Grout sealers are an essential part of the tile installation process. Without them, moisture, mildew, and mold might appear in between and all-around your grout. Sealers help prolong the grout’s appearance, consistency, and texture, thus increasing its longevity.
However, most users only seal their grouts once or twice every several years. This begs the question, does grout sealer expire?
In short, yes, grout sealers do expire. Most grout sealers have a shelf life of 12 months. However, this isn’t the case for all sealers. In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about grout sealants, including how to properly store them.
How Long Does Grout Sealer Last
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There are three factors that affect the longevity of grout sealers: brand, sealer type, and the way they’re stored.
Generally, most grout sealers have a shelf life of 12 months in their original container. They also must be stored in a relatively cool and dry place.
Some grout sealer brands like 511 and Sealer’s Choice Gold last for up to two years as long as they aren’t subjected to temperature swings and left in a non-humid location.
Shelf-life information is usually listed on the back of the product’s packaging. If not, you can visit the manufacturer’s website for the grout sealer’s expiration date.
That being said, it’s worth noting a grout sealer’s longevity is directly attributed to sealer type. In its most basic form, there are two types of grout sealers: penetrating and non-penetrating. But more than that, we need to take a look at the sealer’s base and formula.
Grout Sealer Type + Shelf Life
Surprisingly, there are multiple types of grout sealers on the market that vary in terms of their formula. Some of the most popular are as follows:
Spray-on grout sealers, like the Miracle 511 Spray-on Grout Sealer, use a consistent pressure spray system to equally cover the surface you’re sealing. These sealers usually come in a can.
Due to their easy application, spray-in grout sealers are favored by amateurs and professionals alike. Spray-on grout sealers have a shelf-life of 12 months from the manufacture date.
Oil-Based or Solvent-Based Sealers
Oil-based grout sealers are best used for areas that are more exposed to water and liquid spillage that cause stains. They’re usually applied in floors with high porosity, such as brick, slate, concrete, and limestone.
Oil-based sealers have a shelf-life of around five years, as long as they’re properly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place.
Water-based sealers are among the most popular types of grout sealers due to their effectiveness and easy application.
Thanks to their penetrating capabilities, water-based sealers prevent water leakage and stains that are common inside grout linings. These sealants are best used in bathrooms and kitchens.
Water-based sealers have a shelf-life of 12 months but should last approximately five years when applied into the grout.
Silicone-based sealers are often called semi-permanent sealers because they’re hard to remove once applied. Silicone-based sealers have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years.
Membrane-Forming Grout Sealer
Membrane-forming grout sealers protect grouts from moisture penetration by creating a water-resistant barrier. They also trap any existing moisture into the grout, preventing it from mildew build-up and evaporation.
Membrane-forming sealers are often used as a color enhancer due to the pigments found in their formula. They have a shelf-life of one year. Re-application once every two years is recommended to prevent water humidity.
Penetrating Grout Sealer
Penetrating grout sealers penetrate the pores in sanded grout, thus protecting it from water damage. Once applied, the silicone and latex contents remain inside the grout’s porous surface, effectively sealing it.
They come in colorless and color-specific options, the latter of which help cover stains and grout discoloration. This sealer’s shelf-life is one year. Re-application might be required every year or two to prevent grout water damage.
How Can You Tell if a Grout Sealer Is Expired
The easiest way to tell if a grout sealer has expired is by visual inspection. Upon application, if the sealant is thick, stringy, rubbery, or separated, there’s a good chance that the product is already expired.
You might also tell from its odor. Grout sealers usually have a faint, chemical-like smell. If the grout sealer smells unbearably toxic or doesn’t smell like anything at all, it might be expired.
It’s likewise worth checking if there’s any weird mold or bacteria growth inside the sealer’s container.
If the sealant’s color, smell, and viscosity are right but it’s still past its expiration date, we recommend performing a quick-drying test.
To do this, you’ll simply need to place a bit of sealant on a piece of glass or plastic laminate. Then, tip it at a 45-degree angle to let the sealant flow.
Oil-based sealants should harden overnight, while water-based sealants in only about six hours. Spray-on sealants dry in about one to two hours. Membrane-forming grout sealers and penetrating sealers take about 24 hours to dry.
If the sealant doesn’t dry within the given time frame or dries in a way that leaves it cracked or peeling, it might not be safe to use anymore.
For sealants in a can, the best way to tell other than a visual inspection is by squeezing. If air exhales, the seal is likely to have either broken or expired. Chances are, the sealant has crusted or hardened to due external air penetrating the can. Even if the can itself is still not expired, the contents might not be usable anymore.
How to Properly Store Grout Sealants
The best way to extend your sealant’s shelf life is to store the product in a cool, dry area, with temperatures between 50 and 75 degrees F. It must also be properly sealed to prevent moisture, air, and bacteria from getting in the product.
If you’ve already opened the bottle/can, make sure the rim is clean and the seal airtight before storing it away.
As mentioned earlier, sealants that aren’t properly sealed may cause the product to thicken or harden. If this happens, and the sealant is still within its shelf life, you can simply remove the upper layer and use the layer underneath. Make sure the product is always standing upright.
As with most products, grout sealants have expiration dates. Depending on the type, grout sealants have an average lifespan of 12 to 24 months, and may even extend to five years.