Cleaning Grout Sealers
Anybody who has tried to clean tile grout sealer knows it isn’t easy. You get on your hands and knees and scrub and scrub, and even that doesn’t work well. And when you finally get it looking halfway decent, the cleanliness doesn’t last.
The dirt and grime come back with a vengeance, often more quickly than before.
You are asking yourself if the cycle will ever end. It can. According to tile specialists, the key is sealing the grout after you clean it.
Types Of Grout Sealers
There are two types of grout sealers — acrylic-based coatings and penetrating types containing silicones and Teflon-type additives.
The acrylic types will not last long. They can also cause the grout to darken. Penetrating sealers are long-lasting and designed to penetrate the grout. The more expensive penetrating sealers are the best.
The old rule about “the higher the cost, the better the product” certainly applies in this case. You can spend it upfront, or you can spend it cleaning, regrouting, and looking at an awful mess.
Do yourself a big favor, and don’t get cheap when choosing a sealer. Some of these sealers will repel hot oils. Read the label to be sure.
I have found that sealers containing Teflon-based additives repel hot oil best. Application of these sealers is relatively straightforward — get your relative to do it. Thoughtfully, they can be applied with a foam-type brush or a small paintbrush.
Most sealers are safe for food once they are dry. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for safety information.
Typically silicone-based, a good sealer will help keep grout looking new for years. How often it is applied depends on the quality of the sealer.
“There are products that won’t last a year, and then some top-of-the-line brands will last 20 years,” said Jeff Kerson, manager of Daltile in Denver.
He said that prices go from a few dollars to around $25 a quart, adding that a quart should be enough to handle most residential jobs.
“If a homeowner would take a fresh installation and seal it with an upgraded sealer, it easily could look good as new for decades,” he said.
Working With Grout
Sealers usually are applied with a small brush. Homeowners should quickly wipe away sealant material that gets on the tile, which could be damaged.
Some types of tile aren’t conducive to sealing at all. Be sure to know what kind of tile you have and check the sealer’s label before you buy it.
Once a sealer has been applied, the area should be kept dry for as long as possible to allow it to cure correctly – two days at least, one tile installer said.
After that, you should be able to keep the grout clean by maintaining it the same way you would the tile itself. Sweep floor tile regularly to keep dirt from ground into the grout pores. And always use mild cleansers.
Kerson said homeowners should avoid over-the-counter products that may be too acidic, such as ammonia, bleach, and vinegar. Such cleansers could erode the sealant and cause the grout to retain moisture.
Fortunately for homeowners, recent enhancements in grout production and its raw materials have made the cement-based substance a much denser product – and easier to maintain.
Of course, if you let the original sealant wear off and the grout gets dirty, you’ll be preparing yourself up for a long day of cleaning.
Detailed Steps For Grout Sealer Cleaning
Between ceramic tiles, stained grout may typically be cleaned with a liquid grout cleaner available at tile retailers or with acid sprayed by a skilled tile setter.
However, if the cement filler becomes cracked, crumbles, or is missing entirely, it must be replaced.
Alternatively, tiles may shift and crack, or water may leak behind them, causing significant damage.
Regrouting a small area is similar to regrouting a large one, though a small area, such as around a soap dish, is much easier than an entire floor or wall.
Determine the source of the damage before to beginning any regrouting project. The building’s settling and water damage to the surface beneath the tiles are two prevalent culprits.
(This is possible if the grout around plumbing fixtures, toilets, and bathtubs has deteriorated.)
These must be addressed prior to rerouting; else, the issue will persist.
Another possibility is that the grout was mixed or applied incorrectly. Regrouting should then produce long-lasting results.
Consider the tile’s type and condition as well. The majority of people should be able to re-grout glazed tile that is in good condition, as well as tiny areas of unglazed or glazed tile that are old or worn.
Unless the tile is glazed and in fair condition or you feel secure sealing it, large parts should be professionally regrouted.
If the grout has crumbled or become loose, the first step is to completely remove the damaged grout.
Fixing Grout Sealer
Use a grout saw – a small, coarse-toothed blade affixed to a curved handle – or a carbide-tipped scoring knife for cutting the cement backer board that serves as the base for ceramic tile. Grouting supplies of all types are readily accessible at tile outlets.
Rake out all of the grout to a depth of at least a quarter-inch (5 mm). Then, using a firm bristle brush or an old toothbrush, scrape the seams to remove any loose particles. Following the directions on the container, clean the area with liquid grout cleaning.
There is no need to remove fractured grout, but it should be brushed and cleaned.
If the tile is not glazed or is glazed but is old or in poor condition, the next step is to seal it with grout release, following the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
Typically, two coats are required, brushed on in different directions. A film will remain; it must be cleaned using the scrubbing solution recommended in the instructions.
When choosing fresh grout, particularly colorful grout, seek help from tile store staff. Grout that contains sand is typically the strongest.
When handling grout, wear protective gloves; it contains cement, which is caustic. Ready-to-use grout can be applied directly from the container.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for mixing dry grout, but add only three-fourths of the liquid specified. Instead of water, it is a good idea to use liquid latex grout additive, which improves a number of the features of grout.
Let the blend stand for 10 minutes after the initial blending and then stir again. Add additional liquid only if the grout is too dry to adhere to the container’s side or a trowel.
When properly combined, the grout should resemble moderately stiff peanut butter.
To grout a tiny area, dampen the adjacent tiles. Then, using a moistened, gloved finger or an improvised flexible applicator such as an old credit card, distribute grout into the seams. Firmly press to force as much grout into the seams as possible.
Grouting Large Area
When rerouting a broad area, work in sections. Begin with a tiny area to determine the rate at which the grout hardens. Soak the tiles with water. Then, using a hard rubber grout float, distribute the grout.
Maintain a shallow angle to the surface of the float and make repeated passes over the tiles to properly work the grout into the seams. Firmly press to extract as much liquid as feasible.
After filling the seams, hold the float almost parallel to the tile and scrape away any excess grout. Avoid dislodging grout by moving the float diagonally over the seams.
Wait 10 to 15 minutes after regrouting a small or large area; then evaluate the hardness of the grout by gently wiping a seam with a sponge squeezed nearly dry.
If any grout is dislodged, replace it and wait a few more minutes. Otherwise, remove any extra grout from the tiles while keeping the sponge as dry as possible.
To begin, carefully sponge away the majority of the grout with circular motions. Turn the sponge frequently and rinse it immediately once its pores have been filled.
Following that, sponge parallel to the seams (covering them with the sponge) to shape the grout to be level with or slightly lower than the tile edges.
Then wipe the tile surfaces once more, this time moving the sponge very slowly (about one foot/30 cm in five seconds) toward you over the tiles, taking care not to gouge the seams.
Before washing and squeezing the sponge, make only one 3-foot (1-metre) long pass with each side.
Continue to wait 15 minutes. Then polish the tiles with a dry cheesecloth or, if the grout has set, a dry nylon pot-scrubbing pad.
It is critical to remove any traces of grout before it completely hardens. Otherwise, the resulting haze may require extensive scouring with grout cleaner and may require professional cleaning.
After 72 hours, seal the regrouted tile with two applications of silicone sealer.