How to Etch Ceramic Floor Tiles


If you have ceramic floor tiles in a high-humidity area, you may want to finish your tiles with a high-performance urethane or epoxy. These types of tile finishes will protect the tile from repeated soakings with hot water and soap. However, before applying a high-performance tile finish, you will need to etch your ceramic floor tiles, in order to ensure proper adhesion of the final finish. Fortunately, you can etch ceramic floor tiles yourself in just a few minutes.

Things You'll Need

  • Abrasive scouring pad
  • Strong detergent
  • Bucket
  • Solvent cleaner
  • Masking tape
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Ceramic tile etching cream
  • Stirrer
  • Brush
  • Scraper
  • Cloth
  • Clean all ceramic floor tiles to be etched with an abrasive scouring pad and a strong detergent. Rinse the floor well, and allow the floor to dry.

  • Treat the ceramic floor tiles with a solvent cleaner. Rinse the floor well and allow the tiles to dry.

  • Tape off any areas not to be etched with masking tape. Etching cream will corrode or dull most surfaces, including metal.

  • Put on rubber gloves and safety glasses. Stir etching cream well before applying. Apply etching cream with a brush to the clean and dry ceramic tiles. Apply the etching cream liberally, covering approximately four square feet at a time. Allow the etching cream to set for five minutes.

  • Scrape up excess etching cream from the tiles after five minutes. Do not allow the etching cream to dry on the tiles. Return the excess etching cream to the container.

  • Rinse the floor tiles very thoroughly with warm water and an abrasive scouring pad. Do not use steel wool, since the etching cream will react with the steel. Rinse and scrub the tiles until the residue from the etching cream is completely removed.

  • Dry the rinsed floor tiles with a clean cloth before finishing the tiles with urethane or epoxy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ceramic tile etching cream is highly corrosive; never apply etching cream without protective gloves, glasses and clothing.

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  • Photo Credit ceramic tile image by Karin Lau from
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