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I have 1.5mm of white grout between rectified white tiles on my kitchen walls as a splashback (or backsplash in North America*) behind the sink and cooktop and I'm concerned about stains from food and mould.

I've read on the web I'm supposed to seal the grout using a soak-in sealant in what sounds like a very time-consuming prcoess that has to be repeated every year, forever.

Is there a more long-lasting way to do this?

Surely just using that new "no-mould-for-five-years" white silicone sealant would be better than that?

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((* this is hilarious - I'm imagining some dopey kitchen contractor who says it wrong migrating from the US to Australia or vice versa and everyone picking up the wrong term))

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4 Answers 4

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You want to apply a penetrating grout sealer. This one says that it last up to 5 years depending on conditions.

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The key for the sealer to last as long as possible on a backsplash is to avoid cleaning it with "harsh cleaners" like bleach and antibacterial sprays. You want to use something that is not going to remove the grout sealer when cleaning the backsplash. They sell specific cleaners that are easy on the grout at the tile shops, but I have read that just using diluted white vinegar works.

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If you're not exposing your tiles to a lot of water (especially in a splashback/backsplash type application), I don't think you'll need to reseal as often as you think.

I used a silicone sealer product which comes in an aerosol can, just spray it on and once the stuff has soaked into the grout a bit, wipe off the tiles and you're done. I can deal with doing that once every couple of years.

If I were having to paint it on a vertical surface with a normal applicator, I would definitely be adverse to sealing every year too.

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That sounds much more reasonable. –  MGOwen Nov 2 '10 at 5:55
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Grout sealer would be the obvious way to do it, but another way would be to have the tile reglazed.

As a side effect of reglazing the tile, the grout is glazed over as well, making it much easier to clean. It would be more expensive of course to have that done, but it would give you the option to change the color of the tile as well if you wanted to.

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Home improvement stores have grout sealers. I have used them in the kitchen and on the bathroom floors. Works well in both places. It is very easy to use. Just make sure the grout has set up and is dry.

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But, as I said, why does it have to be re-done every year? Surely there's a better alternative - or are people just exaggerating? –  MGOwen Aug 11 '10 at 4:01
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