Sealing natural stone backsplashes is an important part of protecting them and maintaining their beauty. Natural stone is porous, so sealing is necessary to prevent stains, etching, and moisture damage. With the right sealing products and proper application, you can create an effective protective barrier on your natural stone backsplash. This article will provide tips on how to properly seal natural stone backsplash.
Clean the Surface Thoroughly
Before applying any sealer, it is crucial to clean the natural stone backsplash thoroughly. This removes any dirt, debris, oil, or soap scum that could prevent the sealer from bonding effectively. Here are the recommended steps for cleaning:
Use a non-acidic stone soap – Mix a gentle soap like dish soap or castile soap in warm water. With a soft cloth, sponge or brush, wipe the backsplash to clean. Avoid harsh cleaners which can damage the stone. Rinse thoroughly after washing.
Vinegar rinse – For a deeper clean, you can rinse the backsplash with undiluted white vinegar after the initial wash. The mild acid in vinegar helps dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. Rinse thoroughly again.
Dry completely – It is important not to apply a sealer on damp stone. Ensure the backsplash is completely dry before sealing to prevent trapping moisture underneath. A good drying time is 24 hours.
Thorough cleaning opens the stone’s pores and allows for optimal sealer penetration and bonding. Avoid using acidic cleaners which can etch delicate surfaces. Consult a stone care professional if dealing with significant built-up grime.
Choose the Right Sealer
There are different types of sealers for natural stone available. Choosing the right sealer depends on the specific type of stone, its location and usage.
Penetrating sealers are the most commonly used for natural stone backsplashes in kitchens and baths. They are absorbed below the stone’s surface and provide an invisible barrier inside the pores. This allows the stone to breathe while protecting it from stains and moisture damage.
Popular penetrating sealers for natural stone backsplash include:
- Silane/siloxane blends – Provide oil and water repellency. Ideal for granite, marble, limestone, travertine, etc.
- Fluoropolymer sealers – Repel oil and water-based stains. Good for sensitive surfaces like marble.
- Natural look sealers – Enhance stone’s color while allowing natural patina to develop. Suitable for low-use backsplashes.
Topical sealers create a protective coating on the stone surface. These are best for countertops or high traffic areas. Topical sealers can alter the natural look of stone backsplashes, so are generally not preferred.
Always check manufacturer’s guide to pick the optimal sealer for your specific natural stone. Certain stones like quartzite may need professional grade sealers. Avoid sealers containing toxic solvents.
How to Apply the Sealer
Once you have cleaned and dried the backsplash completely, follow these steps for proper sealer application:
Ventilate the area – Open windows or use fans to allow vapors to escape when applying the sealer. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for ventilation.
Protect surrounding surfaces – Cover and tape off any areas like countertops, floors or cabinets around the backsplash to avoid accidental drips.
Apply sealer evenly – Pour the sealer into a paint tray or non-porous surface. Using a paintbrush, sponge or cloth, apply the sealer liberally and evenly on the backsplash surface. Avoid excessive rubbing.
Allow sealer to penetrate – Let the first coat penetrate for 15-20 minutes. Gently wipe off any excess sealer with a lint-free cloth. Porous stones may need longer penetration times.
Apply second coat – For optimal protection, apply a second coat once first coat is dry. Wait 1-2 hours between coats.
Remove residue – Use a dry cloth to gently buff off any sealer residue after recommended drying time per the manufacturer.
Allow to cure – Most sealers fully cure in 24-48 hours. Avoid using the backsplash until completely cured. Ventilate area during this time.
Sealing is often an annual maintenance task. Follow manufacturer’s advice on reapplication timelines for long-term protection.
Tips for Sealing Natural Stone Backsplash
Follow these handy tips when sealing your natural stone backsplash:
- Test sealer first on a small inconspicuous spot to check for any changes in color or appearance.
- Select a water-based sealer for kitchen backsplashes instead of solvent-based options which can be toxic.
- Work in sections starting at the top when sealing vertical surfaces like backsplashes. This prevents drips.
- Avoid oil-based soaps and harsh chemicals. Use pH-neutral stone cleaners after sealing.
- Reseal when you notice signs of wear like watermarks, etching or changing opacity. Don’t wait for damage.
- For rough honed finishes, use a sealer meant for textured stone surfaces to ensure maximum coverage.
- Use an impregnating sealer on porous, absorbent stones like limestone for optimal protection inside the stone.
- Choose a breathable sealer to allow natural stone’s vapor transmission properties instead of trapping moisture.
With proper sealing techniques, you can keep your natural stone backsplash looking pristine for years. Maintain sealing layers to prevent stains and damage. Consult a stone expert if unsure about products or methods for your specific backsplash material. Consistent sealing and cleaning are key to preserving the beauty of natural stone.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sealing Natural Stone Backsplash
Sealing natural stone can raise many questions for homeowners. Here are some commonly asked questions with answers to help guide you:
How long does sealer last on stone backsplash?
Sealer durability depends on the type of stone, sealer used and frequency of use. Silane/siloxane sealers can last 3-5 years for moderate use backsplashes. Highly acidic foods, excessive heat and heavy use require more frequent resealing every 1-2 years.
Does all natural stone need sealing?
All types of natural stone are porous to some degree and require sealing. Granites and limestones are more porous than slates or quartzites. Marbles require more frequent sealing than granites. Know your specific stone’s properties when choosing a sealer.
Should I seal before or after grouting?
It is best to apply sealer after grouting to coat the entire stone surface. If sealing before grouting, reapply sealer after cleaning off grout residue. The grout sealing process can break down initial sealers.
How do I know when to reseal natural stone?
Signs like watermarks, darkening, stains or rings on the stone indicate that sealers are wearing thin. Annual resealing is recommended for kitchen backsplashes. For high traffic areas reseal every 6 months. Prevention is key.
What’s the difference between topical and penetrating sealers?
Penetrating sealers bonds inside stone pores while topical sealers leave a coating on the surface. Topical sealers can alter the natural look of stone. Penetrating sealers are preferred for most natural stone backsplashes.
Can I use a steam cleaner on sealed stone?
No, avoid steam cleaners on sealed natural stone. The heat and moisture can degrade sealers prematurely. For deep cleaning, use mild PH-neutral cleaners. Vinegar and water works well for most stone backsplashes.
How do I remove existing sealer before reapplying?
To remove old sealer layers, you’ll need a sealer stripper formulated for natural stone. Test first and follow product instructions carefully. Alternatively, call a professional stone refinisher for expert stripping and resealing.
Sealing maintains the beauty of natural stone backsplashes while offering inexpensive protection. With proper products, application and upkeep, your lovely backsplash will stay looking radiant for decades. Regular sealing is like an insurance policy against stains and costs much less than replacing damaged stone.
Sealing natural stone backsplashes is a smart way to protect them from stains and damage. With porous stones like marble, granites, limestone and travertine, sealing is a must in kitchens. Take time to thoroughly clean the stone prior to applying a penetrating sealer suitable for backsplashes. Carefully apply two coats, allowing proper drying time between each one. Maintain sealers every one to two years based on usage. Proper sealing techniques will keep your lovely natural stone backsplash in peak condition while preventing costly damage or replacement. Consider sealing as part of regular backsplash maintenance along with gentle daily cleaning and avoiding harsh chemicals. With the right sealer and application process, you can enjoy your natural stone backsplash for many years to come.