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Do You Need to Seal Slate Tiles?

  • October 10, 2019

Slate tiles are one of the most gorgeous tiling finishes you can choose.

It also needs a little more taking care of than your average installation of porcelain or ceramic tiles, and needs regular cleaning and treatment throughout the year if you want to ensure the longevity of slate tile flooring. If you’re only having them installed now, proper installation is also a must if you want to ensure that your slate tile floors remain in a beautiful as-new state.

Here’s the essential information about slate tiles and why sealant is important to both a proper installation and the regular maintenance of your floor.

Do You Need To Seal Slate Tiles?

Many homeowners with slate tile floors, especially ones who moved into houses that had existing slate flooring, never realize how important it is to have their slate flooring maintained – and in a year or five, the finish of the floor has started to dull or the tiles have started to show damage due to weather or just regular foot traffic.

Slate tiles should always be sealed, whether they’re just being installed or whether you’ve moved into a space where the tile sealant has worked off over time.

It helps to protect the natural finish under the sealant from damage, and it ensures that your tiles and the gorgeous finish will last. It can also increase the anti-slip rating of your tiles, because unsealed slate tiles exposed to moisture like a spill or rain can be dangerous.

In any areas prone to water spills, you’ll quickly see how soon water can damage an unsealed slate floor: No owner wants to take this risk!

What Other Tiles Need To Be Sealed?

Slate tiles aren’t the only ones that have to be sealed. It’s also a good idea to seal materials like marble, limestone or sandstone for many of the reasons that you would apply a sealant coating to slate flooring.

Any tiles with a natural finish should be treated with a sealant if you want to protect what’s underneath.

Do Slate Tiles Need Sealing Before They Can Be Grouted?

Yes, yes and yes.

If you want to protect your tiles properly, always seal slate tiling properly before moving on to the grouting process. If you skip this essential step (or simply do it in the wrong order), the grouting can leak into the tiles and ruin the finish – and it’s likely that this will only become obvious later when the damage starts to show through the finish, or when you have to re-tile again.

The same is also true for most tiles with a natural finish that can be potentially stained by grout.

Sealing tiles before the grouting process ensures that any grouting that messes on to the floor can easily be wiped off without the fear of an ever-lasting stain on a beautiful and otherwise flawless floor.

What Can Happen If You Don’t Seal?

Unsealed slate tiles will react to everyday wear, water and other environmental factors in different ways: Where tiles aren’t sealed at all or haven’t been sealed properly, they are more likely to become dulled over time – and with more traffic, stained shoes and rain, they can become stained forever and need to be completely replaced.

Unsealed slate tiles are naturally porous and will absorb any spills within a matter of seconds, especially when it’s a material like red wine that immediately draws right into the core of slate flooring.

Other than regular stains, unsealed slate flooring can also be a breeding ground for germs and fungi that you definitely would not want in your house. This can cause allergies and respiratory issues where you can’t find a logical source. (Yes, sometimes it can be your floors!)

Unsealed slate tiles aren’t good for the tiles themselves, and not good for the appearance or health of your tiles or the people who use them.

Can Sealing Tiles Be Harmful?

Most forms of sealant used on slate tiling and other natural floors are completely safe to use and fine for anyone who might have respiratory issues triggered by chemicals like bleach. Always ensure that a room has a proper and thorough flow of air before proceeding with sealant – and of course, make sure that the floor has been properly cleaned before any sealant is applied if you want to avoid the possibility of sealing dirt to your floor.

Does Sealant Damage the Tiles Underneath?

No: In fact, applying sealant to slate tiles can only help to protect them.

Other factors can damage your tiles, but generally not the application of sealant when it’s done properly.

Will They Look Different After a Sealing Treatment?

Slate tiles will look better, brighter and much more lively after a proper cleaning and sealing treatment, especially if the tile flooring that you have now is unsealed or the sealant has long since worked off.

Is It Expensive to Seal Slate Tiles?

Sealing slate tiles or any other form of natural flooring isn’t an expensive or lengthy process, and the cost of skipping sealant will always cost you more when you have to replace the entire slate floor.

How Can I Tell When It’s Time?

If you want to see whether it’s time to seal your slate flooring, start with a simple test: See how the flooring currently reacts to a simple drop water. This can tel you whether or not it’s time to seal your slate flooring again, or whether the slate flooring in an existing house needs a new treatment.

A properly sealed floor has been designed to repel water, whereas an unsealed floor will absorb it. You’ll see this the moment the water droplet lands on the floor.

Keep a cloth nearby to wipe up the spilled drop.

Doesn’t look right? It’s likely that you should get an expert to help you seal your floor if you want to preserve it.

Watch Our Video

Want to know more about slate tile flooring and the why’s and how’s of a proper sealant job? Watch our expert video for more.

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