Cleaning Marble Floor Wax & Dirty Grout

by Melissa Glorioso (question)
(Shreveport, Louisiana)

cleaning marble floor tile

cleaning marble floor tile

QUESTION:

In our kitchen and living area is a white to cream colored marble floor tile with a wood inlaid border which is again inlaid with brass.


We bought the house from my mother in law... her housekeeper waxed the marble and wood border probably every week for years and waxed in years of dirt and grime. The grout is also very dark (supposed to be light cream).

I have called a steam company, with no results, then called chem-pro cleaners, and they did not have much luck.

I have hand scraped the marble wax off in places with a straight edge razor (it does peel up with some pressure, but what a pain... it is a large area!)

They are coming back to redo with another cleaner they are ordering and they say they can restore the shine with some sealer, although I am quite skeptical about that.

Another person told me I might need to have the marble floor tile re-done with a diamond polisher which could cost as much as replacing the whole floor.

Is that true? How much really?

Do you know of any product that will clean the marble (get all of the old wax off) clean the grout, and restore the original marble polish?

ANSWER:

Holy Moly Melissa... what a crummy situation.

Here's the deal: Of course, you need to strip the wax off the floor before any marble cleaning can occur.

There are many general commercial wax strippers on the market, but most will etch and damage the polished marble almost certainly requiring professional restoration/re-polishing.

I have some ideas for you that you can try yourself, but considering the scope of this project you may want to consider professional help to get the floor tiles back in shape.

Yes, this will be expensive and it would be wise to get some quotes for installing new marble or travertine tile, so you can make an accurate assessment of your options: DIY cleaning vs. professional marble cleaning vs. new tile flooring.

Also, note that even if you successfully remove all the wax, you may need professional marble repair after all wax has been removed if it turns out the marble tile itself is in bad shape.

Removing Marble Floor Wax

I recommend using the De-Greaser / Wax Remover / Stripper that is made specifically for stripping gunk and wax off of natural stone and marble floor tile.

In other words, it is safe for use on stone... will not etch or damage.

You'll want to have plenty of rags, mops and maybe even a wet vacuum on hand when you really give this a go, but first just start on an out-of-the-way area.

Mix up some of the de-greaser / wax stripper and apply on a tile or two... let it soak for 15 minutes and then wipe up. Maybe use a plastic scraper too just to get an idea about how well it is working (given the years of wax on the floor).

Once you get the hang of how to effectively apply the product, then you'll have to go full scale... which is when you may want a wet-vac, etc.

No doubt about it... this will be a tedious, messy project and I'd hire someone. Not a general floor cleaning company, but a well-researched marble restoration company with plenty of excellent references.

Cleaning Grout

After you remove the wax, then you'll need to clean the grout and the marble tile directly.

For intensive tile and grout cleaning use the TILE & GROUT Cleaner and a soft-bristle scrub brush with long broom handle.

Once the floor tile is all clean, it's time to assess the surface. Has it been damaged or discolored by the years of wax... is there other damage like etching?

If so, then you'll need professional stone restoration help to either hone the surface and/or re-polish with diamond abrasives.

If staining and/or etching is minimal then you can address these issues your self, however, extensive damage is best handled by a pro to yield satisfactory results.

Just don't get talked into re-crystallization. This is a relatively recently developed process that promises great results re-finishing marble, but can turn out badly and presents a entirely new set of complications. Not worth it!

Sealing

I would advise against using a "sealer" to add a shine to the surface. To clarify... typical stone sealers do not create or add a shine to stone.

Sealing stone will only diminish the possibility of staining by decreasing the absorbency of the stone. Sealing won't do a darn thing to protect against etching, improving or restoring the shine.

There are some topical coatings that can make the floor "look" shiny, but you should never apply a permanent topical coating/film to a stone floor. It keeps it from breathing and this is bad for stone. Coatings of this sort can trap moisture leading to degradation of the tile.

Polishing Marble

This a mechanical process much like sanding rough wood smooth. It takes physical action and not a chemical application.

FYI, honed floors are easier to maintain. You must seal them, but etching is not nearly as noticeable and much more easily repaired without professional help vs. polished floor tiles.

Also, you don't have to fret about the polish being worn away in high traffic areas necessitating regular professional re-polishing, etc.

Polished marble, travertine, limestone will show a more vibrant color and pattern and be more stain resistant... but require significantly more effort to keep looking sharp.

Cost

Comparatively speaking, re-surfacing and marble polishing will be expensive, but should not be as expensive as installing a new floor.

However, considering the whole of this project, how nasty and time consuming the wax stripping and grout cleaning will be, it may be a better idea and more cost-effective just to rip it out and install new marble flooring. Again, I'd at least get a couple quotes for all options to compare.

Once you have your old floor restored or a new floor installed, then clean and maintain with the Tile Floor Cleaner which is an excellent product formulated specifically for marble cleaning.

I hope this information helps and it all goes smoothly for you!

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