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Different Ceramic & Porcelain Tile Sealers

What is a Tile Sealer?

A sealer is a liquid coat applied to the porous surface of the tile or grout, to protect them from oxidation, natural deterioration and day-to-day wear. Typically speaking, sealers are used to protect unglazed tiles and grouts from absorbing stains. Take a look at these guidelines, which are meant to get you started when it comes to choosing the right sealant for your ceramic or porcelain tile project:

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Types

The two main types of sealers for ceramic and porcelain tile are penetrating sealers and surface sealers:

  1. Penetrating Sealants are absorbed into the tile or grout, forming a stain resistant shield just below the surface. Most penetrating sealers will not change the appearance of the tile.
  2. Surface Sealants are coated on the top of tile and grout, forming a non-porous, stain resistant sealant. The surface sealer will enhance the rich natural colors of the tile and add a slight luster as well.

Important Considerations:

  • The surfaces of most ceramic and porcelain tiles do not need to be sealed, although some require a light application of a penetrating sealer to fill the micro pores on the surface of the tile.
  • However, all unglazed tiles including dense porcelains, should be sealed prior to grouting. It will prevent the grout from staining the tile, especially when a dark colored grout is being used with a light colored tile.
  • Impregnating sealers go into the grout joint and protect against water and oil-based stains.
  • Highly absorbent tiles such as hand-made Saltillo tiles must be permanently sealed with either a penetrating or surface sealer.
  • Use only penetrating sealers on dense, unglazed tiles such as quarries or porcelains.
  • It is important to follow manufacturer recommendations and read the instructions on any product being used.

The above information is a selected set of guidelines. For further details, it’s a good idea to ask a BuildDirect product expert or a professional installer about which type of sealer performs best for the tile you’ve chosen. While considering color change and stain resistance, it also important to consider whether a penetrating sealer or surface sealer will work best for your project.

Do you need a sealer for your tile installation?
 

Browse our floor care products for Ceramic & Porcelain Tile here. Help ensure your renovation remains beautiful for years to come

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(44) Comments

  1. Hi ! I have a porous white ( marble look) ceramic tile which I had cleaned the other day – to clean the grout . Some of the grout has now been cracked in places and it has made the tiles more porous than ever they are so dirty – what can I put on to stop them collecting all this dirt – driving me crazy –

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Greg,

      It doesn’t matter if you get sealer on the tile. You can just wipe it off before it dries and it will be fine. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  2. Hi,
    I’ve read most of this thread and am still confused … We have either a porcelain or ceramic tile floor in our bathroom. The design is an original classic 1950’s octagonal-diamond combination that will be nearly impossible to match or recreate. My wife accidentally dropped a perfume bottle which shattered, and during the cleanup we found that the shiny glazed surface came off in the “cleaned” areas. It’s not the entire room, just a large section. A local tile expert told me there is no way to reseal these types of tile. That instead, we’d have to replace the entire floor. I’m not happy, nor convinced.
    My question is 2 fold: First, is there a product that can be applied to reseal the tiles; and second’ will I need to strip the entire floor prior to applying any sealant (if available)?

  3. We recently bought a new home with ceramic faux wood looking tile. A sealant was placed before moving in and I stupidly used a steam mop a month later. We now have white chalky streaks all over the living room of our home. What can I do to fix this? What is the best way to mop for the future?

  4. We add installed 12″ x 24″ Porcelain tile in a new renovated tub alcove. The tile is a matte finish and we are wondering if there is a product that we can apply to have a more polished look and that can withstand cleaning without affecting the sealer finish.

    Thanks

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Frank,

      Thank you for your inquiry! We don’t suggest putting any sealers on top of porcelain because they already have a sealer built into the product. Anything you add on top will just sit on the surface and collect dirt and dust. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  5. Dear Sir,

    I have purchased floor tiles for my house from UAE, Dudai and later found that the tiles are some kind of homogeneous tiles which absorb or penetrate the stains in to tile, if not clean them within few hours. Once stain is absorb no chemical can clean the tiles. Please advise the best wax or sealer to be applied on tile to prevent absorb of strain.

    Regards

    Jagath – Sri Lanka

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Jagath,

      Thank you for getting in touch! You will need to get a sealer for the tiles and you will need to keep up the maintenance every one to two years. I can’t advise as to the best brand to use because it will depend on what you have available locally. As long the sealer specifies it can be used on the type of tile you have then it should help with the stains. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  6. I have been reading your info and it has helped me understand ,my flooring problem I just need to know if acid or a striping is the best way to go. My floor is ceramic and the guy that laid the floor used a grout that had sealer in it and I guess the cleanup job wasn’t done right. I now have haze and everything sticks to it ten minutes after I clean it it seems dirtier than it was it just pulls dirt off of the shoes foot prints are also showing what do you think

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Sally,

      Thank you for getting in touch! I would suggest trying the acid in a small area first to ensure it doesn’t harm the tile. That should help remove the sealer on top of the ceramic tile. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  7. We have 1500 sq ft of patio that was tiled 20 years ago. It has been cleaned by professional tile cleaner who used very strong chemicals which damaged the surface. It really needs a sealer and wondered if I should use a primer also before using a penetrating sealer. What is a primer ..is that before one paints or before one seals. Thank you

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Luz,

      Thank you for getting in touch! A primer is used mostly before painting, not sealing a tile. You should be fine using a high quality sealer. You will need to find out what type of tile you have to determine what type of sealer to use and if you can use a sealer. If you have a porcelain or ceramic tile you may not be able to seal the tile. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  8. Hi,

    I guess my question is the same as Bob . We just installed a Porcelain wood look tile and I am not sure if we should seal or not. I wold like to seal to protect both the tile and grout but not sure if that is really needed. Thank you.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Daisy,

      Thank you for getting in touch! You do not need to seal, and we actually do not recommend sealing porcelain tile. There is a built in finish on porcelain so any sealant you put on top will just sit on the surface and collect dust and dirt. You can seal the grout, that will make cleaning easier. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

  9. I have a new ceramic tile patio table and want to know if it should be sealed and if so with what? thank you

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Paul. Thanks so much for reaching out to us! It’s hard to say for sure whether a product has been sealed or not if it isn’t sold by BuildDirect. For the most part, ceramic and porcelain products do come pre-sealed, so you should be okay. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  10. We have unglazed ceramic tile in our kitchen and it is impossible to clean! The tiles are really textured and even after mopping and scrubbing, it still feels gritty. Is there a way to add a glaze or sealant so it has a smoother texture and won’t collect dirt as badly? Thank you!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Alex. Thanks so much for reaching out to us! It’s hard to give you a definite answer when we aren’t familiar with the specific product. If it is a full-body tile, then you will want to seal it to help prevent/repel stains. There is nothing we know of that can flatten out a tile to make it a smoother texture and we would not recommend sanding it. If you’re having troubles cleaning it you can always try a hard bristled broom, or see if you can get someone in to clean it. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  11. We are installing Daltile Florentine Porcelain tile and are wondering how best to endure the grout is stain resistant. There appear to be at least 3 types of stain resistant grout that could be initially installed, including:
    1) Epoxy based grout
    2) Urethane/Single Compount grout
    3) Tech Power Grout – a cement based grout
    In addition, we could after installation seal the grout using one of the impregnating grout sealers.

    Given these options, we are trying to better understand the pros and cons of each. Do you have any thoughts?

    Richard

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Richard,

      Epoxy grout is the most difficult to use. Need gloves / mask etc. It is the best option as once installed it is the most durable and long lasting.

      I would lean towards material made by laticrete, tile lab or custom building products. Use these options then seal the grout with a penetrating sealer.

      thanks

  12. Hi I have a question reference to having our kitchen island and counter tops done in beautiful marble. It has several scratches and just not as shiney as when first put in new home. How can I get the marble to look as gorgeous as it use to?
    The same thing in bathroom on both vanities have dark brown marble the one has always been very glossy, but as usual my side just never even came close to it. Manufacturers came out cleaned it and used something and a buffer and it really didn’t look any different. Is there something you would recommend? Thanks for your site with great info.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Christina,

      Thank you for your inquiry! We’re glad to hear you find out website useful! Marble is a natural stone so it will need regular sealing to keep it in it’s best condition. I would take a look at your local hardware store for a sealer that offers more of a shiny finish and reseal the marble to protect it. If you have any other questions please feel free to give us a call at 1-877-631-2845!

  13. We just moved into a house that has a tile floor. I do not know what kind. We can tell, however, that some sort of glossy sealant was applied, because we have noticed in some spots the sealant sort of bubbles up or peels off in colorless and crispy shards. Where this sealant has come off the tile is dull and not glossy. What do you recommend for this?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Matt,

      I would suggest getting in touch with the manufacturer of the tile if you can to see what type of tile it is. Some products already have a built-in sealer and anything put on top would just create a film. Once you know what type of tile it is you can either just clean off the excess film on top or reseal the product if needed. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

  14. HI,

    I have just had porcelain tile laid throughout my house. My tile person says the grout has seealer in it. Wondering about that. In addition, I have a huge grout haze problem. We have washed the floor with vinegar and water numerous times, to no avail. He says his man will come in and remove the haze using no acids, which is a good thing. The grout was not cleaned properly immediately after it was applied. What is the BEST way to clean it at this point? I have not signed off on the job yet or paid the rest of the money, so I want him to get it right.

    Thanks,

    Margaret

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Margaret,

      Thank you for your inquiry! Some contractors use a sealant product that can be mixed in with the grout to avoid having to seal it after. This may have been the case in your situation. I’m not sure if you want to stay away from chemicals but I always suggest searching for grout cleaning products made by “TileLab.” They are sold at your local hardware store and are a really great cleaning option. please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

  15. We just put in a ceramic tile kitchen counter top and want to seal it to protect it from stains….what do you recommend. Taking into consideration that we live in Costa Rica and may not have certain supplies readily available.

    thanks

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for getting in touch! I would not suggest sealing the countertop tile because ceramic tile already has a built in sealer. This makes the tile non-porous so if you apply any type of sealer it will just sit on top and not absorb into the tile. This can cause residue and dirt to stick to the top layer sealer and make the tile look dirtier than it actually is. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  16. I am in the process of putting up Florentine Porcelain Bullnose tile in my shower. I have been told by a couple of people that we may need to seal it with a sealer however, by what I’ve read on your website, it doesn’t sound like I need to. We are concerned that the moisture might cause problems with the tile in the future. Can you please help.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Christina,

      Thank you for your inquiry! You don’t need to seal the actual bullnose but you will need to seal the substrate that you are installing it on. You can use a product like RedGard Waterproofing to protect the substrate. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  17. We have installed a non glaze porcelain tile floor. Do you recommend a sealer or glaze to be applied? Will grease stain tile.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you for getting in touch! Porcelain is made with a sealer already incorporated into the tile so you should no put down another sealer. This will just sit on top and create a residue on the top of the tile that dirt and dust will stick to. With proper cleaning you shouldn’t have any grease stains. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  18. We have a deck across the back of the house on the second floor over a screened porch. We cleaned the tile but don’t know how to stop it from leaking down on the screened porch. owner just let it leak. So there could be wood issues. We are renting. And would like to do something to help prevent more damage. We finally lined the deck with rolls of plastic which really help but it deterioates. Is there another product or type of plastic we can use? Thanks.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Susie,

      Unfortunately I can’t recommend anything because I haven’t seen the actual area and it wouldn’t be my area of expertise. I would highly suggest speaking to a contractor and getting them to take a look at the area to help find a better option for you. That way you can be sure it would work. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any other questions!

  19. we have unglazed ceramic tile on floor.it sheds dirt. feet get black right after moping. what should i do? itrird sealer ,did not work. help!

  20. I had a dark porcelain floor installed in my condo. There are several areas all through the condo that have spots on the tile. I have tried everything to remove them to no avail. What do you suggest to remove the spots? The tile has a low luster shine and I would like it to have a bit more of a shine. My in-laws have the same flooring and of course the same problem that we are thinking came from bad installation cleanup. Their cleaning lady took a portion of mop n glo and some other kind of tile cleaner/wax and mixed them together and did the floors. The floors have a nice shine and you cannot see the spots real good however I am afraid of what that might do to the floor long term. Any suggestions?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Debra,

      Thank you for your inquiry! Unfortunately you are not able to get more shine out of a porcelain tile without completely changing out the tile. I also don’t suggest adding any other waxes or sealers to make the floor shinier as these will not get absorbed by the floor but just sit on top and collect dirt and dust. Any standard floor cleaners should do to clean the floor without damaging it.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  21. Hello I have ceramic tile on my front porch the previous owners put down. And when it rains the tile is extremely slippery. I have put rugs down and stuff under the rug to help grip.. nothing seems to work. Do you have any suggestions to what I could do about this? Any kind of non skid I could put down.. Something.. I’m desperate at this point? Please and thank you.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Tasha,

      Thank you for getting in touch! Unfortunately you have tried everything we usually recommend, putting down some sort of mat or carpet that has a non-slip grip on the back. It seems the tile that is installed may not have been meant to be installed outdoors which makes it very slippery. There also aren’t any types of sealers or chemicals that can be put down. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

      Please let us know if there is anything else you need!

  22. We have a 13 year old ceramic tile floor that needs refinishing. I did put a surface sealant on it a few months ago, but it looks dingy now. So I need to remove the old sealer and put a new one on. How do we do that?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Anne,

      Thank you for your inquiry!

      Unfortunately, as ceramic is a man-made product that has a sealer already incorporated into the original glaze, you are not suppose to put any extra sealers on top. The first step would be to get a sealer stripper and strip the sealer coat you put on top. That is what makes the tile look dingy as dirt just sticks to the sealer because it cannot be absorbed. If a tile starts to look dull it is usually something on the tile that needs to be cleaned off. If you were looking to get more sheen or luster onto the tile more than what it had originally, unfortunately the only way to do that is to change out the actual tile.

      Hopefully this helps. Please let us know if there is anything else you need!

  23. BuildDirect Product Expert Team
    BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

    Hi Bob,

    Thank you for getting in touch with BuildDirect!

    Unfortunately there is no way to make a glazed tile have a sheen, you would need to install an actual polished tile. All porcelain tile already comes sealed so we don’t recommend putting another sealer on top.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  24. We have installed a porcelain floor tile that has no sheen. Would you recommend applying a sealer to add a sheen?

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