When it comes to tiling, the mortar and grout play an integral role in maintaining a tile’s structural stability and integrity, respectively. The mortar serves as an adhesive that attaches the tile to the substrate, while grout, on the other hand, fills up the tile joints and contributes to the floor’s aesthetics.
Sanded grout is a popular preference for floor and wall tiling projects owing to its fine particles, which foster denser joints with affordability into the bargain. It comes in handy for tiles subject to foot traffic and about 1/8 to 1/2-inch apart as it exhibits minimal shrinkage.
Whether you’re a DIYer or a flooring specialist, you are more likely to opt for sanded grout for most indoor flooring projects. However, after installing new tiles on floors, walls, or even countertops and waiting for the grout to cure, the big question is: Does sanded grout need to be sealed?
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Does Sanded Grout Need To Be Sealed?
Yes, sanded grout needs to be sealed once it dries up, especially if it’s not a modified formula. Sanded grout mainly comprises cement and aggregate sand material and is therefore porous. Failure to use a grout sealer predisposes your flooring to moisture damage as liquids are likely to seep into the floor through the joints.
Additionally, due to its porous nature, sanded grout is prone to attracting dirt and stains, which could compromise the floor’s durability and aesthetics. Sealing helps reinforce stain and water resistance, enhancing the tiles’ longevity and making them easier to maintain.
Also, note that there are different sealers, and ensure you choose one that addresses your floor’s needs. Let’s dive into further details on the same to enable you to establish whether you will need to seal your sanded grout and identify the ideal sealer for you.
What is Grout Sealer
Consider grout sealer as a protective layer that overlies the grout joint. It mainly prevents stains and moisture penetration into the tiles. Although grout sealer doesn’t guarantee complete stain and water resistance, it tends to enhance the floor’s longevity.
Without a grout sealer, anything that splashes onto the grout joint can easily seep into the floor, resulting in stains or mold growth which limit the floor’s durability. The two categories of grout sealer you can choose from are:
- Penetrating grout sealers
As the name implies, these sealers seep into the grout and protect it from the inside. Penetrating sealers mainly comprise water, making it easier for the sealer to penetrate and occupy the spaces within the grout, thereby preventing liquid penetration.
They offer more protection from moisture damage than non-penetrating sealers and are suitable for bathrooms and laundry rooms. Even better is that these sealers come in a variety of colors, which minimize stain visibility.
- Non-penetrating grout sealers
Unlike penetrating sealers, these sealers protect the grout joint by forming a membrane coating over it to keep liquids at bay. Although the coating prevents moisture penetration, it doesn’t allow evaporation of moisture that underlies the tiles.
Therefore, non-penetrating sealers may not effectively safeguard tiles subject to constant exposure to moisture but are the ideal go-to for non-glazed tiles.
Does Sanded Grout Need To Be Sealed
Sanded grout is mainly a combination of sand and cement which exhibit fairly decent porosity. It, therefore, needs to be sealed during installation to safeguard the tiles from moisture damage which could lead to mold growth. Additionally, sanded grout is ideal for filling up tile joints about 1/8-inch apart or more.
Such a wide space is likely to subject the tiles to more moisture damage, especially in damp areas such as laundry rooms. Unsealed grout is also prone to dirt and stains, making it hard to maintain.
Penetrating sealers are the most suitable when dealing with sanded grout because they can effectively protect the grout even in rooms with constant moisture exposure and heavy traffic. Although sanded grout is popular for its superior durability, affordability, and minimal shrinkage, sealing is ideal for waterproofing and extending its longevity.
How To Seal Grout
Sealing grout is an integral part of tile installation, which, although easy, can be tiresome depending on the size of the room and tiles. Larger tiles, for instance, have lesser tile joints than smaller tiles and are therefore faster to seal.
A large-sized room with smaller tiles, on the other hand, might take days to complete sealing. Although tedious, the procedure is worth the trouble as it guarantees your floor’s durability. To seal the grout, ensure it’s completely dry before following the steps below:
Prepare the floor
Preparing the floor entails taping off the cabinets or adjacent wood baseboards to avoid staining them, especially if you’re using a spray-on sealer. Additionally, clean the floor by sweeping or vacuuming to eliminate any dust or debris that compromise the results.
Apply the grout sealer
Depending on the room’s size, you can use a brush, roller, or spray-on sealer for this step. Spray-on sealers come in handy for larger rooms filled with small-sized tiles but require more cleaning afterward to remove the sealer that comes into contact with the tiles.
Using a brush can be more tedious and time-consuming as it requires reapplication to ensure complete coverage. A roller is the most suitable applicator as it requires less cleaning afterward and consumes less time. Also, consider wiping off the excess sealer with a damp cloth for easy cleaning later on.
Apply subsequent coats
The number of subsequent coats depends on the manufacture’s instructions. Three coats should be enough for standard grout. Also, be sure to wait for at least fifteen to twenty minutes in between coats to allow each layer to dry before introducing another one.
Allow the sealer to dry
Waiting for 24 to 48 hours depending on the prevailing conditions before exposing the floor to moisture is advisable. This allows the sealer to cure completely for best results. However, the curing time also varies depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Test the sealer
Once dry, test whether the grout is adequately sealed by sprinkling a few drops of water over it. If the droplets fail to penetrate the grout, then you’re good to go.
Should You Seal Grout in Shower
Yes, if anything, the shower is among the primary areas that require sealing due to the constant exposure to moisture. The shower is prone to dirt, grease, and stains, and sealing goes a long way to prevent staining. Also, if you’re using traditional grout, sealing is inevitable because it readily absorbs water, resulting in mold growth.
The only exception is epoxy-based grout, which is waterproof and can therefore thrive without a sealant. Otherwise, penetrating sealers are ideal, especially in the case of traditional grout. They soak the grout, blocking moisture while allowing the moisture underneath the tiles to escape.
Does Unsanded Grout Need To Be Sealed
Unlike sanded grout, unsanded grout doesn’t need to be sealed but sealing it is good practice. Unsanded grout mainly comprises cement and is devoid of any additional aggregates. Therefore, it is suitable for tight joint spaces that do not exceed 1/8-inch because it can easily squeeze into them. Its lack of aggregate material makes it exhibit minimal porosity and can therefore do without a sealant.
However, if you’re dealing with unsanded grout, consider sealing using a non-penetrating sealer to be safe because the grout isn’t entirely waterproof. Also, unsealed grout is likely to collect dirt and grime with time, and sealing helps to prevent such an occurrence. Cleaning or mopping tiles with unsealed grout can also result in discoloration hence the need to seal the grout.
How To Apply Polyblend Non-Sanded Grout
Polyblend non-sanded grout is polymer-based grout that consists of fine cement particles without additional aggregates. It comes in various colors and exhibits superior stain resistance and durability. This grout is easy to use as it doesn’t require additives and doesn’t crack while curing due to its outstanding flexibility.
Polyblend non-sanded grout is ideal for tiles with small joint spaces of about three milimetres or less, such as countertops or kitchen backsplashes. Once you install your tiles and allow the mortar to cure for at least 24 hours, you can proceed to apply polyblend non-sanded grout through these steps:
Clean the floor
Dust particles or debris are likely to compromise the outcome. Therefore, consider wiping the tiles with a damp cloth to get rid of any dirt.
Mix the grout
In this case, you will need protective gear, including safety glasses, gloves, and a dust mask to prevent the grout from irritating your eyes, skin, or nose. You can commence the process by pouring water into a bucket per the manufacturer’s specifications for consistency.
Subsequently, add the polyblend non-sanded grout and mix thoroughly using your hands until you achieve a thick paste. You should then give the mixture a slaking period of about five to ten minutes to allow the water to soak the grout completely.
Afterward, remix the grout without adding water to avoid discoloring the grout. More importantly, ensure you mix just the right amount of grout that you will use within two hours to prevent the grout from hardening.
Apply the grout
For this step, you will need a grout float for convenience. Apply the grout over a small section of the tiles using a grout float while tilting it at a forty-five-degree angle to ensure the grout joints fill up completely.
Remove the excess grout
Consider tilting the grout float at an angle before using it to wipe off the excess grout for efficiency.
Wait for at least ten minutes
This allows the grout to set in completely, and the time depends on the prevailing weather conditions. For instance, you may have to wait for a longer period in humid conditions.
Clean the tiles
You can use a damp sponge by moving it in a circular motion to avoid wiping off the grout within the joints.
Seal perimeter joints
For this step, consider using a sealant whose color corresponds to the grout color for best results.
Wipe off the residues
Follow up by wiping off any remnant grout particles from the surface of the tiles, preferably using a microfibre towel. It would be best to give the floor about two hours before carrying out this step to allow the grout to cure.
Also, consider misting the grout for a few days following installation to minimize shrinkage and prevent cracking. Finish off by sealing the grout, especially in high traffic areas, to prevent staining and moisture damage for maximum longevity.
Here is a video illustrating how to effectively seal grout:
How long should you wait before sealing?
You should wait for three to five days before sealing grout unless the manufacturer states otherwise. This period allows the grout to cure and set in completely. Failure to do so will result in the grout flaking off from the tile joints, and you may have to perform a re-installation.
Does ceramic need to be sealed
No, most ceramic tiles feature a glazed surface which is enough to prevent moisture penetration and therefore doesn’t need to be sealed. However, it would be best to seal the grout to prevent moisture from seeping in through the grout joints.
An effective way to waterproof ceramic is to install a water-resistant membrane beneath the tile to bond it to the mortar tightly. Sealing ceramic tiles with a matte finish, on the other hand, could come in handy in preventing stains.
Does glazed ceramic tile need to be sealed
Glazed ceramic doesn’t need to be sealed because moisture can’t penetrate the glaze at the top. Sealing ceramic could do more harm than good because the tiles require more maintenance, and cleaning won’t be easy. The grout in between the tiles, however, needs to be sealed due to its high porosity.
How do I know if I need to seal my tile?
It is advisable to seal tiles at least once a year, depending on the amount of traffic. You can also perform a test by sprinkling a few drops of water on the surface. If the water seeps into the tile, then you need to seal it.
Ultimately, sanded grout is a primary choice for most tiling projects. Its popularity mainly results from the outstanding qualities it offers at a pocket-friendly price. However, without sealing sanded grout, you are likely to spend more money performing a re-installation. The reason for this is that sanded grout, as the name implies, comprises aggregate sand and cement, which are very porous.
Failure to seal can lead to moisture penetration and, in turn, mold growth. Consider sealing your sanded grout, preferably using a penetrating sealer through the steps mentioned above to avoid incurring extra costs in the long run.