Tile, Grout & Stone Cleaning Educational Content
Sealing your grout is essential to keeping it clean. Grout is very porous, so it absorbs liquids and stains easily. Grout should be resealed about every two years for maximum protection. Plan to seal grout in wet places, like a shower, on a yearly basis.
Moldy grout. Sealing your grout isn’t a completely foolproof method of preventing mold and mildew growth. This is especially true if the grout gets wet often. Be diligent about cleaning grout in tiled showers and tub surrounds to avoid lasting stains and mold growth.
Steam cleaning uses the steam from hot water to sanitize and remove dirt from the surface of tile and grout. A tile and grout cleaning expert will have the most effective, professional-grade equipment.
Hot water extraction uses pressurized hot water to remove dirt and stains from tile and grout. The dirty water is then extracted with a vacuum mechanism. Hot water extraction works especially well for textured tile and heavily soiled grout.
Tile sealant forms a protective barrier from dirt and stains. This helps keep the surface cleaner over time. Most porcelain and glazed ceramic tile does not need to be sealed.
Unglazed ceramic tile, however, is porous and must be sealed. Natural stone tile, such as slate, limestone, or marble, should also be sealed. In high-traffic areas of your house, plan to have tile sealed about every year. Tile in areas that don’t see a lot of traffic can probably go a few years between sealings. Be sure that any natural stone or unglazed tile is sealed before grout is applied. This will prevent the grout from staining the tile during the application process.
If you’re unsure whether your tile is glazed or unglazed, you can test it to see if it needs to be sealed. Spill a couple tablespoons of water on the tile. After about five minutes, wipe it dry. If the spot is slightly darker than the rest of the tile, then it should be sealed. That shading is temporary, but it demonstrates that the tile is too porous to be unprotected.
TYPES OF SEALERS
Topical sealers form a barrier on tile to protect it from scratches, scuffs, and other damage. Topical sealers are typically softer than the material they are protecting. This means that they will need consistent reapplication or buffing to mask scratches and scuffs.
Impregnating sealers, on the other hand, work beneath the tile’s surface. They block the tile’s pores, which makes it much less absorbent. Most impregnators will not affect the appearance of the tile. They usually last for several years before requiring reapplication.