How to Refinish Worn Floor Tiles With Clear Glaze


The glossy shine on floor tiles can wear off long before the tiles themselves are past their prime. That shine is a glaze that's applied to ceramic tiles during their manufacture, and once it wears off, the tiles underneath will not only look dingy, but will be vulnerable to moisture damage and staining. You can't glaze the tiles the way the manufacturers do, because it's baked on. One substitute method you can use is to coat the tiles in floor-grade polyurethane, which provides a durable glossy shine, as long as you get it to adhere properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Belt sander
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • TSP (trisodium phosphate) cleanser
  • Bucket
  • Stiff scrub brush
  • Mop
  • Floor-grade polyurethane
  • 250-grit sandpaper
  • Sand the surface of the tile with a belt sander and 180-grit paper. The sanding won't remove the existing glaze completely, but will dull and de-gloss it, turning it slightly opaque.

  • Mix 1/2 cup of TSP power with about a gallon of warm water. Thoroughly scrub the tile with a stiff scrub brush. Mop-rinse it. Let it dry for at least 24 hours.

  • Brush floor-grade polyurethane over the whole floor, starting in the far corner of the room and working your way out toward the door. Brush it on in a thin, smooth coat, with the brush strokes all going in the same direction. Let it set overnight.

  • Use your 250-grit sandpaper to hand-sand the polyurethane, buffing it just enough to remove the shine so the next layer will adhere.

  • Wipe up the dust. Apply a second coat of polyurethane in the same manner as the first. Let it dry overnight, hand-sand it, and brush on a third layer. Let the third layer dry for two to three days before using the floor.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't like the color of the tiles, now is the time to change it. After you de-gloss and scrub the tiles, but before you layer them in polyurethane, apply a sealing primer and then your topcoat of paint, in two or three layers. Gloss over the paint with your polyurethane to seal it in.
  • Wear a dust mask when using your belt sander.

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  • Photo Credit floor tiles image by charles taylor from
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