Consumer And Professional Grade Grout Sealer Reviews

There are currently no industry standards for testing grout sealers so we devised our own test to try to determine which grout sealer works best for sealing and protecting grout.   We first sealed some grout samples with sealers from various brands of sealer. We then applied some common food and oil based contaminates to the grout samples and allowed these contaminates to dry on the grout samples. We then cleaned the grout samples to see which sealer performed best to seal and protect the grout from becoming stained.

reviewing some common grout sealers

There are many different brands of grout sealers on the market with many different formulations to choose from.   There are water based and solvent based grout sealers. There are also grout sealers that are also designed for sealing stone. There are also high VOC sealers and low VOC sealers. There are also grout additives that mix with grout that are designed to seal grout.

There are various warranties, claims and marketing materials associated with grout sealers and grout additives.   These claims, warranties and guarantees typically mean nothing in the real world usage of grout sealers. You will have little luck in trying to enforce any of the warranties or guarantees associated with grout sealers. The best grout sealers will provide the highest level of protection to keep the grout from staining and they will last for the longest period of time. Trying to choose the best grout sealer from the many different products on the market can be a daunting task.

Grout sealers come in two basic forms; water based and solvent based.  The water and solvents in grout sealers are just the carriers for the sealant material. After the sealer dries the water or solvents that carried the sealant material will evaporate and only the sealant will be left in the grout to protect it. Solvent based sealers are able to penetrate deeper into dense natural stones due to its smaller molecular structure. Since grout is extremely porous this small molecular sealant structure is not needed and a water based sealer will be able to penetrated deep into the porous grout. Solvent based sealers will also have a higher VOC level and using the more toxic VOC level is not needed when sealing grout. Water based sealant technology has also improved in recent years to exceed the sealant capabilities of solvent based sealers.

VOC stands for Volatile organic compounds.  VOC is a broad based term used to analyze a wide range of industrial and consumer compounds. Generally speaking the VOC's are the environmental toxic byproducts that go into the environment from using certain products. Solvent based sealers will always have much higher VOC's then water based sealers due to the inherent nature of the solvent products. When the water based and solvent based sealers dry all the VOC's will leave the grout or tile and only sealant material will remain. There is no lingering effect from VOC's after the sealer has dried (typically 4-6 hours). It is always best to choose the lowest VOC based sealer that will still effectively seal the grout. When sealing some natural stones at the same time as you are sealing grout it may make sense to use a solvent based high VOC stone sealer. .

There are many different grout sealer formulations used.  Some grout sealant manufacturers will tell you the formulations and some just state that their sealant formulation is a trade secret. Grout sealant manufacturers are generally not required to list the sealant formulation on the MSDS due to the fact that the actual sealant material is a non toxic compound.

It takes a higher quality type of sealer to seal stone tiles then it does to seal grout.  Many stone tiles are extremely dense and it takes a small sealant molecule to penetrate deep into the stone tiles to seal them. A smaller sealant molecule is not necessarily needed for sealing grout but when sealing stone and grout installations together it is best to pick the highest quality stone sealer as opposed to the highest quality grout sealer. It is typically more important to seal the expensive stone tiles and a high quality stone sealer will also provide a high level of protection for sealing the grout. You can read our stone sealer review here.

For our testing procedure we prepared some grout samples using sanded bright white grout and allowed the grout to set for 7 days.   We used the same batch of grout for testing all of the grout sealers. For testing the grout additives in the Grout Shield and Grout Boost we used the grout additives instead of water for mixing the grout according to the manufactures instructions and did not seal these grout samples with any additional sealer. We allowed the grout to set for 7 days and then sealed each of the grout samples with the grout sealer according to the manufactures instructions. We then waited 72 hours for the grout sealer to dry. We then exposed the each of the sealed grout samples to 3 cycles of the following. cleaning the grout samples for 10 minutes with a pH neutral cleaner and boiling the samples for 3 minutes in water. The cleaning and boiling cycles we felt were necessary to ensure the durability of the sealers. We then applied some common food based contaminates to the sealed grout samples and allowed these food based contaminates to dry on the sealed grout samples for 24 hours. After this we attempted to clean away the food based contaminates with a pH neutral cleaner and a soft scrub pad. After cleaning the samples we allowed them to dry for 24 hours before examining the samples to see which sealer worked best for protecting the grout.

In our testing we found that the stonetech bulletproof sealer and the drytreat stainproof sealers worked best for sealing grout.   The stonetech bulletproof is relatively low VOC based sealer while the Drytreat Stainproof is a much more expensive higher VOC based sealer. Generally if it is not necessary to use a high VOC based sealer then there is no reason to use this type of expensive sealer when just sealing grout. If sealing a dense stone tile installation at the same time as sealing the grout then it may be practical to use the high VOC based sealer.

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