Sealing tile adds an extra layer of protection against the usual bathroom culprits, such as moisture, dirt, and mildew buildup. When properly applied and maintained, a sealant can help keep floors, showers, or backsplashes looking like new. Ongoing care and maintenance is also easier when tiles are properly sealed. Here are some tips on how to seal bathroom tile, and when to complete this relatively simple, but very important, task.
When selecting a new floor or backsplash, you should consult the manufacturer's recommendations on how to seal it. Porous materials, such as travertine and other natural stone, often require sealing, especially in high-moisture areas like a shower or tub surround. On the other hand, tiles made of porcelain and ceramic are highly resistant to water, and sealing may be optional, especially for those that have a glazed finish.
In addition to sealing tile, you may also want to seal the grout, especially in a bathroom or other high-moisture area. Due to its gritty nature, dirt, debris, and even water can get trapped in the grout between tiles. Over time, grout lines can become discolored and exhibit signs of mold or mildew. Applying a sealant to the grout helps preserve its original color and can save time and effort in the future by avoiding the need for heavy cleaning or even replacing grout.
Depending on the type of tile you're using, the time frame for applying a sealant may vary. For instance, some natural stone tiles, such as limestone, should be sealed prior to the installation of grout. On the other hand, ceramic and porcelain tiles can be sealed after the grout has completely dried and the tile has set. Waiting to apply a sealant increases the risk of a stain or discoloration marring a new bathroom floor. Since you won't be able to walk on the tile until the sealant dries, plan the job for a time when immediate access to the bathroom isn't needed.
Eventually the protective coating of the sealant will wear away and the tile and grout will need to be resealed. Consult the tile manufacturer's recommendations, as well as the instructions printed on the sealing product. If you redo the grout or replace a cracked tile, be sure to seal the new pieces after they're installed.
Sealing tile and grout is one way to preserve the longevity of bathroom flooring. For more questions on how to seal bathroom tile, visit American Olean's care and maintenance recommendations. And when you're ready to choose a tile, head to your local retail dealer to check out your options.