Once your new tile flooring is installed, grout will be the last step in the process. This step will pull the whole look together, while filling any gaps or crevices between tiles. But because grout is composed of concrete, it is actually porous and won’t last as long as the tiles themselves. More to the point, your grout can become stained over time, and start to look old or unsightly.
So, really, grouting between your tiles isn’t exactly the last step in your tile flooring process. The true last step will be sealing your grout.
Bleach and other cleaners often won’t completely remove stains from grout, because its porous nature helps the stain to absorb into the material. Luckily we have several options to seal your grout, with either a protective layer or a penetrative method, that can prevent many stains and help your beautiful floors to continue looking fabulous much longer.
Penetrating grout sealer. The name doesn’t leave much to the imagination; this type of sealer penetrates into the grout to protect it from stains. It’s easy to apply, but because the effects aren’t permanent you will need to touch it up from time to time. Most penetrating sealers will not alter the color of the grout, and they don’t leave a shine. One type, called impregnating sealer, might darken the grout just a bit.
Non-penetrating grout sealer. By contrast, non-penetrating grout sealer forms a barrier on the surface of the grout, to help repel moisture and stains. This is a good solution for areas that are likely to become wet, such as bathrooms, to prevent mold and mildew growth. Some of these sealers do darken the grout or add shine, but matte versions are also available. Since non-penetrating grout sealers become milky and discolored over time, we recommend removing and replacing the sealer periodically to freshen it up.
What about epoxy grout? Epoxy grout is tough and water-resistant, so it doesn’t require an extra sealer on top. It also remains flexible and less prone to chips and cracks. However, epoxy grout is not right for every tile job. Don’t use it with unsealed tiles, like clay or stone, without sealing the tiles first. Otherwise the epoxy residue will adhere to the tiles and won’t wash off.
You could think of grout sealers as perhaps the least impressive, but still vitally important, component of a tile flooring job. When done right, grout sealers will protect your floors from moisture, mildew, and stains, while helping your floors remain as beautiful s they were from the first day of installation.
If you have any other questions about tile flooring, give us a call. We can help you learn how to care for your tile floor, and help you decide if this is the right option for you.