We’ve all seen once-beautiful tile lose its luster due to dirty and stained grout. Especially after a successful DIY tile installation, the last thing you want is to see your new work of art get slowly taken over by the grease and grime of daily use. While all grout joints require some maintenance to maintain their sparkle, there are products that can minimize staining, while also making cleanup easier. Sealers (such as MAPEI’s UltraCare® Grout Sealer) are designed to penetrate into grout and fill the voids so that dirt and stains stand no chance of bringing down your hard-earned tile design. Here are some tips on how to ward off those unsightly stains through grout sealing.
Step 1: Make sure the grout is dry.
All new grout should be allowed to cure fully before being sealed. Even if the grout appears to be hard, achieving the correct color will require time for excess moisture to evaporate. We know you’ve been looking forward to seeing your finished product, but don’t get ahead of yourself! We recommend waiting for at least 48 hours after installing a grout before you apply a sealer. Older grout should be cleaned thoroughly before being left to dry. Make sure to protect grout from spills and stains during this time, otherwise you’ll be sealing in the dirt instead of keeping it out!
Step 2: Apply the sealer.
Coat sealer on the grout lines with a foam sponge, brush or small roller. However you choose to apply the sealer, it is important that the grout joints are covered uniformly and completely.
Step 3: Wait 10 minutes.
Let the sealer sit for about 10 minutes, and then wipe off any excess sealer with a damp towel. Sealers can leave a residue on the tile surface, but don’t worry – it should be easy to remove at this point.
Step 4: Test with water.
Test the effectiveness of the sealant by putting a few drops of water onto the grout line (after the sealer has dried thoroughly according to the label instructions). Did the water bead up? If so, you’re good to go: Your grout has been properly sealed and is ready for action.
Step 5: Reapply if necessary.
Did your grout sealer fail the water-drop test? If the water lays flat and doesn’t bead, wipe off the water, wait 30 minutes and apply a second coat. Think of it this way: Better to test and try again than to realize in just a few days that your grout sealant isn’t working as intended!
To maintain pristine-looking grout, remember to remove spills promptly, change mop water frequently and clean grout joints regularly. Sealed grout can keep stains from developing and make cleaning easier, but routine cleaning is still a necessity to keep your grout looking its absolute best. You’ve come too far to let dirty grout lines impact the look of your tile!
Keep in mind that all sealers will eventually wear away or lose their effectiveness. We recommend applying new sealer once a year or whenever you notice that water is no longer beading up. By following these steps, your tile and grout will look like they did on the day they were installed.