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Savvy DIY

Is Sealing Porcelain Tiles A Necessity?

To seal or not to seal porcelain tiles has become quite a common question among those who get tiles. Let’s get the lowdown on the subject.

One of the most common questions that tile sellers report getting is the question whether to seal or not to seal porcelain tiles. The customers today are so much more knowledgeable than the customers of previous times. It can all get a bit confusing when you are choosing between natural stone, natural timber, natural marble or tiles made out of porcelain. 

While we all know that the products which are natural such as stone, timbre do require some form of sealing but do porcelain tiles also need sealing? We will answer in the following few passages. 

Porcelain Today

There are a wide variety of different types of porcelain available in the market today.  They are manufactured with different standards in different countries. The purpose of so much variety is to meet the various pricing and performance demand that the market produces. Contrary to this, however, in the past only a small and select group of workers used to make porcelain and they were able to maintain incredibly high standards for all the porcelain manufactured in Europe. This, by default, set the definition of what porcelain is. Today, however, this definition does not apply to all things that are labelled as porcelain. Consequently, whereas in the past we did not recommend sealing porcelain, nowadays we need to get a lot more information before we can make that suggestion. The fact of the matter is that there is now a wide range of porcelain available in the market with very high water absorption rate and these definitely require a sealer in order to perform properly. In order to determine whether a porcelain needs a sealer, all you need to do is a simple water test. If the tiles stains after several minutes of being exposed to the water, then the tile could very well do with some sealing. In general, it is normally the products that are polished that need it the most, especially the ones that are of the “honed” or stain variety. 

Which Sealers Actually Work

Just by the way that porcelain is made, makes it a product that is difficult to seal. Generally it does have low water absorption rate and it also has a very fine and highly compressed crystal lattice. This makes it very difficult for conventional sealers to properly bond with many types of porcelain. There exist two types of sealersthat will make it very easy for you to seal porcelain, one is the penetrating type products and the other are Floor Finishes. 

Penetrating or impregnators

These are sealers that cure and work underneath the surface of the porcelain tiles. They usually leave the tiles looking like how they are supposed to look without any extra bells and whistles and they also do not produce any detrimental effects on the tiles slip resistance. 

A very common type of thinking that is prevalent is that the best penetrating sealers for porcelain are solvent based and not water based. The reason is that solvents have a molecular structure that is much smaller than water. This apparently makes them better able to penetrate the dense surface of the porcelain. This is true to some extent. It is important to point out here however that if a premium water based product is modified and allowed to be longer on the porcelain then it can actually be superior in result than the traditional sealers that are solvent. 

The fact that there are so many sealer companies who are trying to maximize productivity and quality control, it may in fact be counterproductive to deter from the normal and well known method of penetrating sealer application. It is for this reason that there are now companies who have developed specialised sealers for porcelain. 

At present, these are solvent based as these allow much higher performance and these do not require any modification to the traditional process of application. The newer generation of solvent sealers are much better than their previous traditional versions. 

Floor Finishes

Just by the very nature of how porcelain tiles are, it is an almost impossible task for surface sealers to properly seal the porcelain. This is the main reason why penetrating sealers are considered to be gold standard within the sealing world. If for some reason, your porcelain surface cracks or begins to wear, then the regular and traditional way of restoring them using wet polishing may not be the most practical solution. This is exactly the kind of situation where a “synthetic polish” becomes the most practical and also realistic alternative. It is important to note here that in order for the surface coating to properly bond to the surface of the porcelain, resins that are thermoplastic must be made use of. Without the help of this technology, the normal air cured coating will never be sufficient enough to form a strong enough bond. 

Conclusion

The fact of the matter is simply that nowadays the question of whether or not to seal porcelain has become a real and legitimate question. When porcelain first came into existence, this question did not hold much value. In the past the real questions related to maintenance. However, with newer and so much variety of porcelain now available throughout the world, the porcelain of today cannot be held to the same standards of the past years. Porcelain now encompasses a truly wide range of performance characteristics and a whole lot of them can definitely be improved upon by the use of sealers. 

So, the question that we started this article off with, well the answer to that is no longer just a blanket no. The proper reply to that question now is what type of porcelain are you talking about.

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