20 Apr 2015

To Seal or Not to Seal

At National Tiles we are often asked about the sealing process for tiles, as customers naturally want their tiles to stay looking great and be protected long term.

Sealants are formulated to form a protective layer on the treated surface. This layer prevents dirt from penetrating into the material, making everyday maintenance easier. Sealants should preferably be used indoors; they are only partially suitable for outdoor use because the closed film may trap moisture in the material.

The question of whether or not to seal your tiles starts with the tile type. Some manufacturers pre-seal their products in readiness for the tile laying process. Note that porcelain and ceramic tiles will generally not require sealing. An exception is polished porcelain tiles, which usually need sealing before grouting due to the polishing process that causes tiny micro pores. If your porcelain is not pre-sealed then pre-sealing should generally be carried out, especially when dark coloured grout is to be used.

The material that most often needs to be sealed is natural stone because it’s porous and may stain. All natural stone in an interior space will require sealing after installation but before grouting, followed by regular cleaning with warm water and non-acidic soap to retain the stone’s beauty and organic appeal. To ensure that your stone stays well coated and fully protected, re-sealing should be performed every two or three years on average. Be aware that the amount of use and the quality of your ongoing maintenance will affect sealer durability. Heavily-used stone surfaces may need to be sealed once a year for optimal protection. Some customers ask whether sealing will change the look or colour of natural stone. By using a high quality sealer and cleaner, the stone should maintain its original appearance.

Also remember to keep an eye on the grout lines over time. Just put a few drops of water on the grout lines and if it beads up then the sealer is working; if the water absorbs quickly then it is time to re-seal the grout.

Disclaimer: these posts contain general tiling information only. If you need advice, you should seek professional advice based on your particular circumstances.