That was our top criteria for selecting the best grout sealer.
If you want to cut to the chase, the Tuff Duck Granite, Grout and Marble Sealer scored high marks in all categories and is our researcher’s top pick for your household needs.
Grout Sealer Comparison
Grout Sealer Buying Guide
If you’ve never used grout sealer before you will more than likely not know a lot about them so you can confidently choose one that is good for your needs. There are hundreds of grout sealers on the market but all of the products will fall into one of three categories.
Coatings – A coating is the thin surface on the grout that protects it from oil, water or dirt getting from getting into the pores of the grout as well as protecting it from wear. It is usually more economical than a penetrable sealer. Some things to watch out for when using coatings include:
- They are not particularly eat to apply
- They wear out quickly and need to be reapplied often
- They can turn yellow if they are exposed to UV light.
- The removal process can damage grout since it has to be done often
- Some grout coatings don’t allow it to breathe which can result in moisture being trapped. If this happens, the grout can simply deteriorate.
Kinds of Coatings
- Permanent – These coatings are extremely hard to remove. They are usually made of epoxies or polyurethanes or a similar material. They are almost impossible to remove so many contractors advise against using them for grout.
- Strippable – Strippable coatings can be easily removed from a grouts surface. They are usually made of acrylics, polyethylene and other types of polymers that are almost always water-based. You may see words like metal cross link, acrylic or high speed on the label of a strippable coating.
Penetrating Sealers – This product is made to penetrate the surface of the grout and deposit tiny particles that will protect the grout from many substances such as dirt, water and other things that can stain the grout. Penetrating sealers usually contain silicone, silane, siloxane or some other derivative of silicone. There are some things to look at when using penetrating sealers.
- The grout’s appearance will not be changed from use of this type of sealer
- Penetrating sealers will last years without any frequent application being necessary.
- They are not affected by UV light
- Some types of penetrating sealers may produce vapors that are flammable
- Some penetrating sealers are solvent based
- They are more expensive than coatings
Kinds of Penetrating Sealers
- Oilophopic – This type of penetrating sealer repels cooking oil, grease and body oil as well as water based substances. Oil repellant is stronger than being oil resistant, so be sure to look for repellant on the bottle.
- Hydrophobic – This type of penetrating sealer is not good for food areas. This is because the hydrophobic sealer repels water based substances and water only. Use this type of sealer in kitchens and food prep areas and oils and grease will get into the grout.
A coating is a sacrificial protective layer that is on the surface of the grout. We have listed pros and cons of using coatings to help protect your grout.
- Initial application of the sealer is very low and it is usually the more economical choice.
- They are difficult to apply
- The coating will take most of the wear, preserving the grout, and may need to be replaced more often.
- Coatings will usually get marred and scuffed very easily because they are much softer than the grout. Re-application can fix worn out coatings so the grout underneath doesn’t become exposed to stains.
- There can be a buildup of coatings from reapplication that can cause an unattractive appearance.
- If the coating is not a good quality coating it can turn yellow and look very dull and dated. This happens often when the grout is exposed to UV light.
- It is necessary to strip the coatings often and reapply. The abrasives used when stripping the old coating off can cause damage to the grout.
- Depending on the coating, it’s possible that some may not allow the grout to breathe the way it should. When this happens, moisture can be trapped underneath the surface. This can lead to the grout falling apart underneath the coating.
Penetrating sealers or impregnators seep into the grout and build a protective layer that is part of the grout. It is much stronger than coatings and can be used in all areas where you have stone surfaces.
- Using penetrating sealers will not affect the appearance or cosmetic look of the grout.
- Penetrating sealers go beneath the surface of the grout and will last several years before it needs to be reapplied.
- This type of sealer is not going to be affected by UV light since they are where the light can’t penetrate making them good choices for use outdoors.
- Most of the penetrating sealers are hydrophobic but some can be oiliophobic
- Some penetrating sealers are solvent-based and produce flammable vapors that are very noxious.
- Penetrable sealers produce VOCs. There are some restrictions in certain states for their use.
- Penetrating sealers cost more than coatings do.
This process seals the grout along with coloring it too. This option is the best choice to make if you want to change the color of your grout or if the existing grout is so stained that it can’t come clean.
Laying tile, regardless of where you put it, is a time intensive job that can take days and even weeks to complete. Once the tile is laid, you want to do everything you can to preserve the beauty of the grout so it looks as beautiful a month after it is laid as it does on day one. The best way to protect your grout is to purchase a quality grout sealer.
There are dozens of grout sealers on the market. They are not all created equal, there are definitely some that are better quality than others. When deciding on a grout sealer, it is important to ensure that you choose the right grout sealer for your needs.
With all of the choices available, you need to have the right information to make sure that the grout sealer your purchase works for the conditions your grout will be withstanding. If it is located in the kitchen, you will need a sealer that can resist grease and oil as well as water. If it is in the bathroom, water based or water repellant sealers will work just fine.
Match your grout sealer with your personal needs and you will have exactly the right sealer for the job. The information in this guide is designed to take the guesswork out of the equation and give you confidence in your decision. Knowing that the product you have purchased is a good quality one that will provide the results you want gives you peace of mind that you haven’t wasted your money.
If you still have questions, talking to the manufacturer can be a big help as well. All you will need to do is explain how you will be using the product and they can direct you to exactly the right choice.
- Tuff Duck – http://www.rocklinitelabs.com/
- AFM Safe coat http://www.afmsafecoat.com/
- Black Diamond – http://blackdiamondcoatings.com/products/