Why You Should Seal Your Grout & The Best Grout Sealer To Use

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While we’d all love to install brand-spanking hardwood flooring, glass showers, gorgeous butcher blocks, or marble/granite kitchen countertops; sometimes the option that best suits your style, space, and budget is to use tiles.

Tiles are inexpensive, stylish, and come in various designs and sizes to fit every corner and taste.

But with tiles come one aspect that may be a pain to many homeowners, especially those who are fussy about design, aesthetics, and having to clean their homes every day: the grout lines.

Grout, particularly lighter shades, are the easiest to get dirty and the hardest to clean once the stain sets.

And trust me, depending on where you use your tiles, they will get stained; whether it’s from the shampoos you use, the soap, oil and grease, ketchup sauce, wine spills (or worse) that, no matter how hard you try, no cleaner seems to be able to fix.

You’ve probably just had your floors, shower, or kitchen counters tiled, but you want to make sure they were done properly and that your grout will last, or you are worried about how hard your new tiles will be to maintain (so they don’t change color).

Chances are you’ve heard that sealing tiled floors is a good solution to prevent stains and water damage which will help make your tiled floors/walls/counters/shower last longer, look prettier, and be easier to clean.

You may have talked to a few friends who agree, but there are so many articles online that beg to differ.

So you resorted to social media to get others’ opinions but you’ve seen far too many people in Facebook groups debating the importance of having your grout sealed.

Some say it’s necessary while some say it’s not.

So now you’re not sure—should you seal the grout or not?

What are the pros and cons of doing it?

Why does grout need to be sealed anyway?

What does grout sealer do?

How soon should you seal your grout?

What are the best tile grout sealers to use?

Is it going to damage the floors/tiles in the long run if you do not seal the grout?

Does the type of tile you’re using determine if you should seal it? (Should ceramic tiles be sealed?)

Should both tiles and grout be sealed?

Is there any other way to make your grout waterproof or stain-resistant without sealing?

So many doubts!

In this article, I’ll highlight why it’s important to seal grout for tiles, when it’s not necessary to seal your grout, the best tile grout sealers to use, and where to buy those tile grout sealing products if you do decide to seal.

Plus, I’ll link to some resources that will show you step-by-step how to seal or re-grout by yourself (P.S. it’s easy to do and not expensive at all!)

This will be a long read so let’s jump right in.

 


Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links which simply means that if you buy through any of those links, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (at no added cost to you). See my disclosure at the bottom of the page or read it, in full, here.


 

 

Why You Should Always Seal Your Grout


 

Is it really necessary to seal grout?

While the tile industry does not require sealing (and as such there are a lot of controversial arguments in the streets as to whether or not it is really important to seal grout) it is always recommended, especially when you’re using cement-based grout and doing so particularly in wet or high-traffic areas.

Despite all the noise, here are a few reasons why sealing your grout shouldn’t be overlooked:

  • If you don’t seal your grout, it will most likely absorb water (especially if you’re using tiles in your bathroom, or kitchen, on your porch/verandah, or even your laundry room) which may result in a build-up of mold/mildew (by the way; yuck!), and harmful bacteria.

Grout (especially the cement-based grouts) contains sand and sand is porous which means that it has tiny holes in it which can easily be filled with dirt and bacteria.

 

  • Your grout lines, without a seal, are far more easily stained because they have no protective coating to help resist water and repel germs and moisture.

 

Did someone say eyesore?

Plus, don’t even mention what a pain it will be to clean, and keep clean!

Using a grout sealer will surely reduce the amount of maintenance your grout and surrounding tiles will need after they’ve been installed for a while.

 

  • Sealing your grout helps to make it look better and last longer—it does wonders to the overall finish; texture, appearance, and consistency.

Can you name something worse than tiles with visible pitchy-patchy, chipped, or discolored grout lines?

 

  • Extensive exposure to oil/grease and water WILL cause significant damage to the grout overtime; oftentimes irreparable.

Does sealing grout make it waterproof, though? Short answer: no! But it does make it more resistant to permeation.

 

  • Sealing your grout is way less expensive than having to replace grouting or having to deal with mildew, water damage, or worse!

 

Pin This: Why You Need To Seal Your Shower Tile Grout Immediately and The Best Tile Grout Sealer To Use

 

While sealing grout is very important, please know that not all tiles need to be sealed. Here are 2 exceptions to the rule:

1. Tile applied with epoxy-based grout, polyurethane, and vinyl grout.

2. Any type of purely decorative tiles, like dry tile wainscot (not bathroom wainscoting because of the excess moisture—remember) or tile wall medallions; or tiles will little to no exposure to moisture.

If you’re doing a glass tile installation or updating a tiled kitchen backsplash or shower, and you’re working with epoxy grout, then you may not need to seal your grout.

Epoxy grout is much more resistant to water, stains, chips, and cracks, so you’ll find that a lot of contractors recommend it; as it’s more durable and flexible.

If you aren’t working with glass tiles or any other nonporous types of tiles, then you’ll absolutely need to invest in a tile grout sealer.

Make sure that this important step is followed.

While we can’t all afford expensive epoxy grout, (plus, this type of grout may not work for the tile you want to use and the purpose you’re using it for—this type of grout is often used for areas where there is a lot of moisture contacts like the tub, shower, or backsplash, or kitchen counters), there are so many other great tile grout sealers available on the market.

Get familiar with them.

Ask around, read the reviews, ask for professional advice.

Trust me, you are better off making use of what you have (or can afford) and do the job properly from the jump—less hassle, less headache, and far less expensive in the long run.

 

When Should You Seal Your Grout?


 

Do you know when to seal grout, or when to seal new grout for that matter?

If you’ve never thought about it, then you should! It makes a world of difference in the ease of getting the job done (especially if you’re doing it by yourself) and the end results thereof.

You may be tempted to seal the grout right after you are finished installing your new tiles, because you want to be done and over with the process and move into your new home/room, or use your shower, soak in your sparkling new tub, or make use of the countertop as quickly as possible.

But wait! Not so fast!

For the best result (when you’re sealing new tile grout), wait until 48-72 hours at least, before you apply any sealant to your grout. T

his will give it ample time to dry and cure properly.

When dried, you’ll be able to tell whether your grout lines have healed properly or if there are any chips or cracks that need extra touch-ups.

If there are, make sure to wait another 48-72 hours, after re-grouting, before sealing.

If you are looking to seal old grout, I’d suggest that you re-grout then seal to be on the safe side, and for getting the best finish.

Bear in mind that sealing the tile and grout is not a one-time thing!

It is recommended that your tiles be resealed every 2 years (can be sooner depending on your circumstances—Keep an eye out for telltale signs of wear).

You’ll find that some professionals, when placing a timeframe on how often you should seal ceramic tiles, recommend that you do so at least every year.

For high-moisture contact areas like the shower, or tub, sealing every one to two years is especially important.

Note though that some tiles may be too thick to absorb the sealant properly, so to be safe, I’d suggest you do a test run on a small area and observe how well the tile soaks up the sealant.

If it soaks it up, go ahead and seal the entire shower—remember to use latex-based products for this.

 

What To Look For In A Good Grout Sealer


 

#1: Application Type: How You Intend To Use It

You should consider the size of the space you’re working with (keep the square footage in mind when comparing products) and which application method is better suited for you: do you plan on using a rag and/or sponge to wipe the grout over the surface?

Or would you prefer to work with a spray can?

The size of the space you’re working on and the method of application will determine the type of product you should buy.

There are so many types available on the market; from spray-on formulas, ready-to-apply tubes, or larger quart and gallon size containers that will require you to apply it with a rag or sponge.

Make sure you know which is better for your space and purpose.

For example, a tube of grout sealer may be convenient, but it’s probably not as practical a choice for larger jobs. You may be better off with Spray-on formulas for a more consistent/even layer of sealant over the surface, or a gallon-sized product if you want more value for your money!

Also bear in mind that if you’re sealing grout with an applicator (usually a brush or roller) it will require you to do a lot of kneeling or bending; very tedious and taxing work.

So if you have knee or back problems, you may want to use a spray gun or any other spraying method instead.

(Read on to see why I don’t always recommend the spray-on method)

Although it takes more manual labor, the brush applicator method tends to give thicker coats, and is easier to laser-focus on the areas that need the seal; the grout lines!

 

Here are 2 of the best applicators you’ll need (choose either 1, not both; usually):

A roller applicator like this one.

Grout Sealer Applicator Brush (usually works better than the roller, and can cover up to 30 linear feet): 1 Quart DuPont Grout Sealer

Grout Pen (especially great for touch-ups)

I’ve seen where some people use a mop to apply the sealer to both the tile and the grout at the same time (I’m assuming to get the job done quickly). Is that effective? I honestly have no idea, but I wouldn’t advise you to add any sealer to your tiles! You’ll soon see why.

 

Other materials you may need:

Sponge

A lint-free rag

A cheesecloth rag

 

When not to use aerosol spray-on sealers:

 

  • If your grout lines are very thin (usually happens when your tiles are laid closely together) and your tiles are unsealed.

 

  • If you’re sealing the grout lines for glazed tiles (remember that the sealer won’t adhere to these) and you don’t want the seal to drip onto the surface of the tiles and mess them up, or splash on any other unwanted areas.

You’d be better off using an applicator brush or special applicator bottle with a rolling wheel (like the one linked above).

If you still manage to get some sealer on your tiles, make sure to remove it before it dries—usually within 5-7 minutes in order to prevent that unsightly foggy film that’s near impossible to remove.

Remember too to always read the manufacturer’s instructions on the label regardless of the tool you decide to use or consult a professional for any questions or concerns.

 

#2: Water vs. Solvent-based: The Level Of Protection You Need

 

There are basically 2 wide categories of sealants: surface sealers/water-based formulas, and penetrating/solvent-based grout sealers.

You’ll find that Water-based grout sealers offer more surface-level protection and won’t penetrate as deeply into the porous grout.

However, many homeowners love them simply because they don’t produce as many odors or VOCs as some solvent-based formulas and some may even enhance the rich natural colors of the tile and add a slight luster.

For deeper penetration and better protection, however, a solvent-based impregnator sealer is the best bet since it’ll fill spaces and protect your grout inside out; which will make it last longer too.

This is the best option for unglazed tiles like porcelain tiles or quarries.

Here’s an overview of the 2 main types of sealers:

 

A. Membrane-forming Sealers:

 

These work well in kitchens NOT bathrooms

Won’t allow the water that’s trapped underneath the tile to evaporate which, in high-moisture areas like the bathroom shower, could lead to mildew and serious water damage.

Often comes pigmented so may cause discoloration of the grout; especially in lighter-colored tiles/grout.

Good for unglazed tiles like natural stones, but won’t adhere to most ceramics, porcelains, and other glazed tiles.

 

B. Penetrating Sealers:

 

These types of sealers use a water or mineral spirit base that allows the latex/silicone particles to penetrate the grout.

Unlike membrane sealers, these offer more protection without changing the appearance of the grout joints.

If you’re looking for the best grout sealer for showers, or to use in damp areas, then this type may be the best choice for you.

 

#3: Type of Treated Surface: Which Sealant Is Better For The Surface Your Working With?

 

Some grout sealing formulas can be used on cement, granite, and other types of natural stone, while some are intended for use on the grout only.

In order to prevent any liable damage to your treated surface, choose sealers made from a non-corrosive formula.

Also, make sure whatever product you choose is non-toxic and food-safe, especially if you plan to use it on a food prep or dining surface, like kitchen counters, concrete shelves, or a bar top.

Check with your tile’s manufacturer or an expert dealer as to what works best for what product.


What Is The Best Sealer For Tile Grout?


 

Some tile manufacturers recommend specific sealers per product (if in doubt, consult the store where you bought your tiles); however, any quality penetrating surface sealer should work with most unglazed tiles.

There are so many available that it would take so much effort, time, and money to test everyone to see what will work and what won’t. No need. Here are 5 of the top recommendations per category:

a. Best Overall. Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold Quart

b. Best Heavy Duty. StoneTech Heavy Duty Grout Sealer

c. Best Budget Option. Aqua Mix Grout Sealer Dual Protection

d. Best for Marble. Tuff Duck Granite, Grout, and Marble Sealer.

e. Great Option. Miracle Sealants 511 QT SG 511.

 

How To Seal Grout And Can You Do It By Yourself?


 

Sealing is a simple process that anyone can do by themselves: clean your grout properly, pick your sealant, get an applicator, wipe on, wait the allotted time, and buff off excess and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions; ALWAYS.

Depending on the area and usage, don’t forget that re-sealing should be done on a routine basis. For a more precise step-by-step guide on how to seal tile grout read this article.

Also, snag this book for the ultimate guide to installing tiles on your own. It will give you a cheat sheet of the step-by-step guides to planning and designing all types of tile installations. Get it on Amazon.

 

Alternative Solutions To Using Grout Sealers


 

You’ve probably sifted through so many Facebook threads or read so many articles with conflicting reviews on whether to use a sealer for your grout and why (or why not) that you’re now more confused than you were before.

Maybe you’ve found yourself even buying more into the negative reviews than the next and so, for peace of mind, you’d rather find an alternative to sealing your tile grout.

That’s okay.

You are more than welcome to do what you’re most comfortable with. So, that’s why I’ve listed a few alternatives you may find interesting.

1. Using an Epoxy bond like this one, or urethane, or polyurethane grout. These are way more resistant to stain and water (99% waterproof), more durable, and best of all; they don’t require sealing!

Yes, these may be more expensive, as mentioned before, but a little money spent upfront pays dividends as:

a) You won’t have to return to the store for more sealant, or your tiler won’t have to visit your home to finish the job another day,

b) No need to worry about sealing all those grout lines, and

c) You’ll be happy with the quality finish of your beautiful new floors, shower, or walls that won’t be tainted by grime, dirt, spills, and water-soak, and are less likely to chip and crack.

If you’re sick and tired of regular grout getting dirty so quickly, cracking, and of course absorbing water that may cause mold or mildew, make sure you try the Epoxy Bond Grout.

2. Use a multi-purpose tile adhesive like this one that you can get on Amazon.

Something like this also works wonders but may take a bit more effort to spread than regular grout.

If you aren’t doing the tiling by yourself, just make sure to find out from your installer which type of grout he’ll use and whether it includes an additive that would make the grout resistant to stain or moisture.

3. Tint your grout close to the color of your tile, or buy pre-tinted/colored grout, which will make it less obvious to spot when your grout is soiled. As they say: out of sight, out of mind.

4. Use bigger tiles! Bigger tiles equal fewer grout lines to seal.

5. The most obvious of all is to do the groundwork properly to avoid all problems. Waterproof properly, lay your tiles properly (or pay to do it if you can’t manage the job), and pay attention to what you use to clean and maintain your tiles.

Cleaning agents with harsh chemicals (yes, vinegar, too!) can do more harm than good most of the time.

 

EndNote: Final Thoughts On The Importance Of Sealing Tile Grout


 

Is it really necessary to seal grout? For cementitious and other porous grouts; yes!

 

Why does grout need to be sealed? Most grouts, especially cement-based grouts are porous and need to be sealed so as to reduce or prevent water absorption or stains; which have potentially damaging effects if left untreated. Let’s be clear, grout sealers are not stainproof or waterproof.

 

What does grout sealer do? It protects your grout from stains (which will cause discoloration) and prevents moisture from permeating your tiles and grouts.

 

Is it hard to seal grout by yourself? No. It’s a simple process that anyone can do (even a complete novice!). It does take some time and a bit of elbow grease though; the smaller the tiles the longer it takes as there are more grout lines.

 

How long should I wait before applying the second coat of seal? Typically, wait for 5 to 15 minutes between coats. However, the time may vary between some brands, so make sure you read the manufacturers’ instructions.

 

How long does the sealer take to cure? It’s recommended that you allow 24 to 48 hours for the sealer to cure properly. Do not clean nor use the shower during this time. You may walk on your floors much sooner though; usually within 2-4 hours.

 

How often should I reseal my tiles? Every 1 to 2 years under good conditions (but lookout for telltale signs that say you should do so sooner)

 

How do I know if my grout has been sealed properly? Do a simple water test. Simply flick a few drops of water onto the grout line. If you see that the grout absorbs the water, then you will know that it is time to seal/reseal your grout (for existing tile surfaces).

Furthermore, all porous tiles, limestone, marble, travertine, slate, granite, and natural stones should be sealed as they are more vulnerable to stains and moisture.

 

What are the best-rated tile grout sealers?

a. Best Overall. Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold Quart

b. Best Heavy Duty. StoneTech Heavy Duty Grout Sealer

c. Best Budget Option. Aqua Mix Grout Sealer Dual Protection

d. Best for Marble. Tuff Duck Granite, Grout, and Marble Sealer.

e. Great Option. Miracle Sealants 511 QT SG 511.

 

No one wants ugly, dirty grout lines, or having to spend hours scrubbing tons of grout lines just to make your home seem cleaner.

That is why I’d say not to overlook a detail as simple as sealing your grout.

It may not solve the problem 100%, but it surely makes cleaning a bit easier and protects your tiles from water damage (if done properly).

If it’s even only for those things; I’d say it’s worth it.

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish!

Water damage can have serious repercussions on your home, and there’s no telling what’s being trapped or how long your grout will even last once the water starts to soak through.

What’s $100 or less to get your tiles sealed to $1000 or more to repair damages?

Enough said.

 

 

 


Do you seal your tiles? Why or why not?


 

 

Why You Should Seal Your Grout & The Best Grout Sealer To Use

Inspire Others!

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