Should porcelain tile be sealed? In this article, we discuss both sides of this debate…
Whether your matte tiles are unglazed, or just dull, applying a high gloss sealer will make them shine like new!
Other common methods might appear clean and shiny enough, but will quickly lose their luster and even damage your tile and grout in worse cases.
Table of Contents
- The Most Common Methods to Shine Matte Tile Floors
- Which Does The Best Job To Make Matte Tiles Glossy?
- Why Aren’t Standardized Glossy Tile Sealers Enough To Shine Matte Tiles?
- What Is The Best High Gloss Tile Sealer?
- How To Apply Tile Sealer To Make Matte Floor Tile Glossy
- How Long Does Sealer Take To Dry?
- What Are The Best Practices For Keeping Ceramic And Porcelain Tiles Clean?
- A Word Of Caution Before Using Homemade Cleaners.
The Most Common Methods to Shine Matte Tile Floors
Which Does The Best Job To Make Matte Tiles Glossy?
There are multiple methods out there to make matte tile look shinier, but they are not all equal.
Keep reading to learn which of those ways does the best job.
Awesome-EST YouTube Video Evaaahhhh!
Homemade Cleaning Products
Everyone knows white vinegar as a wonderful, natural disinfectant, but the truth is vinegar can erode the protective coatings on top of the tile, as well as the grout and adhesives keeping the tile in place. Also, if there are any concerns for scent sensitivities (e.g. small children, the sick, and the elderly), keep in mind the natural stench when using vinegar.
Baking soda is another natural ingredient that is known to be helpful when cleaning stubborn stains. But use that to clean and shine tile floors, and all that scrubbing (especially with a tough scrubber) can cause micro scratches over the surface. This will dull the appearance and make flooring tiles look more matte over time.
Bleach and Ammonia can weaken grout and flooring adhesive. Ammonia can help enhance or freshen tile color, but is noxious and must be well ventilated. A fluid combination of bleach and ammonia together produces extremely dangerous fumes!
Flooring Wax and Polish
Using wax and other “floor polish” requires a harder, more labor-intensive application process. The results wear off quickly and can even lead to dull wax buildup in areas. It appears inexpensive sitting on the store shelf, but the time and money spent on labor and additional product for reapplication suggest otherwise.
High-gloss tile sealer is the product specifically designed for the exact purpose of – you guessed it – adding a glossy finish to your tile. While it is, undeniably, the most expensive option compared to the rest in the list above, it has the best results without harming your family or your patrons. Also, sealing your tile floor will not just make it shinier, but will protect it and make it last longer.
What Are The Typical Results Of Standardized Glossy Tile Sealers? | Why Aren’t They Enough To Shine Your Matte Tiles?
The type of sealers that you will typically find in a big box or DIY home improvement store are standardized sealers. Generally, those are made with a lower concentration of active ingredients. That is how they can produce these sealers at such a reduced cost, but of course the trade off is their durability and performance over time. Standardized sealers are just quick shine made for unglazed, porous tile. We find that the general standard is only about 12 or 15 percent active ingredients.
A low solid sealer that’s not designed for a porcelain or ceramic tile will very quickly result in delamination. That means it is going to lift and peel within weeks, or maybe a couple of months at best. When you start to clean with any kind of water based cleaner, you’re going to see moisture sensitivity and delamination. Most of those standardized products dry very quickly, in 20 or 30 minutes, but that is not sufficient time for the sealer to bond to a ceramic or porcelain tile.
What Is The Best High Gloss Tile Sealer?
When you are searching for a proper tile sealer, look in the description for where it can be used and where it can’t – this is where most standard sealers fall short.
Our GlazeGuard tile sealer in particular is designed specifically for dense, glazed, non-porous tiles – both ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles. It comes in multiple sheens, including high gloss.
We formulated it with the highest percentage of active solids, or ingredients. We’re close to 50% active solids content in the GlazeGuard product, and ours contains proprietary adhesion promoters that allow us to bond better to flooring tiles. This makes our product far superior for projects where you want to make matte tiles glossy, shiny, and get a more stain and scratch resistant tile floor overall.
With GlazeGaurd’s gloss as smooth as glass, dull flooring tiles are simply no match. GlazeGuard will last three to five years on a tile – a great contrast to fast-drying standard acrylics that may last one or two months.
How To Apply Tile Sealer To Make Matte Floor Tile Glossy
The question is: How to make matte floor tile glossy? In all truth, the answer is relatively the same when using any type of sealer on any type of surface. Each step will almost always follow the same procedure:
Step 1: Prepare Your Intended Floor
Step 2: Gather Equipment
Step 3: Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions
[pictures w/ caption: high gloss tile sealer before and after]
Let’s get into the details:
To prepare the floor that you want to seal, you must first make sure that the sealer will bond directly to the tile by getting that floor clean.
There can’t be anything on the surface that would interfere with adhesion to or absorption into ceramic and porcelain tiles. So any previous sealers, any paint or dirt, any oil or grease, all have to be cleaned off the tile.
Follow these guidelines to make sure that the surface is correctly prepared and the sealer will properly adhere to the clean tile.
If there is an existing sealer, like an old topical sealer that has started to lift and peel for example, make sure to remove or strip that from the surface. At CoverTec, we would use something like our FloorStrip HP to remove that topical acrylic sealer.
Check to see whether that grout is porous or not. This can be done with a simple splash of water to see if it darkens, meaning there is no water-repellent protection. If it is non-porous and resists the water, then the chances are it has a penetrating sealer, which is more difficult to strip. This would need some etching to remove.
Use something like our PreTreat or our Surface PrepWork. These are acidic solutions that will microscopically etch and remove the penetrating sealer from the top of the tile surface. We highly recommend performing a stripping product test in a small, discreet area before using it over your entire floor.
The floor must be clean and dry before sealing, and we always recommend going around one final time with an easy mop to pick up any dust or dirt.
Remember that the sealer is going to last many years, so this is the time to be fussy about how well you clean.
If the surface has not been previously sealed, our CT50 is a good way of deep cleaning and prepping the surface prior to sealing it with GlazeGuard. Use CT50 with warm or hot water which will give your tile and grout a great clean. Then rinse it off, and let it dry.
Applying GlazeGuard® Gloss ceramic and porcelain tile sealer in High Gloss is a very similar process to applying paint.
You will need:
- A good quality roller (we recommend ⅜ nap microfiber)
- A roller tray
- And a small brush or smaller roller for sealing around edges in in tight corners.
Make sure the room is well lit and that you take your time.
Be careful, however, to only mix as much product as you can use in 60 to 90 minutes, after this time, the sealer will start to cure and become hard to work with.
Use a mixing stick and slowly mix the material before pouring it into a roller tray. Then complete this step by rolling it out just like you were painting the floor.
How Long Does Sealer Take To Dry?
Topical sealers will dry on ceramic and porcelain tiles at different rates depending on the temperature, the air movement, and how thickly you apply them.
Our GlazeGuard products, which are two part polyurethanes, take about 12 hours to dry at temperatures above 70 degrees and with reasonable air movement. If the ambient temperature gets below 70 and there’s little air movement, that dry time can be extended.
Be sure to mark off the area, to avoid any foot traffic the while they are sticky. A single wrong step can make a mess. For residential settings, it is especially important to barricade that floor from pets and children, both for their safety, and for keeping the tiles clean while they dry (so nothing gets permanently stuck in the sealer).
Make sure the sealer is dry before you walk on the tiles. Waiting two hours is a good rule of thumb for light foot traffic, and then wait six hours before having any kind of heavy traffic.
What Are The Best Practices For Keeping Ceramic And Porcelain Tiles Clean?
Now that we’ve sealed our tile and grout, cleaning and maintaining the surface should be much, much easier. And you won’t need to use harsh chemicals like bleach and chlorine (what we call high pH, or aggressive, cleaners).
Don’t put these substances on your tile floors or they will dull the tiles by breaking down the repellency of the sealer. Avoid the same results with acidic solutions. Those can break down the sealer and even burn it, reducing the sealer’s overall performance.
You are better off using microbial cleaners on shiny tiles. We recommend those tile cleaners because they will actually break down and consume oil and grease without leaving any residue on the tile or damaging the sealer.
Using microbial cleaners are a great way to clean a tile surface. Remember that vinegar and bleach can weaken the material binding the tiles.
If you want to use degreasers or different types of mild soapy solutions, just don’t use them at a heavy concentration on your tiles (remember these products were originally designed for other uses). For these cleaners, we recommend only one or two ounces per gallon because the surface now is much easier to keep clean.
Dirt and other substances aren’t sticking to the surface of the tiles, so there is no need to use high doses of cleaning chemicals to loosen and remove them and risk damaging your sealer.
And don’t scrape with stainless steel! That is one of the surest ways to scratch your ceramic and porcelain tiles.
The CoverClean AE is a great product for cleaning shiny tiles and grout. Our Emerald Floor Maintainer is another microbial cleaner that comes in a concentrate – a very cost effective product for maintaining your tile and grout. These are both easy to use.
We also have our neutral pH and concentrated GlossCleaner which you can use at a very low dose in order to maintain the gloss and sheen of your topical sealer.
A Word Of Caution Before Using Homemade Cleaners
In regards to homemade cleaners and polish remedies, we only caution that you don’t use them too concentrated – be sure to dilute them with water!
Too concentrated, and they can likely damage the finish or the sheen of your topical tile sealer. Or simply they’ll leave a residue on top of the tiles. This is particularly from things like baking soda, which is an undeniable lifting and cleaning agent. They will also leave a residue, and dull the surface of your flooring if you don’t have the right ratios diluted in water.
Be aware of the chemicals that you’re mixing together, because sometimes you can accidentally concoct a chemical byproduct that actually out-gasses your home or building. For example, the chemical byproduct ammonia can produce more toxic fumes that would be very hazardous to breath in for you, your family and pets, your business, etc.
Homemade cleaning products will often leave residue on top of tiles once the water evaporates. This doubles the care and cleaning, making even more work which completely negates the ease of maintenance provided by your tile sealer. This is why manufactured chemical cleaners are better on tiles because they have already been scientifically proportioned and thus save you more labor than a DIY tile cleaner.
Stay Shiny Friends
You asked the question: how to make matte porcelain tile shiny?
We sincerely hope this answer guide has explained how to use a high gloss tile sealer to to make ceramic tile and porcelain tile glossy.
Always remember to properly care for your tiles to keep their glossy sealer intact for the best lasting shine.
If you have other questions that we may not have answered, please contact us at 754-223-2465.
Our Support staff will assist you in any way we can.
About Our Expert | Charles Idowu
Charles Idowu started his career as a civil engineer in 1983 in the UK. After achieving his MBA and his Chartered Engineer qualifications, Charles quickly became the waterproofing and coatings expert for a renowned British construction company. His international work landed him in South Florida, where he combined his engineering experience and passion for business to start CoverTec Products.