Sealer Recommendations for Cement Tile
These recommendations for sealing and pre-sealing cement tile are based on our experiences with specific sealers and feedback from customers. Penetrating sealers are readily available nationwide; but, tend to be branded locally or distributed through specific distributors. In other words, what is common here in Los Angeles; many not be available in Dallas, Texas or New York City.
Because sealer formulation changes often, each application is unique, and different customers may choose different effects (gloss, matte, color enhanced), it is a good idea to discuss your needs with a sealing manufacturer or distributor, if possible. This is especially important if you want to maintain a specific finish (gloss vs matte) or for use in a specific application (pool, shower, outdoor patio). Make certain to explain your cement tile installation and if you want to maintain the matte finish of the tile or prefer something slightly more glossy.
Recommendations for Pre-Sealing Cement Tile
Pre-sealing cement tiles is optional but recommended. It provides an "insurance policy" to protect the tiles before a penetrating sealer can be applied after installation. A good pre-sealer should should clean the tile and make grout clean-up, or removal, easier. In fact, a pre-sealer may be called a "grout release." Before deciding whether or not to pre-seal your cement tiles read the Benefits of Pre-Sealing Cement Tile. Fila makes a good water-based pre-sealer, Fila PS87, that is very affordable, protects the tile and makes grout removal easier.
Recommended Penetrating Sealers for Cement Tile
Cement tile should be be sealed with a high quality penetrating sealer. Read our blog post on sealers, Sealing Cement Tile. The post will make you familiar with any terms and confident to ask questions. Water-based sealer are generally recommended; however, many installers prefer solvent-based sealers. Also remember that solvent-based will produce strong orders that may require venting when used for interior applications. Here in Los Angeles, we've had good experience with Desert Brand Penetrating Sealer #1. I'm not sure you'll find that in your location.
Always get a sample of the sealer and test on spare tile or in an inconspicuous place. You want to make sure the desired effect is achieved.
Fila cleaning, sealing and optional top-coat recommendations for cement tile
Recommended Topical Sealers for Cement Tile
Finishing sealers, topical sealers or "top coats" are optional. Cement tile will develop a satin sheen over time from normal use and care. To obtain a slight sheen on the tiles consider a topical sealer or clear liquid wax. The clear liquid wax provides a satin finish and can be applied occasionally when the tile is mopped. Look for clear liquid wax like that sold for marble; do not use paste wax on cement tile.
If a more glossy finish is desired, apply a high quality topical sealer (such as Desert Brand Paver Tile Sealer #2) following the manufacturer's instructions. Fila Satin can be used to achieve a low-gloss finish. Or, for a shiny effect use Fila Classic.
How to Apply a Penetrating Sealer to Cement Tile
It's not difficult to apply a sealer and most homeowners (even if you don't consider yourself a DIYer) can do this just follow these easy tips. This short video shows how to apply a penetrating sealer to unsealed and previously sealed cement tiles. This important part of the installation process protects cement tile from water and staining. Avente Tile owner, Bill Buyok, gets his hands dirty and applies a color-enhancing impregnating or penetrating sealer to a tile walk and patio. He also recommends the best products to use and where to get them. This video takes the mystery out of one of the most misunderstood and confusing parts of cement tile installation.
General Note on Sealers
Like natural stones, cement tiles are porous and therefore need to be sealed to avoid staining. Penetrating sealers coat the cement particles in the tile making it less likely they will retain stains. Topical sealers create a barrier on the surface of the tile so that stains do not reach the cement. Topical sealers have different finishes: shiny and matte. Matte topical sealers are produced by adding a chemical that cuts the shine, but also weakens the sealer. Topical sealers are not generally recommended for exterior applications.