How to seal natural stone tiles before grouting
All natural stone tiles, polished (shiny), honed (matte), or tumbled (antiqued) are porous, therefore sealing before grouting is essential to fill these pores with protective sealer. If this is not done, minute particles of grout will sit in the pores and result in a hazy surface appearance. Prior to fixing, and ideally at the quoting stage, it’s prudent to discuss sealing of your tiles with your tiler to ensure this vital process is incorporated into your budget and the work schedule.
Once fixed, but before sealing, newly laid tiles should be cleaned with LTP Grimex or a similar product to remove surface residues and impurities. This stage of preparation is often overlooked and tilers will simply wipe the surface with water. This is inadequate, as small dust and dirt particles not visible to the naked eye, will end up embedded in the micro-pores of the tile during the installation process and will be locked in when the sealer is applied, making the final surface appear smeared and will be difficult to buff to the required finish.
This is particularly relevant if the installation dictates the need for numerous cuts, as the cutting process exposes the tile to dirty water from the cutting machine and residues on drying out. Also, often natural stone tiles are fitted throughout the downstairs living area from the kitchen, through into the dining area, and maybe continuing onto an external patio or walkway. Fitting to such a large area will take a number of days and it’s common, either as a family needing to use facilities, or tradesman completing another part of the project, to need to walk on laid tiles – this inevitably dirties the tile.
One more key thing before proceeding to the sealing stage is to check residual moisture in the tile. Water from the adhesive and from cutting the tiles can leave moisture which needs to evaporate before the sealer is applied. Tile adhesive should be allowed to dry in line with manufacturer’s guidelines and tested for moisture with a moisture meter. Failing to check for sufficiently dried tiles will result in the sealer failing to protect the tiles and a patchy, uneven colouration.
We recommend LTP MPG impregnating sealer for polished natural stone such as Stonestore’s Italian classic Bianco Carrara, and LTP Mattstone for tumbled natural stone tiles such as Dijon limestone and natural stone tiles with a honed finsh such as Moleanos.
We recommend one coat before and one after grouting. Apply with a purposeful pad or cloth, allowing to absorb into the tile for 20 minutes, buff away any excess before it dries. From here, it can be walked on after a minimum of three hours but ensure to protect the surface from water for 24 hours and don’t clean for three days.
Sealing the tiles will make daily maintenance easier. As part of your cleaning routine use LTP Waxwash, which is a high-quality liquid soap suitable for all types of natural stone, making it ideal for use on travertine, limestone, sandstone, slate, marble, granite, porcelain, terracotta, terrazzo, concrete, quarry tiles and flagstones. It also has a fresh, clean fragrance.
Simply dilute two or three capfuls (five capfuls on dirtier floors) in a bucket of warm water. Wash the floor and allow to dry – no need for rinsing, although polished finished will benefit from buffing with a dry soft cloth.
For advice on which type of natural stone tiles are most suitable call Stonestore on 0161 277 6850, for technical information and to restock on LTP products visit http://www.ltp-online.co.uk or call 01823 666 213.