How to Remove Varnish on Ceramic Tiles

Written by larry simmons
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Varnish, often used as a finish on stained wood, prevents the stain's colour from fading and protects the wood's surface. Varnish should not be used on tile, but in the process of varnishing a nearby wood surface, spills may occur. Varnish shares many of the same characteristics of paint and can be removed with a paint stripper. If dealt with quickly, varnish also can be removed with a simple, less toxic solution.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • TSP (Trisodium Phosphate)
  • Whiting (Calcium Carbonate)
  • Plastic cup
  • Wooden stir stick
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Cloth

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  1. 1

    Combine one part TSP (trisodium phosphate) and two parts whiting (calcium carbonate) in a plastic cup. Add enough water to make a thick paste. Stir constantly with a wooden stir stick until you reach the desired consistency.

  2. 2

    Spread the mixture over the varnish on the tile using a putty knife to create an even layer 3/8 inch thick. Allow the paste to sit on the tile, dissolving the varnish, for 30 minutes.

  3. 3

    Remove the paste along with the dissolved varnish with a plastic putty knife. Scrape the knife along the surface of the tile using a moderate amount of force to remove as much of the mixture as possible.

  4. 4

    Rinse the surface of the tile with clean warm water and pat the tile dry with a clean dry cloth.

Tips and warnings

  • Substitute a chemical paint stripper for the DIY stripper if the DIY mixture does not dissolve the varnish.
  • Protect yourself during the varnish removal by wearing rubber gloves and safety goggles. Only work within a well-ventilated space.

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