While carefully sealed natural stone is resistant to stains and damage, the appearance of your beautiful floor, countertop, or shower can still be ruined if you neglect the grout. Not only does grout fill the voids, it makes the floor, wall, or countertop stronger by bonding the tiles together and preventing the edges of a tile from chipping and cracking.
Vulnerability of Unsealed Grout
Grout sealers protect against stains by either coating or penetrating, and some guard against water infiltration. Although bleach can lighten some stains, it’s not a fail-safe method for keeping grout looking new. Oils also seep in, and removing those stains may require chipping out the old grout and replacing it.
One of the most common places to find mold is between tiles, because the porous nature of grout is highly susceptible to microscopic growth. Whether part of a kitchen backsplash or bathroom detail, tiles usually see a ton of moisture. Rarely do we take the time to dry tiles or the grout between them completely after we cook or wash. If a damp room has inadequate ventilation and you don’t run a fan or dehumidifier, it quickly becomes the right environment for mold.
Grout is just as easy to seal as natural stone, although the process is a bit more tedious. Choose your sealer based on the type of tile you have and its location. No one sealer is best suited for all situations. Choose the applicator tool that’s right for you. Although aerosol spray-on sealers are commonly used for reasons of convenience, there are a few cases in which they may not be the best choice for your project.
Apply sealer in small areas at a time, working left to right. By working methodically, your grout lines will look more consistent and your sealer will provide better protection—no spots will be overlooked! Keep a dry cloth close by to wipe off the excess sealer.
Once you’re done with the first coat, let it dry for an hour before applying a second. After the second coat dries, test the surface with a few drops of water. The liquid should bead up into droplets; if not, apply a third coat to ensure quality results. Let your tiled space dry completely before using. Some sealers need only 24 hours to cure, while others can take up to 48 hours.