How to Seal Kitchen Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash not only protects your wall from water damage and stains but serves as a stylish focal point in your kitchen. However, over time it can get dirty, stained, and worn looking. Sealing your tile backsplash helps protect it by creating a barrier that prevents liquids, grime, and dirt from soaking into the grout and tile. A sealed backsplash will be much easier to keep clean. Here is a guide on how to properly seal your kitchen backsplash.

Choose the Right Sealer

There are a few types of sealers to choose from when sealing a backsplash:

  • Silicone sealers – These provide a waterproof barrier and help repel stains. Silicone sealers work well for highly porous tile like saltillo.
  • Acrylic sealers – Offer protection against water and stains. They also enhance the color of the grout. Acrylic sealers are a good choice for a variety of tile types.
  • Epoxy sealers – Provide the most durable seal with maximum stain protection. Epoxy is the best choice for countertops and floors but is also effective for heavy-use backsplashes.

Consider the type of tile, frequency of use, and your budget when selecting a sealer. An acrylic sealer is sufficient for most standard backsplash applications. Stay away from urethane and lacquer sealers which can yellow over time.

Clean the Surface Thoroughly

It’s important to thoroughly clean grout and tiles prior to sealing. Dirt and soap scum prevent the sealer from properly bonding. Follow these steps:

  • Mix a non-acidic grout cleaner with warm water in a spray bottle. Avoid bleach, vinegar, and other acids that can break down grout.
  • Liberally spray the mixture over the entire backsplash surface. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Scrub with a stiff bristle cleaning brush to remove all dirt and stains from the grout lines and surface of the tiles.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water and repeat if needed until grout appears clean.
  • Allow the surface to fully dry for at least 24 hours before sealing. The tile and grout must be completely dry for proper sealer application.

Read the Sealer Instructions

Read the product label and instructions of your chosen sealer prior to starting the project. Pay attention to special requirements or drying times specific to that sealer.

Some key steps in the process may include:

  • Wiping down the surface with a cloth dipped in mineral spirits to remove any waxes or residues.
  • Masking off any adjacent surfaces you don’t want to get sealer on.
  • Ensuring proper ventilation while applying the sealer.

Following the manufacturer’s directions is vital for getting the best results from your sealer.

Apply the Sealer

Most sealers are applied with a paintbrush, roller, or grout sealer applicator bottle. Follow these tips for application:

  • Liberally apply an even coat across the entire surface, keeping the sealer within the grout lines.
  • Allow the first coat to dry completely, checking the label for proper drying times.
  • Apply a second coat following the same steps. Two coats ensures maximum coverage and protection.
  • Avoid getting sealer on the surface of any adjacent cabinets, countertops, or floors. Immediately wipe off any excess drips or spills.
  • Allow the final coat to fully cure per the manufacturer’s recommendations before use, often 24-48 hours.
  • Apply a third coat if you notice any missed spots after the first two coats have dried.

Cure Time

It’s critical to allow the sealer adequate curing time before regular use of the backsplash. This allows the protective barrier to fully form. Don’t wash the backsplash or expose it to moisture during the curing period. Check the product label as cure times vary. Most sealers cure within 24-48 hours.

Reapply Yearly

Sealers are not permanent solutions. Expect to reapply a fresh coat of sealer about once per year. This ensures your backsplash remains protected from moisture damage and stains. Reapply sooner if you notice the sealer wearing unevenly or water not beading up properly on the surface.

Tips for Sealing Backsplash

  • Work in sections for large backsplashes, applying a coat to lower tiles first.
  • Opt for a silicone sealer for highly used spaces near stoves.
  • Avoid urethane and wax-based sealers that yellow over time.
  • Don’t use acidic cleaners which can break down grout and eat away sealer.
  • Reseal whenever grout appears to darken or absorb liquids too quickly.

Sealing your backsplash might take a little time but is easy with the right supplies. The small effort pays off with a backsplash that maintains its beauty and is much easier to clean. Be sure to use an appropriate sealer for your tile type and follow application directions. Your freshly sealed backsplash will look like new for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does backsplash sealer last?

On average, a sealer will last 1-2 years before needing reapplied. How long it lasts depends on the type of sealer used, frequency of use, and how well it was applied. Silicone and epoxy sealers tend to have the longest lifespan.

Can you use grout sealer on backsplash?

Yes, grout sealers can be effective to use on backsplash tiles. Look for ones specifically formulated for kitchen backsplashes. Make sure it is compatible with your tile and grout type.

What is the difference between a sealer and grout sealer?

Sealers are formulated to seal and protect the actual tile surface while grout sealers focus primarily on sealing and waterproofing grout lines. Many products available can treat both grout and tile.

How soon can I get the backsplash wet after sealing?

It’s best to wait the full curing time specified on the product label before exposing the backsplash to moisture. This is usually 24-48 hours. Premature contact with water can ruin the protective seal before it has fully set.

Should I seal subway tile backsplash?

Yes, sealing a subway tile backsplash helps prevent staining and moisture damage in the grout lines. An acrylic sealer provides good protection for most subway tile installations. Make sure to clean thoroughly before sealing.


Sealing your backsplash tiles and grout takes some effort upfront but pays off in the long run. Be sure to thoroughly prep, use the right sealer, apply properly, and allow full curing time. Reseal every one to two years. Your kitchen backsplash will maintain its like-new appearance and be much simpler to keep clean when protected by a quality sealer.