Transform any room with beautiful, durable tile. But once your tile installation is complete, the work isn’t over. Choosing the right grout and sealant is crucial for protecting your tile and giving it a polished, professional finish. With the right products and techniques, you can make your tile shine for years to come.
Selecting the Right Grout
Grout fills the seams between tiles, locking them together and providing a clean, uniform appearance. For walls, unsanded grout is a good choice. It has a smooth texture perfect for smaller tile joints. For floors, sanded grout stands up better to foot traffic. It’s also ideal for wider grout lines. When selecting grout:
- Consider the color. It should complement your tile while providing enough contrast between tile and grout lines.
- Choose a grout suitable for your tile material. Epoxy grout works well for natural stone, while standard cement grout suits ceramic or porcelain.
- Check recommendations based on tile spacing. Unsanded grout works for joints 1/8 inch and smaller. Use sanded grout for wider spaces.
Always grout with a rubber grout float for easy, mess-free application. Thoroughly clean the grout lines beforehand to ensure proper adhesion.
Sealing the Grout
Fresh grout is porous and will absorb liquids, leading to staining and discoloration over time. Sealing the grout creates a protective barrier. It’s best to apply grout sealer one week after installation.
Look for a water-based sealer made for grout. Solvent-based products can dissolve grout. Apply a thin, even layer with a small paintbrush. Avoid puddling sealer in the grout lines. Check directions for drying time and when it’s safe to go back over the floor with a damp mop.
Reapply yearly or as needed based on wear. Catching it early prevents stubborn stains.
Selecting a Sealant for Tile
Unlike grout, many tiles don’t require sealing. But natural stone is an exception. Sealant prevents stains from soaking into porous materials like marble, granite, slate and travertine.
Choose a sealant formulated for natural stone. Water-based sealers are common. Solvent-based formulas offer heavier-duty protection.
Thoroughly clean and dry tiles before application. Apply sealant with a paintbrush or sponge, gently scrubbing into the surface. Thin coats work better than a single thick layer.
Buff off excess product after 5-10 minutes. Allow the full drying time before going back over the floor. Reseal as needed, usually once a year.
Achieving a Professional Finish
With the right grout and sealer, your tile installation gains durability while looking its best. Be sure to:
- Clean tiles thoroughly before sealing or grouting.
- Allow proper drying time for grout and sealants before going back over the floor.
- Apply grout and sealant with care to avoid uneven coverage.
- Reseal and regrout as needed based on wear and traffic.
- Use products designed for your specific tile material.
Giving tile a quality finish requires patience and care. But the effort pays off with beautiful, protected floors that withstand everyday life. Contact a tile professional for products and tips specific to your installation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of grout?
The main categories are unsanded vs. sanded grout. Unsanded is for smaller grout lines 1/8 inch or less. It has a smooth texture. Sanded grout contains fine sand particles and is better for wider joints, resisting cracking and wear. Epoxy grout is also available for areas like showers. It resists water damage.
How soon can I walk on newly grouted floors?
It’s best to wait 24-48 hours before walking on newly grouted floors. This allows the grout to fully set and cure. Exact drying times depend on factors like temperature and humidity. Carefully checking a small area can help determine when light foot traffic is safe.
Should porcelain tile be sealed?
Porcelain is less porous than natural stone. Most porcelain tile does not require sealing, especially glazed porcelain. Unglazed, textured porcelain may benefit from sealing, but check with the manufacturer first. Sealant could discolor some porcelain. Always test on a small, inconspicuous area before fully sealing.
How do you apply sealant properly?
Start with thoroughly clean, dry tiles. Use a sponge mop or paintbrush to gently apply a thin, even layer of sealant formulated for natural stone or tile. Avoid puddling excess product. Allow drying per product instructions, then buff off any remaining residue with a soft cloth. Reapply yearly or as needed.
What’s the best grout color to match white subway tile?
For white subway tile, bright white or snow white grout is often the best option. The subtle contrast between pure white tile and slightly off-white grout helps define each individual tile. But an almond or light gray grout can also complement white subway tile nicely in the right setting.
How do you regrout shower tiles?
Carefully remove old grout at least 1/8 inch deep using a carbide grout saw or rotary tool. Vacuum out debris, wipe clean, then dry completely. Apply new sanded grout with a float, pressing firmly into joints. Wipe diagonally across tiles to remove excess. Allow to cure 24 hours before sealing. Resealing makes regrouted areas resistant to moisture.
Choosing products designed for your specific tile and project ensures your installation stays beautiful over time. Allowing proper drying and curing times for grout and sealants prevents issues like cracking or discoloration. With the right maintenance strategy, your tile walls and floors will maintain their polished, fresh-installed look and feel for many years of enjoyment. Consult with a tile pro for personalized product recommendations and tips.
A Finishing Touch for Your Tile Walls and Floors
Installing beautiful tile in your home is an investment that can last for decades when properly cared for. Choosing the right grout and sealant is crucial for protecting tile and giving it a polished, professional finish. Here are some best practices for adding the finishing touches to your tile walls and floors.
Grout Gives Tile a Unified Appearance
Grout is applied between tiles to fill in the joints and spaces. This gives the tile installation a clean, uniform look.
For walls: Unsanded grout works well. It has a smooth texture that’s ideal for smaller grout line widths.
For floors: Sanded grout is the better choice. It stands up to foot traffic and is designed for wider grout joints.
When selecting grout:
- Choose a color that complements your tile but also provides enough contrast between tile and grout lines.
- Use grout suitable for your tile material – epoxy for natural stone or cement-based for ceramic/porcelain.
- Check manufacturer’s recommendations for proper grout based on the spacing between your tiles.
Always apply grout with a rubber grout float. Thoroughly clean grout lines first so the grout adheres properly.
Seal Grout to Prevent Staining
Fresh grout is porous and will soak up liquids, leading to discoloration over time. Applying a grout sealer protects the grout by creating a water-resistant barrier.
Use a water-based sealer made specifically for grout. Solvent-based sealers can break down grout. Apply a thin, even layer with a small paintbrush 1 week after grouting. Avoid filling the grout lines with too much sealer.
Reapply sealer yearly or as needed depending on wear. Sealing early prevents stubborn stains from setting in.
Sealing Natural Stone Tile
Many modern ceramic and porcelain tiles don’t require sealing. But natural stone tile needs protection from stains. Sealant makes surfaces like marble, granite, slate and travertine resistant to absorbing liquids.
For natural stone, use a compatible sealant formulated for stone. Water-based sealers are common, but solvents provide even stronger protection.
Thoroughly clean and dry the tiles before applying sealant. Use a paintbrush or sponge to work sealant gently into the surface, applying thin coats.
Buff off any excess sealant after 5-10 minutes of drying time. Allow the full drying time before going back over the floor. Reapply sealant about once a year.
Tips for a Professional Finish
Achieving beautifully finished tile requires:
- Thoroughly cleaning tiles before sealing or grouting
- Allowing proper drying time before going back over sealed and grouted floors
- Carefully applying products to avoid uneven coverage
- Resealing and regrouting as needed over time
- Using the right products for your tile material
Giving tile floors a quality finish takes patience. But it’s worth it for long-lasting beauty and protection. Talk to a tile pro about products and application tips specific to your installation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main types of grout?
The two main categories are unsanded vs. sanded grout. Unsanded is smooth and best for narrow grout lines under 1/8 inch. Sanded contains fine sand and is better for wider joints, resisting cracking and wear. Epoxy grout also resists water damage and is good for showers.
How long should I wait to walk on new grout?
Wait 24-48 hours before walking on newly grouted floors to allow proper curing. Exact drying times vary based on temperature, humidity, etc. Check a small area carefully to determine when light foot traffic is safe.
Should porcelain tile be sealed?
Most modern porcelain does not require sealing, especially glazed porcelain. But unglazed, textured porcelain may benefit from sealing. Always test first on an inconspicuous spot to ensure sealant won’t discolor the tiles.
What’s the best way to apply tile sealant?
Start with completely clean, dry tiles. Use a paintbrush or sponge to gently apply a thin, even coat of sealant made for tile or stone. Don’t overapply. Allow drying per product directions. Buff off any excess residue with a soft cloth. Reapply about once a year.
What grout color matches white subway tile?
For white subway tile, bright or snow white grout highlights each tile while tying the whole backsplash or wall together. Almond or light gray can also complement white subway tile nicely.
How do I regrout shower tiles?
Carefully remove old grout at least 1/8 inch deep with a carbide saw or rotary tool. Vacuum, wipe clean, and dry fully. Apply new sanded grout, pressing into joints. Wipe diagonally to remove excess. Cure 24 hours before sealing to prevent moisture issues.
Choosing the right grout and sealant prevents damage and keeps tile looking its best. Allowing proper cure times creates a durable finish. With regular maintenance and resealing, your tile walls and floors will stay beautiful for years. Consult a tile professional for product recommendations specific to your installation.