Wherever you install new tiles, you use grout between each one to keep them in place. But did you know, you can also seal the grout? Sealing grout can be time-consuming, so it’s beneficial to understand the pros and cons of sealing grout before you take on this project.
Sealing grout protects it against stains, excess moisture, and dryness. Grout is very porous, so adding a sealant can also prolong its lifespan and preserve the remaining durability of older grout. However, sealed grout still requires regular maintenance and cleaning, and needs at least two coats.
Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of sealing grout to guide your decision.
Is it worth the money to seal the grout, or is it worth saving the fuss of new applications once or twice a year? Read on to learn more.
Pros of Sealing Grout
Sealing grout is all about protecting grout from moisture and dirt that can damage and stain the grout.
If you’re willing to reapply sealant every 6-12 months, the grout will last longer and will without suffering from stains and mold.
Duration matters a lot since the rooms with tiles are often kitchens and bathrooms.
These rooms suffer from spills and encounter more moisture than other rooms in your home.
1. Gives Protection From Spills and Stains
Grout is great for laying tiles together but not so great for day-to-day practical use.
It has pores that absorb moisture, grow mold, stain, and even dry up and fracture, opening it to more damage.
Sealants protect in several ways. They act like wax to help water bead up for quick cleaning.
The smooth surface layer then makes it easier to sweep up the dirt.
And even if the sealant has started to wear down, you can pick a color that hides stains.
2. Extends the Grout’s Lifespan
Neither the grout nor the sealant lasts forever.
You still have to maintain both components to last as long as possible.
But sealed grout lasts a lot longer for less effort than non-sealed grout.
If you seal every 6-12 months, dirt and moisture will stay out of the pores of the grout.
Then when you clean your tiles, you’ll be cleaning what lies on the surface, and without worrying about the pores.
3. You Can Protect Old Grout
Sealant not only works for newly installed grout but old grout.
It offers enhanced protection to older grout to prevent it from deteriorating faster or needing repairs sooner.
You can tell if the old grout has been sealed if you drip some water and the droplets bead up.
Grout that’s not sealed will let water sink away.
But before you seal your grout, you’ll want to get out an old toothbrush, a pH-neutral grout cleaner, and start scrubbing.
You don’t want to add sealant just to lock in damaging dirt, moisture, and chemicals.
You also want the toothbrush and not a stronger bristled brush because the latter can dig out the grout.
This opportunity is also a convenient time to touch up chipped grout.
Allow any new grout 48-72 hours to settle before any sealing.
You may consider buying a colored sealant to hide any existing stains that you were too late to remove.
Cons of Sealing Grout
Any issues you have with tiles, could be down to the grout.
It cracks, stains, and breaks down while the tile remains unchanged. But sealing the grout may not remedy those tile issues.
For some, it could also be an unnecessary cost.
1. Even Sealed Grout Needs Maintenance
Sealed or not, grout still needs to be kept clean, dry, and given a new layer of sealant after a while.
The sealant allows you time to respond to spills, but the chemicals and moisture will still react if left on top of the grout.
And when it comes to cleaning, opt for a pH-neutral tile and grout cleaner that cleans efficiently and without damaging the grout.
2. Sealing May Be Unnecessary
Epoxy grout is an exception to the usual grout sealing pros.
Epoxy has natural chemical resistance to stains and moisture that cement grout lacks.
At the same time, epoxy lacks the pores that cement has.
So it behaves like a 2-in-1 grout and sealant.
It costs more in the short run, but it can get you out of all the fuss that sealing requires in the long run.
In dry rooms, where tiles are more for decoration and do not get walked or spilled on, then the grout won’t need a sealant, no matter the type of grout.
3. The Grout Needs Two Coats of Sealant
The grout needs two coats of sealant to be effective and reliable.
The first layer will inevitably leave a few unsealed spots. The second layer gives you a chance to cover the grout again.
Because you need two coats, you shouldn’t cover the area entirely with the first layer.
Allow for an hour between layers. The first layer needs time to sink into the grout and fill all of its pores.
Then the second layer’s purpose is to be complete, even coat for external protection.
The sealant needs to prevent moisture from getting into the grout, so successful layering is necessary.
The bottom layer fills unevenness in the pores.
That layer also needs to be dry, or it’ll absorb liquid. That’s how you get water-damaged tiles.
Besides needing two layers, grout in moist rooms, like bathrooms, will need new layers of sealant about once every six months.
Other rooms need a new layer of sealant once a year.
And when applying a new layer of sealant, the old layers have to be stripped. You should give the new sealant at least 48-72 hours to dry.
These pros and cons of sealing grout should help you decide which is suitable for your home’s interiors.
Grout is critical to the longevity and cleanliness of tiles, so good grout care is beneficial for your kitchen or bathroom.
Grout’s porous qualities can make it one of the more repetitive aspects of home improvement.
Sealing it can help with stains, moisture dryness, longevity, and durability.
But sealing still requires similar maintenance and cleaning as non-sealed grout, so it may not justify the extra cost.