Interior Sealants & Grouts

Sealants are flexible materials that are usually clear, white or light coloured and placed where two surfaces meet to seal joints. The purpose of the “bead” of sealant is to help prevent water from finding its way behind water resistant materials and damaging the less resistant materials behind the joint. To protect water susceptible materials, sealant should be applied in a continuous, unbroken line.

Sealants are often visible at the joints between countertops and backsplashes, or where a tile, walls and floors meets up with the bathtub. Over time, with cleaning, or through natural expansion and contraction of the materials, the sealant bead may crack or separate from one or both sides of a joint. Check the condition sealant on a regular basis by looking for discolouration or soft spots. If you notice any damages or wearing, repair the sealant joints as soon as possible. After the warranty period, the maintenance and repair of the sealant is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Checking Sealed Joints

When checking the condition of sealed joints in your home, look for discolouration or soft spots. Identify the source of the water penetration and check for damaged materials underneath the joint because water typicallyruns down drywall or behind cabinets towards the floor.

Grout is mixture of fine sand and cement that forms a thin mortar and is used to fill the joints between wall or floor tiles. The grout in your home may or may not contain a pigment for added colour. Manufacturers can also add ingredients to create other characteristics in grout. These are the “modified” or “enhanced” grouts. All grout is porous and can stain. It is important to seal grouts. Maintaining this seal can greatly reduce discolouration. Sealers can affect the appearance of the grout by brining out the natural colour and can help minimize moisture absorption and staining.

Before applying sealer:

  1. Identify the type of tile used – Different tile materials have different absorption characteristics which affect the look and ability to clean the tiles after sealer is applied.
  2. Contact the original tile supplier or a reputable dealer to help identify the type of tile and grout used. They should be able to recommend the most appropriate sealer and advise on proper application for your particular tile and grout.

Checking Grout Joints

Grout can be easily become discoloured (especially lighter shades) by routine activities. Even something as simple as washing a tile floor can cause grout to discolour over time. There are a variety of cleaners and sealers available on the market to restore and maintain grout. Consult your tile manufacturer or a reputable hardware professional for cleaning instructions and sealant application recommendations.

Grout joints or caulk joints between ceramic tiles and adjacent surfaces (i.e., around bathtub and shower enclosures) may deteriorate over time under normal use and should be inspected routinely. If a water leak is allowed to develop behind a tub or shower, the leak can soften or swell the substrate that the tiles are attached to, causing the tiles to break loose. This creates more areas where water can penetrate. Small amounts of water may run behind the tub or shower soaking wood components and creating the conditions for mould growth and rot.

Did you Know?

Sealants types are formulated for kitchens, bathrooms and other appliances. Read sealant tubes carefully for information on appropriate uses and suggested applications. Consult a knowledgeable hardware store professional for advice.

If water has penetrated behind the sealants:

  1. Remove all or part of the old sealant bead.
  2. Clean and dry the area.
  3. Dry and or replace any damaged areas.
  4. Re-apply the appropriate type of sealant to the joints.

If the grout is cracked, repair it and then re-seal it. If the caulking is failing, remove and clean the substrate then replace the caulking bead. If there is no apparent break in the grout or the caulk, clean the tiles and the grout lines and re-apply a sealer. Also check for leaks from the water pipes or the drains.