When Should You Seal Grout
You may have to wait up to 72 hours before applying the sealant to your freshly laid grout. That is, you should give fresh grout enough time to dry and cure. It is important to have the grout sealed within a week of installation at the latest so that it does not get damaged while it is still exposed and unprotected. Later on, you will have to reapply the sealant at periodic intervals to keep your grout in good condition. How frequently you reseal your grout depends on various factors.
Since the shower area is often quite wet, you will have to reapply the sealant two to three times a year to remain safe. The rest of your bathroom floor tiles and tile backsplash that is relatively drier than the shower area needs resealing around once a year.
Different Kinds of Grout Sealers
There is a wide array of grout sealers available in the market. Most are reasonably-priced and provide great value for money. You can divide grout sealers into 2 basic categories: penetrating and non-penetrating. As the name implies penetrating grouts go beyond the grout surface. These water-based formulations can penetrate deep within the grout to give it the protection that it needs. Such grout is suitable for heavy-duty use and is thus a great option for shower area grout that will see a lot of water.
Non-penetrating grouts work by developing a water repellent barrier on the grout surface. The grout forms a membrane that can prevent water from ruining your grout. Although non-penetrating grouts work well in relatively dry areas, they are not as good for very wet areas. You will need more than a superficial layer to protect grout that is exposed to lots of water. Penetrating grout can fortify such grout from the inside so that it is more resilient to water damage.
Besides protecting against water, good quality grout should also possess the following attributes.
No Chemical Residues
Ideally, the sealant should not leave behind any chemical residue. You need to beware of cheap sealers since they can create chemical residues. Chemical residues should be extremely problematic for outdoor spaces. But for indoor spaces like bathrooms and kitchens, chemical residues are bad news. Also make sure that you purchase good quality residue-free grout.
VOCs are noxious chemicals that can do a number to your health. Certain chemical formulations can give off these volatile vapors that are known to be health hazards. A good quality sealant will not emit VOCs.
Certain types of floor tiles will benefit more from specific grout formulations. This will also depend on the condition of your tiles. For example, unsealed tiles don’t get along with penetrating sealers.
So while choosing grout, choose the type that is best for your tiles.
Waterproof or Not?
Confused? Sealants are meant to be waterproof after all. However, not all sealants are created equal. Some have better water repellent capabilities than others. Sealants can vary in their waterproofing capabilities.