Sealing the grout in your kitchen backsplash can help protect it and keep it looking great for years to come. Here’s a look at when you need to seal grout and how to do it.
What Is Grout Sealer?
Grout sealer is a liquid product that is applied to the grout lines in tiled areas such as a backsplash. It works by sealing the pores in the grout to create a protective barrier. This keeps moisture, dirt, grease and stains from penetrating into the grout and discoloring it.
Grout sealer comes in two main formulas:
- Penetrating sealers – These soak into the grout and coat the pores from within. They usually provide longer-lasting protection.
- Topical sealers – These coat the outer surface of the grout lines to form a protective layer. They tend to wear away faster than penetrating sealers.
Choosing the right sealer for your particular grout type is important for getting the most effective and long-lasting results.
Why Seal Grout?
There are a few key reasons you may want to seal the grout lines in your kitchen backsplash:
- Prevent stains – Food splatters, grease, coffee and other kitchen messes can easily stain and discolor grout. A good sealer provides a barrier to keep stains from setting in.
- Easier cleaning – Sealed grout is much easier to wipe clean. Spills and dirt won’t soak in as much. This keeps your backsplash looking fresh.
- Extend the life – Unsealed grout is more susceptible to damage and deterioration over time from moisture and regular use. Proper sealing protects grout from cracks and crumbling.
- Enhance appearance – Sealing can help intensify the color of grout and give it a uniform, consistent look. This maintains the aesthetic appeal.
Pro Tip: Use caulk, not grout, between the countertop and backsplash. Caulk is more flexible and better at handling the normal movement in this area.
When to Seal Grout
For a new backsplash, sealing the grout is recommended as one of the final installation steps. It’s best to let new grout cure fully first, which usually takes about 28-30 days. Sealing too early can trap moisture inside and lead to problems.
For existing grout, sealing is advised:
- When the grout begins to show signs of staining or discoloration
- After deep cleaning to return the grout to like-new condition
- At least every 1-2 years for routine maintenance
- During kitchen remodeling as preventative care
Inspect the condition of the grout lines periodically. If they appear dirty, dull or are showing excessive wear, it’s probably time for a fresh seal.
How to Seal Grout
Sealing grout is a relatively simple DIY project. Here are the basic steps:
- Clean the grout thoroughly – Use a specially formulated grout cleaner and scrub brush to remove any dirt, grease or existing sealers from the grout lines. Rinse well and allow to fully dry.
- Apply the sealer – Work in small sections using a grout sealer applicator brush or small paintbrush. Apply a thin, even layer keeping it just on the grout and not the tile.
- Wipe off excess – After 5-10 minutes, use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess sealer from tile or grout surface. Going over the area a second time helps ensure you get it all off.
- Allow drying time – Most sealers take 2-3 hours to cure enough for light traffic. Avoid wetting or washing the sealed area for 24-48 hours.
- Apply a second coat (optional) – For maximum protection on grout with lots of surface area, a second thin application may be desired after 24 hours of cure time.
Always be sure to check the specific sealing instructions for your particular grout sealer brand and formula. Properly sealing and maintaining your backsplash grout will help keep it looking great for many years! Let us know if you have any other tile and grout care questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I seal all types of grout?
Most types of grout will benefit from proper sealing, including sanded caulk, epoxy, cementitious and urethane grout. The exceptions are some epoxies made with acrylic latex that have built-in sealers. Always check your specific product.
How long does a grout sealer last?
With a penetrating sealer on cement grout, expect 2-5 years of protection typically before re-sealing is needed. Topical sealers may wear away in as little as 3-6 months with heavy usage and need more frequent reapplication.
Can I seal over existing grout sealer?
Yes, you can apply fresh coats of sealer over existing sealant. Thoroughly cleaning the grout lines first provides the best results. Make sure to use the same sealer type to ensure compatibility.
Should I seal grout before or after cleaning?
For new grout installations, always seal after the full curing period of 28-30 days. With existing grout, seal after deep cleaning and rinsing to remove all residues from the pores. Sealing over dirt reduces effectiveness.
How do I know if my grout needs resealing?
Signs that re-sealing is needed include grout appearing dingy or discolored, moisture beading up on the surface, and stains taking hold even after cleaning. Doing a water test by spraying water on the grout can help – if it absorbs in and darkens, new sealer is due.
Sealing grout lines is an essential maintenance task for protecting the beauty and integrity of any backsplash. The small amount of time and cost invested on a regular sealing schedule pays dividends by keeping grout looking like new for years before replacing tiles becomes necessary. With the right sealing products and techniques, you can easily handle this yourself and avoid permanent staining or other damage. Check your grout lines periodically and reseal at the first signs of wear for a backsplash you can enjoy for decades.