How to Bring an Old Tile Floor Back to Shine

An older tile floor may look dingy even though it is otherwise in good condition. Often this dingy look is a result of dirty grout. The grout can be cleaned and resealed to eliminate this problem. If the tile itself isn't shiny, this is usually the result of wear or scratching that has occurred over time. To make the floor shiny again the floor should be cleaned and refinished with a professional finish or wax product. The floor can then be buffed to a shine that can last up to two years.

Vacuum the floor. Use a grout scraper and utility knife to cut away old caulk and remove the grime that has accumulated in corners and around the edges of fixtures, walls, tubs, shower pans and thresholds. Use a hand bristle brush to get into very small areas when necessary.

Scrub the floor with soap and water. Rinse with water and dry the floor completely.

Mix wax stripper at a ratio of one part stripper to three parts water. Mop the stripper onto the tile floor and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Scrub the floor with a power floor scrubber with abrasive pads. Floor scrubbers and buffers can usually be rented from larger home improvement stores.

Clean up the residue and dirt created by the scrubber with a wet vac or by hand with towels. Yellowed or dingy floors are often the result of dirt trapped in old floor finishes. Since it is not possible to determine what products may have been used on older floors by previous owners, it is best to use a good stripper to remove most types of products and get down to the actual tile.

Wash and vacuum your floor again. While scrubbing, look for every bit of discolouration and dirt you can find. When you have dried the clean floor it should be as clean as you can possibly get it. If your grout needs renewal this would be the time to strip it out and regrout.

Apply floor wax to the tile floor. Use a professional grade floor wax from a flooring company. For large floors use a rayon mop and swirl the mop in a figure 8 pattern to prevent the finish from creating bubbles. For small floors use a speed painter's pad, using the same swirl pattern to prevent bubbles. You want to apply a thin, even layer across the top of the tile. Allow the floor to dry for 24 hours.

Buff the floor with a floor buffer. Often a scrubber and buffer may be the same rental machine with different pads attached to the spinning discs underneath the machine. The floor buffer will polish the wax to a brilliant shine and the surface should stay shiny for up to two years of regular foot traffic.


Prevent dirt and grit from accumulating with frequent sweeping and vacuuming of hard floors. Grit is the number one cause of floor scratches and wear.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Grout scraper
  • Utility knife
  • Soap and water
  • Scrub brush
  • Rayon mop
  • Wet vac or towels
  • Wax stripper
  • Power floor scrubber with abrasive pads and buffing pads
  • Speed painter's pad (optional)


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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.