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Tile and Stone Maintenance

How To Remove Sealer and Sealing Residues?

Most weeks I receive calls from people asking how to remove a sealer residue. Sealer residues occur when an impregnating sealer is incorrectly applied. Impregnating sealers (or penetrating sealers as they are sometimes known) are intended to be in or below the surface of the stone rather than ‘on’ it. So, the correct application involves applying the sealer to the surface, allowing a short time for penetration (this might be around 5 minutes, depending on both the sealer being used and the material being sealed) then any surplus sealer, remaining on the surface should be removed with something absorbent, ideally a white paper or cotton towel.All too often though, for various reasons this cleaning away of surplus, whilst still wet, does not take place. Reasons include not reading the instructions and my favourite: “I’ve been using sealers for years, always done it like this and never had a problem.”

A sealer residue can appear in a number of ways: as a dry, white powdery deposit; streaky marks or shiny spots; with some sealers, the residue can take the form of a wet or greasy coating. There are a number of ways in which the problem might be rectified, depending on the circumstances.

For example, if a solvent sealer was used, it is sometimes possible to use a little more of the actual sealer, the solvent carrier-fluid it contains can sometimes re-dissolve the residue allowing it to be wiped away with an absorbent cloth.

For other residues, we would recommend the use of a micro-abrasive cleaner like Microscrub. First apply a little water to the affected area, and then add a little Microscrub and scrub. Rinse well and dry down with paper towels. For really stubborn or thick residues that have been left for some time, a stripper may be required. In such situations we would recommend a solvent based sealer stripper or remover, applied neat and left on for a minimum of 30 minutes before scrubbing with a white nylon pad.

Apart from the last remedy (using a stripper) the others should not result in the need to re-apply more sealer afterwards. So, it need not be the end of the world if a sealer residue is left on the surface, but it is of course better to avoid the problem altogether, by applying the sealer correctly in the first place.

Copyright Ian Taylor and The Tile and Stone Blog.co.uk, 2013. See copyright notice above.

19 Comments

  1. Sorry Missed this, if you still need help try calling Fila for their advice, there should be some kind of solvent that will help to remove the surplus, as that is what is causing the sticky residue – it is over application Im afraid they should have told you to remove excess while it was still wet if an impregnating sealer, or not to put too much down if it was a coating.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  2. can you please recommend a tripper to take off sealer

  3. Mark macdonald

    May 1, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Hello there I have just sealed my Indian sand stone with resiblock colour enhancer and I regret it big time it looks horrible I liked it before and am gutted it does not look as nice I would really like it back to how it was do you have any ideas of a product or ways I can get it back to how it was

  4. Hi there are plenty of proprietary sealer removers in your part of the world – you could look at Aqua Mix Sealer and Coating Remover for one but there are lots of others

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  5. HI Mark,

    OK, it can be very difficult to remove products like this – they are, after all designed to be around for a long time and cope with all manor of elemental weather and traffic. My suspicion is that you will not, totally remove the product, you may be able to reduce it’s impact, significantly even, and should be able to get some of the sealer residue if there is any off the surface, but I doubt you will be able to pull 100% of it out of the stone.

    You may have to use either chemical or mechanical means, or most like a combination of both. My first action would be to contact the makers of Resiblock and seek their recommendation they should be able to suggest the best method/product/solvent etc to remove it.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  6. Hi

    I have recently had a new black limestone patio laid and was advised by my landscaper to treat the stone to avoid it marking / staining. Wish he’d have told me this before I purchased the slabs!

    He recommended Weiss FT Plus Colour Enhancer / Sealer so I went ahead and purchased the product at significant cost.

    I was reluctant to apply the product myself as it came with various warnings in relation to miss application causing issues however I have recently gone ahead with it and whilst the slabs look fantastic they appear slippy / greasy, is this normal?

    I was sure when i applied the product (with a roller) there was no excess left on the slabs.

    I have since used towels and wiped the slabs numerous times on hands and knees and they seem a little better. I am also conscious that the weather has been extremely hot which may also have something to do with the finish although I did the work late evening when temperature dropped.

    Will the slippery surface change in time? Is there anything I can apply to remove the layer causing this finish without needing to reapply the treatment?

    To be fair it says on the container that full treatment could take 2-4 days after application it’s been 2.

    Any advice appreciated.

    Thanks

    Nick

  7. Hi Nick,

    OK I don’t know that product but it sounds ‘similar’ to other products of that type. I have trained people (including experienced tilers and stone installers) how to use this type of product and I always catch them out. Basically when you think you have got all the residue off, you most likely have not. You really have to buff the living daylights out of it. WE generally use a combination of handfulls of tissue paper/paper towels which go in the bin followed immediately by an old terry towel, often paper in one hand, terry towel in the other – as soon as you take your towel off the surface, turn it over, or to expose a fresh face, once it is saturated, it will not take any more off, so get another towel etc. When you think you have it spotless – do it again, with fresh towels./paper towels.

    However that is when it is fresh – yours has now had some time to cure.

    If you product can stand moisture, try a white nylon scrubbing pad/emulsifying pad and a small amount of water, scrub, then buff absolutely dry straight away

    failing that you will have to call the Weiss tech services and ask their opinion

    hope that helps

    Ian

  8. My contractor just laid beautiful ceramic tile with almost a matte finish resembling real stone. Then he put a grout sealer on it that left the tile shiny, it almost looks like it was varnished and I hate it. Is there anything I can do?

  9. Hi

    well if it is porcelain the good news is that it should not have penetrated the tile – it is just lying on top as a shiny coating.

    Try using a white nylon abrasive pad (emulsifying pad) with an abrasive product if you are in Cali – look up Aqua Mix Nanoscrub – or similar – with a little water and scrub – this mey bring off the sealer from the tile. If this works then great, as it means it won’t actually remove it from the grout, which presumably you want.

    If this does not work you may need to by a solvent based sealer stripper – this will remove some of the sealer from the grout also.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  10. Hi, we have Black Limestone tiles recently just placed down on our back yard and the person who has done the garden has put down Resiblock Indian Sandstone Sealer Colour Enhancer and it has got white streaky residue on it. The builders merchant sold us this and said it would be fine for the tiles so not sure if it’s the product or the person who put the sealer down. Would you be able to suggest a solution for repairing this? Many thanks, Paul

  11. I keep running into problems with tile setters using 511 impregnator by miracle sealants on glass tile, etched glass and normal glass tiles and it is destroying the surfaces is there any way short of acid etching the glass to separate the sealer from the glass. Miracle sealants people do not have any answers, any thoughts ?

  12. HI Paul, apologies for the late reply. Resiblock is OK I think, has been around for a long time anyway. It is a type of product that may (need to check) react with moisture while still curing, this can turn it white/greyish . The streaks are simply over application. So, it is really incumbent on the installer/applicator to a) make sure that the conditions are ok for application (and that means the stone/tiles must be sufficiently dry before, during and for a period after application, which could be 24, 48 hours or longer). ‘Sufficiently dry’ also includes allowing enough time after installation and grouting/pointing for any construction/installation moisture to dissipate. And b) – to apply the product correctly leaving no surplus sealer on the surface (streaks).

    So, my gut feeling here is that applicator error is the main issue.

    How to fix it? – I am not sure how easy it is to remove this product. My first call would be to the makers of the Resiblock product and seek their advice, it may be that they can recommend a suitable solvent to strip off the streaky residue, and in doing so it may get rid of the white marks . This is because it might be the residue, which is actually surplus sealer, that may have gone white, if you are lucky this might be all. If not then you could find the sealer that is within the stone (where it is intended to be) may also have discoloured. Suggest to speak to the Resiblock folks first

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  13. Hi Andrew,

    OK, Well clearly they should not be applying any sealer to such materials. This happens though especially when it is being applied as a grout sealer but some gets left on the tile edges.

    OK, Acid is not the answer, indeed many sealers are pretty good at resisting some acid cleaners.

    You could try a mild abrasive – one that will not scratch the glass – I do not know if Miracle have one, but Aqua Mix do – Nanoscrub , and so do Mapei USA – from their Ultracare range they have Abrasive Surface Cleaner – they use a mild abrasive in a non aggressive chemical that can gently, with the help of a little water and a white nylon scrub pad, scour residues off the surface. The sealer should not have more than a slight hold on the surface as it will not have actually penetrated it. The other benefit of this type of product is that it ca get into texture – so may be good on the etched glass.

    If this does not work then you will be looking at stronger cleaners, you can try a high ph / heavy duty alkaline – might work, but you are more likely to require some kind of solvent-based sealer stripper – Surprised that Miracle don’t have one to offer you? Their competitors all do – again look at Aqua Mix and Mapei Ultracare in the US. Combining the abrasive cleaner with a solvent may boost performance of both.

    One other thing that can sometimes work, usually only immediately after application, is to apply more of the same sealer, the solvent in that sealer can often re emulsify the sealer, then while it is wet, make sure to buff it off completely with absorbent towels etc.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  14. My recently laid moleanos white limestone honed floor tiles have been sealed, grouted and sealed again using LTP Mattstone. Due to dirt from our building project etc I was advised to use LTP Grimex to deep clean the floors then seal again. After using Grimex the floors are very clean but when the light shines on to them, and at an angle, I can see some tile framing that is not on the surface but looks shiny. Is this an issue with the grouting, sealing or cleaning? I am nervous to seal the floors after cleaning in case I make the problem worse. Is there anything I can do?

  15. HI Sarah,

    OK hard to say without seeing it , but for sure, no point sealing again until you have it resolved. Personally if you have picture framing around the edges, this suggests to me that there is some residue from the grout. In most cases these days, grouts have an amount of polymer modification and these polymers can leave a residue which can get into the surface. This would have been present after grouting but you are only just noticing it now. The initial coat of sealer has not been enough to prevent it and then you have applied more sealer over it.

    Conversely, I have seen situations where the framing is actually the ‘clean part’ – So, when grouting larger tiles, there is less need to spread the grout all over the face of the stone, so the contamination is left at the edges, however this causes the in staller to concentrate his/her cleaning efforts in those areas – so the edges can be almost polished. or at least, very well rubbed, and this can increase the shine already on the stone, if it is a fairly soft stone. OR, it is jus the this area, the edge of the tiles, becomes very clean, and the areas to the centre of each tile just gets a cursory wipe and in doing so some of the grout in the rinse water may be left behind – so you get a kind of reverse picture frame.

    I would try a very mild abrasive scrubber – (white nylon pad) on both the ‘shiny’ part and the centre of a tile, use a little of the grimex dilute as a cleaning agent, rinse well and buff dry. See if there is any change (did the shiny part go, did the dull part in the centre get a little more shiny?).

    If it is a residue of polymer modified grout at the edges you may need a solvent stripper to remove it

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  16. Hi Ian thank you. The Grimex has made very little difference, other than highlighting the issue now the tile is clean. I have a picture if I can figure out how to send it to the blog. The reverse framing is interesting, it could possibly be that.

    It feels like the initial seal wasn’t sufficient and that it is possibly grout sitting beneath the surface in other areas I have grout stuck in top of the tiles!

    Grout 3000 was used, do you have a recommendation for a solvent stripper that might deal with this? LTP have Powerstripper in their range.

    Really appreciate your help, thank you.

  17. I will send you an email separately
    Regards

    Ian

  18. I HAVE OUTDOOR STONE PAVERS THAT I SEALED LAST YEAR.. THE SEALANT BEGAN TO WEAR OFF IN SPOTS SO I DESIDED TO RESEAL WITH THOMPSON WATER SEALANT.. GREAT WHEN IT DRIED THERE WAS A STICKY RESIDUE. I CALLED THE COMPANY WAS TOLD TO APPLY MINERAL SPIRITS SCRUB AND POWER WASH. IT’S BETTER BUT STILL TACKY FELLING.FEEL LIKE PUTTING TALCUM POWDER DOWN. AT WITTS END. ANYONE HAVE AN ANSWER WITHOUT STRIPPING EVERYTHING OFF.

  19. Hi Steve, You have got too much of the new sealer on the surface, Clearly there was still plenty of the original one in place, even with missing/worn spots, to resist the new one and keep it on the surface. With the mineral sprits and scrubbing etc, you have done a partial job of stripping. Suggest you repeat the process again, maybe even twice more until there is no sticky residue left.

    Putting talc down will only make it worse, it will stick to the residue and just create a layer of dirt-attracting scum on the surface. You could try a scrubber with a white nylon pad and a bit of either a clay poultice, or a micro-abrasive cream cleaner – there are several available depending on where you are located – for example in Florida the HQ for Mapei USA is at Deerfield Beach they have both of these in their ultra care range. Gicv it a good scrub and power rinse after

    Hope this helps
    Ian

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