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How to Seal Ceramic Tile (from Mercury Mosaics)

Let’s chat about how to seal ceramic tile (specifically: how to seal Mercury Mosaics ceramic tile)!  Although an avid DIYer, who has tiled before, I hired out the work of tiling our kitchen backsplash (NO regrets!!) – and all I was tasked with was sealing the Mercury Mosaics tile.

How to Seal Ceramic Tile (from Mercury Mosaics)

If you’re thinking of installing Mercury Mosaics tile, here’s how to seal ceramic tile (and why).

Mercury Mosaics Sea Mist Tile Installed

Why I Hired Out the Backsplash Tiling

First, I should explain that I fully intended to DIY the kitchen backsplash tile but, after the kitchen renovation dragged on for two years, I just didn’t have the energy.  At the time the backsplash was being tiled, I was also fighting with the old counter installers to get my deposit back (while they were going out of business), so I wasn’t in the right head space for a big DIY project.  Plus, although I’ve done it before (a herringbone kitchen backsplash in the townhouse and then the bunkie floor/wall), I actually hate tilingWith a fiery passion.

DIY Herringbone Subway Tile Backsplash

The Kitchen Backsplash We Tiled

DIY Hex Mosaic Tile Installation

The Bunkie Bathroom We Tiled

So between hating the task and feeling unsettled, I wasn’t confident I could do a good enough job.  After the new counters were installed – and looked STUNNING – I realized that a poorly installed backsplash would make all of the stress/time/cost of getting the new counters pointless.  I was so close to a perfect kitchen, so I just couldn’t risk it.  I feel a little embarrassed admitting all this, because DIYers everywhere are always telling people a kitchen backsplash is a great place to learn and practise – “it’s a beginner project,” they say.  They’re lying.  I’ve done it.  It’s doable, sure, partly because it’s usually a small space, but it can be very challenging.  And if you mess up and happen to have counter stools or a table in your kitchen – your mistakes will be EYE LEVEL.  So I hired out the work and I am absolutely thrilled with the beautiful results:

Cool Green Tile Backsplash in MCM Kitchen

Why Did I Have to Seal My Own Tile?

Because we live an hour from a city, companies can be finicky about how much time they want to spend out here.  Our cabinet company recommended an excellent tiler, but the caveat was he didn’t want to spend more than one day here.  Because Mercury Mosaics recommends sealing their tile before grouting, and the sealant required dry time before grouting, the tiler asked if I’d seal the tiles before he installed them.  This way, he wouldn’t have to wait for the sealant to dry and come back another day to grout.

Why Do You Have to Seal Mercury Mosaics Tile?

The tiler was confused about why I had to seal ceramic tile in the first place, until he saw the tile/glaze.  Mercury Mosaics tile has beautiful, natural crackles in the glaze.  Grout can penetrate these crackles and discolor tile.  Once the grouting began, the tiler confirmed that the grout sort of beaded up on the tile and was easier to wipe away.  So sealing the tile before grouting also made it much easier for the grout haze to be removed, on top of protecting the tile from being discolored/affected by the grout.

Why You Need to Seal Ceramic Tile

Do You Have to Reseal Mercury Mosaics Tile?

Because the grout the tiler used doesn’t need to be sealed, I didn’t seal the tile again right away.  BUT I do plan to seal it again in the future.  Mercury Mosaics recommends that you reseal their handmade tile once every 1-3 years.  There’s a little trick they recommend to test if the tile needs resealing: if water splashed onto the tile beads off, the tile is still sealed.  But if the water droplets absorb into the tile, then it needs to be resealed.

How to Seal Mercury Mosaics Tile with 511 Impregnator:

In their FAQ section, the company recommends Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold sealer but, at the time I originally got the tile, the Mercury Mosaics guide to installing ceramic tile recommended 511 Impregnator Sealer, which is what I purchased:

511 Impregnator Sealer Review

The 511 Imprenator sealer was very easy to use.  I laid down drop cloths and worked just outside the kitchen, beside my patio door, so I could keep the door open for nice, fresh air.  I worked in batches of two mosaic sheets, and could work three, two-piece sections at a time.  I found that by the time I was done applying the sealant to the last batch of two sheets, it was time to remove the excess residue from the first.  I quickly developed a good rhythm with this system, and my Mom was here to help me juggle around the tile and keep track of the sealed/unsealed ones as I worked.

What is 511 Imprenator Sealer?

511 Impregnator sealer is a water based, penetrating sealer that you can use on tile, stone, grout, concrete and a number of other materials.  It helps protect against moisture and staining by penetrating the surface and creating an invisible barrier.  It doesn’t coat a surface, so it won’t alter the look or finish.  The tile below had just been sealed when I snapped the photo:

How to Seal Ceramic Tile

How to Use 511 Impregnator Sealer:

  1. TEST 511 Impregnator sealer on a spare tile
  2. Wipe on 511 Impregnator sealer so surface is wet
  3. Allow to dry 3-5 minutes
  4. Wipe off with a clean cloth
  5. Buff gently to remove any excess residue
  6. Allow to cure for 6-12 hours (Mercury Mosaics recommends 24)

How to Use 511 Impregnator Sealer on Ceramic Tile

Wiping on 511 Impregnator Sealer Until Surface is Wet:

How to Use 511 Impregnator SealerWhy You Need to Seal Mercury Mosaics Tile

Below is what the sealer looked like on the tiles.  It was difficult to capture, but in the photos that follow you can really see how it soaked into any crazing on the tile glaze to penetrate fully:

How - and WHEN / WHY - to Seal Ceramic TileDoes Ceramic Tile Need to Be Sealed?

Allowing 511 Sealer to Dry for 3-5 Minutes:

How to Seal Ceramic Tile

Buffing Gently With Clean Cloth to Remove Excess Sealer Residue:

Sealing Mercury Mosaics Tile DIY

Allowing Sealer to Cure:

Green Moroccan Fish Scale Tile

VIDEO: How to Apply 511 Impregnator Sealer

If you’d prefer,  you can watch a super quick video of the process below:

The end result is beautiful tile that is unchanged by grout staining – and easy to clean (grout haze was barely an issue).  If you’re considering installer Mercury Mosaics tile – or any other tile that might require sealing – I hope this helped!  It’s a little scary trying a new product, but this was very foolproof and easy to use.  Just make sure to test this product on your tile first (set aside a flawed tile or two for experimenting).  See the finished kitchen here or catch up on all of the kitchen reno posts here!

Kitchen Makeover with Green Fish Scale Tile Backsplash

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

How to Seal Ceramic Tile + Why to Seal Ceramic Tile


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