Sealing Tiles and Grout
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding installed tiles is "Should I seal my tiles or not?"
Well, it's important to realize first, that there are two parts of a tiled floor or a wall - the tiles and the grout. Sealing is done to strengthen tile or grout's defences against dirt, spills, and erosion of grout. While all grout needs to be sealed, not all tiles do. If the tiles are ceramic or porcelain, it probably won't need to be sealed.
There are always some exceptions to this, so check with manufacturer to be sure. If the tiles are stone - slate, marble, granite, travertine, etc. than they will need to be sealed, since stone is naturally porous and will absorb spills and stain fairly easily.
As mentioned above, the grout on the other hand needs to be sealed. There are several reasons for that:
To protect it from dirt and spills, since grout is naturally porous and will stain easily.
To protect from water penetration - grout is usually cement based and porous and allows water to enter inside if not sealed.
To prevent erosion of the grout.
To prevent color changes over time.
To prevent mildew and mold growing within the grout and under the tiles.
To keep your grout at its best and make cleaning much easier.
The sealing of the grout has to be done after grout has cured, usually 5-15 days after installation. It's always a good idea to follow the manufacturer's instructions on a schedule for sealing grout and tile.There are many types of sealers. Some are topical sealers and some are penetrating, breathable and non-breathable, water based and solvent based, brushed on or spayed. Some sealers are meant to give a natural look, some are meant to give a glossy look, and some give an enhanced look with a slight shine. Always check with the supplier or manufacturer what kind of sealer will work best for your tiles and your requirements.
If you doing the job by yourself, always clean the surface well before applying the sealer. Follow the manufacturers instruction for applying technics and drying times.