An elegant expanse of newly installed stone or tile can be ruined by applying grout sealer before the grout is properly cured. From its application to the process of sealing the grout, grout requires patience, not to mention sufficient drying time.
Grout curing times vary widely, depending on the installation, the condition of the grout and the sealer that is applied.
Prepare for Sealing Grout
Before you begin a grout-sealing project, be prepared to avoid using the area. A roll of red rosin paper can be laid down if the space where the grout is curing needs to be walked over or accessed. Avoid putting furniture or other heavy objects on the area where the grout has been freshly installed. Leave the area open to the air to ensure that the grout can cure properly and the sealer can dry evenly.
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Also take into consideration how many coats of sealer the grout will need before the project is complete. Light-colored grouts often require two coats to keep dirt, oil and moisture from seeping into the porous material. Check the instructions of the sealer that you will use to know how long it will take to set into the grout.
Applying Sealer Too Soon
While the grout may look dry soon after it has been installed, it can still be damp deep down. Applying a sealer over grout that is still somewhat damp can create significant problems later.
The sealer will roll on and look gorgeous, but it will soon begin to flake and peel away from the surrounding tile. All that hard work will have been a waste. The sealer will need to be removed, it will need to be cleaned and a new coat will need to be applied.
Applying Sealer to Old Grout
Dirty grout can be brought back to its former glory with a good cleaning and a coat or two of sealer. Grout should be cleaned and any small gouges or holes repaired before applying any sort of sealer. The sealer won't adhere well to dirty or crumbling grout. Luckily, the wait time to apply a sealer to grout after a thorough cleaning isn't very long.
Clean the grout lines well with a toothbrush and a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part warm water. Wear a pair of rubber dishwashing gloves to save your hands from the rough grout and aggressive scrubbing action. Before you apply the sealer, allow the grout to dry for 45 minutes after cleaning.
Grout Installation Wait Times
Grout that has been freshly installed requires time to settle and harden into its new crevices. This not only keeps the grout in stable shape but protects the tiles from cracking, chipping or slipping. If you have done the grout work yourself, then check the manufacturer's instructions for how long the material needs to sit and cure before a sealer can be applied.
Some grout can require as little as a few hours before you can use the area. Others may need a good 24 to 48 hours to complete the curing process, while some manufacturers may suggest a wait time of two weeks. If any of the grout lines are cracked, crumbling or chipped, repair them and clean the area. You will have to wait another 48 to 72 hours before the sealer can be applied.