While carefully sealed natural stone is resistant to stains and damage, the appearance of your beautiful floor, countertop, or shower can still be ruined if you neglect the grout. Nothing detracts from gorgeous stone tile quite like stained grout that makes your floor seem dirty no matter how often you clean it. Though it’s important to keep your grout clean with a specially formulated grout cleaner, sealing your grout is a great idea if you want to keep your floor looking its best.
Unsealed Grout Is Vulnerable
The grout in your shower, countertop, or floor is more vulnerable to stains, mold, and bacteria than the stone tile it surrounds. Most tile grout is made from cement, which means the grout is highly porous and absorbs liquids easily. Any type of liquid with color can leave a deep stain as the liquid evaporates. Oils and even pet stains can also seep into the grout and make the grout darken. As soon as grout is applied and dries, it’s ready to absorb any type of liquid it touches. Once stained, grout cannot be cleaned. It needs to be removed and replaced.
Grout Is Susceptible to Mold
Grout is very porous. When wet, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for mold. A mold problem in grout is also nearly impossible to get rid of without removing the grout because the mold grows inside the grout. When mold does begin to grow in grout, the grout must typically be removed so the affected area can be treated with a fungicide before new grout is installed.
Sealing Grout Extends the Life of a Floor or Shower
There is no point in investing in a gorgeous natural-stone floor, countertop, or shower if the appearance will be ruined by grimy, stained grout. Unsealed grout can also wear down faster than grout that is sealed properly. By sealing your grout about 72 hours after your tile is installed, you can extend the life and appearance of your new stone tile.
Epoxy Grout Doesn’t Need to Be Sealed
The only exception to this rule is epoxy grout, which is highly water resistant and seals itself as it dries. However, there is a downside: this type of grout residue can permanently stain tile, including natural stone. The only way to prevent this is to seal the natural-stone tiles before they are installed. Epoxy grout is also more expensive than regular grout, and it can be a bit difficult to use correctly.
How to Seal Grout
Grout is just as easy to seal as natural stone. The process is a bit more tedious when using a solvent-based sealer. Start by allowing the fresh grout to cure for at least 2 to 3 days. The grout should always be clean and dry before a sealer is applied. Tape off other surfaces like baseboard and apply the solvent-based sealer with a foam paint brush or a very small roller. Coat the grout lines, ensuring you cover the joints, but try not to get sealer on the stone. If you do, wipe it away quickly.
Allow the first coat of sealer to soak into the porous grout for about 15 minutes, then apply a second coat. Wipe off the tiles to remove excess sealant and allow the sealer to cure for up to 48 hours before cleaning or getting wet.
A water-based sealer like Granite Gold Sealer®, however, is much easier. After cleaning the grout, use the sealer by changing the setting on the nozzle from “spray” to “stream”, apply the solution directly onto the grout; immediately wipe it into the grout and then buff dry. Allow it to cure for 24 hours. There’s not taping involved because this sealer won’t harm the surrounding surfaces.
In addition to sealing your grout, it’s important to keep it clean. If you’d like to learn how to clean grout, get in touch with the Stone Care Experts at Granite Gold®. From granite countertops to travertine floors, we know what it takes to properly care for natural stone. Give us a call today at 1-800-475-STONE to learn more.