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Will sealer change color of grout?


Grout is an important part of any tiled surface. It fills the spaces between tiles and helps prevent moisture damage. Many homeowners want to know if applying a sealer to grout will change its color. This is an important consideration when choosing a sealer.

Sealers are applied to grout to protect it from stains and make cleaning easier. There are many different types of grout sealers available, from water-based to solvent-based. Some alter the look of the grout, while others do not. Understanding how sealers work and what impacts they have on grout color will help make the right choice when sealing grout lines.

How Grout Sealers Work

Grout sealers work by bonding to the surface of the grout and creating a protective barrier. This barrier makes it more difficult for liquids and stains to penetrate into the grout. Grout is porous, so without a sealer, liquids can soak in and discolor the grout over time.

There are two main categories of grout sealers:

Penetrating sealers – These soak into the grout and line the pores and voids within the grout. Popular penetrating sealers include silicone, acrylics, urethanes, and epoxies.

Topical sealers – These form a protective layer on top of the grout joint. Common topical sealers include waxes, lacquers, and varnishes.

The differences between how these types of sealers work impacts whether they will alter grout color.

Do Penetrating Sealers Change Grout Color?

Penetrating grout sealers are designed to soak into the grout joint while allowing the original color to show through. Because they absorb below the surface, penetrating sealers generally do not alter the natural color of the grout.

However, there are a few exceptions:

– Silicone-based penetrating sealers can slightly darken some grout upon application. The color change is often minimal.

– Epoxy-based sealers form a rigid, plastic-like bond within the grout. Some may have a mild coloring effect.

– Urethane penetrating sealers usually do not change grout color, but lower-quality brands can slightly discolor or yellow the grout.

– Acrylic penetrating sealers are the least likely to alter original grout color. High-quality acrylic formulas penetrate deeply without any tinting effect.

So while most penetrating sealers will not change the color of grout, home owners should test a small inconspicuous area first. This will verify that the sealer does not alter the appearance as it soaks in. If discoloration occurs, a different sealer brand may be required.

Do Topical Sealers Change Grout Color?

Since topical grout sealers sit on the surface of the grout joint, they are much more likely to influence grout color. The coating applied can add a tinted appearance or sheen:

– Lacquer and varnish topical sealers tend to add a glossy, stained effect. Most will alter the original shade and depth of the grout.

– Wax topical sealers also change the color of grout. The wax adheres to the surface and creates a muted, softened hue.

– Pigmented topical sealers contain dyes or color additives. These will intentionally tint the grout as part of the sealing process.

– Clear topical sealers like polyurethanes and epoxies may not seem to affect color. However, they can react with grout particles to slightly shift the original shade.

With topical sealers, testing a small area first is mandatory. The homeowner will be able to see if the sealer alters the grout color before applying it extensively. If the test area result is unsatisfactory, a different sealer option should be used.

Choosing a Grout Sealer

When selecting a grout sealer, the desired effect on grout color should play a role in the decision. Here are some guidelines to follow:

– If maintaining original grout color is critical, use a penetrating sealer like silicone or acrylic. Ensure no color change in the test area before full application.

– If wanting to subtly modify the grout color, consider a topical sealer like light wax. Test the amount of color change first on a small area.

– For drastically altering grout color, use a pigmented epoxy or urethane topical sealer. The dye will intentionally create a whole new color.

– For a glossy grout finish, lacquer and varnish topical sealers provide shine. But they will also noticeably alter original grout color at the same time.

– Check manufacturer information for details on how their sealer products may influence grout color. Look for terms like “color-enhancing” or “no color change”.

Taking the time to test different sealer options will lead to the best results. Homeowners can confirm the sealing benefits they want without being surprised by unwanted color changes. And if the test color change is not satisfactory, a different sealer can be tried until the right uniform look is achieved. With the information above, selecting the ideal grout sealer should now be much easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will acrylic sealer change the color of my grout?

Acrylic is one of the least likely types of sealer to change grout color. High-quality acrylics are formulated to penetrate deep into the grout joint without leaving any film on the surface that could alter appearance. Test a small area first to confirm no color change before applying the acrylic sealer across all grout lines.

I sealed my white grout with a silicone-based sealer and now it’s darker. Why did this happen?

Some silicone sealers can slightly darken white or very light grout. The sealing process may pull existing dirt from the grout pores to the surface. Try cleaning the grout with an oxygen-based cleaner to lighten it again. Avoid using silicone sealers if maintaining a bright white grout. An acrylic sealer is a better choice.

Will an epoxy grout sealer alter the color of my unfinished cement grout?

It’s possible. Epoxy sealers chemically interact with the cementitious grout and can shift the color, usually deepening it. Always test epoxy sealers on a small area of unfinished grout to confirm it provides the desired look before full application. If the color changes, consider an acrylic sealer instead for color-true sealing.

I need to seal gray grout that has some discolored areas. Will this help make the color consistent again?

It depends on the sealer used. Topical sealers that coat the surface of the grout lines may help even out minor color variations in gray grout. But dramatic differences or stains in the grout itself will likely still show through. For more uniform gray coloring, the discolored grout may need to be replaced and then sealed with a topical sealer.

Can I lighten my grout color by applying a grout sealer?

Unfortunately, sealers cannot lighten existing grout that has darkened or discolored over time. They provide protection against further staining, but do not bleach or restore original grout color. To significantly lighten grout, the old grout would need to be removed via grinding or scraping, then new grout applied and sealed.


Sealing grout provides important protection against moisture and stains. But homeowners must be aware that some sealers will alter the natural color of grout upon application. The possibility of color change depends on the type of sealer used.

Penetrating sealers generally do not affect grout color, with some darker silicone-based products being an exception. Topical sealers that coat the grout surface are much more likely to influence color. Testing the sealer first in an inconspicuous spot can confirm if it will modify the grout appearance and allow switching products if needed. With this knowledge, homeowners can seal grout for protection without unwelcome changes to its color.


– Grout sealers help prevent stains by creating a protective barrier, but some can change the natural color of the grout.

– Penetrating sealers absorbed into the grout usually do not affect color, though silicone-based types may slightly darken.

– Topical sealers that coat the surface often influence color through dyes, glossy finishes, or chemical interactions.

– Always test grout sealers on a small area first to check for any unwanted color changes before full application.

– For best results, select a sealer suited to the desired effect on grout color based on testing and manufacturer guidance.

Reference List

1. Marble Institute of America. “MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute.”
2. National Tile Contractors Association. “NTCA.”
3. Craft, Kim. “Grout Sealer Application Tips and Tricks.” The Spruce. May 20, 2022.
4. Don Vandervort, HomeTips. “The Problem with Clear Grout Sealer.” The Spruce. May 20, 2022.
5. Black, Jason. “Choosing Between Penetrating and Topical Sealers for Grout.” The Balance – Dotdash Meredith.