If you have installed tiles in your home recently, you might be wondering if you should seal the grout? Are there any benefits associated with doing this? Another question that comes to mind of new house owners is whether you should seal floor grout in every room? If that is your concern, let us find out!
To start with, yes, you should seal grout because it offers multiple benefits. Secondly, no, not every room floor needs sealed grout. The primary function of grout is to protect tiles from water damage. So, areas that face constant water exposure, like bathrooms, showers, and kitchens, should have sealed grout.
Now that you know the primary purpose for sealing floor grout, there is more to discuss. What happens if you do not seal floor grout? Can it have any effect on your flooring if it is in an area with high levels of water exposure? If these questions are some concerns that came to mind, keep reading ahead to find out more.
Is Sealing Grout Necessary?
Yes, according to professionals, sealing grout is necessary. But why is that so? What benefits can you achieve from grouting?
Water damage is one of the biggest reasons why tiles crack. When you seal the grout, it provides a layer of protection to prevent water from seeping into the grout. Furthermore, unsealed grout is vulnerable to mold. But, a sealed grout has none of these problems. In other words, sealing the grout can significantly increase the life span of your tiles.
Since less debris and water will enter the grout lines, sealed grout gives the added benefit of less cleaning. Without the seal, it is more susceptible to discoloration and mold growth. Cleaning the grout in this situation will require some effort.
What Happens If You Do Not Seal Grout?
To understand the consequences of not sealing grout, you first need to know what grout is. Grout is usually made of cement and is porous when cured. Due to this reason, not sealing it can lead to moisture seeping through pores in the grout.
At first, unsealed grout does not seem like a big issue. But over time, unsealed grout tiles can face severe water damage and get moldy. As mold grows, it can force your tiles to crack at any point. So, you will need to get tiles replaced along with more grout to fill in the gaps.
How Can You Tell If the Grout is Sealed?
Often when you move into a new house, it is tough to spot if the grout has a grout sealer. Checking if the grout is sealed or not is a simple process and needs less than a minute. Telling the difference between sealed and unsealed grout is as simple as these few steps:
- Spread few droplets of water on the grout you want to inspect.
- Observe if the grout changes the color or remains the same. If the color of the grout remains the same, it indicates that the grout has been sealed. However, if the grout color darkens, your grout does not have a layer of sealer.
You can also check if the grout is sealed or not by the condition of the tiles. Porcelain tiles can last up to 60+ years. So, if the tiles were installed recently but still have cracks and the grout looks flaky, it is not sealed.
Can You Use Sealer Instead of Grout?
No, the sealer is not a substitute for grout. The only spot where you can use sealer instead of grout is the corners of the tiles, and even at those spots, it is better to use a grout first. The reason being that conventional grout has a lifespan of 12-15 years. Its color fades away, but it protects the tiles nonetheless. On the other hand, sealers have a life expectancy of 3 years and are unsuitable for holding tiles together.
However, if you are still adamant and want to use sealer instead of grout, go for a silicone sealer. Silicon sealers can hold the tiles together, are airtight, and can withstand pressure.
What Grout Does Not Need to Be Sealed?
Grouts come in different forms. Not all of them require a sealer. For example, epoxy is a type of grout that is durable and long-lasting. It saves the tiles from water damage and does not require a sealer. It makes epoxy grout a good choice for shower floor and kitchen backsplash.
However, avoid using epoxy grout for outdoor surfaces as direct sunlight can fade the epoxy color. If you want to find out more about epoxy grout, check out our post here.
Does Sealing Grout Make It Waterproof?
Yes, sealing grout makes it waterproof. As mentioned previously, conventional grout is porous and prone to absorb liquids. This can lead to water damage and mold infestation. But when you apply sealer on grout, it naturally absorbs the product. The sealer fills the pores and cracks between the grout lines and makes it water-resistant.
How Often Should You Seal Grout On a Tile Floor?
Sealing grout is not a one-time thing. You will need to reseal grout every 2-3 years. Although, if you start noticing cracks in your grout or the grout color darkens after being wet, it indicates you will need to seal it again. You should also note that surfaces frequently in contact with water, like a shower floor and kitchen backsplash, need to be sealed every 1 to 1.5 years.
Can I Use a Grout Sealer On The Stone Tile?
Yes, you can use a grout sealer on the stone tiles. Some recommend sealing natural stone tiles twice, both before and after the tile installation. The reason is that natural stone tiles such as limestone, marble, granite, slate, and travertine are porous. If you seal them only after finishing tile installation, there is a high risk of tiles absorbing the grout coloring.
In other words, the tiles get stained and discolored. So, grout your natural stone tiles before and after tile installation to avoid altering the color.
Can You Seal Glazed Tiles?
No, glazed porcelain or ceramic tiles do not require a sealer. Unlike natural stone tiles, glazed tiles are polished and have a smooth surface. They do not have any pores. So, there is no need to use grout sealer on them.
How To Seal Grout?
Sealing grout is easy. With the right tools and product, anyone can apply a sealer to the grout. If you have never used a grout sealer, let us go over the steps.
Start the process by taping off any wooden baseboard or cabinet that is in the way.
Apply the Grout Sealer
Now with the help of a form paintbrush, start applying the sealer on the grout lines. It is better to begin from the very far corner of the bathroom. This way, you can work your way out of the bathroom.
You should also follow a consistent pattern when applying the sealer. Following a pattern ensures you do not miss a grout line. Lastly, if you accidentally pour the grout sealer on your glazed tiles, use a rag to wipe it off quickly.
Apply Second Coat
Apply an even second coat after 15-20 minutes (or as per the manufacturer’s advice).
Clean the Tiles
After the second coating, it is time to wipe off any excess sealer that dripped down on the tiles.
Let It Cure
Curing time varies from brand to brand. So, you must refer to the instructions of your sealer. In general, giving the sealer 24-48 hours to cure is enough. During this timeframe, avoid contacting the surface where you applied the sealer. If you were sealing the grout on the shower floor and walls, avoid taking a bath during the curing time.
After the curing time is over, test the sealer by pouring few drops of water on the grout line. If the water puddles up on the grout instead of seeping in, it means the grout has been sealed.
When Do You Seal Grout?
If you are installing new tiles and are considering using a sealer along with grout, there are few things to consider. Keep in mind the grout needs to be dry before applying the sealer. If there are any cracks in the grout, then touch it up before applying a coat. You can use a grout repairing product if you want to be quick with the process.
Ideally, you should wait 48-72 hours before applying a grout sealer. However, if your plans change and you can not do that within this time, you still have 2-3 weeks to do the first sealing. From here, depending on how often you expose the floor to water, you will need to reseal the grout 1-3 times a year.
What Is the Best Sealing For Grout?
Chances are, if you are on this article, your next step will be to look for a sealer. There are various methods to apply it to your grout. Of course, how much you need is dependant on your situation. So, if you need some ideas, here are some grout sealer products that you can consider.
Using a standard sealer is the best way to ensure you get the water resistance you desire. There are different ways you can apply it. You can use a sponge, a brush, etc. After applying it, you should run some tests to see if water can still seep through the grout.
Grout Sealer Pen
If you do not need a large amount of sealer, a grout pen can suit your needs. Application is easy. Follow the directions the manufacturer recommends. However, with this type of sealer, you might need to reapply it sooner. The positive side of this sealer is that it can recolor and add water-resistant properties to your grout.
Grout Sealer Spray
Sometimes you want to get the process over quickly. Some methods require using a brush, sponge, or tube to spread the sealant over the grout. The alternative for a quick application is to use a spray. While it might not be the most efficient, it gets the job done.
To ensure it seals the grout adequately, run a test on the area you applied seal. If droplets form, you are stepping in the right direction. However, if small amounts of water continue to seep into the grout, you will need to apply a second coat.
Sealing the grout lengthens the lifespan of the tiles, prevents mold growth, and makes it easier to clean the tiles. Though, like grout, it needs to be retouched a couple of times throughout the year. However, the work it takes to apply the sealant is no big deal because it can save you money in the long run.
Before you go, do you have other grout concerns? Are you wondering if the floor and wall grouts should match? To find out more, check out our post here. Until next time!