Applying tile sealer to a backsplash is an important step to protect and enhance the beauty of your tile. With the right products and techniques, you can easily seal your backsplash tile and keep it looking great for years to come.
What is Tile Sealer?
Tile sealer is a protective coating that is applied to porous tile surfaces like backsplashes. It works by sealing the pores of the tiles to prevent stains from penetrating into the tile. Tile sealers also enhance the color of the tile and provide a layer of protection from moisture damage.
There are two main types of tile sealers:
- Penetrating sealers – These soak into the surface and bind to the pores. They are designed for porous, absorbent tiles like natural stone.
- Topical sealers – These form a protective layer on top of the tile surface. They are best for less porous tiles like ceramic and porcelain.
For a backsplash, a topical sealer is usually the best choice as it will fully coat and protect the surface.
Why Seal Your Backsplash?
There are a few key reasons to apply a sealer to your backsplash tile:
- Prevent staining – Tile sealers help prevent stains from oil, grease, food, and drinks. This helps your backsplash stay looking clean and new.
- Enhance color – Sealers can make the tile colors pop and look more vibrant. The coating adds depth and richness to the tiles.
- Protect from moisture – Sealers provide a waterproof barrier that prevents moisture from seeping into the tile and the grout. This helps prevent water damage, mildew, and mold.
- Easier cleaning – Sealed tiles can simply be wiped clean without the need for harsh cleaners. Food and grime won’t absorb into the pores of the tile.
How to Apply Tile Sealer
Applying tile sealer to a backsplash is a relatively simple process. Here are the step-by-step instructions:
Choose the Right Sealer
Look for an acrylic-based topical sealer formulated for backsplashes and countertops. Avoid any “natural look” sealers as you want to enhance the color, not keep a natural matte finish.
Popular options include:
- Miracle Sealants 511 Impregnator
- Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold
- DuPont StoneTech BulletProof Sealer
Check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it is approved for backsplash application.
Clean the Surface
The tiles must be completely clean before applying sealer. Use a pH-neutral cleaner and warm water to wash the backsplash. Rinse thoroughly and let dry fully. Check for any soap scum or residue left behind and reclean if necessary.
Tape and Mask Off
Use painters tape to cover any areas you don’t want to get sealer on like the countertops, walls, cabinets, etc. Plastic sheets or drop cloths can also help protect surrounding surfaces.
Apply in Sections
Working in 2-3 ft sections will help the sealer stay wet and spread evenly before drying. Start by applying a liberal amount of sealer directly onto the backsplash tiles.
Spread and Wipe Off Excess
Use a clean, lint-free cloth or foam applicator to spread and rub the sealer over the section. Make sure to coat the grout lines as well. Allow the sealer to penetrate for 2-3 minutes.
Then wipe off any excess sealer completely with a dry cloth. Over-application can lead to residue.
Allow Proper Cure Time
Refer to the sealer instructions for exact cure times. Typically 24-48 hours is needed for the sealer to fully dry and cure before regular use. Avoid cleaning or exposing the backsplash to moisture during this time.
Apply a Second Coat (Optional)
For added protection, a second coat can be applied following the same application steps. Two coats are often recommended for the best stain protection.
And that’s it! With a sealed backsplash, you can simply wipe away food splatters and grime. Reapply another coat of sealer every 1-2 years for maintained protection.
FAQs About Sealing Backsplash Tile
How long does backsplash sealer last?
On average, a sealed backsplash will last 1-3 years before needing reapplication. Harsh cleaners and excessive moisture can wear away the sealant over time.
Can you use grout sealer on backsplash tiles?
Grout sealer is formulated specifically for grout joints and is not ideal for sealing the tile surface. Always use a tile/stone sealer marketed for backsplashes.
How do you know when to reseal a backsplash?
Signs it’s time to reseal include: returning stains, grime sticking to tiles, color looking faded or dull, moisture absorption, and diminished bead effect when wet.
Can you seal over old tile sealer?
Yes, it is safe to apply a fresh coat of sealer over an existing layer. Thoroughly clean and degrease the tiles first before resealing.
What’s the difference between water-based and solvent-based sealers?
Water-based is lower odor, more DIY friendly, and cleans up with water. Solvent-based is higher VOC but may offer greater durability for some applications.
Can you seal natural stone backsplashes?
Yes, natural stones like granite, marble, travertine, etc. should always be sealed to prevent staining and etching from acids. Use a penetrating stone sealer.
Applying a quality tile sealer is one of the best ways to protect your backsplash investment. Follow the proper application techniques to safely seal the tiles and grout. Be sure to prep the surface, work in sections, and fully wipe off any excess. Maintain the protective seal by recoating every year or two. A sealed backsplash not only looks great but also makes cleaning and maintenance a breeze.