Shower tile is subjected to constant wetting and drying which can cause cracked and moldy grout. Maintaining tile showers by sealing shower tile and grout helps protect the integrity of your tile surface. Inspecting and replacing grout and caulk regularly, as well as routine cleaning, are also important to maintaining your shower tile. Keeping this surface well sealed also protects the wall behind the tile from moisture.
Reseal your shower tile and grout every one to two years, depending on how often the shower is used.
Sealing Shower Tiles
Shower tiles should be sealed every one to two years, depending on how often the shower is used. This is especially true for the grout. Grout is porous and therefore absorbs moisture and other substances like oil that can seep in and stain the grout. When you seal the grout, you protect it from moisture absorption and staining.
Use latex based products to seal both grout and tile. Some tiles are too thick to absorb the sealant, so check a small area of the tile first. If the tile soaks up the sealant, seal the entire shower. If it doesn't soak up the sealant, only seal the grout. Allow the shower to thoroughly dry prior to sealing. Apply sealant with a sponge, wait for a couple of minutes, then wipe off the excess with a damp cloth. Repeat the process the following day to ensure an extra thorough and secure seal.
Checking Shower Grout
Regularly check the grout in your shower. If it shows any signs of crumbling, weakening or cracking, replace it immediately. Crumbling grout allows water to seep behind the tile, weakening the adhesive and compromising the entire tile surface. This seepage can also harm the wall behind the tile, which threatens its integrity.
To deal with damaged grout, clean and scrape out the old, bad grout. Then replace the grout with new grout. Seal the new grout as well as all of the other grout in the shower. This will help ensure that the rest of the grout stays secure. Use latex or silicone sealers for sealing the grout.
Checking Bathtub Caulk
In addition to cracked grout, old or failing caulk can allow water seepage that damages tile adhesive, wood framing or even old backer board. Inspect all caulking around the tub and fixtures. If it's cracked or peeling, remove and replace it. Silicone caulk is more water-resistant than other materials and won't peel away from the tub.
Cleaning Tile Showers Correctly
After every shower, use a clean towel to wipe all the water from your tile and grout. Ensure the tile surface is dry, including the grout around the tub. Drying your tile after each shower prevents mold from forming in the grout. Doing so will also help prevent water from wearing away at the grout.
Melissa Monks began writing professionally in 2003 and spent four years writing for the Beutler Heating and Air company newsletter. She also spent two years as a content director for StoryMash.com, publishing projects and blogs, and has worked as a research assistant for One On One, a company publishing educational material. Monks received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Utah.