Tile grout seal: How to Seal Grout in 7 Easy Steps

How to Seal Grout in 7 Easy Steps

Photo: istockphoto.com

Even if you keep your bathroom tiles clean, dirty grout lines can really detract from the look of your tiled floors and walls. Because cement-based grout, whether sanded or not, is porous by nature, substances like oil, grease, and water tend to seep inside and cause ugly discoloration.

The best way to prevent this is to seal your new grout and repeat as needed. You’ll wan to give the sealer a refresh every year or so on a tile floor that doesn’t get wet, and more often for grout in the shower or on the bathroom backsplash. With these instructions, you’ll learn how to seal grout and create a reliable barrier against unsightly stains and a dingy appearance. You may never have to scrub those grout lines again!

Tools & Materials

  • Toothbrush
  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • Grout sealer
  • Sponge [or other tools mentioned below]
  • Cotton rags

Photo: fotosearch. com

Project Overview

Working Time: 1 hour 
Total Time: 2 to 3 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $25 to $50, depending on the cost of sealer

Before You Begin

Knowing how to seal grout begins with the understanding that not all grout sealers are the same. Some sealer is designed to work only with certain types of grout and tiles. With that in mind, make sure you assess your tile and grout before heading to the home improvement store to purchase a sealer.

While the steps below provide detailed instructions for applying most grout sealer, some products may require other steps. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s directions for how to use the grout sealer before you get started.

STEP 1: Clean and repair the grout.

Before applying a sealer, be sure to clean your grout thoroughly and learn how to repair grout, fixing any cracks or crumbles in the grout lines. Otherwise, you’ll seal in dirt and damaged seams. Scrub away as much of the grime as possible using a toothbrush dipped in soapy water. (Switch to a 50-50 vinegar and warm water solution if you’re trying to eradicate stains.) Tackle one grout line at a time. When you’re finished cleaning and sealing the grout, allow the area to dry for 45 minutes before sealing.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Grout Cleaners Tested in 2022

STEP 2: Choose the type of grout sealer that’s right for your project.

Next, get one of the best grout sealers that’s appropriate for the type of tile you have and its location. No one sealer is best suited for all situations. As you’ll see when shopping for grout sealer, the variety of products available allows for a certain level of customization. Labels specify which sealers work best with marble, stone, and ceramic tiles, as well as how much moisture the sealer can tolerate, be it high moisture in the shower or low moisture along a kitchen backsplash.
The two main types of grout sealers are penetrating sealers and membrane-foaming sealers. The one that’s best for your project depends on the type of tile you have and where it is located.

  • Penetrating sealers have a water or mineral spirit base that allows tiny particles of latex or silicone in the formula to penetrate the granular structure of the grout. As the porous grout absorbs the sealer, the particles of latex and silicone fill in all the gaps, keeping moisture out. Penetrating sealers are the best choices for use in especially damp areas, such as bathrooms—particularly showers.
  • Membrane-forming sealers create a coating on the surface of the grout that resists water permeation. (These sealers work well in the kitchen but should not be used in the bathroom. Membrane-forming sealers won’t allow water that’s trapped underneath the tile to evaporate, which, in a swampy shower, could lead to mildew.) These sealers are sometimes pigmented, which would allow you to change the grout’s color. While membrane-forming sealers are good for unglazed tile like stone, they won’t adhere to ceramic and other glazed tiles.

STEP 3: Determine the type of sealer applicator that’s best for your project. 

Photo: istockphoto.com

Choosing the proper applicator is key to achieving good results for a grout sealing job. Applicator selection depends on several factors, including the thickness of the grout lines and whether you’re working with sealed or unsealed tile.

  • If you have very thin grout lines and unsealed tiles, a sponge allows you to seal larger areas of your bathroom (walls or floors) easily by wiping over both surfaces at once.
  • For glazed tiles where sealer won’t adhere, you’ll need to seal only the grout lines. This is best done using an applicator brush or specialty applicator bottle with a rolling wheel on top.

STEP 4: Apply the sealer slowly and wipe off the excess.

Photo: istockphoto. com

Use a foam sponge or brush to apply the sealer to the grout lines. Make sure the grout is covered evenly and completely to ensure the sealer creates a watertight barrier. Let the sealer set for about 10 minutes, then use a dry cloth to wipe off the excess sealer from the surrounding tile. Don’t skip this step or you’ll end up with a foggy film on the tile that’s nearly impossible to remove.

STEP 5: Apply a second coat of sealer.

Once you’re done applying the first coat of sealer, let it dry for an hour before applying a second coat. It will typically take one to three coats of sealer to achieve adequate protection.

STEP 6: Test the sealer. 

Photo: istockphoto.com

After the second coat of sealer dries, test the surface by applying a few drops of water to the grout. The liquid should bead up into droplets. If it doesn’t, apply a third coat to ensure quality results.

STEP 7: Allow time for the sealer to cure completely before walking on it or using the shower.  

Some sealers need only 24 hours to cure, while others can take up to 48 hours; check the manufacturer’s directions on the grout sealer you’re using for specifics. While it may be inconvenient to keep a room off-limits for a day or two, remind yourself how convenient it will be the next time you clean your grout. A good sealer means less time scrubbing. This is one chore that will make your routine bathroom and kitchen cleaning a breeze.

Using Aerosol Grout Sealers

Although aerosol spray-on sealers are easier to use than those that require a sponge or brush for application, there are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing one of these products.

Spray grout sealer goes on quickly, but it also leaves excess sealer on the tile face. This means you’ll spend some time after application wiping off overspray in order to prevent hazing on the tile. Because sprays aren’t as precise as sealers that are applied by other methods, it’s easy to waste a lot of product.

Another thing to know about aerosol grout sealers is that they create thinner barriers, which means you’ll need to spray more coats to get the same protection that you would from a brush-on or sponge-on sealer.

Final Thoughts

By following the above tried-and-true methods for sealing grout, you can maintain the beauty of the tile in your kitchen or bath by preventing stains, bacteria, and mildew from leaching into the grout. When applied properly, a good grout sealer will provide protection for a year or more. Grout sealing is also a relatively simple project that doesn’t require any special tools, and is a doable project for even the novice DIYer.

FAQs

If you’re wondering how long you need to wait to seal new grout or whether you can paint over sealed grout to freshen its look, read on for answers.

Q. How long do I let the grout dry before sealing?

Wait at least 48 hours after installing fresh grout before sealing it. This will give the grout plenty of time to dry so it can properly absorb the sealer.

Q. Can I paint over sealed grout?

You can restore the original color of your grout by applying a paint called grout colorant. However, if you’ve already sealed the grout, you won’t be able to paint over it. You’ll need to wait at least a year for the sealant to wear off. You can also apply tinted sealant to change the color of the grout.

Q. How often should I seal grout?

For higher traffic areas, such as a bathroom, you’ll need to reseal grout about once a year. For low traffic areas, such as a guest bathroom, you’ll need to reseal the grout about once every 2 years.

Q. Is grout waterproof?

Most grout is porous and will therefore absorb water unless it is sealed. The only grout that is completely waterproof and therefore doesn’t need to be sealed is epoxy grout.

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How to seal grout in five easy steps – MAPEI Home

  • By MAPEI Product Support
    in How To

We’ve all seen once-beautiful tile lose its luster due to dirty and stained grout. Especially after a successful DIY tile installation, the last thing you want is to see your new work of art get slowly taken over by the grease and grime of daily use. While all grout joints require some maintenance to maintain their sparkle, there are products that can minimize staining, while also making cleanup easier. Sealers (such as MAPEI’s UltraCare® Grout Sealer) are designed to penetrate into grout and fill the voids so that dirt and stains stand no chance of bringing down your hard-earned tile design. Here are some tips on how to ward off those unsightly stains through grout sealing.

Step 1: Make sure the grout is dry.

All new grout should be allowed to cure fully before being sealed. Even if the grout appears to be hard, achieving the correct color will require time for excess moisture to evaporate. We know you’ve been looking forward to seeing your finished product, but don’t get ahead of yourself! We recommend waiting for at least 48 hours after installing a grout before you apply a sealer. Older grout should be cleaned thoroughly before being left to dry. Make sure to protect grout from spills and stains during this time, otherwise you’ll be sealing in the dirt instead of keeping it out!

Step 2: Apply the sealer.

Coat sealer on the grout lines with a foam sponge, brush or small roller. However you choose to apply the sealer, it is important that the grout joints are covered uniformly and completely.

Step 3: Wait 10 minutes.

Let the sealer sit for about 10 minutes, and then wipe off any excess sealer with a damp towel. Sealers can leave a residue on the tile surface, but don’t worry – it should be easy to remove at this point.

Step 4: Test with water.

Test the effectiveness of the sealant by putting a few drops of water onto the grout line (after the sealer has dried thoroughly according to the label instructions). Did the water bead up? If so, you’re good to go: Your grout has been properly sealed and is ready for action.

Step 5: Reapply if necessary. 

Did your grout sealer fail the water-drop test? If the water lays flat and doesn’t bead, wipe off the water, wait 30 minutes and apply a second coat. Think of it this way: Better to test and try again than to realize in just a few days that your grout sealant isn’t working as intended!

To maintain pristine-looking grout, remember to remove spills promptly, change mop water frequently and clean grout joints regularly. Sealed grout can keep stains from developing and make cleaning easier, but routine cleaning is still a necessity to keep your grout looking its absolute best. You’ve come too far to let dirty grout lines impact the look of your tile! 

Keep in mind that all sealers will eventually wear away or lose their effectiveness. We recommend applying new sealer once a year or whenever you notice that water is no longer beading up. By following these steps, your tile and grout will look like they did on the day they were installed.

About the Author

MAPEI Product Support

Deciding on the choice of grout for tile joints

Laying ceramic tiles is one of the most complex and responsible types of repair and finishing work. This painstaking process requires practical skills and knowledge. So, for example, grout for joints should be selected taking into account many different factors.

What is grout for?

Grout is a special compound designed to fill tile joints. Its main task is to protect the joints from the ingress and accumulation of moisture, which can lead to the formation of mold.

What should be considered when choosing a grout?

  • operational features of the room, its purpose
  • tile location and load level on it
  • humidity and temperature mode

So, for rooms with a high level of humidity (bathroom, swimming pool, etc.), it is necessary to choose a grout that prevents the formation of mold and mildew. The grouting material in the kitchen area must be highly resistant to chemicals, as dirt can accumulate in the tile joints, which can be removed by using active cleaning agents.

Grout types

Today, the construction markets offer mainly two types of grout:

Cement based

The basis for this type of grout can be either a mixture of cement with sand, or a special type of cement – Portland cement. The latter is most often used when the width of the seam varies between 3-5 mm.

Code: 511000896

Ceresit CE 33 1-6 mm silver gray 2 kg

Code: 511000053

Grout Ceresit CE 40 1-10 mm gray 2 kg

Code: 511001049

Grout Ceresit CE 43 Super Strong 5-40 mm caramel 2 kg

In the group of cement grouts, ATLAS ceramic grout can be distinguished. Thanks to the reinforcement with special fibers and the addition of modifying additives, this fine-grained mixture is suitable for all types and materials of cladding on any substrate, inside and outside buildings. This is the hardest cement-based grout available on the market.

Based on epoxy resin

In the production of grout based on epoxy resin, hardeners and coloring pigments are added to the composition. Due to this, the material is resistant to moisture and various aggressive substances, it is excellent for surfaces with direct contact of tiles with water and a high likelihood of contamination – a pool, kitchen backsplash, etc.

Choice of grout color

There are two main approaches when selecting grout for filling tile joints:

  1. Selection of grout in the color of tiles
  2. Contrasting grout and tile combination

The second option is for those who are ready to experiment and do not mind dynamism in the interior. But do not forget that even a contrasting grout should be combined with the rest of the interior (or exterior) and not violate the color combination rule.

For those who are not ready for bold experiments, there are a few simple rules:

Rule #1

Choose a grout in the color of the tile. If several colors are used in the interior, then you can opt for a grout of one color for the entire room, or choose a grout for each color separately.

Rule #2

If the tile is not solid, for example, imitation wood, the choice of grout can be made either in favor of the main color, or in favor of the darkest color scheme that is available in the pattern of this tile.

Rule #3

Do not choose a light-colored grout for floor tiles. If you have white tiles on the floor, it is better to opt for a light gray color of the seams. Ideal for kitchen and hallway floor tiles – anthracite or dark gray.

Rule #4

Use white and beige grout only for walls. These are the most impractical colors.

Rule #5

Do not forget that water drops leave light traces on the surface. The darker the grout, the more visible they will be where there is direct contact with water and detergents.

Rule #6

If the tile has an ornament and forms a “carpet” when laying, choose the most neutral grout from the primary colors on the tile so as not to disturb this effect.

Rule #7

For a mosaic, choose the grout that matches the color as much as possible. A large number of seams with a contrasting grout color will ripple in the eyes. For glass mosaics, the ideal grout color is white. Other colors “change” the color of the glass.

Rule #8

For gray tiles, use gray grout 1-2 shades darker than the base color. This will give the surface additional volume.

Rule #9

If you can’t decide on a grout color, choose a light gray or cement color – they are versatile in terms of combination and functionality for tiles of any color.

► choose grout for tiles

Perhaps these are all simple rules for choosing a grout for ceramic tiles. If you still cannot decide, we recommend that you contact our sales consultants. They will be happy to help you make the right choice!

How to choose the color of grout for tiles

During the final stage of facing work in the bathroom, grout for tiles is of great importance, how to choose a color for a successful combination of tiles and fugue, let’s try to understand this material. Details play a huge role in creating a harmonious interior. This category also includes tile joints. The right color for grouting tiles will allow you to create a holistic perception of the interior, emphasize decorativeness, style. On sale you can see a large selection of colored grouts.

Functions of colored grout

Select the color of the mixture according to its purpose. Well-known manufacturers, having a wide range of products, produce compositions with different characteristics. For example, some grouts can be focused only on “dry” rooms (kitchen, corridor), while others can withstand high humidity (bathroom, pool). Therefore, before making a choice, it is worth deciding what you want to get from it.

There are a number of problems that grout can help with:

  • moisture and dirt: if you just want to protect the joints from moisture, dust, you can choose Ceresit grout with increased moisture resistance. In addition to the fact that it will not allow water to destroy the cladding, you can purchase a wide variety of shades;
  • masking defects: in the case when many defects were made during the laying of ceramic tiles and they need to be masked, Mapei mastic, matched to the color of the tile, is a good option;
  • decorative: seams finished with unremarkable mastic spoil the impression of even the most beautiful ceramic tiles. Beautiful, colored fugues can radically transform a room. The use of the Mapei contrast mixture makes the design more saturated and deep;
  • interior: if the design of the room does not have a complete solution, Mapei colored grout can correct this situation. The right tool will be able to tie together different parts of the interior.

Choice of grout

Different shades of fillings can be chosen for the same tile color. It all depends on the design intent. But in order for the Mapei mixture to successfully fit the tile and interior, one should take into account not only its color, but also its composition. There are several types of grout mixtures. Each tool has its own characteristics, characteristics:

  • cement-sand. The most affordable type of Mapei grout for joints. It differs not only in low cost, but also in its qualities. The main components in it are cement, sand. Such a mixture does not withstand high humidity well, and is not suitable for glossy ceramic tiles (it damages the surface during processing). It is used mainly for wide joints. It lends itself well to the cleaning process from the tile and is quite easy to remove from the skin;
  • alabaster. Plastic, soft fugue, easy to prepare. It is enough just to dilute the alabaster with water. This tool has a beautiful white color, quickly hardens;
  • cement with additives. As part of such a grout, Ceresit contains Portland cement and modifying additions. Strengthening components make the mass viscous, plastic, add waterproof qualities. Manufacturers offer such mixtures of various shades;
  • latex. This is a kind of cement mixture with the addition of polymers. Such a tool from the Atlas company is quite durable, it serves as a reliable protection of the seams from water;
  • epoxy. The basis of this type of grout Mapei are epoxy resins. These substances provide the best protection against moisture, but due to the high viscosity, it is difficult to work with epoxy material. To clean the ceramic coating from this composition, special tools are used;
  • silicate. This material is a transparent mixture based on liquid glass. This Mapei grout is only suitable for neat, clean joints, as it is not able to hide obvious defects. It is mainly used for mosaics. It may contain such a decorative element as sparkles in its composition;
  • furan. Such grout Mapey has only one color – black. It is used at home very rarely, but it is highly resistant even to chemicals. As for cleaning the tiles from the remnants of this substance, this is quite problematic to do. It hardens very quickly, it cannot be removed without mechanical action. Good to use for floor tiles.

Cement-sand grout

Silicone grout

Plastic grout

Epoxy grout 900 09

Silicate

Furan

Classic

Traditional white grout. And such a decision is not always made because of the price factor. Very often, craftsmen are simply not sure that they can correctly match the color of the mixture to the tile.

White mastic suitable for all tiles. It can both create the impression of a monolithic wall covering, and emphasize each individual element. Another “classic of the genre” is white tile. Using this wall covering along with colored grout, you can create a wide variety of design options. If you choose a black mixture, you get an original contrast that will visually add volume to the walls of the bathroom. Unusual contour drawing looks stylish, fresh. White tiles and black fugue look stylish and will be appropriate in any bathroom.

You can be a little creative, choose a white and black contour for grouting alternately, you get a design that resembles a chessboard. The combination of white tiles and red fugue looks non-trivial. If you dream up a little and apply black and red grout to the walls, you can create a creative pattern in folk motifs.

The use of grout of different colors looks very interesting. Using several bright shades will create an unusual, cheerful interior. With the help of such mixtures for joints, you can make a variety of geometric shapes on the walls. For example, to create a creative flower, yellow or orange mastic is used to process around the middle tile, red petals, a green stem and leaves are formed in a similar way.

Choice of color

You can choose a tile grout either in contrasting or matching the color of the tile. It all depends on what effect you want to get. The easiest solution is to choose a grout of the same shade as the wall cladding. This option is classic, always looks advantageous, although it does not have an individual character.

A contrast palette is a more responsible choice. There are many different factors to take into account here. For example, red grout will not be combined with yellow tiles, especially if there are no red elements in the interior at all.

The presence of furniture in the design of the bathroom should also be taken into account when choosing colored putty. The color scheme of things should be in harmony with the tone of the tiles and grout. If the color of the tile and fugue contrasts sharply on the walls, you should not do the same on the floor. Otherwise, the room will look harsh and unpleasant.

Very often tiles of several colors are laid on the walls of the bathroom. The combination of two or more shades on one surface is a rather bold decision. In this case, you need to choose the grout for the seams very carefully.

If contrasting tiles are laid in the bathroom, the best solution in this case is to use mastic in the same shade as one of the finishing colors. This version of the fugue will highlight some elements, and complement others. For example, when a duo of brown and beige tiles is created in a room, you can choose a light grout. It is perfect for both types of tiles and at the same time harmoniously connects them.

Tips for choosing colored grout

It may not taste like a friend’s color, but a harmonious, finished look in the bathroom is important. Therefore, when choosing a grout for tiles, you should listen to some recommendations:

  • it is best to choose a fugue together with the purchase of tiles. In this case, it will immediately be possible to understand whether the shades suit each other or not;
  • when choosing a retail outlet, give preference to one where the range of putty is not limited to a minimum quantity. A large selection of mixtures will allow you to buy the best option;
  • if the wall decoration is multi-colored, the best option would be a grout color that resembles the lightest or darkest tile;
  • color of tile joints is able to visually reduce or enlarge the room. Therefore, a light fugue is suitable for a small-sized bathroom, and a dark one for a room that is too large;
  • for single-color ceramic tiles, the grout is selected according to the design of the room. If it is necessary to highlight furniture elements, it is better to choose a mixture of one shade with a tile. In the case when you walk, so that all attention is concentrated on the floor tiles, it is worth buying a putty of the opposite tone than on the floor.

Decorative effect grout

For those who want to make their bathroom design unusual, you should pay attention to effect grout. Such mixtures are somewhat more expensive, since they are made on the basis of epoxy resins with the addition of decorative components. The simplest is mother of pearl. This additive allows the tile joints to shine more and cast with mother-of-pearl.

In the presence of gold or silver chips in the color composition, a sparkling effect is created. Especially if the bathroom windows are on the sunny side and bright light enters the room.

Colored mosaic grout

This tile material can be homogeneous and multi-textured. If the seams of absolutely flat elements are tinted with mastic to match, for example, with a beige mixture of the same tile, the mosaic will be perceived as a uniform surface. Contrasting fugues focus on the size of the tiles, emphasize the very fact of facing the walls with mosaics.

People love mosaic for its structure and shape. If you choose a contrasting mixture, all attention will be focused on small squares, and not on the richness of the texture.