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Color Staining A Tile Floor

It is not uncommon to apply a colorant stain to an unglazed, unsealed, absorbant tile body to create a permanent color enhancement. The tile is then sealed to protect the stain. There are some bonding risks in applying a tint to the tile before sealing that are discussed below.

What about mixing a coloring agent into the sealer?

Don't do it! While many people have successfully accomplished this by mixing a stain into a sealer and doing both jobs at once, we do not recommend this practice for the following reasons:

Sealing should never be done until the floor is completely acceptable in appearance. The stain should be applied first and evaluated after dry. The sealing should then be done as a separate process. A sealer with a color tint in it will "lock in" any mistakes and not allow for adjustments or additional applications.

A color tinted sealer needs to be protected continually and to a greater degree of care. Traffic wear into the sealer will remove color also. Patching sealer can be easy, but matching color is difficult. If this color technique is used, the sealer surface can be protected with Aldon "Lifeguard".

A good color stain applied before sealing will penetrate into the tile body and stay protected by the sealing. Use one of Aldon's "solvent-penetrating" type sealers to enhance the bonding of the color to the tile body.

Misc. Considerations Regarding Coloring A Surface:

  • See  Surface Type  for the appropriate sealer for your surfacing that carries the designation for "color enhancing". One of these sealers will automatically bring surfacing colors to a higher level of richness and may save you from needing to use some other method of coloration.

  • When color tinting you are introducing something to the tile body that could interfere with the penetration and/or bonding of the sealer.
  • Color tinting products are readily available at paint and hardware stores in both solvent base and water base.  They are probably designated as wood stains, but the product and process is the same for any absorbent surface.

  • It should be okay to use a water base stain with either a water or solvent base sealer.  If a solvent base stain with a water base sealer is the plan, test to be sure of good bonding of the sealer and the colorant to the surfacing.

  • Also, there are two reasons to not use a water base "coating" type sealer (including ours) after color staining:

    1. A "coating" sealer works by adhesion to the tile body. If color particles (dust) remain on the surface, the sealer could adhere, in some places, to the loose color residue and not the tile body. This can promote peeling.


    2. Some color stains on the market have characteristics that make them act as a "bond breaker". Look for references to the stain acting as a grout release, or having sealing attributes. These will definitely impair bonding of a "coating" type sealer and creates higher risk for penetrating sealers.


    3. You can seal on top of a coloring process. You cannot do a color process on top of a sealer. A sealer is not meant to be colored after drying and will keep the coloration process away from the surface.


    4. A petroleum based penetrating sealer ( see Surface Type) can "lock in" and increase bonding of surface coloration processes. A water based sealer will usually not "lock in" a coloring process to any noticable degree.

In any case, allow plenty of time and opportunity for patch testing before doing the entire area.