Before we look at whether to seal grout or not, let's understand the different types of grout that are commonly in use today.
Typically, there are three types of grout which can be sanded or un-sanded:
1. Standard, cement-based (cementatious)
When considering whether a particular grout would benefit from sealing, what we are really doing is considering how easy that grout will be to keep clean and free of stains. One of the most important areas we can look at is porosity, or the grout’s capacity to absorb water (easy absorption means easy staining).
Water absorption is measured as the amount of water that can be taken up by the grout, expressed as a percentage of its dry weight. The typical WA figures for the three types of grout are as follows:
1. Standard Cement-Based – Water Absorption up to 12% - most popular, stains easily
2. Polymer-modified – Water Absorption up to 5% - used more and more, can stain.
3. Epoxy (true epoxy) – Water Absorption is 0% - least popular, difficult to stain.
So, if my grout absorbs easily (standard cement based) it will stain easily, but why? Anything that can be dissolved or suspended in water can also get into the sanded grout. When we wash our floors and do not clean the water often, or use a mop that spreads the dirty without removing the dirt, we leave dirty water behind. The water evaporates, whatever the water was carrying stays put and builds up on the grout line. Also, if water can get in, so can oil or solvent-based contaminants (permanent marker pen for example).
Grout that can readily accept moisture, or that has a texture (or worse if it has both) can be a perfect harbor for mold, mildew, algae and other air-borne spores to colonize.
By applying a good quality sealer to the grout joints, we can create a safety-net to resist deep staining and can significantly reduce the ability of the grout to harbor mold and mildew spores. But we must also change the way we clean our floors.
In conclusion, if the grout joint readily absorbs water (test by wetting the grout and leaving the water for a few minutes), the grout will benefit from being sealed.
Grout sealers will help prevent spills from penetrating into the porous surface of the grout and gives you time to clean it up. Simply blot fresh spills with a clean cloth or paper towel. The sealer continues to protect even after repeated cleanings. Essentially, sealing grout with a "quality" grout sealer is the only way to protect your investment from water-based and oil-based stains.
Ceramic tile is a baked product and does not absorb like grout. It is usually the grout that causes the floor to look tired and dirty.
Penetrating sealers absorbed by natural stone or grout fills the "nooks and crannies" with the sealer solids so that when spills occur (oil or water based) the liquid cannot get below the surface, and it sits on the surface of the grout.
Penetrating sealer repels water-based and oil-based liquids and beverages and protects the surface from dirt and impurities allowing you to wipe away dirt from the grout's surface. Keep in mind that your grout can still get dirty, even if it is sealed with a quality grout sealer. It will simply clean up with less of a chance of a stain occurring. If you want your grout to actually be "Stain Proof" you will need to have your grout color sealed.
Clear sealers offer protection without changing the original color, texture, feel or appearance of the surface. However, we also offer color-enhancing sealers for natural stone, marble, granite, limestone and masonry surfaces as well as our color sealants that can change you grout color to whatever color choice you may pick.
Most sealers purchased at big box stores are quite expensive, are difficult to apply and don't last long. We use only professional grade sealers, our sealing programs are very affordable and can actually SAVE you money in long term cleaning, a floor can be completed in one day and save you on floor replacement costs.
Most DIYer’s do not clean or prep the floor properly prior to applying a sealer, this is very apparent when the floor is completed. It can look mediocre with time and your money is wasted. Improper sealing can also leave a sticky residue on the surface of the floor that is difficult, if not impossible to remove.
Hire Enviro Clean Grout and Stone Care Inc. Our team of professionals have the training, experience, tools and a wide variety of sealers for all types of natural stone, tiles and grout. Professional application ensures complete protection for the entire surface of the floor. Doing it correctly the first time will save you time and money and less frustration.
We provide you with education on correct maintenance procedures for cleaning your tile and grout and most importantly what to stay away from in terms of cleaning solutions that might have an adverse affect on your newly sealed grout. We offer an excellent neutral PH tile and grout cleaner, call to locate a distributor near you. It is important to use the right cleaning solution, as the wrong type can actually break down the sealer and render it useless.
On occasion you may need to have periodic sealing or cleaning in order to maintain your floors peak condition. When necessary we can provide a cleaning and re-sealing maintenance program for your tile and grout, the frequency will depend on the amount of traffic, frequency of spills, your cleaning habits, etc. A grout sealer will essentially make maintaining your floors much easier and more effective, but not maintenance free.
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