Sealing a tile backsplash?

bobntessFebruary 16, 2011

We found some stone tile for our new backsplash and bought a couple of boxes to check for color match. The tile is "Premium natural stones" Luxor Gold, purchased at Home Depot. It is honed limestone and appears to have a fairly smooth satin finish to it. On the back of the box it states "Sealing with a penetrating sealer is recommended."

We are wondering if sealing would be needed for a backsplash and if so, what type of sealer should be used.

Thanks

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antss

511 - available at the depot

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:41PM
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pricklypearcactus

I would highly recommend sealing any porous stone tile. Limestone is porous (similar to porousity of marble or travertine). I have been told that Miracle 511 products are highly recommended for sealing. I just used Miracle 511 Impregnator on slate tile floor. I could have instead selected Miracle 511 Sealer & Enhancer if I had wanted to enhance (and darken) the tile. Miracle 511 also makes Porous Plus for highly porous stone. This thread discusses when to choose Porous Plus over Impregnator (which does include some limestone).

Are you installing yourself or will you be having a professional install?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:43PM
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melissastar

I have a limestone floor recently put in and though I like it, it does etch and stain badly. A backsplash isn't likely to take the same abuse my floors take, and is usually wiped up pretty swiftly. But at least in my kitchen, it pretty regularly gets spattered with everything from cake batter to tomato sauce. So for the effort and cost, I'd think it definitely worth sealing...especially if the limestone has a fairly homogenous surface because any splotches or etches will really show up. Mine is so varied, that they tend to just blend in.

The tile gurus who are more frequent contributors to the bath forum recommend sealers by Miracle Sealants. Porous Plus is their strongest sealer and is what was recommended by the gurus for my limestone floor. It would usually be considered overkill for a backsplash or even most stone floors. But not for limestone. You can easily find it online, and sometimes at tile or big-box stores, though they usually carry only Miracle SEalants less heavy duty versions. A little goes a long way...unless you've got the great wall of China, you'll only need a pint.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:47PM
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leela4

Not to hijack the thread, but what about sealing the grout of the backsplash? Our tile guy said he usually doesn't, so we didn't, but now I'm wondering if that was wise-especially behind the sink. And would this be easy for me to do? (I'm a tiny bit handy)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 1:07PM
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bobntess

Thanks for the quick replies. Sounds like Miracle products are the way to go. I was hoping to avoid another step in this long remodel process but I'll seal it now and not be sorry later.

Pricklypearcactus - we will be installing it ourselves, hopefully very soon!

Any benefit to sealing it before it is installed? I would think that sealing it beforehand might save some staining from the grout and installation process.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 1:10PM
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clergychick

We have cream crackle tile and cream grout, and it was all sealed after install. I asked at the tile store and the installer if the tile needed to be sealed pre-install and they both said only after install. I can imagine if using a dark grout with light tile, pre-sealing might be necessary.

The sealer came in a spay bottle, and I believe it was a simple matter of spraying it on.

Tile and grout have so far been impenetrable-- beef juices and balsamic vinegar have both been wiped away as easy as you please even though several days old.

FWIW.
Amy

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 2:03PM
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kitchenaddict

hi bob...

I sealed my marble backsplash myself...Super easy...Used the 511 product..Just wipe on..wait a couple minutes and wipe off. Do a smallish area at a time. I found that it works better if not left on toooo long.

Seriously...this is an easy thing and it gives me piece of mind about protecting my backsplash, even if it doesn't get "a lot of action."

KA:)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 2:27PM
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leela4

For those of you who sealed your own backsplash (after install)-did the sealer darken the grout and/or change the grout color in any way?
TIA Lee

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 2:47PM
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melissastar

Bob: I did a lot of research before my limestone floor went in and I did find info (including the directions on the Porous Plus bottle) that said seal BEFORE grouting on limestone. This is because the sealing will make it easier to remove grout that gets on the tiles and because limestone is so porous.

My installer actually chose NOT to do that, but was aware of the potential problem and wiped up grout promptly.

If i were going to DIY a limestone backsplash and, again, we were not talking about huge volumes of tile, I would install the tile and seal with one coat, taking care not to saturate the grout joints, as the directions say. Then, grout, clean up and reseal. Luckily sealing is pretty easy...wipe on, let dry 3-5 minutes and wipe off excess. My floor has two coats and I'm thinking it needs a third.

Bottom line: Sealing is cheap compared to the cost of replacement and easy compared to fixing etched or stained tiles. Limestone is extremely porous (though beautiful).
Better safe than sorry.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 3:20PM
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kitchenaddict

Hi lee...

No, sealing did not darken my backsplash tile or grout..

KA:)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 4:26PM
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blubird

There are enhancing sealers and non-enhancing sealers. The enhancing sealers will 'enhance' (deepen) the coloring of the stone tiles, and to a lesser degree, the grout as well.

Below is the link to the previous thread with a similar discussion. Scroll down to see where I posted my pictures of both enhanced and non-enhanced tiles.

Helene

Here is a link that might be useful: previous sealer discussion

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 4:44PM
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bobntess

Thanks to all. We'll be picking up the rest of the tile today along with some sealer, which we will apply before grouting to be on the safe side. We'll add another coat after the tile is grouted.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 9:57AM
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maemom

We've selected the same tile. Do you happen to have a picture of some of it installed that you could post?

The person at our Home Depot said we could even choose to not apply grout, just seal and leave it looking almost like stacked stone. Not sure I'm convinced that would really work. But I'd love to see yours on the wall.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 4:05PM
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Linelle

I'm likely getting a cream colored crackle tile. I know they have to be sealed before grouting. I read somewhere else that you were supposed to soak them in water before installing to prevent lateral grout migration. Is this true?

If crackle tiles can be sealed in place after installation but before grouting, what about thin 1/16" spacing? Is sealer required down in the spaces or only on the face of the tile?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 10:14PM
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