How to Choose the Correct Sealant for your Thin Brick tiles
There are two main types of commonly manufactured bricks on the market in the U.S. today. The first option is machine made, which produces a denser, more compact product. Machine made bricks are standardized in large quantities and do not offer customizable options for customers. The second most common form of brick manufacturing is handmade brick. Handmade bricks are produced in small batches using less automated equipment and are completely customizable. Handmade brick tiles, however, tend to have more porous surfaces which means that dirt and grime can more easily adhere to the surfaces if they are not properly sealed.
1) Impregnators or penetrating sealers
These are the most commonly used and in most cases the best option for thin brick installation projects, especially those in highly trafficked areas with frequent exposure to water or grime (i.e., kitchen floors, bathroom floors or shower stalls, mudrooms, outdoor patios or walkways).
2) Topical Coatings or Sealers
Topical sealers are another commonly used product to seal thin brick floor or wall projects. Topical coatings tend to give a satin sheen to the surface of the brick and can be found in gloss or non-gloss options. They are best when used in areas that receive less frequent traction and wear and provide more of a decorative appearance to the brick. Examples of locations where topical coatings may be desirable include: kitchen backsplashes, brick accent walls, and fireplaces. Topical sealers do not penetrate as deeply as penetrating sealers do, and for that reason they wear off the surface of the brick more quickly and require re-application every 1-10 years depending on the coating type.
3) Wax or Linseed Oil
Waxes or linseed oil are two kinds of products that can be used on brick to help seal and provide sheen and a glossy finish. Some home owners opt for these products because they desire a more natural, less chemical-based finish on their brick. While linseed oil and some waxes are chemical free, they are more difficult and time-consuming to apply, don’t last as long as either penetrating or topical sealers, and in some cases require additional equipment (waxes often require a buffing machine to give the surface a glossy finish). Additionally, linseed oil has been known to increase the likelihood of mold or mildew when used in areas exposure to frequent moisture (i.e. mudroom, bathroom, kitchen, outdoors).