Tiles are an excellent choice for flooring: they are durable and look fantastic, and can last a lifetime. Depending on the type of tile floor you have, your floor could also be low-maintenance. Cleaning tile floors is simple and straightforward – and thankfully, so is polishing them! Beyond dirty grout, unpolished tiles can take away from the clean look of your floor.
(If you want to skip the effort of cleaning and polishing your tile floor, though, just book an expert cleaning service to take care of your floor for you, easy-peasy.)
Can tiles be polished? Absolutely! As for how to polish tiles, your cleaning solutions will depend on the type of tile floors (or walls) you have. Porcelain tiles or ceramic tiles can be polished using white vinegar and dish soap, plus a microfibre cloth. Wood tiles generally need to be waxed using specific floor wax. Meanwhile, you shouldn’t use commercial polish on a marble floor; instead, just buff with bicarb soda and water, the same as you would with granite tiles. As for glass tiles, a vinegar solution works wonders.
A clean and polished tile floor does wonders for a room. If you want to impress guests – or simply admire the shiny look of your whole floor – here’s how to polish different kinds of tiles (and maintain them, too)!
Before you polish your tile floor, it’s important to sweep or vacuum ahead of time so you don’t buff debris into your tile and end up scuffing it. Sweeping or vacuum removes loose dirt and debris before buffing, and saves you effort in the long run.
Polishing Porcelain Tiles
Polished porcelain tiles make any room look classy! There are different types of porcelain tiles — glazed tile, textured tile, and unpolished tile. They all have similar cleaning solutions, just that textured tile needs some extra scrubbing to really get into those grooves and edges.
NOTE: Do not use soapy water to clean porcelain tiles – this could leave residue and make them look dull.
To polish porcelain tiles, you’ll need:
- A large bucket of warm water
- A mop
- Microfibre cloths
- Mix 1/8 cup vinegar to 3 litres of water as porcelain requires a very mild cleaning solution. Alternatively, you could use a pH-neutral cleaning product.
- Mop the floor in sections, taking care to cover the whole tile each time.
- Dry the floor with a clean microfibre cloth, or leave the room to dry with good ventilation.
- Buff the floor afterwards with a buffer or microfibre mop.
Polishing Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic tiles are some of the most popular materials for tile floors. They’re highly durable and versatile, and look great in any room. They differ from porcelain tiles in terms of density (porcelain is denser), water absorption (porcelain absorbs less moisture), and finish (porcelain tiles are almost always glazed).
Beyond keeping them clean, getting ceramic tiles polished and gleaming goes a long way to enhancing the appearance of your tiles and your room.
NOTE: Avoid soap-based cleaners as these could leave residue on your tiles, dulling their shine!
To polish ceramic tiles, you’ll need:
- A bucket of warm water
- White vinegar
- A mop
- Microfibre cloths
- To start, mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 3 litres of water to create a DIY cleaning solution in your bucket. If your tiles are particularly dirty, you can increase to 1/2 cup of vinegar.
- Dip your mop in the vinegar mixture and wring out any excess fluid.
- Start mopping from one section of tile, covering the whole surface in your cleaning solution.
- Immediately after, take the microfibre cloth and buff the tiles to get that shine.
- After you’ve gone over the entire floor, one option is to empty the bucket and fill it with soda water (or club soda), then mop again using that liquid before wiping down the floor again. This can add a more polished finish to your tiles.
Polishing Wood Tiles
Wood tiles need specialised maintenance. Using vinegar could stain your wood tile and cause discolouration, while soapy water could seep through and cause warping. Instead, opt for wood floor polish that suits the type of wood floor and finishing you have.
To polish a wood floor, you’ll need:
- A flat-surface microfibre mop
- Wood floor polish
- Start by pouring a small amount of polish on the floor in an S pattern.
- Using the flat mop, smooth the solution over the floor in the direction of the wood grain. Work in small areas so you can better control the amount of force you use and the amount of polish you apply. Don’t press too hard – a little bit of pressure is enough!
- Build up thin layers instead of applying a thick layer of polish as thicker layers take longer to dry.
- When finished, wait at least one hour before allowing people back into the room. Wait a full day before replacing any furniture.
- Buff wood floors about once every 3-4 months.
Polishing Stone Tiles
Granite is the typical choice for stone tiles. When polishing granite tiles, avoid using vinegar or soapy water as these could damage your tiles in the long run. Instead, the key to getting shiny granite floors is right in your kitchen – bicarb soda!
To polish a granite floor, you’ll need:
- Bicarb soda
- Microfibre cloths
- Before you start buffing, fill a bucket with water so you can clean your rag in between polishes.
- Mix 1/4 cup bicarb soda with 3 cups of water to create a cleaning mixture.
- Apply the solution to the floor, then wipe it clean. Put some elbow grease into it to buff the tile and make it shine.
- Rinse your cleaning cloth every so often so you’re not rubbing dirt back into your tile.
- Follow with a dry cloth to remove any residue and dry the granite – you don’t want water seeping into your tile!
NOTE: Check your tiles for any cracks or chips while you’re buffing! If you find any, it’s highly recommended to replace the tile immediately or else it risks breaking. Also check the grout to make sure it’s intact.
Polishing Marble Tiles
Do not use polish or commercial cleaners on your marble floor unless it’s specifically made for marble. Polish could damage the surface, and make the floor a slipping hazard. Instead, use a dry microfibre or chamois cloth to buff the floor after cleaning.
If you want to add extra sheen to your marble floor, make a paste of equal parts bicarb soda and water, then spread it gently over the marble. Let it dry, then wipe off the residue with a soft clean rag and water.
Polishing Glass Tiles
One of the easiest ways to get glass tiles sparkling is by mixing equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the glass and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub tiles with a microfibre cloth or soft-bristled brush, then rinse with cold water. Wipe dry and admire the shine.
Tile Floor Maintenance
Beyond getting your tiles to shine, it’s important to maintain them so they last longer. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve changed your tiles for home improvement, or kept the same tiles for years – if they’re not cleaned and polished, they won’t serve you well.
Remove grout haze
If your tiles are newly-installed, you’ll want to remove grout haze before doing any buffing or cleaning. Cleaning new tiles after installation is important to tidying up your floor, especially since grout residue can smudge or scratch your tile.
Sweeping and mopping frequently go a long way to maintaining a tile floor. Floors should be swept or vacuumed at least once a week, and mopped at least once a month. For bathrooms, deep clean your tiles once a week, too. Tidying up your tiles helps increase their longevity, and gives your room a neater look. Don’t forget to clean the tile grout, too!
For porcelain, ceramic, granite, marble, and glass tiles, do not use abrasive sponges. You risk scratching or smudging your surface, and you can’t clean that away. For rooms with furniture, place felt gliders and other padding underneath to prevent scuffing.
Place door mats at strategic entrances for people to dust off their shoes before entering the house. Keep a clean rag or mat in the kitchen while you’re cooking. The less dirt that gets on your floors, the easier cleaning tiles becomes – and polishing tiles, too!