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How to Seal Slate Tiles
Posted on: Dec.29.2011

Slate tile is a natural stone tile and a very porous material. Sealing your tile is not necessary but it will give your slate tile extra protection from staining. Sealing your slate does not fully protect your tile from staining, but it allows you enough time to clean up spills before they do stain.

There are different types of slate and some are softer, harder, and more porous than others.  The type of slate you purchase can affect the sealant you use on your slate. A denser and harder slate does not need to use a powerful sealant because it will not absorb liquids as easy as a softer and more porous slate. Slate’s natural colors can be a bit dull and sealing it can enhance its color. Depending on the type of slate sealant you choose, it can add a glossy shine, enhance its color or both. When you purchase and install slate you should ask the tile store what sealant would be best for your slate tiles.

Types Of Slate Sealants

You have a few options when choosing a sealant for your slate tile. They are broken into three main categories and each one has a certain purpose and finish. The three options are enhancing sealers, impregnating or penetrating sealers, and topical glossy sealers.

If you want to keep the natural look of your slate as much as possible we recommend you use an impregnating or penetrating sealer. These sealers offer a stronger seal and protect your tile from oil bases and water bases stains. You have the option of a water based or solvent based sealer. The solvent based penetrates the slate deeper than a water based sealer. A solvent based sealer lacks the odor, but is harder to apply and is prone to hazing the tile.

An enhancing sealer is actually a solvent based impregnating sealer; the only difference is that it enhances the natural colors of the tile. By adding an enhancing clear sealer you add a glossy shine to the slate, enhancing the color while adding a shine.

The last option is a topical glossy sealant which leaves a glossy finish on the surface of your slate tile. It adds a beautiful shine, by taking away the dullness and chalky appearance of natural slate.  These sealers tend to be more expensive, but if you want a glassy shine added to your slate this is the best option.

Sealing Slate Tile

As we mentioned above, there are three types of sealants to use on your slate tile. Each type of sealant can take special instructions to properly apply it to the surface of your tile. It is always best to follow the instructions on the packaging of your sealant. Below we give a basic guide to seal your slate, but you should always follow the instructions provided to you by the manufacturer, if available.

Keep in mind, sealing your tile should be done once a year if you are sealing a slate floor in a high traffic area. Sealants do wear off over time and will need to be re-applied.  Let’s begin!

1 - Choose Your Sealant

The first step is determining what finish you want for your tile. Read through the different types of slate sealants above to determine what is best for you. You have the option between a glossy finish, a penetrating sealant that gives a strong seal, or an enhancing sealant to show off the color of your tile.

2 - Clean Tile If It Already Installed

If your slate tile is already installed you need to clean the tile and grout before applying the sealant. Failing to do so will lead to you trapping dirt under the sealant, leaving a cloudy and dirty finish.  Use a neutral cleaner to properly clean your slate tile. If there is a coating or old sealant on the tile it needs to be removed before proceeding.

3 - Add Sealant Into Grout if You Are Installing The Tile

If you are installing your slate tile you need to lay the tile and let the mortar dry before adding the grout. When your tile is ready to be grouted, add the sealant mix into the grout mixture. This will give your grout further water resistance and a stronger bond to the tile.

4 - Allow Everything To Dry

Before you can apply the sealant to the surface of the tile you need to let the tile and grout completely dry. This could take 24 to 72 hours depending on your environment. Since slate is very porous it can absorb water from the cleaning and the grout can take time to dry as well.

5 - Apply Sealant

After giving your tile and grout enough time to dry, apply the sealant. Using soft cloth and following the grain of the slate, apply an even layer of sealant over the tile. Do not let the sealant puddle up or streak. Work in ventilated areas because the solvent based sealants will give off toxic fumes.

Give the sealant enough time to dry. This could take a few hours. Water based sealants will take longer to dry than solvent based sealants.  After the first layer has been sealed, apply a second coat. Using a microfiber cloth, dry buff the slate to remove all excess sealant and streaks.

Allow a few hours to pass, check to make sure the floor is dry. You can then walk on it and place furniture back onto the floor.