How to Seal and Maintain Natural Stone Tiles

How to Seal and Maintain Natural Stone Tiles
9 November 2023

Looking to answer some questions on how to seal and maintain natural stone tiles

Firstly, it is worth noting that stone has been used as a wall and floor covering for centuries and were never sealed and yet still look beautiful today. Although for modern-living and in order to improve stain resistance we would recommend that your natural stone is sealed.

When installing natural stone tiles, you may well choose to bring a professional in, however we know there are plenty of you out there that love a DIY project and want to save money and install your tiles yourself. With this ultimate guide in your hands, you'll have the confidence and knowledge to successfully seal your natural stone tiles, providing a stunning and resilient surface that lasts for years to come. 

Sealing stone tiles not only enhances their natural beauty but also protects them from stains, moisture, and damage. Whether you're installing stone tiles in your kitchen, bathroom, or outdoor spaces, proper sealing is essential for their longevity and ongoing maintenance.

Black Antique Limestone Floor Tiles - Modular SetBlack Antique Limestone Floor Tiles - Modular Set
Black Antique Limestone Floor Tiles - Modular Set

What Do You Use to Seal Natural Stone Tiles?

Sealing your stone tiles involves the application of a special tile sealant that helps reduce the porosity of the tile. Sealing assists the stones resistance to dirt, spills, staining and general wear and tear, upmost protects the structural integrity of the tile over time. We recommend LTP sealers as they have a great range of sealers that are specifically designed to enhance the beauty of natural stone tiles and enhance their natural beauty.

Picture of LTP's Natural Stone sealer collection for natural stonePicture of LTP's Natural Stone sealer collection for natural stone
LTP Natural Stone Sealers

Why Is It Important to Seal Natural Stone Tiles? 

There is nothing quite authentic like having natural stone tiles in your home. From slate tiles to limestone tiles, the natural beauty of each tile is unique to the next, lending charming characteristics. Sealing your natural stone tiles offers several benefits, including enhancing the natural beauty of the stone and preventing liquids and contaminants from penetrating the surface and causing irreversible damage.

One of the primary reasons to seal natural stone tiles is to prevent staining. Natural stone is porous, (basically a fancy term for not letting water in just in case you weren’t sure) meaning it has tiny pores that can absorb liquids. Without a sealant, spilled wine, coffee, or oil can easily seep into the stone, leaving behind unsightly stains that are difficult to remove. By sealing the tiles, you create a barrier that prevents these substances from penetrating the surface, making cleaning and maintenance much easier.

In addition to stain prevention, sealing natural stone tiles also helps to protect them from moisture damage. Moisture can seep into the pores of unsealed stone, leading to cracks, mould growth, and other structural issues. A high-quality sealer acts as a waterproof barrier, preventing water from seeping into the stone and causing damage. This is particularly important in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Properly sealed natural stone tiles are also more resistant to wear and tear. The sealant forms a protective layer on the surface, making the tiles less prone to scratches, chipping, and fading. This is especially important in high-traffic areas or outdoor spaces where the tiles are exposed to harsh weather conditions.

All natural stone tiles have a level of porosity, which means if water, oil, food, wine or juices sit on the surface for a period of time they could cause the stone to stain.

Substances that could stain your natural stone tiles

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon & lime juice
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Red & white wine
  • Dark colour grouts
  • Adhesive
  • Curry powders & spices
  • External leaf mould
  • Oil

What Are the Different Types of Natural Stone Tiles? 

Natural stone tiles come in a wide variety of materials, each with its unique characteristics and sealing requirements. Understanding the type of stone you have is crucial in determining the appropriate sealer and application method. Let's explore some of the most popular types of natural stone tiles and their specific considerations:

1. Marble: Marble is a luxurious and elegant choice for stone tiles, known for its veining and unique patterns. However, marble is a softer stone and more prone to scratching and etching. Polished marble requires an MPG impregnating sealer that can penetrate the porous surface and provide adequate protection against stains and moisture.

2. Granite: Granite is a highly durable and versatile stone, making it a popular choice for countertops and flooring. It is less porous than marble and generally requires less frequent sealing. A high-quality MPG impregnating sealer is suitable for most polished granite tiles, providing excellent stain resistance and durability.

3. Travertine: Travertine is a type of limestone that often has its natural pits and voids filled, giving it a distinctive honed finish. It requires special consideration when it comes to sealing. Generally, a Mattstone impregnating sealer would have to be applied prior to grouting to protect the surface from potential grout staining. Two further coats will be required to fully protect the stone. To keep the honed finish and semi-polished look it is generally advised to finish with a satin finish surface sealer to further enhance and protect the stone.

4. Slate: Slate is a dense and durable stone known for its rustic appearance and rich colours. It is less porous than marble and travertine, but still requires sealing to protect against stains and moisture. An impregnating sealer that enhances the natural surface of the slate is commonly used. Black and charcoal slate tiles tend to have a Mattstone sealer, whereas multicolour slates would have a colour intensifier sealer which enhances he colours in the slate.

5. Limestone: Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is available in various colours and finishes. It is more porous than slate and requires regular sealing to maintain its appearance and durability. A high-quality Mattstone impregnating sealer is suitable for most limestone tiles. It is recommended with lighter limestone tiles that as with marble and travertine, you apply a coat of sealer prior to grouting to protect the surface from any potential staining when fitting the tiles.

It's important to note that different types of natural stone tiles may have specific sealing instructions and recommended products. Always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines and consult with a professional if you're unsure about the best approach for your specific natural stone tiles.

How Do I Know My Natural Stone Tiles Need Sealing?

Determining whether your natural stone tiles need sealing can be done through a simple water test which helps you assess the porosity of the stone.

Here's how to perform the water test:

1. Clean a small area of the stone tiles with a mild detergent and water, ensuring it's free from any dirt or residue. Allow the area to dry completely.

2. Pour a small amount of water, approximately the size of a teaspoon, onto the cleaned area of the stone tiles. 

3. Observe the water droplet for approximately 1 minute to an hour. If the water is absorbed into the stone or leaves a darkened spot, it indicates that the stone is porous and requires sealing. If the water remains on the surface without being absorbed, the stone may already be sealed or have low porosity.

Perform this test in multiple areas of your natural stone tiles to ensure consistent results. If the water test indicates that your stone tiles require sealing, proceed to the next section to learn how to prepare them for the sealing process.

High Porosity - stones such as Limestone, Marble and Sandstone may take on water within only one minute.

Medium Porosity - stones like slate from 15 minutes to half an hour

Low Porosity - stones such as granite can take over an hour to absorb into the surface.

Once you have determined how porous your stone is, you then need to refer to the sealers manufacturing instructions to determine how many coats of sealer you need to use.

How Do I Prepare My Natural Stone Tiles for Sealing? 

Properly preparing your stone tiles before sealing is crucial to ensure the sealant adheres effectively and provides optimal protection. Follow these steps to prepare your stone tiles for the sealing process:

1. Clean the tiles: Start by thoroughly cleaning the stone tiles to remove any dust, dirt, grime, or previous sealant residue. Use a pH-neutral stone cleaner and a soft brush or mop to gently scrub the surface. Rinse with clean water and allow the tiles to dry completely. If your stone tiles have been previously sealed, it's essential to remove the existing sealant before applying a new one. Use a suitable stone sealant stripper such as Power Stripper by LTP. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and wear protective gloves and eyewear during the process.

2. If you have purchased new natural stone tiles, you need to assess if the stone requires sealing prior to laying or after grouting, we would recommend that you discuss this with the retailer you have purchased with as they will be able to advise the best process for fitting and also how many coats of sealer your stone will require.

3. Inspect for damages: Carefully examine an existing floor for any cracks, chips, or other damages. Repair any visible damages using a suitable stone repair kit or consult with a professional if the damages are extensive.

4. Remove stains: If there are any stubborn stains on the stone tiles, use a targeted stain remover specifically designed for the type of stain and stone. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and test the product on a small inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire surface.

5. Allow for proper drying time: After cleaning, repairing, and removing any stains or existing sealant, allow the stone tiles to dry completely. Ensure the tiles are free from any moisture before proceeding with the sealing process.

By following these preparation steps, you create an optimal surface for the sealant to adhere and penetrate the stone effectively. In the next section, we'll discuss how to choose the right sealer for your stone tiles.

How to Seal Natural Stone Tiles 

Properly applying sealer to your natural stone tiles is crucial to ensure even coverage and maximum protection. Follow these step-by-step instructions to achieve professional results:

1. Read the manufacturer's instructions: Before starting the sealing process, carefully read and understand the manufacturer's instructions provided with the sealer. Each sealer may have specific application guidelines and drying times.

2. Ventilate the area: Ensure the area where you'll be applying the sealer is well-ventilated. Open windows or doors and use fans to provide adequate airflow, especially if you're working in an enclosed space.

3. Test in an inconspicuous area: Before applying the sealer to the entire surface, it's essential to test it in a small inconspicuous area. This allows you to ensure compatibility with your stone tiles and assess the desired finish.

4. Apply the sealer: Using a clean and lint-free applicator, such as a brush or roller, apply the sealer evenly to the natural stone tiles. Work in small sections to ensure complete coverage. Avoid excessive application, as it can lead to a hazy or uneven finish.

5. Allow for absorption: Allow the sealer to absorb into the stone tiles for the recommended amount of time. This allows the sealant to penetrate the pores and create a protective barrier. Avoid walking on the tiles or touching the surface during this time.

6. Remove excess sealer: After the absorption time, check for any excess sealer on the surface. Use a clean cloth or towel to gently wipe away any residue. Ensure no areas of excess sealer is left to dry on the surface, as it can create a hazy or sticky finish.

7. Apply additional coats (if necessary): Depending on the type of sealer and the porosity of your stone tiles, multiple coats may be required. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for reapplication and drying times between coats.

8. Allow for curing time: After applying the sealer, allow the stone tiles to cure for the recommended curing time. This ensures the sealer fully dries and hardens, providing optimal protection. Avoid any foot traffic or placing objects on the tiles during this time.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can achieve professional results and ensure your stone tiles are effectively sealed. In the next section, we'll provide some tips for maintaining sealed natural stone tiles

How Can I Maintain the Look of My Natural Stone Tiles?

Sheera Multicolour Slate TilesSheera Multicolour Slate Tiles
Sheera Multicolour Natural Slate Tiles 600x300mm
Natural Charcoal Grey Slate TilesNatural Charcoal Grey Slate Tiles
Natural Charcoal Grey Slate Tiles 600x300mm

 

The good news straight off the bat is that sealing and grouting your tiles will make it much easier to maintain your tiles.  

Then general maintenance of your tiles is fairly close to what you’d expect. Regular vacuuming and mopping are good ideas for floor tiles, keeping the visual quality of your tiles tip top.  

Wiping down tiles after they have been sealed and grouted is another good move. Additionaly, door mats and bathmats can help to soak up moisture and dirt too, meaning less damage to your tiles. It’s amazing how much dirt people can bring in with them!

Follow these tips to keep your sealed stone tiles looking their best:


1. Clean spills immediately: Wipe up any spills or stains immediately to prevent them from penetrating the stone and causing damage. Use a soft cloth or paper towel to blot the spill, avoiding any rubbing or scrubbing that can spread the stain.

2. Use pH-neutral cleaners: When cleaning your sealed stone tiles, use pH-neutral stone cleaners that are specifically formulated for natural stone. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that can damage the sealant and the stone surface.


3. Avoid abrasive materials: When scrubbing or cleaning the tiles, use a soft-bristle brush or mop to avoid scratching the surface. Avoid abrasive cleaning pads or materials that can damage the sealant and the stone.


4. Protect against heavy furniture: Use furniture pads or coasters under heavy furniture to prevent them from scratching or damaging the sealed stone tiles. Lift and place objects instead of dragging them across the surface.


5. Regularly sweep or vacuum: Regularly sweep or vacuum your sealed stone tiles to remove any dirt, dust, or debris that can scratch the surface. Use a soft brush attachment or a broom with soft bristles to avoid causing any damage.


6. Re-apply sealer as needed: Over time, the sealant on your stone tiles may wear off or become less effective. Monitor the condition of the sealant and reapply as needed to maintain optimal protection.


By following these maintenance tips, you can ensure your sealed stone tiles remain in excellent condition and continue to enhance the beauty of your space. In the next section, we'll discuss some common mistakes to avoid when sealing stone tiles.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts 

While sealing natural stone tiles is a relatively straightforward process, there are some common mistakes that should be avoided to achieve the best results. Be aware of the following pitfalls when sealing your stone tiles:


1. Not performing the water test: Skipping the water test to determine if your stone tiles require sealing can lead to inadequate protection. Always perform the water test to assess the porosity of the stone and ensure it receives the necessary sealing.


2. Using the wrong sealer: Using the wrong type of sealer for your specific stone tiles can result in ineffective protection and potential damage. Always choose a sealer that is compatible with your stone and its specific needs.


3. Insufficient preparation: Failing to properly clean, repair, and prepare the stone tiles before sealing

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