It seems as though you are hearing it everywhere these days: Color seal your grout !
But is this merely the newest fad or is there genuine value in having this done? The answer is, it depends. The truth is, when performed by a quality contractor using a quality product there is a lot of value and in many circumstances the absolute best option without question. The problem is some are touting this service yet doing nothing more than painting grout with what amounts to house paint.
Color sealing your grout may be a recent innovation, but it is certainly not just a fad. Quality color sealers repel oil and water-based liquids, which will prevent food and beverage stains. In addition, they contain constant acting mildewcides and other agents that inhibit the growth of bacteria and mildew. This not only offers health benefits by making your floors more sanitary, but can reduce or eliminate the funky smells you often find with older floors that have had a long time to absorb a variety of odiferous liquids. Color sealed floors are consequently easier to maintain.
There are aesthetic reasons for choosing color sealing as well. When you have areas where only some of the grout needs to be replaced, it is virtually impossible to match the color of the new grout to the older grout that is still intact. Even if you use the identical product and color, aging and wear has already altered the look of your previously installed grout and the difference is usually noticeable.
Color sealing, however, will provide a consistent look across the board, making all of your grout look new again. And not just new color sealing can completely change your grout to virtually any color you choose. The benefit of this is obvious. Are you considering new decor, an updated, fresher look or more contemporary colors? Your existing grout doesn’t need to hold you back or limit your choices. Color sealing is a way to harmonize with and complement remodeling without the expense of regrouting. With color sealing, you can even change from a dark shade to a lighter one.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but there are a couple of caveats that you need to be aware of. First of all, this is not recommended as a do-it-yourself project! Proper application that ensures complete protection over the entire surface of your floor is an art that requires training and practice to master. It is difficult to do correctly on the first attempt.
Secondly, professionals not only have the training, experience and tools to do the job, they have access to a wide variety of professional sealers and so are better equipped to select the one that is right for your circumstances. Finally, not all grout color sealing services are the same. The quality of the product that is used is critical! Some companies – even some that may surprise you – are using products that are tantamount to house paint. It may look great right after they finish, but within a short time, the paint peels. Not only that, but this type of product does not have the properties of a proper color sealer, such as the constant acting mildewcides or true stain prevention. Be sure to do your due diligence, and don’t hesitate to thoroughly question your prospective provider.
Color sealer can be applied to the grout lines of interior and exterior ceramic and porcelain tile installations. The grout lines of natural stone tiles can be color sealed as well, provided that the stone itself has already been protectively sealed.
The 4 basic steps of color sealing job are as follows:
The floor is professionally cleaned, neutralized, and allowed to dry completely. The color sealer is professionally applied and allowed to penetrate into the grout. Any any excess sealer is removed and the floor’s surface is allowed to dry again. Lastly, the entire floor is cleaned and buffed to remove any residual haze. While the grout is not ready for regular use until at least thirty minutes after application, it can be walked on immediately. Sometimes, grout color sealing is the optimal solution. Consider this example:
“We were called to clean the tile floors at an elementary school where many children, in addition to tracking bits of the playground and other grime across the floors in all weather, had also drawn on the floors (and consequently the grout lines) with pencils, crayons, pens and so on. No matter how clean we got the tile, the grout, being much more porous, hung on to the various staining agents and continued to look dirty in spite of our best efforts. Grout color sealing to the rescue! By color sealing the grout, we not only did away with the stains and made the floors look like new, we also prevented future staining, reducing their cost of regular maintenance for years to come.”
Maintenance is the most overlooked factor when choosing stone or tile. Just because a stone or tile cost more doesn’t mean its maintenance requirements are less. There is no such thing as maintenance free! A twenty-cents-per-square-foot vinyl requires maintenance just as much as a thirty dollar per square foot stone. Be sure to understand the maintenance requirement of the tile or stone you select before you buy. Ask to see the maintenance guide for the tile type. It may also be a good idea to check with a friend or neighbor that has the same type of tile and ask them how easy or difficult it is to maintain.