How to Seal Grout: Everything You Need to Know for a Completed Project

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how to seal grout

Tile floors and walls are attractive and, unless you’re dropping piles of bricks on them, they will last virtually forever.

The weak point in the tile is the grout. Grout needs to be cleaned, sealed and cared for.

This article will cover everything you need for cleaning, sealing and caring for the tile grout in your home.

We will also cover grout types, the best grout sealants and how to seal your grout the right way.

By the end of the article you will know everything you need to complete your project, care for your grouted tile for as long as you own it, and keep your floors protected and looking great.

Top Reasons to Seal Grout

Sealing grout is almost mandatory, but there are benefits to keeping up on the chore.

  • Maintain waterproofing. Grout is the weak spot on tile floors when it comes to waterproofing. Keep it sealed and eliminate that worry.
  • Keeps tiles straight. The grout maintains position of the tiles and properly sealed prevents shifting or sagging.
  • Prolong grout life. Grout will eventually need to be replaced. Proper sealing, though can extend the time between changes.
  • Easier cleaning. Properly sealed grout doesn’t absorb moisture, odors or colors, helping clean ups go faster and look better.

Buyer’s Guide: Factors for Buying the Right Sealer

buyers guide grout sealer

Before you head to the shops or press that buy now button, you need to decide which grout sealer is the best for your floor and grout types. The following factors will help you make a better decision when it comes time to buy.

Grout Type

There are different grout types and the sealant you choose will depend heavily on the grout type. Sanded and unsanded grout, for example, has wider tile spacing and is much more porous than epoxy grout.

Different sealers are needed for the different grout types. It is important to know what type of grout you have around your tiles.

Grout Location

Tiles are used in many areas of your home. Floors are the most common, but you will find tiles and grout on shower walls, kitchen countertops, and back splashes. The sealer you choose needs to be able to apply correctly on either a horizontal, vertical or food prep surfaces.

Temperatures and Humidity

Grout is porous and as such is a breeding ground for moisture based bacteria, mold and mildew. This is more prevalent in shower tiles and those on bathroom floors. Warmer temperatures and high humidity can cause a lot of problems with the grout.

You need to ensure that the grout sealant you choose is capable of withstanding warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels in these cases, but less so in other applications such as entryway flooring or kitchen backsplash.

Tools Needed

Sealants come in all application types and depending on the type you choose, your application tools will vary. Some will only need a sponge or a mop, while others will need towels, trowels, and knee pads.

Personal protection such as latex or rubber gloves, eye protection and long sleeves to protect your skin may be required. You also need to know how the sealant is applied so your tools will match.

Penetrating or Non-Penetrating

When it comes to sealant types, there are two main types, penetrating and non-penetrating. Penetrating styles usually have lower VOCs and penetrate into the grout to seal it from the inside.

Non-penetrating types are not ideal for bathroom applications, but form a top layer seal over the grout instead of digging into the grout. Both have their purposes and each one will protect best when used in applications it is most suited for.

Application Method

When it comes to grout sealers you have a few application options. The two primary styles are paint form and spray form.

Paint style sealants require a brush or roller, and which one you choose depends on if you want broad application or more detailed work. For spray types, you can choose to spray everything, including the tiles, and clean up later, or be more specific in your applications.

Cost

Sealant isn’t considered a high priced item, but it is a constant purchase. With sealant needing to be reapplied every 6 to 12 months, you should find a sealant you like and plan to make a purchase at least twice a year.

While it may not break the bank, it can be something you still need to budget for. As sealant is a chemical compound, it will expire. Stocking up generally isn’t warranted or needed, and if you do buy more sealant than you need, you may end up having to toss it our before it can be used.

Is Sealing Grout Mandatory?

To be quite blunt, yes. Grout must be sealed. There isn’t a magic method or trick to it, you simply need to seal your grout.

Some sealants will last about 12 months, others may only last 6 months. It will depend on the tile and grout types as well as the sealant and application method you choose.

However, sealant will eventually allow water through as it is water resistant but not waterproof.

As the sealant begins to break down, it is time to replace and renew it. Properly sealed grout will resist water, maintain its color, reduce bacteria and mold growth opportunities and keep your tiles secure and properly spaced.

Top Three Grout Sealers

top three grout sealers

Below, you will find the top three grout sealers. Each product is rated, reviewed and compared so you know exactly what to expect and which application each one is best suited for.

1. Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold

Aqua Mix has a few sealers and cleaners in their line up and the top of that line goes to the Sealer’s Choice Gold. This sealant is easy to apply, dries quickly and has excellent clean up.

This is the perfect solution for penetrating grout sealant that works on stone, unglazed tiles and grout. You can apply over all surfaces or grout only and if you have spilling or over application, clean up with water and a clean rag takes only a few minutes.

Once you have applied the sealer, it will begin moisture and contaminate protection in as little as four hours. However, when applying outdoors or in wet areas such as a bathroom, you should wait at least 24 hours before using the space.

The water-based sealer is not ideal for glazed tiles or epoxy grouts, though, and an application will require a sponge or brush.

While it isn’t directly noted, at least 2 coats are recommended. The good news is that a quart bottle will cover about 1000 square feet of grout.

The bad news is that it does have a strong odor, so proper ventilation is required. You will also find that reapplying the sealant comes more often that with other brands.

However, those other brands don’t also offer stain and humidity protection on the same level as Aqua Mix.

ProsCons
Easy to applyNot ideal for glazed tiles
Dries quickly and protects in as little as 4 hoursReapplication is needed more often
Water-based formula offers easy clean up 

2. Miracle Sealants 511 Impregnator Sealer

If you are looking for a sealer that works outdoors and in wet areas with superb protection, look no further than Miracle Sealants 511.

The penetrating sealer works on almost every stone or tile type and is perfect for sanded grout.

The one quart bottle is enough to cover up to 1000 square feet and protects color, look and moisture penetration of stone, glazed and unglazed tiles, grout, travertine and much more. A single layer isn’t enough, though and you will need at least 2 coats.

However, the long-lasting formula is able to last longer than most other brands and sealers, giving you at least 12 months of grout protection and up to 20 years on tiles and stones.

When using outdoors on patios, garages and decks, the sealant offers UV protection, fade resistance and ultimate weather protection.

When used inside, the application can be a little more difficult, and tedious, but is well worth the time and effort. You can apply to floors, walls or even ceilings with a foam brush and the sealer will cure in as little as 18 hours after the final application.

ProsCons
Ideal for most stone, tile and groutMore difficult to apply correctly than other brands
Up to 20-year protectionStain protection isn’t as thorough as other options
Protects against water, oil and contaminates 

3. Stella Sealants Ultra Dry 70 Stone and Grout Sealer

Stella Sealants gives us the Ultra Dry 70 formula that protects indoors and out, on horizontal or vertical surfaces and offers more protection than most other brands.

Not only are oil, water and chemicals prevented from getting through, but it also protects against salt water. Ultra Dry 70 also protects against the damaging effects of efflorescence, or the sudden evaporation of water leaving salt and mineral deposits behind.

Not only is the sealer easy to apply and will cover most rock, tile and grout surfaces, but it also dries fast. Second and third coats can be applied in just 5 to 10 minutes and full cure in as little as 14 hours.

Along with water, oil and stain protection, you also don’t have to worry about discoloration, fading or altering the look of grout or tiles. It is also safe for food prep areas and countertops, too.

ProsCons
Ideal for all sealed surfacesNot as much coverage area per quart
Protects against saltwaterMay need reapplication every 4 months
Fast drying time 

How to Seal Grout

seal grout

Sealing grout is a fairly easy project. In almost all cases you can perform the chore as a DIY project in your spare time. However, it is also one of the things you must finish once you start.

While each sealant has it’s own application process and recommendations, the basic application procedure is outlined below.

Cleaning the Grout

The first step in any grout sealing process is to clean the tiles and grout. You don’t want any debris, dust or dirt getting sealed in as it will negate the sealing properties.

When you clean your tiles and grout, pay special attention to the grout, using a toothbrush or stiff bristled brush to deep clean the grout and get it ready for the sealant.

The important part of this step, aside from cleanliness, is drying. The grout needs to be dry so you don’t lock in any moisture when sealing. Once the grout is clean and dry (or while it is drying) you can move on to prep.

Preparation

Preparation means getting your floors (or walls) tools, sealer and yourself ready for the task ahead. While you won’t need to light candles and take a moment of silence, prepping yourself entails your protective gear and tools.

Make sure you have hand and eye protection, especially with some of the more chemical based sealants. Latex or rubber gloves should be used at a minimum. However, if you are working on a horizontal surface, splashing and dripping are going to happen, so protect your eyes as well.

Next, you will want to read the instructions and application guides for the sealer you have chosen. Understand the application process and times between coats so you know how long you will be working and what the process will look like.

Gather all of your tools, including brushes, rollers, lint-free cloths, towels and sponges. While sealing the grout, you will also be cleaning up the tiles, and if you can get the job done while the sealer is still wet, it will be a much quicker process.

Sealant Application

Now that the grout is clean and dry, and you have everything you need nearby and ready to go, it is time to apply the sealer.

Make sure you have the right sealer for your grout and tile type. There are porous tiles and you will be best suited choosing a sealer that covers the tiles and grout. Likewise, more solid tiles, such as those found in shower stalls, will not need the extra layer of a sealant and your grout should be the only part covered.

Next, you will decide how to apply the sealer. As discussed before, paint sealers work best with rollers or brushes, while spray sealers need more focus on over spray and clean up than application.

When applying you want to be generous in the application. Grout is porous and needs a lot of product so it absorbs and covers evenly. Don’t be afraid to go over the tiles, as you can clean them up with a cloth as you go.

Once the sealer is applied, it will need to set and cure. Most of the time this only takes a couple of hours. Make sure you read the instructions on your sealer and wait the right amount of time before you apply the second coat.

Clean Up

Once you have the sealer applied and the right number of coats (usually only two or three coats are required), you can clean up. If you have glazed tiles, a simple wipe down (with some scrubbing) will be enough.

However, if your tiles are unglazed, you may need to apply more sealer. Wet sealer will loosen the dried sealer on the tiles allowing you to wipe it away without damaging the tiles.

Make sure you wipe all the sealer away, wash and dry the tiles and your job is complete.

Professional Install

If you aren’t comfortable doing the job yourself, you can always hire a professional to do the job for you. There will be labor and material costs, of course, but the money spent and time saved may be worth it to you.

If it is a new install and the tile floor or wall is new, sealing should be a part of the costs already. Make sure you talk with the contractor to find out. If they don’t offer a sealer for the install costs, you may need to find a different pro.

We can help you find reliable professionals in your area. Check out the professional finder, for free, and locate the right person for the job in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq grout sealers

In this section we will cover the most common questions asked about grout sealers. If you have other questions, feel free to use the comment section below the article.

Q. What type of grout sealer do I use in a shower?

  1. Your best option for shower tile grout is a penetrating sealer. Also known as impregnating sealer, it soaks into the grout, filling in the pores and keeping water and humidity out of the grout. 

Q. How long does grout sealer last?

  1. Most sealers will last between 6 and 12 months. For the more waterproof varieties and applications in non-wet areas of the home you should plan to reseal once a year. Grout sealer in a shower or wet area such as laundry rooms or even basements, though, every 3 to 4 months may be warranted.

Q. How long does grout sealer take to dry?

  1. Full dry time will vary between brands, amount of applied sealer and where the sealer is located. High humidity areas such as a bathroom or laundry area will take longer. The drying time for application between coats is usually between 2 and 5 hours. After the final application, though, it is best to wait up to 48 hours for the sealer to fully cure before use.

Q. How can I tell my grout is sealed?

  1. One simple test is to spray it with water. Watch for the water to bead up on the grout and stay there. If it soaks into the grout, the grout isn’t sealed properly. If, however, the water beads stay (between 2 and 4 minutes), your grout is sealed effectively.

Conclusion

Grout sealer is essential to all tile floors, walls and countertops. Grout on its own is porous and will soak up moisture, dust and contaminants.

Properly sealed, though, the grout can last many years without replacement while maintaining its duty as a tile spacer and leveler.

Finding the best grout sealer will depend on several factors and this article has covered all of them for you. You should now understand what it takes to seal your grout, what type of sealer you need and how to apply it.

Done correctly, you will have years of bright, clean and solid grout between your tiles.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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