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Tiles have, and will always be, the literal embodiment of classy, customized flooring.
When laying down new tiled flooring, a major part of ensuring a crisp aesthetic is to have the grout confined between the tiles only, and not spilling over their edges.
While it is common practice to level grout spills, grout sealer comes in very handy when making sure that all the work you’ve put into sanding out your grout is preserved long-term. It prevents any stains or moisture from seeping onto the sanded grout.
However, in the process of cleaning out your grout, you quite often end up with drips or smears of the grout sealer on the tiles.
Commonly known as “grout haze,” the thin film of sealant that is left behind can make your tiled floors and walls look milky and hazy.
Fortunately for your floors, accidental grout sealer smears don’t have to be a permanent problem.
Read on to learn some quick tips and tricks on how to remove grout sealer from tile that would otherwise mar the elegance of your floors and walls.
What Happens If You Don’t Seal Grout?
Grout sealer might seem like overkill if you’re still new to laying floors.
If grout sealer stains are such a big problem, surely it would be easier to just forego the sealing step of the protocol?
Unfortunately not. Grout is essentially the glue that holds the tiles together in the exact orientation they were laid in.
However, because most grout is made of cement and sand, it is not immune to heavy weathering.
If your grout starts to give, your tiles might become unevenly spaced or in really severe cases might even start to come out of place entirely.
In rooms like kitchens or bathrooms, crumbly grout means holes that pests like ants or other insects can use for easier access to your home.
Grout sealer is the force that holds all of this at bay. It helps keep the grout from getting stained or wet, which in turn allows the grout to last longer.
A solid grout barricade means even tiles in a pest-free house.
Get to Know Your Grout Sealer
For you to be able to make effective decisions on how to remove grout sealer off of your tiles, you need to know what you’ll be working with.
If you were to go into the neighboring DIY store or online looking for grout sealer, your options would most likely be between penetrating and surface sealer.
Surface sealer, true to its name, works only on the surface. It acts as a protective coat for the grout against external forces but doesn’t do much for the integrity of the grout itself.
Penetrating sealer, on the other hand, seeps into the grout before solidifying and is thus far more helpful in keeping the grout structurally intact.
Between the two, penetrating sealant is stronger, and is thus hard to scrub off when try to remove grout sealers.
In comparison, the surface sealer is far easier as it is prone to peeling on its own, and often doesn’t need aggressive scrubbing or scraping to be fully removed.
How to Remove Grout Sealer From Tile – Hacks to Get Grout Sealer Off Tiles
Now that you’re familiar with the types of sealers and their methods of approach, you’re ready to get to the good stuff. Here’s how to remove grout sealer from tile:
1. Apply Alcohol
The alcohol helps dissolve the sealant before applying the tile sealer remover and makes the whole removal process a lot easier.
2. Mix the Grout Sealant Stripper
When selecting the cleaner for abrasiveness, keep in mind the type of sealer you’re targeting. A mildly abrasive sealant stripper would work for both.
Make sure to check that your sealant stripper works for your type of grout and tile.
3. Soak it up
Soak the brush or pad you will be scrubbing with heavily in the solution.
Also, dampen the path of grout sealer on the tile before you start removing it.
4. Scrub the Sealer
After getting the sealer wet, start scrubbing it with your solution-soaked brush/pad.
Make circular motions and apply pressure as needed.
5. Polish Time
Once you’re satisfied with how much of the stripper you’ve removed, polish the area with a clean towel.
6. Sealer to Remove Sealer
If a stain remains from the sealer, take a damp sponge and lightly dip it in the original sealer, before wiping at the patch.
The sealer will help liquify any remnants that are causing the stain and the now wet stain can easily be wiped off with a dry towel.
Regardless of whether the sealant is penetrative or superficial, it doesn’t necessarily affect the protocol required to strip it off tiles.
Their adhering capacities are different, and so the concentration of the cleaner used on them will be different. But aside from this, there are no major differences.
How Long Does Grout Sealer Last?
Another thing to keep in mind when trying to remove grout sealer is its shelf life.
If you want to remove grout sealer say one year after its application, you’re taking the hard route.
The same project at around three years is an entirely different ballgame.
The average lifespan of a grout sealer is from three to five years based on the quality and the durability of the grout itself.
However, as the sealant gets older, its adhesive capacity significantly decreases with every passing year.
This not only saves you a significant deal of time and effort, but it also requires less abrasive grout sealant removers to clean, which is better for your tile surfaces.
Thus, while removing grout sealer is about technique and toolsets, it’s also about timing.
If you’re unhappy with some mild grout haze, then wait a couple more years. There will also be some natural wear on the film of sealer which will cause it to either thin out or begin to peel.
It’s around this stage that you should bring out the cleaners and the scrubbers.
What More Can You Do with this Skillset?
While the main application of removing grout within this article has been to clean it off tiles, you can use the abovementioned techniques in several other contexts.
If you’re looking to remove your current tile flooring, being able to remove grout sealer comes in very handy.
Although this would take a bit more aggressive scraping, the basics of weakening the sealer are the same as above.
Now go out there and take your flooring into your own hands. Remove that thin film of sealer over your tiles and unleash the true beauty underneath.