How Long to Wait After Grouting a Shower?

Are you considering grouting your shower?

Great idea — because without the grouting process, the ceramic tiles in your bathroom wouldn’t be complete. Grout is necessary to fill the gaps in the tiling to prevent food, dirt, and even pinkie toes from getting stuck in between. One thing you need to be particular about is the cure time after the grouting.

So how long should I wait for my grout to cure?

If you’re looking for an answer, let’s get to it right away!

Even if the grout appears to be dried down completely, using it before the cure time or sealing it too early can damage it. To avoid premature failure, give the grout at least 48 to 72 hours of cure time before applying the penetrating sealer.

So is it necessary to apply the sealer on the grout? Can I leave grout without sealing it? And what grout sealer should I use? How do I seal it?

Keep reading for more information about grouting a shower?  

Let’s get started:

Table of Contents

Why You Need Grout Sealer

While it is your choice to leave the grout as it is, we highly recommend that you use a sealer.

The grout itself is just a basic mixture of cement and sand. Using it without a sealer will allow it to absorb water, stains, and even bacteria. The sealer protects your grout, so it remains water-resistant and repels germs and moisture.

Additionally, a sealer also helps improve and prolong the look, consistency, and texture of the grout. It prevents the buildup of mold and mildew, which is very common in the presence of moisture. In simple words, your grout will last longer and look much better with a sealer on top.

The only exception where a sealer may not be necessary if you’re using epoxy grout for your shower. This type of grout is more expensive and is made from a different material. Epoxy grout is frequently used for kitchen backsplashes with glass tile installations.

When Should I Seal the Grout?

After grouting the new tiles, you must wait at least 48 to 72 hours to allow it to cure completely. Inspect the grout after the given period to check for cracks. In case there are any, fill them up with more grout and wait for another 48 to 72 hours. Now you’re ready to start sealing the grout.

But what about the tiles, do I need to seal them too?

Here’s the truth:

You should never apply a grout sealer to the tiles. These days, the tiles commonly used in the shower are either porcelain or ceramic. They come with a finished look and do not require sealing. However, if you’re using any kind of porous tile (unglazed terra cotta or any other clay-made tile), you might want to use a sealer for a finished look. It is a different kind of sealer specially made for these types of tiles. The sealer for grout is not suitable for sealing tiles of any sort.

Do you know how to tile a bathroom floor? Here’s a video demonstration for your assistance:

Tiles tend to absorb the grout sealer – regardless of the type. It may leave your tiles discolored.

Applying the Grout Sealer – Everything You Want to Know

As mentioned earlier, it is imperative that your grout is completely dried down and perfectly cured before you’re ready to seal it up. It is okay if you want to wait longer, but no more than three weeks. Also, it is essential to keep the grout clean until you’re ready to seal it.

Note: If you cannot avoid using the shower for that long, wait at least 24 hours.

Here are the main steps to know:

  • During the curing period, your job is to ensure that the grout remains clean. You don’t want to seal it up with stains or dirt in it — tape off any cabinets or wood baseboards around the shower. Increased circulation in the room can cause unintentional dirt deposits or stains on the grout.
  • Start filling in the sealer to the grout lines. Do this with the help of a small paint pad, a paint roller, or a foam paintbrush. Fill up one corner and follow the joints to complete the tiles accordingly. It is best to start from a far corner so you can easily extend your way into the rest of the room.
  • Use a systematic approach to apply the sealant. It should be a smooth, even coat throughout the grouting. Also, following a pattern for filling in the sealer will ensure you do not miss out on any grout joint or line. A consistent left-to-right pattern can help with this approach.  
  • If you have a large room to cover, make sure you start removing the sealer that accidentally applied on the tiles before it dries down. Clean the tiles within 5-7 minutes to avoid a foggy film on your tiles. It can be impossible to remove once dried. When you finish with the first layer of sealer, check all the tiles to make sure they’re clean.
  • Before you’re ready for the next round, wait at least 10-15 minutes and let the first layer of sealer soak into the grout thoroughly.
  • Start with the second coat and use the same approach to cover all the lines and joints.

It is important to note here that not all sealers work the same. Some brands require more settling time between the two coats, so make sure you always read the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

What About the Sealer Cure Time?

So now we know that grouting the shower would take around 48-72 hours. But did you know that the sealer would also take some time to cure?

Well, it does!

You must wait for another 24 to 48 hours for the sealer to set completely. Just like with the grouting, you need to keep the surface clean and make sure you do not use the shower or any cleaning products during the cure time. The time will vary based on the brand you’re using. So make sure you check the details on the packaging to learn more about the sealer you’re using.

While you can walk in the room within 4 hours of applying the sealer, wetting the floor by any chance should remain out of the question. If you have pets, make sure you keep them away too. The sealer may stick to their paws if it hasn’t cured properly, and the animal may lick it.

To test the grout sealer, pour a few drops of water on a random grout line. The water should not soak in; it should puddle up on the surface. Then you know that the sealer has cured completely. Try on a few areas to be sure.

From grouting to sealing, check this video for a detailed demo:

What About Resealing the Grout?

While you do not have to grout time and again, it is a good practice to reseal it annually or at least every two years. Most sealers claim to last for years, but it is essential to remember that we often use chemical-based, harsh cleaners that could wear down the sealers too. The best part is that resealing the grout isn’t a costly job, especially when compared to regrouting or removing mildew from the bathroom.

And while it is not always possible to keep your shower off-limits for several days, it is crucial to keep your grout clean if you want the best results. So when you feel the need for resealing the grout, go for it!

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