Porcelain tiles are a subcategory of ceramic tiles, are solid and durable and can be glazed or unglazed. Sealing ceramic tile or porcelain tile is not always required, but you will need to use a grout sealer to protect the grout joints. This sealant will get on the tiles while working, but it shouldn't hurt the tile.
Grout Sealer on Porcelain Tiles
Grout sealer will not harm porcelain tiles if it gets on them while you are working. That said, it can dry clear and shiny, and this may be noticeable. It may be particularly visible if you have bright or overhead lights in the space where the tiled floor is located.
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Fortunately, if you clean the tiles right away, you shouldn't have to worry about this issue at all, as you can wipe the grout sealer right off the tiles before it dries. To correctly remove the grout sealer, you should buff the surface of the tiles gently as you work. Use a lint-free cloth and wet the cloth if need be to ensure you properly remove all of the grout sealer. Be sure all of the sealer is removed before you move forward with your renovations or tile work.
Sealing Ceramic Tile
With the knowledge of how to remove grout sealer from tile in hand, you can proceed with your sealing work. You don't have to seal most ceramic and porcelain tiles, but some will need a light penetrating sealer if the tiles have micropores on their surface that you need to fill. On the other hand, grout is essentially a mixture of cement and sand. If you don't seal the grout, it absorbs bacteria, stains and water. Once the grout is applied, it must be sealed and maintained; otherwise, it could stain, grow mold and discolor.
In most cases, when people refer to sealing ceramic tile, they are talking about sealing the grout between the tiles. If the tiles are unglazed clay or natural stone, they are porous, and you'll need to seal them with a different kind of product. Consider waiting 48 to 72 hours after applying the grout before sealing it. The grout should be clean and dry without any cracks or chips. If you see cracks or chips, touch them up with more grout and wait for another 48 to 72 hours.
Using a Grout Sealer
It takes less time to grout and seal larger porcelain tiles since more grout lines require more work. If your tile is on a kitchen floor or backsplash or if you have unglazed tiles, you can consider using a membrane-forming grout sealer. These sealers resist water penetration but do not allow water trapped beneath tiles to evaporate, which can cause a mildew problem. Also, you should know that membrane-forming grout sealers do not adhere to glazed tiles.
A penetrating grout sealer is the better choice for sealing ceramic tile in bathrooms and anywhere else that gets damp. These products have water bases, allowing the particles to penetrate the grout. Since grout is porous, it absorbs this kind of sealer and keeps out moisture.
Applying Grout Sealer
There are two kinds of grout sealer applicators: brush-tipped and roller wheel. The first is best for smaller and vertical grout joints, and the second works well with wider grout lines and horizontal surfaces, such as floors. Do not seal grout in direct sunlight or when it is very hot or very cold in the room.
Seal the vertical grout lines first and then cover the horizontal ones. Apply a good amount of your sealer into the grout joints, ensuring they are well saturated. Work in small sections and allow the joints to stay saturated for five to 10 minutes. If they start to dry sooner, add more sealer. Don't worry if you get some of the sealant on your tiles.
Once a section is complete and saturated for five to 10 minutes, wipe off the excess sealant with paper towels. Continue removing all the excess sealant from the grout joints and tiles, making sure that there aren't any puddles of sealant in the grout. Check the tiles with a flashlight and from different angles to ensure that you wiped away all the sealant. Give it at least 24 hours to dry and then you are finished.
- Bob Vila: Porcelain or Ceramic: Which Tile Type Is Right for You?
- Laticrete: Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Care
- North American Tile Cleaning Organization: Properly Sealing Grout Will Keep It From Becoming Dirty And Stained
- Senior Care 2 Share: Does Grout Sealer Damage Porcelain Tile?
- Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants: Do I Need to Seal My Porcelain Tiles?