Many types of tiles and grout used around the home are porous in nature. These materials will absorb moisture, staining in a way that's impossible to clean. Preserving the beauty of tile requires applying a protective coating of sealant to the tile and the grout within the tile joints. The sealant protects the tile against absorbing dirt and other substances that can cause damage. Applying tile sealant extends the life of your tile, and in the process maintains the newly installed look of your tiled surfaces.
Test the tile and grout with water to determine whether a layer of sealant is necessary. Drop a small amount of water onto the surface and look for any darkening. Seal tile and grout that darkens due to absorption of the water. Leave tile and grout where the water beads on the surface unsealed. Glazed tile and non-cementitious tile do not usually require sealant because they are water-resistant.
Apply a layer of topical sealant on indoor tiles. Brush the sealant evenly across the tiled surface, using a sealant specifically manufactured for your tile type. Begin at the bottom of vertical tile surfaces and work your way upward to prevent the sealant from dripping down and creating streaks. On horizontal tiled surfaces, begin with tiles located nearest the wall and work your way toward the opposite end of the surface. Allow the sealant to dry for the amount of time suggested by the manufacturer.
Brush an even layer of acrylic floor finish on top of topical sealers used on floor tiles, covering both the tiles and the grout. The acrylic floor finish will serve as a wear layer, absorbing normal wear and tear and maintaining the protective sealer. Allow the acrylic layer time to dry according to manufacturer's suggestions before using the tiled surface.
Brush two layers of penetrating sealant onto the surface of stone or outdoor tiles. This type of sealant won't discolour the tiles because it does not have a topical finish applied, but still provides protection from staining and moisture. Allow the sealant to dry for the amount of time suggested by the manufacturer before using the surface.
Wait two weeks after laying new tile and grout before sealing. Drying time for sealants varies by manufacturer, but is typically 24 to 72 hours. The longer you allow the sealant to cure before using the surface, the more protection it provides.