How to Polish Terra Cotta

Written by sal marco
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How to Polish Terra Cotta
Polishing a terracotta floor gives it a glossy appearance. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Manufacturers make terracotta tiles from red clay and bake them in a kiln to form floor tiles. Tile manufacturers apply a glaze to some terracotta tile to give it a shiny, polished appearance. Some terracotta tiles have no glaze, making them a dull, flat colour. Unglazed or unpolished terracotta tiles soak up water and stain easily. Applying a sealant is beneficial and gives the terracotta floor a polished look. Glazed terracotta tiles dull over time and after cleaning, making polishing necessary to restore the shine.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Broom or vacuum
  • All-purpose cleanser
  • Bucket
  • Sponge mop
  • Lint-free rag
  • Impregnating stone sealer
  • Painter's tray
  • 3/8- or 1/2-inch paint roller
  • Threaded pole or broomstick
  • Liquid or paste clay tile wax
  • Lamb's wool applicator or rotary buffer with a polishing bonnet

Show MoreHide


    Unglazed Terracotta

  1. 1

    Sweep or vacuum the surface of the floor to remove dust and dirt.

  2. 2

    Add a mild all-purpose cleanser to a bucket of water according to the cleanser manufacturer's instructions. Submerge a scrub brush in the cleaning water and scrub any stains off the terracotta surface. Dip a sponge mop into the water and wring the excess water out of the mop. Mop the entire floor to clean surface grime and dirt. Dry the floor with a lint-free rag. Let the floor air dry completely.

  3. 3

    Pour an impregnating gloss or high-gloss terracotta and stone sealer into a painter's tray. Gloss or high-gloss sealers give the appearance of a highly polished floor.

  4. 4

    Twist a 3/8- or 1/2-inch paint roller on the end of a threaded pole or broomstick. Roll the paint roller through the sealer and roll off excess sealer onto the edge of the paint tray. Begin in the far corner of the room and roll the sealer onto the unglazed tiles. Continue to roll the paint roller through the sealer, roll off excess sealer and apply the sealer to the tiles until the sealer covers all the tiles.

    Glazed Terracotta

  1. 1

    Sweep and vacuum the terracotta floor to remove debris.

  2. 2

    Wash the terracotta floor with a mild all-purpose cleanser and water to remove dirt. Dry the floor with rags and allow the floor to air dry fully.

  3. 3

    Apply a specialised liquid clay tile wax to the floor according to the manufacturer's directions, which typically include pouring a measured amount of wax on the floor and spreading it into a thin layer with a lamb's wool applicator. If you are using a paste wax, pick up the manufacturer's specified amount of wax with a putty knife and drop it on the floor. Install a polishing bonnet or rotary buffer. Run the buffer over the floor to distribute the terracotta polish until the polish covers the entire floor.

Tips and warnings

  • Polish terracotta floors every other week or more to maintain a glossy appearance.
  • After sealing terracotta floors, polish the floor using the same method as a glazed terracotta floor.
  • Applying sealer to give the appearance of polished terracotta might darken the colour of the terracotta floor. Test a hidden area before applying the sealer over the entire floor.

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