Cement Tile 101: How to Seal Cement Tile

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Sealing is key to make your cement tile installation shine.
                        

Handmade cement tiles are an excellent choice for those loving natural materials with much character. And here at Clay Imports, we want to make sure you are enjoying your cement tiles for years to come. Let us guide you through the installation process.

What is Cement Tile?

Cement tiles are made of cement as one would assume. Made by hand since the 19th century, cement tiles manufacturing includes the use of mineral pigments, cement, a metal mold, and a hydraulic press. The pigment composition is a mixture of high quality white Portland cement, marble powder, fine sand, and natural mineral color pigments. Each tile absorbs a differing amount of sealer. Hence they darken differently. Cement tile will never look the same as they first did out of the box. If appreciated, it can be very beautiful.

Wilmar Gray Cement – Kitchen design by Davey McEathron. Photography: Leonid Furmansky.

Why does Cement Tile Need to be Sealed?

Cement tile consists of a decorative layer on a cement body. Cement is compressed, water-cured and left to dry much like a sidewalk would be. These tiles are not fired. So, adding a sealer before, during and shortly after installation is key to minimize staining. Our standard cement tiles have a slight semi-gloss sheen finish that can be enhanced through a penetrating sealer (like Miracle Seal 511 Impregnator). Please know that cement tiles age like your favorite pair of jeans and develop a patina over time, even when sealed.

What you Need To Seal Cement Tile

 

The Sealing

Before, during, and shortly a cement tile installation, each and every tile needs to be sealed. This will protect the tiles from absorbing moisture. As a great side effect, it will also give your tiles a nice sheen. We have been part of the cement tile industry for a long time now. And the most common problems associated with cement tile installation are insufficient or inadequate sealing, and grout pigment staining. Here are our guidelines to help minimize staining issues:

Confirm that the cement tile is sealed properly with a reliable product before, during and after installation. We recommend Miracle Seal 511 Porous Plus.

Seal Cement Tile – Before Installation:

Lay out all cement tiles. Use a yellow sealer application sponge. Apply the sealer with the sponge. Ensure to remove any excess bubbles. Do not apply heavy pressure. Repeat this step. Then leave the sealer treatment to dry for 6 hours before you proceed to the grouting.

Seal Cement Tile – During Installation:

Confirm that a typical grout release is used during grout application. We recommend Miracle Sealants Grout Release Sealer. Using Grout Release prior to the grouting process will make cleanup of grout haze easier after application and will protect your surface from grout haze or stains.

Seal Cement Tile – After Installation:

Clean the installed and grouted cement tile surface. Use a yellow sealer application sponge. Apply the sealer with the sponge. Ensure to remove any excess bubbles. Do not apply heavy pressure. Repeat this step. Then leave the sealer treatment to dry for 6 hours.

Cement tile solid color patchwork. Design by Kim Wolfe of the Minimal Animal.

Some Additional Thoughts

Sealing is an integral part of cement tile installation. In addition, we recommend to use only non-pigmented or low-pigmented grouts. These are colors that contain very little coloring. Our favorites are Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA in Avalanche, Biscuit, and Warm Gray. Do not use black or very dark grout and can seriously stain your cement tile .

Also, confirm that the grout is applied in small sections, 4 square feet or less, and does not over-dry on the tile. We’d also recommend you ask that your installer test an area prior to full grout application.

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