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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.

8 Comments

  1. Hi, Just sounds like over application, Yes you applied 2 coats but every stone is different and this two coats is usually a guide, the stone will take in what it needs until it is saturated. Most impregnating sealers need to be applied , allowed some time (a few minutes) to soak in or penetrate, but then they should be wiped up – no wet sealer should be allowed to remain on the surface.

    I think that you have just left a bit too much on the surface,

    First thing to try is apply a little more – I know this sounds odd when I just said you have applied too much – but you are just using the solvent in the sealer to help remove the surplus (which has not fully dried or cured yet as it is still tacky) so, just try a little in a test area, apply a small amount of the sealer, rub it around to try to free up the sticky residue, then, buff it completely dry – so remove the now re emulsified residue.

    let it dry completely then check to see if it has got rid of the problem – if it has then this is great as it means you have removed the residue without removing any sealer from within the stone and you can do the same all over.

    If it does not work, then I suggest you contact your sealer supplier/manufacturer for their advice.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  2. Hi Ian,
    I’ve recently sealed a area of sandstone around a pool and it has left it white in colour what could I do to fix this.I used a sandstone sealer and limestone sealer I’ve sealed other areas at a different time and have not had this problem.
    Thanks mick

  3. Hi,

    Some sealers are moisture sensitive, and will turn white if exposed to too much moisture during the curing period. Others will appear white if they are applied and not adequately wiped off (the surplus that is) – as impregnating sealers are meant to be inside the stone as opposed to being left on it. With sandstone that is porous, in most cases this does not become an issue as the very porous nature of sansdstone usually means that the sealer is pulled well in to the stone and no discernible residue is left, and so many people do not feel the need to actively remove any surplus. However in some cases, sealer is left at the surface and this can dry as a white deposit.

    Try applying a little more in a test patch, see if the wetting action of the fresh sealer makes the white marks translucent or disappear if so then buff it dry, allow it to dry sometimes this works as you are re emulsifying the residue then wiping it away.

    If this does not work you may have to consider stripping it and starting again, if this is the case I suggest contacting the manufacturer of the sealer you used for their advice.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  4. Hi

    I’ve got Basalt granite and have had hot wax from a candle pour all over it.
    I’ve removed the wax but it has left a stain on the tiles.
    How do i remove this?

  5. HI,

    It can be tricky.

    Couple of things you can try:

    Assuming the stone is not sealed, try pouring some hot water AROUND but NOT ON the stain so that this warm water can get under the stain and saturate the stone, with the aim of preventing it spreading deeper into the stone. Now, mix a high alkaline degreasing floor cleaner with warm water and apply it to the stain itself. Leave to work for a few minutes, rub with a cloth and mop up the water, uses an absorbent cloth to absorb as much moisture form the stain as possible, repeat a couple of times.

    If this does not work, try using s little bit of a solvent in place of the detergent – do a test first on an inconspicuous part of the floor or a spare piece of stone to make sure it is not affected.

    If the stone is sealed then you wont be able to saturate the area around and beneath the stain, but you can still try the cleaning method., just apply less off it and quickly try to absorb the cleaner up.

    You can also try a poultice, again if you can pre wet the area around it then great, then take the poultice, if it is a ready mixed one, or mix a powder poultice with a degreasing detergent and water, apply the poultice to the stain, overlapping the footprint of the stain by about 20%. Cover the poultice with cling film, and leave for 24 hours. Lift the film and leave the poultice to dry out for an hour or so, then, carefully with a plastic scraper so as not to scratch the stone, lift the poultice, clean the area with water and let it dry. Inspect, if it has worked great, if it has begun to work, and pulled a large portion of the wax put the repeat.

    Hope this helps
    Ian

  6. Hi Ian-

    Hopefully you can lend some advice. We recently had our new limestone French pattern pool deck sealed. It happened to rain about two hours after, so that caused the sealant to bubble and not stick properly.

    They came back and resealed again, and it’s just all stick and blotchy all over. Even had some pink residue as well. Now it’s just all sticky and dirt just sits in it. It comes off when I hit it with a deck brush but no matter what stays sticky and blotchy.

    Do you think pressure cleaning would remove this sealant or would we need to strip it in your opinion?

    Thanks Ian.

  7. Hi Pressure cleaning may help, but I think you will at least need a little mechanical scrubbing, whether by had or by machine – a rotary scrub machine will help significantly. If you can get residue off like this then you may be able to apply a thin coat to top up, making sure to remove any residue while still wet this time and you could be fine. IF you cannot get this off using a scrubber then you will have to resort to using a proprietary stripping chemical and that will necessitate a re seal.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  8. Thanks Ian. I’ll give this a try a report back.

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