Ceramic tile is one of the most durable, low maintenance floors you'll ever have. However, just like any well used surface, there are certain things you can do to keep your floor looking its best.
One simple step home owners often over look is the process of sealing the grout. Many are under the impression that since the glazed tiles themselves don't require sealing, that the same goes for the grout. Many installers will say the grout doesn't require sealing, but doing so will make the tiles easier to clean and stay clean. It also helps to repel water and stains from the porous grout surface. This simple process also goes a long way for homeowners who are preparing their home for sale. A clean entrance with a sparkling grout line makes a great first impression.
Follow these simple steps to seal the grout in your ceramic tile floor.
If you have a new floor, wait at least 30 days to allow the grout time to fully cure before sealing.
Clean the tiles with a neutral PH cleaner before sealing. Use a damp mop to prevent water from pooling in the joints. Never clean with bleach or strong acids such as vinegar, as they will break down the grout in time. For an existing floor, you may need to scrub the grout lines with a small brush to remove any stains and dirt. Rinse with clean water and dry the tiles completely.
There are two main types of sealers: Penetrating sealer is used with cementitious grout that chemically attaches itself to the grout, repelling water. Topical sealers coat the surface of the grout, repelling stains and water until the product is worn off.
Usually topical sealers are cheaper, but may give a plastic appearance to the grout. This type of sealer is not recommended for showers or wet areas, as they tend to retain any moisture that may make its way into the grout.
The penetrating sealers are a little pricier, but are more durable. Instead of simply coating the grout, they are absorbed by it.
If the sealer you've purchased doesn't come with an applicator, invest in a separate bottle with a built in roller applicator to make your job easier. Usually the bottle will come with a selection of rollers, simply attach the one that best fits your grout line and roll on.
Later, be sure to clean any existing sealer that may have strayed onto the tiles before it dries, or you'll never get it off.
Sometimes the grout on existing floors is badly stained and even cleaning doesn't help. In those situations, a grout stain pen will work wonders. Choose a color that most closely resembles your grout color and run it along the grout line. It also contains a sealer, so it does two jobs in one.
The sealer will eventually wear off and you can expect to repeat this process about every two years. You'll know its time when the tiles seem to get harder to keep clean. Try not to mix brands; the finished result is much more effective when you re-apply the same product.
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