Do Bathroom Tiles Need To Be Sealed?


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The plumber works in the bathroom filling the joint between the tiles with silicone sealant

If you are just starting off or renovating your bathroom, a common question that needs to be answered is whether you need to seal your bathroom tiles. This article will answer this question and go in-depth with everything you need to know about this particular task. Once you are done, you will have all the knowledge you will need regarding whether to seal your bathroom tiles and the various methods of doing so. 

In general, bathroom tiles require to be sealed because they are placed in an area with constantly high humidity. That said, applying sealant is not mandatory if you are using porcelain or ceramic tiles, as these are incredibly water-resistant. However, natural stone tiles are porous and will require a sealant. 

Natural stone tiles will require a sealant to protect them from wear and tear, stains, and grout erosions. So, what advantages or benefits can you expect if you seal your bathroom tiles? Read on below to find out.

Why Do You Need to Seal Your Bathroom Tiles?

The reason you should consider applying the sealant to your bathroom tiles is to protect them from moisture damage. In addition, using a seal on your tiles and grout can mitigate its resistance to water stains as well as dirt and grime accumulation. Sealing your tiles can also improve their overall longevity and makes them easier to clean. Additionally, the sealant can provide your tiles with a longer-lasting sheen. 

Second, the grout is naturally porous and will accumulate dirt and water stain quickly. If you apply a seal on the grout, you can circumvent many common issues connected to this section of your bathroom floor. Please take note that not all tiles will need sealants, as we have stated earlier. 

To summarize, here are the benefits of sealing your bathroom tiles (if it does require this additional protection): 

  • Improves the integrity of the tile and grout. 
  • Improves stain and dirt resistance.
  • It strengthens the grout and prevents it from eroding too quickly. 

Important Factors to Know Before Applying Sealant to Your Bathroom Tiles

We go into further detail regarding the tiles that require sealing and those that do not. Below are the types of tiles that need sealing. We will also note what to look for to know if a particular tile will not need the added protection. 

Here are the types of tiles that will need to sealing:

  • Various kinds of natural stone tiles.
  • Quarry and terracotta stone tiles.
  • Polished porcelain is also recommended to use sealant before and after grouting. 

It is important to note that tiles that will not require sealing will have a ‘Nano Seal’ on their label. So if the porcelain or ceramic tile has that feature, you can skip the sealing process altogether. Now, we will still recommend you apply a grout protector, though even if your tiles feature Nano Seal technology. 

Why Do Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles Do Not Need Sealing?

In most instances, ceramic and porcelain tasks will not need to be sealed. There are occasions, though, that a sealant might be required. You can check the label on the tiles to see if applying a sealant is advisable. If you can’t find any information on hand, try contacting the manufacturer instead. 

Now, the main reason porcelain and ceramic tiles can skip the whole sealing process is that the material is naturally water-resistant. Still, there is no rule stopping you from applying a sealant to porcelain or ceramic tiles if you feel more at ease having that added layer of protection. 

Now, it is also essential to use the correct tile sealer as there are a couple of options available, and each provides different results depending on the application. The most important thing to remember is that grout sealers are different from the ones used on tiles. For example, if you apply a grout sealer on a natural stone tile, the sealer will cause a visible stain on the tile’s surface – something you would want to avoid at all costs. 

Basic Tile Sealing Tips

Sealing your bathroom tiles is pretty straightforward. While some tiles will require a few extra steps such as natural stone such as terracotta, limestone, sandstone, etc. – all will follow the same basic principles: 

1. Clean the tile surface thoroughly. 

2. If required on the instruction, apply the first layer of sealant. 

3. Grout the tiles and let them set incorrectly. The time for the grout to cure properly is stated on the manufacturer’s instruction/label. 

4. Apply the second or final coating of the sealant evenly on the tile’s surface and let it dry. 

Also, note that the type of sealant you will depend on the type of tile in your bathroom. Therefore, the amount to be applied will also be based upon the tile and its surface type. Fortunately, all relevant information to determine these factors is easily accessible.  

Different Methods for Sealing Bathroom Tiles

There are three ways to apply a sealant to your bathroom tiles. Below are the methods that you can use for this task:

Brush – Using a brush is the most common method. However, if the sealant you are using has a somewhat milky texture, a brush is recommended. Due to the thicker consistency of the sealant, a smaller brush can help it penetrate target areas and avoid surfaces that need to be avoided. 

Rollers – Using a roller is a great and easy way to apply a sealant to the tiles. The advantage of this method is that you will unlikely miss a spot when treating the grout. A quality roller will also ensure that the sealant is applied evenly. 

Spray – If you are looking for a quick touch-up, using a spray-on sealant is a good choice. However, while being the most straightforward method, it is also not the most efficient. The chance of missing spots here and there and applying the sealant unevenly is a guarantee. You should expect to do regular touch-ups if you go with this route. 

What Type of Sealer to Apply on Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles?

You can tell whether a porcelain tile will require a sealant or not based on its appearance. For example, a porcelain tile with a considerably shiny surface won’t need sealing as that glazed aesthetic is a glass coating, giving the tile absolute water resistance. Now, there are two types of sealers available for those who will require this additional coating for their bathroom tiles.

The two types of sealers are penetrating and impregnating sealers. A penetrating sealer will not cause any discoloration or affect the surface of the tile. Instead, it simply soaks underneath the surface, which reduces the permeability of the tile’s structure. 

As for the impregnating sealer acts more like a treatment that ‘plugs’ any holes or damage on the ceramic tile. An impregnating sealer can also double as a grout. This type of sealer is more of a treatment option for ceramic tiles that have slight damage and need a minor touch-up. 

When Should I Reapply a Tile Sealant?

Experts advise that sealers should be re-applied to bathroom tiles after one to two years. However, if the bathroom is not exposed to daily human traffic, you can re-apply the sealer after two years. Re-application of the sealer will depend on how often the bathroom is used. 

Conclusion

Applying a sealer to your bathroom tile is necessary as it will help significantly improve the tile’s longevity. While some tiles won’t essentially need a sealant (glazed porcelain and ceramic), we suggest not to hesitate to use a sealant for other types of bathroom tiles. 

Further reading: 

Can You Caulk Over Grout?

How to Seal Toilet Base

Can You Paint Over Bathroom Tile?

Best Color Combos For Gray Bathroom Tile