Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sealing grout

This is a post about sealing grout.

You read that right. Sealing grout.

Grout is that stuff between the tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. It holds all the tiles together. It is nasty stuff, which is why I recommend sealing it. Sealing the grout can save hours and hours of scrubbing later. I learned this the hard way, after purchasing a home from a very sticky family about five years ago. This family had never ever sealed their grout, and the kitchen floor was sticky. Even after they pretended they had cleaned it up and moved out, the floor was sticky. Cleaned? How clean could it have been? They didn't even clean well enough to realize there was a live cat in the master bedroom closet. Filthy, sticky people.

But this is not a post about the sticky family. This is a post about grout. Immediately after the home purchase was finalized, I got down on my hands and knees to try to discover which of the many shades of brown and gray was the real color of the grout in the kitchen. To my horror, the answer was none of the above. Hours of scrubbing later, the grout was mostly a beautiful off white color. Mostly. Some stickiness is irreparable.

And then I sealed the grout. And it never ever ever became dirty again in the three years we lived in that home. Never! Not even with a toddler. A toddler -- you know, one of those people that throw food around while they eat? Sealed grout stayed clean. And then we sold that home for nearly $50,000 more than we paid for it. Because of the grout, I'm sure. And the other tens of thousands of dollars and hours and hours of fixes we put into it. Like removing with vinegar and a scraper the tissue paper painted and glued to the walls.

But this is not a post about families who think it is in good taste to glue tissue paper to a wall and then paint the whole thing purple and wonder why your home won't sell.

This is a post about sealing grout.

The lessons I learned from owning that home are (1) do not buy a house from a sticky family if you can help it, and (2) seal your grout.

So I finally sealed the grout in the upstairs bathrooms in this new home. Not a big deal -- they're both tiny. The downstairs bathroom is completely made of tile, however. Tile on the floor, tile on the walls, tile on the ceiling. I've been ignoring all that grout grout grout, but it haunts me in the middle of the night. It sends nightmares of sticky kitchens to plague my dreams.

Tim and Jonathan are away on spring break. So I finally buckled down and prepped the shower and got around to sealing the grout. Finally. So far, I have spent at least 2 hours in that shower running penetrating grout sealer up and down and back and forth and up and down and back and forth. And wipe. And repeat.

Four coats so far. I think that's enough. Because it is so BORING to seal grout.

There, I said it. Boring boring boring!

OK. So it will be well worth having done it after we have sticky house guests. But I hate grout. I hate it!

I recommend decorating with solid surface bathroom material. No joints. No grout. No sealer.

And NO tissue paper on the walls! Ever!


Tiffany said...

Fantastic. You made sealing grout fun to read about!

Equinox said...

Hard work, but satisfying when you know you can do it yourself! We can relate.

Tissue paper on the walls?!? For real? I don't suppose there was any "prize" underneath that "wallpaper" to discover after removing it? A friend of mine kept peeling away old layers of paper and paint in one of her rooms only to discover that the original coat was red. Bright, like the-stuff-in-your-veins red. And when she tried to remove that layer, it started dripping and running down the walls. Ugh. She called it her Amityville horror room.

Chickadeedee said...

When we first moved in here, I thought the grout was light brown. Since, I have spent hours and hours scrubbing away at the brown floor grout to turn it back to the ugly peachy color it originally was. I have yet to learn my lesson about sealing. My kitchen counters and bathroom need grout repair before I can seal them up, someday...