by repeating the water test – pour some drops of water onto the grout and see what happens. If a puddle appears, the sealer is working. If the water is absorbed by the grout, apply another coat of sealer.
The grout sealer may stain the tiles, but it’s easy to remove even once it’s dried. Simply apply more sealer to the stain, then wipe off with a clean, dry towel.
Now you know how to seal grout, you can keep your tiles in perfect condition. We suggest repeating the sealing process about once a year, though highly frequented areas like floor tiles or showers may require more frequent makeovers. Just keep an eye on the grout, and take action as soon as you notice any issues.