Cement Tile 101: How to Seal Cement Tile (2021 Update)

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By now you've likely read our cement tile overview and step-by-step installation guide and know that it requires sealing.

Because they are susceptible to moisture, cement tile is very dependent on sealing appropriately.

We wanted to make sure that we dedicated an entire post to walking through the steps to seal your cement tile to ensure it lasts. Today we'll answer:

  • - Why does cement tile need to be sealed?
  • What do I need to seal cement tile?
  • When do I seal cement tile?
  • - How do I seal cement tile?

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 a new sidewalk. Unlike clay tile, cement 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).

While sealing will protect your tiles, cement tiles age like your favorite pair of jeans and develop a patina over time, even when sealed.

What do I need to seal cement tile?

When do I seal cement tile?

Before, during, and shortly a cement tile installation, each and every tile needs to be sealed. This will protect the tiles from absorbing moisture. The most common problems associated with cement tile installation are insufficient or inadequate sealing and grout pigment staining.

How do I seal cement tile?

The cement tile must be sealed properly with a reliable product before, during and after installation. We recommend Miracle Seal 511 Porous Plus.

Before Cement Tile Installation:

  • - Lay out all cement tiles. 
  • - Pour your sealer into a bucket. DO NOT pour sealer directly from the bottle onto the tile. 
  • - Dip a durable sponge into your bucket of sealer, dampening the sponge, not saturating it. 
  • - Gently wipe the damp sponge onto the surface of the tile. Do not apply heavy pressure when sealing. Allow the sealer to absorb evenly. 
  • - Any excess sealer that is not absorbing into the tile should be wiped away with a clean, non-fibrous cloth. 
  • - Repeat this step, applying up to 3 coats. Leave the sealer treatment to dry for 6 hours before you proceed to installation.

During cement tile 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.

After cement tile installation:

  • - Once the floor is clean and dry, apply two more thin coats of sealer should be applied to the tile. Do not let the sealer puddle or build up on the surface.
  • - Wipe away residue before it dries. Allow about 1 hour of dry time between coats.

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

Final Thoughts on Sealing Cement Tile

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.

Be sure to read our cement tile guide to make sure that it's the best fit for your project.

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