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What is Grout Sealer and Do I Really Need It?

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Question: What is Grout Sealer and Do I Really Need It?
Yes, you need it, except when you happen to be using epoxy-based grout (explained below). Grout sealer is essential for tile work. Grout is a porous substance. So, once grout has been applied and dried, it is ready to absorb any liquid that comes its way.
Answer: So, you need to get one step ahead of the moisture, and penetrate the grout with sealer. I will tell you right away that grout sealer is not fun to apply. It is laborious, and the immediate results are not visible--never my idea of a great home remodeling task. But it must be done.

Be aware that there are two main types of grout sealer, and for lack of a better term I will call them "the applicator kind" and the "spray on kind." The smaller the tile size, the more grout you will have. If you happened to install 1" tile, you're in for a lot of grout sealing; if 12" tile, not so much.

Why does this matter? Because using the "applicator kind" of grout sealer on an entire roomful of 1" sized tile can take up a whole weekend. In this case, I recommend the spray on type of grout sealer.

  • 1. Applicator or "Brush On" Grout Sealer - This sealer is milky in appearance, and is applied directly to the grout itself by way of a roller ball or brush tip. Avoid getting the grout sealer on the tile itself, though a bit does not really matter.

    (Compare Prices - Brush-On Grout Sealers

  • 2. Spray-On Grout Sealer - With this type of grout sealer, you do not have to laboriously follow the grout lines with an applicator tip - you just spray on. You do pay the price for this convenience, because you have more tile surface cleaning later on, but it can be worth it.

    (Compare Prices - Spray-On Grout Sealers)

You never want to get grout sealer on the surface of non-glazed tile. Otherwise, the sealer will soak into the tile itself and never come out. Apply two coats, and allow for the 24 hour drying time (or more, as the product instructions recommend).

When Don't You Need Grout Sealer?

When you've used epoxy-based grout.

There are three types of grout you might use:

  • Sanded - Has fine sand as one of the materials. It's for 1/8″ and wider seams.
  • Unsanded - Use this for seams smaller than 1/8" wide.
  • Epoxy - SpectraLOCK from Laticrete is one popular brand. One reason why sanded and unsanded gets more attention is because epoxy grout is more expensive and can be tricky to mix.
Related Video
How to Grout Tile
How to Clean Grout
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