DIY Grout Sealer Guide For Tile Surface Projects

Applying a grout sealer is a critical step in the tile installation process. One problem which often arises is homeowners will forget to add grout sealer to a tile surface after it cures. The mixture is used to protect grout surfaces from dirt, grime, and stains.

Grout Sealer

Grout sealer is a clear liquid that comes in a bottle or can. The sealer is applied with a small sponge brush or sponge tip applicator. Here, we’ll show you how to use grout sealer and what to look for when you buy it.

Grout sealer plugs tiny pores, repels future stains, and make regular cleaning easier. The life span of sealer depends on its location and the quality of sealer. Remember: grout must be cured before applying grout sealer.

Does Grout Need To Be Sealed?

Grout Sealer

Tile accoutrement vendors recommend applying grout sealer to tile surfaces to increase durability and longevity. They also warn not to skip this step or you will experience problems in the long term. 

Grout is porous which means it absorbs water. Before grout can repel water, it must be sealed. You will need to get in the habit of applying grout sealer once a year. Cement base and pores absorb  grime or stains that may linger when they are not sealed. Plus, unsealed grout is easily damaged during during extended periods.  

How Often Should I Apply Grout Sealer?

Apply grouting sealer at least once a year. Many grout sealers claim to last a year, but harsh cleaning agents will erode the sealer. High-traffic areas are also an issue and can cause sealer to deteriorate. Between sealing, remember to keep your grouted areas clean. Grout sealing helps maintain consistent colors for grout lines

Should Tiles Be Sealed?  

It isn’t necessary to seal tiles. Ceramic tile surfaces do not require sealing as glazed tiles have built-in stain protection. Non-glazed tile and natural stone require grout sealer as they’re porous and stain easily.

Unsealed ceramics are dirt resistant. Discoloration will impact your tiles if they’re not sealed. If you don’t know what kind of tile you have, ask your vendor. Also, grout sealer thwarts mold growth on tile joints.

How To Apply Grout Sealer

difficult to apply grout sealer

As demonstrated in this video tutorial, applying grout sealer is easy. You’ll need to consider the size of your tile. With larger tile pieces, you can expect faster finish times. Smaller tiles require more effort and take longer to dry. 

Grout Sealer Application Methods

Grout Sealer

Grout sealer is applied with a paintbrush, roller, spray can, or sponge

  1. A paintbrush applicator is the most common tool. Though it can be tricky if your brush didn’t feed over the seam line due to a lack of brush absorption.
  2. Rollers are more effective than paintbrushes. With a small roller, the sealer stays close to the grout line. It has a gliding ability and is user-friendly.
  3. Spraying grout surfaces is another option. You’ll need a clean cloth nearby for any over-spraying that may occur.
  4. With outdoor mosaic surfaces, use a sponge to apply penetrating grout sealer to protect grout from stains and harsh weather conditions.

Top Grout Sealers For 2022

The following list was created by our team of DIY experts. Here, we’ll show you the best grout sealers on the market today and what makes them special. 

Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice

Grout Sealer

This grout sealant has many users very impressed. Aqua Mix is one of the best penetrating grout sealers made by a company with high standards.

The cost is higher but you get what you pay for as this product is especially heavy-duty, lasting for years when used correctly.

Custom Building Products: Grout and Tile Sealer

Grout Sealer

One of the stronger water-based grout sealers, this works great on both tile and grout. It’s cheap and doesn’t not have a powerful vapor fume odor. Plus, it’s easy to remove.  

Miracle Sealants 511

Grout Sealer

Miracle Sealants is cheaper than most high-end sealers. With its unique applicator tip, this sealant is easy to apply with accuracy.

How To Apply Grout Sealer

Let’s take a look at how grout sealer is applied and the common tools used for the job.

Grout Sealer Tools

Grout Sealer

The first thing is to clean the tile surface and inspect it for damage. Repair broken grout lines before you begin sealing. When installing new tile or fixing key areas, allow 48 hours for the grout to cure.  

Now you can apply the sealer. The first coat is applied to your grout lines. Wait five minutes before removing excess sealer with a clean cloth. Next, apply a second coat. Remember to wait five minutes before wiping away the excess sealer.

Allow Sealer To Cure

It takes 24 to 48 hours for grout sealer to cure. Let it cure naturally. If you use a heater to speed up the process, cracking can occur. During this period, keep the area clean. Once it’s cured, test the surface. Apply a few drops of water to the cured areas and see if the sealer repels the water. If the water beads and puddles, you did everything right. If the water absorbs, you’ll need to apply a third coat of grout sealer.

Spray-on Grout Sealers

Grout Sealer

The majority of the steps for applying grout sealer via spray are the same as outlined above, but there are a few other tips to keep in mind for the best results with this application method.

Shake the can thoroughly before applying. When you’ve started the process, hold the can at least 10 inches away from the grout line.

Grout Sealer

After grout sealer is applied, wipe away any excess. You don’t have to wait to start the clean-up process when using a spray sealant. After one hour, test it with water drops to see if it’s sealed. If it isn’t sealed, apply more sealer.

Tub Tile Surrounds

Tub tile surrounds are categorized in three components. The back wall is tiled first. Next, the towel bar wall contains the optimal post and is used for hanging bath towels. And then there’s the manifold wall which contains valve stones, the shower head, and tub spout.

Some tub surrounds are topped off with a low hanging ceiling. If this is true with your project,  you’ll need to install a cement board on the ceiling and then tile the ceiling after the walls have been tiled.

Ceiling tile is installed in a diagonal pattern. The pattern is used to avoid alignment issues with the wall tile joints. With proper care and maintenance, any type of wall or floor tile can be used for a surround.

Vitrified rated tiles or impervious tiles absorb less moisture. Both tiles are suited for wet and damp areas. Unglazed tiles are an option, but you’ll need to seal them with two coats of tile sealant.

Grout Sealer Safety 

When working with grout sealers, safety is a priority. Grout sealers contain hazardous chemicals like propane, polymers, butyl acetate, and hydrocarbons. To safeguard against harmful vapor exposure, the space you’re working in needs proper ventilation. You want to protect yourself from sealant vapors accumulating in your space which can lead to severe lung damage.

Grout sealer reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) is characterized by a sudden attack of asthma complications or other breathing problems. RADS occurs due to exposure to corrosive gas, vapor, or fumes in grout sealers.

Grout sealer pulmonary toxicity is a medical condition for when the lungs are impacted after using toxic materials like grout sealer. Again, wear a face mask and make sure the area where you’re working has proper ventilation. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can grout be permanently sealed?

There are several one-time application options that will permanently seal grout. The application process is similar to those described in this article and is a great option for new grout, not yet stained or discolored.

When exactly do I seal grout?

Ideally, you want to seal grout when it’s newly curated. This gives no opportunity for stains and dirt to penetrate 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’s extremely resistant to issues normal cement-based grout encounters like erosion from chemicals, cracks and discoloration.

How do I know if my grout is already sealed?

You can try the water drop test described in the application process above. Another simple way to tell is just by looking at it. If you can tell it’s lighter in some areas and darker in high traffic areas, it’s likely that it was never sealed.

Grout Sealer Conclusion

Working with a grout sealer will enhance your DIY home repair skills. It also comes in different colors, allowing room for creativity. You can use the mixture to create contrasting colors for visual appeal. If you want to paint grout, special grout paint is available.  

Silicone caulking is a popular grout alternative. It’s applied to bathroom tile corners and edges. Because grout absorbs water, you need to be extra careful with bathroom surfaces.

Also, you’ll need to get in the habit of applying grout sealer once a year annually to prevent mildew and erosion.

In humid environments, unsealed grout will lead to mold and deteriorate in high-traffic areas.