I've just completed a kitchen remodeling project, including new kitchen cabinets, cabinet doors, and countertops. I want to finish up the tile backsplashes. Is it true you have to wait three days before putting grout between the tiles so the adhesive dries? How soon after putting in the grout can I use a tile sealer? Do you recommend penetrating or membrane-forming sealers?
Greg H. ~ Riverside, California
Hi Greg, 24 hours ought to be long enough for your adhesive to set up prior to grouting. My tile crews usually set the tile one day and return the next to grout. The exception would be if you are having a spell of very damp weather, which probably doesn't happen very often in Riverside, California. If the tiles move when you start to grout, then you should allow additional time before grouting.
As far as when to apply the sealer, that can vary depending on the width of your grout joints. Usually 48 hours is long enough, but you should follow the instructions the manufacturer of the sealer provides on the can. I have heard that some manufacturers recommend waiting 72 hours before applying their product. You also need to see what they recommend concerning the number of coats of tile sealer to apply for a kitchen backsplash. I would think at least two, but they might even recommend three. The tile sealer should be reapplied on a regular basis. Some brands of tile sealer need to be reapplied every year, while others are every 2 or 3 years.
I would recommend that you use penetrating tile sealer on your kitchen backsplash. I'm not sure what type of tile you used, by membrane sealer doesn't stick well on glazed tile, and it can also alter the color of your grout. Membrane sealer helps keep moisture out, but if any gets in, and some will, then it also makes it difficult for the moisture to evaporate, and can lead to mold or mildew issues. Penetrating tile sealer works to keep moisture out, but any that happens to get in can evaporate before it becomes a potential health hazard.