Sonoma Tile, seal after install before grout?

bluetea57November 12, 2012

Hi all,

I am close to tiling the backsplash,(yeah) my question is...has anyone installed Sonoma brand tile? Did you seal the tile after installing and before grouting? We have the Stellar tile, not crackle or artisan, and have heard conflicting instructions. While we are generally capable DYI, I really don't want to mess up almost 2 grand of tile!! Thanks for all your help..I have learned a lot from the collective brain trust of this web site!

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Linelle

I have Sonoma tile for my backsplash. I forget if it's Stellar or Star, but it's the less expensive one. It's crackle so my understanding is that it should be sealed *before* grouting and that's what I told my tilesetter. They said they would, but I honestly don't know if they did or not. In any event, no grout (mid-light gray) seeped into any of the crackling on the cream colored tiles. I sealed the grout myself.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Madeline616

Hi,

FWIW, I have Sonoma arch herringbone, from the Stellar collection. I had to waste $3,000+ of tile because my guy sealed it before setting. Not after setting and before grouting, but before setting. Following the instructions, he soaked the tiles in a very heavy duty sealer (admittedly, the sealer was actually meant for stone and not ceramic or porcelain), and it filled up all the pores, rendering the tiles slippery and unable to adhere to the thinset. The tiles were literally falling off the walls.

The instructions do say to seal before laying the tile (or they did 6 months ago when my b-splash was done), but I had a few tile guys say they'd never do that in a million years.

I can't speak to sealing after setting and before grouting...I personally wouldn't, because I'd be afraid the grout would crumble off and not stick in the same way that the thinset didn't stick, but that may be me being paranoid after my experience.

My local store was able to get me replacement tile for cost, but it was still a huge loss.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Linelle

Wow, Madeline, that's a horrible experience and waste of money and tile. At GW the advice is crackle tile must be sealed before grouting and logically it seems it would include the edges where the grout makes contact. In my tile store, a couple of salespeople weren't aware of this. I hated the color of the first grout and had them remove it within an hour. Even if they had sealed (again I asked them to but have no actual proof they did), perhaps the seal could have come off with the original grout. The grout didn't make any visible inroads into the crackle.

On the other hand, my tiles aren't perfectly flat and I have lippage. Fortunately it's only visible if I turn on the UCL, so guess who doesn't use the UCL? Bummer. It's a beautiful tile, but I wouldn't get this line again.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 5:23PM
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bluetea57

Thanks for the info, the instructions say to seal after installation, but the tile people said only the crackle tile needed to be sealed, but to seal the edge of any cut edges of tile. The grout has sealer in it already. I think that your story of sealing and then the tiles not adhering has convinced me that the salespeople are correct. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 6:18PM
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razamatazzy

I finally decided on Sonoma Stellar Matte 3 x 6 tile backsplash in Prairie Sand. In checking details for install of this tile I came across this thread. I was wondering if anyone had any more details? Bluetea did you complete your install?

Linelle, what does this mean? my tiles aren't perfectly flat and I have lippage? Is this due to the install or the way the tile is made?

If anyone else has installed Sonoma Stellar tile, I would be interested in how you like it.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 2:41PM
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remodelfla

If the tile has a crackle finish, then you need to seal. Matte or gloss finish on ceramic/porcelain does not need sealing.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:22PM
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calumin

If you are using cementitous grout (e.g. non-epoxy grout), then you should seal again after grouting, because the grout also needs to be sealed.

If they say you don't need to seal the grout, then I would double-check against the actual grout product they are using. Sometimes contractors don't seal after grouting because it requires an extra visit to the house.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Linelle

Raz, my tiles certainly look flat, but there are places, e.g., some of the corners, where it's slightly out of level. I didn't even notice it until my backsplash went in. In fact, I can't see it when the UCLs are off. My UCLs are at the back so the light is being cast down right on top of the tiles and any slight imperfection (lippage) casts a tiny shadow. I do think that a tile setter aware of this might be able to avoid this. Mine didn't and I can't blame them because I didn't either. It's really a lovely tile except for this. Perhaps if my UCLs were moved forward a bit, it would correct it.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 5:30PM
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bluetea57

Hi Raz and linelle,
We completed our install and we really love it! We installed the Sonoma stellar glossy subway in shearling, pencil liner in ginger twist and confetti liner in marigold. Our UCL's are in the front of the cabinet so the lippage that linelle described is only slightly noticeable, but this is a handmade tile and I think that the irregularities are part of the beauty.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:43AM
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Madeline616

Raz,

Are you using a crackle finish?

I have 1x2 arched herringbone. First install was a kitchen b-splash in Cirrus (a crackle finish). When that had to be ripped out and replaced to the tune of $3k, we used Blanco instead (same arched herringbone).

Remodelfla is correct, of course, in that a crackle finish has to be sealed, but if you're using a crackle finish, please read my experience before doing so.

The tile is beautiful, so although I took a huge loss, I'm happy.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:35PM
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jellytoast

If you are sealing the tile before grouting, take care not to let the sealer run and drip into the joints. You want to seal the surface of the tile, not the sides.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Linelle

bluetea, I'm happy to hear that your lippage is not very noticeable with your UCL placement. I'm pretty sure that moving mine could be the solution I'm after. They really are lovely tile.

As for sealing. :) I told my tile guys to seal first, but I'm not convinced they did. Today I slathered an extra tile with ketchup, including on all four sides (ingress point for grout). After 4 hours I rinsed it off. I figure 4 hours is plenty of time to spot a red mess on a vertical surface. Nothing got in the cracks, nada. The tile seems to have a fired on clear glaze, sides too. I don't think sauce is going to get into these crackled tiles as long as the surface is not damaged.

Ketchup left on 4 hours:

After washing:

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 5:38PM
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razamatazzy

Bluetea thanks so much for the picture, looks lovely, I love the handcrafted look.
Linelle, thanks for your explanation of the lippage and the testing. I have a matte tile I will do the same test on.

Madeline, I will be using the Matte tile.

the tech sheet for Sonoma stellar matte says:
Before grouting, seal all the tile with a penetrating sealer after they have been set

Cut tile should be soaked in a penetrating sealer prior to
installation. Seal tile surfaces and edges prior to grouting. A

After reading what happened to Madeline, I won't be getting sealer on the backs of the tiles before setting

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 10:22PM
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