How to refinish marble floor tiles and make your wife think youre hot stuff

10 Comments
Posted by Blog Master on January 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

When renovating the house we purchased in 2008, we installed the marble floor tiles ourselves…This was a mistake, or rather, we made a lot of mistakes. We used 1/4″ grout spacers, used grey thinset for very light colored marble tiles (the grey thinset will show up in your grout lines), and used sanded grout (because of the 1/4″ grout spacing). After everything, all the work which was needed to scrape away the grey thinset outlining the tiles, the scratches which were produced from the sanded grout, and the lack of cleaning up the grout residue from the marble in a quick fashion left our tiles in bad shape. Really bad shape. They were now dull, had scratches, and did not reflect the finely honed polish which they were supposed to have.

Having them professionally refinished was not an option for me as im terribly cheap and did not want to concede to being defeated by lowly floor tile, so I embarked on what ended up to be one of the coolest lessons learned since starting work on the house…How to refinish marble floors for less than $100 and make them look as good as new.

So heres how you do it:

What youll need

1. Get a liter of Dia-Glo Diamond Buffing Compound for Marble (available online or any professional flooring shop). I used the “M” variant for marble ($30). I got mine from keystone tools in San Francisco (http://keystonetools.com/)

2. Get a variable speed angle grinder which uses 5/8 attachments (or if you want to do this all within 2 hours, rent a floor buffing machine from home depot pro). I had one laying around in my garage, but you can always buy one at Home Depot or Lowes and then return it after. A word of caution – you do not want to get your rpms up too fast. I had a variable speed angle grinder and kept my rpms around 5,000.

3. Get a 4″ velcro loop attachment (which uses the 5/8 fitting) to use with the angle grinder ($10). Its a little disc attachment which has little hooks on it (like velcro) to grab onto velcro disc pad attachments (also bought from keystone tools)

4. Go to Home Depot Pro and go to their tool rental section. Look for a white polyester buffing pad. It will be a big circular disc. (Costs about $6). Cut a piece of the white polyester buffing pad in a circle shape to fit the angle grinder velcro loop attachment. Stick it onto the attachment and make sure it stays put (the hooks will grab onto the polyester fibers).

5. Get a shop vacuum to suck up all the water and compound mixture.

6. Tile/Stone Sealant to finish the job and keep your tiles from getting stained and prematurely dirty.

Preparation

1. Section your floor into smaller work areas. I did small 5 x 5 ft sections to make work cleaner. I used rolled up towels around the 5′ x 5′ perimeter to limit the amount of kickback spray from the spinning motion that the angle grinder generates. If you dont do this, the milky colored spray will get everywhere.

2. Wet the section of the floor with water and cover the tiles with a nice layer of water (I found more was better as it provided lubrication for the pad). Add a small handful of buffing compound and mix thoroughly (just spread it around with your hand). Make sure the water/compound mixture is milky and pretty dissolved before buffing. USE GLOVES when doing this as the buffing compound is acidic and will dry up and irritate your skin.  I didnt and it dried my hands for 3 days. Also made everything I wore smell sour even after several washes (do not wash your work clothes with your other laundry, they will end up smelling sour too).

Refinishing

3. Use the angle grinder with the nylon pad to go over your tiles one by one. Let the angle grinder do the work and just hold the sucker steady. It will take a bit of getting used to at first, but youll get the hang of it. I spent at least 30 seconds on each tile to make sure the scrapes, scuffs, scratches were buffed down and smoothed as much as possible. Keep the grinder moving in small circles to polish the tiles evenly.

4. After you have finished the sectioned area, pour clean water over the area and mix it around making it wet again. Use a shop vac and suck it all up. Then if necessary, rinse with clean water and suck that up too.

5. Move onto the next section until every tile is done.

Cleanup

6. Use a clean wet towel and wipe your floors so you can get as much of the leftover splash and residue from the buffing compound off the floors and fixtures. Then go over your tiles once again with a dry towel.

Finishing

7. Finally, after your tiles and grout lines are dry, use a stone/marble sealer (I got a jug at home depot…$30) and seal your tiles. Two coats are sufficient and your floors will look as good as new.

My floors after polishing (I didnt have a before picture, but I can assure you there wasnt even a reflection)

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10 Comments

  • On April 30, 2009 at 9:29 am Brilliant Marble Polishing said

    Nice Blog, very interesting!

    Brilliant Marble Polishing
    Miami, FL

  • On June 23, 2009 at 4:45 am Jon said

    How did this job turn out? I know you said they “look as good as new” – but by your description, the floor didn’t look that good when it was new. Was it easy to get a fairly even level of gloss across the entire floor?

  • On July 3, 2009 at 9:03 am Blog Master said

    Hi jon, There are a few deeper scratches and niks from the way it was abused before, but they were definitely smoothed out when I used the diaglo compound. What the compound seems to do, since it is acidic, is eat away a little bit of the top layer which has been scuffed or lightly scratched and smoother it out and return it to a nice shine. I think I will update the post with a picture of the marble. Its not 100% perfect, but its definitely many times better than it was before…dull, dirty, and rough.

  • On October 30, 2009 at 9:12 am Richard Parks said

    The best product that worked for me was “Marble Refinisher” for my floor. A “Marble Refinishing Kit” for removing spots and water marks on my marble counter tops. I bought these products from a company called Brightstone in California. There sealers worked really well for me.
    Easy to use and all water based
    check it out http://www.brightstn.com/mr.html

  • On October 29, 2010 at 5:17 am Home Floor Tiles said

    Great article ..very interesting!!!!

  • On February 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm Jeffrey Gillette said

    I found Brightstone products to be safer/less toxic.

  • On June 1, 2011 at 6:25 am Ana Assis said

    Great article. I wish I had found it before I changed my kitchen cabinets. Now I’m afraid to go thru this mess with the new cabinets in place. Like you, I scratched every single marble tile removing the grout from the surface. I’ll try the Brightstone product.

  • On June 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm Amanda said

    How did you keep the baseboards dry?

  • On June 24, 2012 at 12:02 am Blog Master said

    i used towels

  • On June 8, 2013 at 7:18 am nipsip said

    Believe it or not, I came to the same conclusion after searching the internet for exactly the same issue, dull marble shower floor. I used a random orbital sander that I had and cut the white pad to fit. Voila, shiny marble. You would think someone would put together a kit for homeowners with a backing plate, a couple polishing discs and some marble polishing powder. Almost everyone has a RO sander, buffer or can buy one at Harbor Freight for $30. Slick Deals dot com has a HF page where they always have 25% off a single purchase coupon.

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