Acid and oil are a 1-2 punch to your backsplash. Oil is like glue that adheres dirt and grime to your surface. This is why proper cleaning and sealing is so important. If oil comes in contact with your backsplash after acids break down your seal, it can soak deep into your tile and create a stain — which is worse than dirt that can simply be cleaned off.
Oil also has a nasty habit of being surface active, meaning it wants to spread out as far as possible. So once it’s allowed to soak into a surface, the oil creates a dirt-spreading reservoir. You can wipe the surface, but the reservoir will just send out more oil as it seeks to re-equilibrate across the entire surface. If you’re wondering why it feels like you constantly have to wipe your backsplash down, it’s because you do.
To help prevent this problem, we recommend resealing stone and tile backsplashes every two years; however, the recommended frequency goes up depending on how much acid contact is expected. If you frequently make salads with vinaigrettes, pasta with tomato sauce, homemade salsa, or use lemons and limes when cooking, you increase the frequency of acid contact and need to consider resealing more often.
Backsplashes around ovens are particularly susceptible to attack based on the hot oils that splatter from frying pans. This can be even worse if the oil contains an acidic ingredient such as lemon or vinegar because now the sealer is being attacked not just with acid, but hot acid. Chemical reactions tend to double in speed for every additional 10°F of temperature. For example, if you’re cooking at 200°F, you are now 130°F above room temperature or 13 groups of 10°F. This is an enormous acid attack accelerant. It makes splatters on backsplashes more damaging to their seals and more likely to oil stain once the seal is compromised.
Mosaic backsplashes present a unique challenge because there’s a greater grout-to-tile percentage in mosaics. Consider that a 1 sq./ft tile with 4 sides will have 4 linear feet of grout, but if we factor in how it shares that surface with neighboring tiles, we can assume on average 2 linear feet of grout per 1 sq./ft of tile. Meanwhile, if in the same area we are working with 1-inch tile, we are adding another 22 linear feet of grout lines. This mosaic will require more than 10 times the grout, making your grout the hidden area that really needs to be addressed in order for the surface to look good.
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