Porcelain tiles: To seal or not to seal?

SHOULD a porcelain tile floor be sealed after installation? It’s a question that we get asked on a regular basis.

Take a look on Google and you’ll find a host of conflicting views; there’s an argument to say that you’d only seal a polished porcelain tile and that matt or textured tiles should be left untreated.
But is this strictly true, and are there any other alternatives?

Looking at the surface finishes individually, a porcelain tile with a textured surface is, undoubtedly, a finish that’s popular in commercial applications.

Porcelain is renowned for its durability and a textured surface can offer an impressive ‘R’ rating, but it can prove problematic to clean.

The ‘high-low’ surfaces make it difficult, as a mop won’t dig out the dirt and will often ‘snag’ on the surface.

In the case of matt finishes, some are smooth but others may have a slight surface texture, and even the tiniest surface undulation will collect dirt.

Although a sealant isn’t always recommended or deemed necessary in either case, a protective barrier offers a great alternative. However, it can’t be stressed enough that the tiles will need to be thoroughly cleaned before any barrier or treatment is applied.

If they’re not completely clean, any dirt or installation residues will become trapped between the tile surface and the treatment. As a result, the barrier’s performance will be compromised and it will look unsightly.

It’s also important to ensure that any barrier applied doesn’t affect the tile’s slip resistance, or create a shiny effect; look out for supporting pendulum slip test evidence to ensure a safe specification.

Many consumers believe that a polished porcelain floor tile doesn’t need sealing. However, during the polishing process, micro-pores are opened up.

Some polished porcelains are sealed as part of the manufacturing process, to protect them during installation, but a further seal after a thorough builders clean is recommended, to offer additional protection for the tile and grout joint.

There are now a number of high performance water-based sealants available, which offer a safer alternative to traditional solvent preparations.

As well as providing eco and safety benefits, water-based treatments can be applied with some residual moisture.

This can cut application time by as much as 80%, making porcelain treatment a more viable proposition on all fronts!

www.filasolutions.com/en
Lisa Breakspear is sales & technical director at Fila UK