Grout serves an important purpose in tiled surfaces like backsplashes. It fills the spaces between the tiles, sealing the surface and helping prevent moisture damage. Over time, grout can become stained, crack, or allow moisture to seep through. Knowing when to seal your grout can help keep your backsplash looking fresh and intact.
What is Grout?
Grout is a porous material used to fill the seams between tiles. It is typically a mixture of cement, sand, and water. Grout provides structural integrity and water resistance to tiled surfaces.
On backsplashes, grout helps:
- Seal the spaces between tiles to prevent moisture and debris from getting behind the tiles
- Allow for subtle variations in tile sizes and surfaces
- Create a finished look by forming clean lines between tiles
Without grout, backsplash tiles would be loosely spaced and more prone to damage.
Why Seal Grout?
Sealing grout creates a protective barrier that prevents stains and moisture from penetrating the grout’s porous surface. Sealing is recommended for grout in kitchens and bathrooms due to frequent exposure to water, oils, and other household products.
Benefits of sealing grout include:
- Prevents staining from grease, food, soap scum, and hard water deposits
- Reduces moisture absorption that can lead to mildew and cracking
- Makes grout easier to clean
- Locks out dirt and debris to keep grout lines looking clean
- Extends the life of grout by protecting it from damage
When to Seal Grout
New grout should be sealed once the grout has fully cured, usually within a few days. After initial sealing, grout will need to be re-sealed periodically to maintain protection.
Signs it’s time to re-seal grout:
- Grout appears stained, discolored or darkened
- Grout lines seem dingy despite regular cleaning
- Moisture can penetrate the grout
- Grout is cracking or crumbling in spots
- A haze appears on the grout when water is splashed on it
A general rule of thumb is to re-seal grout every 1-2 years in kitchens and bathrooms. Heavy traffic areas may need more frequent re-sealing.
How to Seal Grout
- Grout sealer – look for products labeled for kitchen and bath areas
- Small paintbrush, foam brush, or sealant applicator pad
- Clean cloths
- Painter’s tape (optional)
- Distilled water
Steps to seal grout:
- Clear the area and remove any items from the backsplash. Tape off edges with painter’s tape if desired to keep sealer only on grout lines.
- Clean the backsplash tiles and grout thoroughly with a multipurpose cleaner or dish soap and warm water. Rinse well and let dry completely.
- Prepare the sealer according to the package directions. Apply a thin, even layer of sealer directly onto the grout lines using a small brush.
- Allow the sealer to penetrate for 10-15 minutes. During this time, redistribute any puddles or pools of sealer with your brush to make sure coverage is even.
- Wipe away all excess sealer with a clean, dry cloth. Work in sections to prevent the sealer from getting tacky or drying on the tile surfaces.
- Allow the sealer to cure per package directions, usually 24-72 hours. Avoid washing or getting the area wet during this time.
- Once cured, inspect the grout for any remaining haze or residue and remove with a damp cloth if needed.
- Reapply another coat of sealer if necessary to get full, even coverage. Most grout needs 2 coats.
Sealing grout takes some time but helps preserve the finish of a backsplash. Well-sealed grout is easier to maintain and will look cleaner over time. Re-apply sealer every 1-2 years for ongoing protection.
FAQs about Sealing Grout
Should all grout be sealed?
Grout in kitchens and bathrooms exposed to moisture should always be sealed. Other areas can be sealed as needed when stains or discoloration occur. Outdoor grout and natural stone tiles require special sealers.
How long does sealed grout last?
Sealer typically lasts 1-2 years before needing reapplication. Heavy use areas may need sealing more often. The lifespan depends on the type and quality of sealer used.
Can I seal over existing grout?
Yes, you can seal over stained or discolored grout to improve its appearance and provide protection. Make sure to thoroughly clean grout before applying sealer.
What’s the difference between sealing and grout haze removers?
Sealers protect grout from future stains. Haze removers clean off a cloudy film left behind from the grouting process but don’t offer ongoing protection.
Should I use a brush or sponge to seal grout?
A small paintbrush works best to concentrate sealer directly into grout lines. Sponges can waste product by absorbing too much. Soft brushes also allow more precise application.
How soon can I get the area wet after sealing grout?
It’s best to avoid moisture for 24-72 hours after application to allow the sealer to fully cure. After curing, routine cleaning and use is fine. Check the product label for specific cure times.
Sealing grout on a backsplash provides important protective benefits from staining, cracking, and water damage. Sealants form a barrier that keeps the grout looking clean and intact for years. Newly installed grout should be sealed, and existing grout should be re-sealed every 1-2 years to maintain the grout lines in kitchens, bathrooms, and other frequented areas. Following the proper sealing techniques and allowing time to cure will result in a finished look that holds up beautifully over time.